The highest mountain in Kenya, Mount Kenya is a high volcanic peak. It is also the second highest mountain in all of Africa, second only to Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
This mountain is about three and a half million years old and once had an altitude even higher than the current 5199 meters above sea level. What we see today is an unusual ghost of rugged crowns, a striking remnant of what the mountain was in prehistoric times.
Many people justifiably dream of climbing this mountain, which is located in the Kenyan Mountain National Park with a proper name. And the contrast of its slopes and high peaks only adds to its wonder. Climbing Mount Kenya is like entering two worlds at the same time …
The meadow covers its base in the north and west. The south and east have more grass, along with low trees. A dense forest of cypress and yellow covers the slopes, followed by bamboo and heaters at higher altitudes. But there is life even higher, because rare mosses and lichens grow only on this mountain, and several other mountains in East Africa survive near the summit. You may even see “water-keeping cabbage” or “ostrich fin plant”.
Mount Kenya is a tropical mountain but its summit is covered with snow. Joseph Thompson, a young Scottish traveler, revealed the phenomenon to the Western world, but few believed him at first. However, it was hard to believe that a snow-capped mountain probably existed in the tropical heat of Kenya. Some even thought Thomson was suffering from altitude sickness.
Over the years, other people climbed the slopes of Mount Kenya and discovered the same thing, and we all now know the truth. The local Kikuyu and Masai tribes have long lived and worked in the forests and pastures of Kenya’s mountains, growing and hunting their crops. In fact, the three high peaks of Mount Kenya – Batian, Nellion and Lenana – have been named important leaders in the past of the Masai tribe.
Climbers have four main routes to choose from: Naro Moru is the fastest climb, but it is also the fastest. The Burguret route is one of the most difficult climbs with a lot of jungle climbing. The Sirimon Trail is famous for giving nature lovers the opportunity to see monkeys, lizards, antelopes and other wildlife. And the scenic route of Chogoria offers the most beautiful scenery.
Unless you are an experienced climber, do not try to climb the peaks of Nilion and Batian. Use the easier Point Lenana Summit instead. It is equally beautiful, but does not offer the difficulties of the other two peaks, which are very steep and have at least a fourth degree climb.
But if you want to try those two harder peaks, you have to join the Kenya Club Mountain before trying to conquer them. The advice that club climbers can give you can be very important to your health and safety. Even the simplest lenana requires steel calves and strong willpower, but with previous training, it is accessible to people of all levels of fitness. It will not disappoint you, even if it is a little easier.
You have to consider the extreme weather conditions and the effects of the high altitude that you will face, especially when you reach 4000 meters and above. You can expect frost, strong winds, thin air, rain or snow daily, and fog all around you.
Trust me, you have to be well prepared to withstand the harsh mountain conditions. Never underestimate the need to use special equipment such as ice axes and crampons. The best months to visit the mountains of Kenya are February and August.
Do not despair of the possibility of bad weather or altitude sickness. The feeling of victory and achievement that you will experience after leaving Mount Kenya will remain in your heart for a very long time. Don’t skip the costs either, because when you realize that conquering Mount Kenya is one of the most exciting experiences you can have, you will soon forget it.