Mount Kenya Trekking Quick Facts
Mount Kenya is Africa’s second highest peak at (5,199 meters (17,057 ft)). It’s a 4 hour drive to the trailhead from Nairobi. We suggest heading up via the Sirimon Route and down via the Chogoria Route.
Distance – The distance depends on the route but assume between 60 and 80km.
Elevation – The elevation gain depends on the route but assume 2500m.
Time Required – Minimum of 4 days and up to 7 days.
Cost – Entrance fee is $220 per person for 4 days. Cost per person for a fully guided trip start at $650
Time to Visit – It’s best to avoid the rainy seasons from March to June and October to December.
Mount Kenya is often overlooked as most trekkers head straight to Mount Kilimanjaro Africa’s tallest peak. However, Africa’s second tallest peak standing at (5,199 metres (17,057 ft)) is a great choice to avoid the crowds and to get a sense of what an alpine environment in Africa looks like. The mountain receives about 16,000 climbers annually (compared to 35,000 for Kilimanjaro).
The East African Rift Valley began forming around 25 to 30 million years ago (Source 1) and Mount Kenya started forming approximately 3 million years after the development of the valley (Source 2). During previous glacial periods it stood as high as 7000m (23,000 feet) and hosted a large ice cap that fed numerous glaciers which carved the present canyons and valleys. The volcano still hosts 11 small glaciers which are rapidly disappearing due to global warming. Due to the peaks isolation from other alpine environments a number of unique species have evolved. These include Giant Lobelias, Senecios and a subspecies of Rock Hyrax.
All the trekking routes head towards a cluster of peaks of which the tallest is Batian (5,199 metres (17,057 ft). The peaks themselves are volcanic plugs which are the hardened remnants of the neck of the ancient volcano. Most trekkers head towards and Pt Lenana (4,985 m (16,355 ft)) which is a difficult scramble but does not pose any technical difficulties.
Higher elevations can drop as low as -10 C at night but usually warm up nicely during the day. Make sure to come prepared with cold weather gear, sturdy boots and camping equipment. If you are hiring a trek through an agency some of this equipment may be hired on the spot.
Mount Kenya Trekking Routes
There are 8 routes to the peak, but the 3 most commonly used are Chogoria, Naro Moru and Sirimon (trekkers can buy permits at the staffed gates for these routes). The other routes require permission from the Kenya Wildlife Service.
Sirimon route is the most popular route to the top offering scenic views and a sure but steady climb. It will take a minimum of 2 nights to reach the summit.
Chogoria route can be used as a possible decent if you have a few extra days. It passes through a deep gorge with great views of a series of waterfalls.
Naro Moru route starts at the town of the same name and heads towards Mackinder’s Camp on the Peak Circuit Path. It typically takes 3 days to reach the top on this route. This route is the most popular decent route. The route passes through the notorious “vertical bog” which can be quite muddy in the rainy season.
Peak Circuit is used to tie together the different routes up and down the mountain. The circuit is about 10km in length and can be walked in a single day. It’s a great way to spend an extra day on the mountain and take in all the peaks.
Mount Kenya on Your Own: Its possible to get a taxi or arrange transport to the trailhead from Nairobi to the park entrance. The entrance fee depends on how long you plan to stay in the park. It is $150 for 3 days, $220 for four days and $300 for 5 days. You can arrange to hire porters and guides independently in Nanyuki or Naro Moru. You must have a trekking partner as independent trekking is not allowed. Accommodation in the various huts is limited so plan on taking all your own camping gear. Only experienced trekkers should consider do it on their own.
Batian and Nelion summits: http://www.flickr.com/photos/aiace
Gorges Valley: http://www.flickr.com/photos/chris-murphy
Mackinders camp in teleki valley: http://www.flickr.com/photos/aiace
Mt Kenya: Chogoria route: http://www.flickr.com/photos/chris-murphy
Shiptons camp in Mount Kenya National Park : http://www.flickr.com/photos/joxeankoret
Sunset on Mount Kenya: http://www.flickr.com/photos/aiace