Mount Kenya Treks

At a GlanceItineraryDetail

Mount Kenya Trek

Mount Kenya is often overlooked in favour of its more famous neighbour, Kilimanjaro across the border in Tanzania. This is a shame because it’s a great trek with fewer trekkers and a better wilderness experience. It stands at a place where the great plains of East Africa begin to give way to the southern margins of the Sahara: 100 miles south of Mt Kenya you’ll find the Big Five living in Kenya’s national parks; 100 miles to the north and you’re into Samburu land where camels, cattle and goats graze in a desert environment.

Itinerary summary:
There are 3 routes:

  1. Sirimon Route which approaches from the north (5 days)
  2. Naru Moru which approaches from the west (5 days)
  3. Ascend Burguret (in the west) descend Chogoria (in the east) (7 days)

mount-kenya-map

Background to Mount Kenya

Mount Kenya (5,199m) is the second highest mountain in Africa. Although it lies only a few km from the Equator, it’s heavily glaciated. The summit area consists of several false peaks surrounding the two main peaks of Nelion (5,188m) and Batian (5,199m). The whole upland area is a national park and the walk in leads through forest and moorland habitats. Acclimatisation problems on Mt Kenya are underestimated by many people and a three day itinerary is not recommended. To ascend the highest summits requires technical rock and snow climbing of at least grade IV (Severe) standard. The third highest peak, Pt Lenana (4,985m), can be reached by trekkers.

 Mount Kenya

The summit viewed from the eastern approach

THE ROUTES
Route 1: Sirimon Circumnavigation Route: 5 days

Day 1: pick up from your hotel in Nairobi and drive to Mountain Rock Lodge (1,950m) for lunch. Then another transfer to Sirimon Park gate (2,600m). Complete park entry formalities and set off for the  3 to 4 hour hike through the forest. Ascend 700m passing through bamboo and rosewood groves; into the heather zone to reach Old Moses Camp. The forest and bamboo are home to hundreds of buffaloes, elephants, bushbucks and a plethora of bird species. Dinner and overnight at Old Moses Camp (3,300m 4 hrs walking)

Day 2: Early breakfast and set off towards Shipton’s Camp (900 m higher). The hike is awesome but a good test of your endurance . The moorland leads on across hills and valleys, gradually ascending all the time. This zone contains several unique plants including the Giant Groundsels and Lobelias; mountain hyrax are common in this zone. Dinner and overnight at Shipton’s Camp (4,200m; 6 to 7 hours walking)

Day 3: Departing at 0800hrs ascend the Hausberg Col (4,700m) then descend steeply to Hausberg Valley and Oblong Tarns before making a second steep ascent, crossing huge boulders via Two Tarns to reach Mackinder’s camp (4,300m) which is where this route converges with the Naro Moru route in the Teleki Valley. Dinner and overnight at Mackinder’s Camp (4,300m; 6 hrs walking)

Day 4: Depart at 0300hrs and ascend a steep scree slope between glaciers to reach Point Lenana (4,985m), the hiker’s summit. It is planned that you arrive in time to witness the African sun rising over the equator, reflect its golden glow on the majestic peaks of Batian and Nelion. Later descend to Shipton’s camp (4,200m) for breakfast then relax for the rest of the day. Dinner and overnight at Shipton’s Camp (4,200m; 7 hrs walking)

Day 5: Early breakfast before descending to Sirimon road head (2,600m) in 4-5 hours to connect with the vehicle for transfer back to Mountain Rock Lodge. Hot shower and lunch then transfer back Nairobi.

Price
5 days Sirimon Circumnavigation (All Days on the Mountain)
£1,936 for single person
£1,295 per person for 2 persons
£1,140 per person for a group of 3-5 persons

Price includes
Transport to and from Nairobi
Transport to and from the mountain
Accommodation as detailed
Camping equipment (except sleeping bags and insulation mats)
Services of a trail guide and cook.
Services of porters
All National Park entrance and mountain hut fees
All food – breakfasts, packed lunches and evening meals

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Route 2: Ascend Sirimon – Descend Naro Moru via Likii North Traverse

Day 1: pick up from your hotel in Nairobi and drive to Mountain Rock Lodge (1,950m) for lunch. Then another transfer to Sirimon Park gate (2,600m). Complete park entry formalities and set off for the  3 to 4 hour hike through the forest. Ascend 700m passing through bamboo and rosewood groves; into the heather zone to reach Old Moses Camp. The forest and bamboo are home to hundreds of buffaloes, elephants, bushbucks and a plethora of bird species. Dinner and overnight at Old Moses Camp (3,300m 4 hrs walking)

Day 2: Trek across the sprawling moorland to the spectacular Likii Valley an area of beautiful high altitude plants such as Ostrich Plum Lobelia and Cabbage Groundsel to emerge at the Likii North hut at 3,990m. There is an optional acclimatisation hike in afternoon up onto Terere Peak, allowing you to walk high and sleep low. (3,990m; 4 hrs walking)

Day 3: Up the splendid Mackinder Valley passing peculiar looking giant groundsel and lobelia plants along the way to arrive at Shipton’s Camp at 4,236m for the night. This is a surreal setting below the towering peaks and glaciers, with its resident populations of bizarre rock hyrax and beautiful sunbirds. (4,236m; 6 hrs walking)

Day 4: Early start to reach Pt. Lenana at 4,895m for sunrise. The climb is on frozen scree with some scrambling on the ridge of the Lewis glacier. You need a bright head torch for this. The climb takes between 1 and 2 hours and to add to the exhilaration, Kilimanjaro is usually visible on the horizon. A further 2 – 3 hours down to Makinder’s camp for a hearty breakfast. After breakfast relax the rest of the day and stretch your tired legs. (4,300m; 6 hrs walking)
Day 5: Descend to Naro Moru park gate (2,600m) and rendez-vous with the vehicle for transfer back to Mountain Rock Lodge for a welcome hot shower and lunch before the journey back to Nairobi. (5 hours walking)

Price
£1,958 for single person
£1,315 per person for 2 persons
£1,165 per person for a group of 3-5 persons

Price includes
Transport to and from Nairobi
Transport to and from the mountain
Accommodation as detailed
Camping equipment (except sleeping bags and insulation mats)
Services of a trail guide and cook.
Services of porters
All National Park entrance and mountain hut fees
All food –  breakfasts, packed lunches and evening meals

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Route 3: Ascend Burguret and descend Chogoria ‘slow paced’ (7 days)

Day 1: pick up from your hotel in Nairobi and drive north past agricultural lands to the slopes of Mount Kenya. After lunch at the base lodge take an easy walk around the local area which is predominantly Kikuyu; explore local farms and villages to gain an insight into the lives of the local people who live on the slopes of Mt Kenya. Meals and overnight at the lodge.

Day 2: Short drive from the hotel to Gathiuru Forest Station via the renowned Mau Mau Caves. Complete the mountain entrance formalities and set off on a 4 hour ascent through dense stands of towering bamboo to the private Giant Bamboo Camp. Elephant and buffalo are common here. (3,780m; 4 hours walking)
Day 3: The luxuriant bamboo yields to enormous podocarpus and pencil cedar forest before entering the rosewood zone at the edge of the moorlands. Pause for lunch before heading up through the extraordinary giant lobelia and groundsels to spend the night close to the sheer lava cliffs of the “Highland Castle”. (3,900; 7 hours walking)
Day 4: Spectacular scenery as the jagged volcanic peaks and shimmering glaciers tower above camp in the morning sun. Turquoise tarns nestle in the valleys, eagles and buzzards soar overhead – it’s difficult to believe we’re on the equator! We might, for the first time, meet other trekkers here as we hike for 5-6 hours to overnight at Shipton’s Hut where several routes converge. (4,236m; 6 hrs walking)

Day 5: Today there’s a stiff, but exhilarating scramble by starlight up to Point Lenana, the”trekkers’ summit” in time to see the African dawn from a vantage point of nearly 5,000m. We leave at 4am and climb the 800m to the peak in about 4 hours. Descend via a fresh route to have a late breakfast by Hall Tarns in the magnificent Gorges Valley. In the afternoon another 3 hours down past spectacular chasms, waterfalls and weirdly eroded lava flows to camp by the track-head in the giant heather zone. (Summit and descend; 8 hrs walking)

Day 6: Short descent through the forest zone to the mountain cabins and spend afternoon relaxing. Log fires, hot showers, Tusker beers, and beds for overnight. Wildlife viewing in evening – often from your cabin window as the elephant and buffalo graze outside! (3,680m; 4 hrs walking)

Day 7: Descent on a broad track for about 10 kms through bamboo groves and virgin rainforest to meet vehicles for the return to Nairobi – usually reach Nairobi by mid to late afternoon. (2 hrs walking)

Price
£2,670 for single person
£1,945 per person for 2 persons
£1,775 per person for a group of 3-5 persons

Price includes
Transport to and from Nairobi
Transport to and from the mountain
Accommodation as detailed
Camping equipment (except sleeping bags and insulation mats)
Services of a trail guide and cook.
Services of porters
All National Park entrance and mountain hut fees
All food – breakfasts, packed lunches and evening meals

 

Note.
Even in the best season (end December to mid March) there can be periods of 2 or 3 days when the weather might be bad and snowfall could be expected. We have known access roads in the park to be closed after several consecutive wet days to avoid damaging them. Moorland paths can become very boggy – particularly on the Sirimon descent route, if there’s heavy rain.

The Chogoria route is especially beautiful and gives a magnificent wilderness walk through unspoilt forest and moorland and is the best route choice for Mt Kenya. The routes which approach from the west are more commonly used and are busier.

Unmanned huts on the mountain are generally small and dirty. Camping is recommended.

Group leader and support staff
The group will be led by an experienced, English-speaking local guide who knows mountain environments. A minibus is used between Nairobi and the mountain and 4×4 on the mountain itself, to reach the road-head.

Equipment required
Walking boots, full waterproofs and cold weather gear. Fleece jacket, warm hat and thermal gloves, a daypack of around 30 lt, a torch, 3lt water in Camelpack & bottle, sun glasses, sun cream; sleeping bag and camping mattress. A detailed packing check-list will be provided.

Equipment hire
It is possible locally, but better not to rely on it.

A typical day

Porters will carry your personal equipment, and the entire camp, to the next overnight stop. During the day’s walk, you will carry a daysack large enough to pack a fleece, wet weather gear, water bottle (or camel pack), packed lunch and other bit and pieces such as a camera. Breakfast is usually around 7.30 a.m. except on summit day, when it’s earlier. Lunch is en-route and picnic style. On arrival at camp, there will always be plenty of time to rest, enjoy a hot brew and soak up the surroundings, before we sit down to a 3 course evening meal.

Accommodation
On the mountain it’s under canvass; additional nights at the Rock can easily be arranged. We use three-man tents but for two persons. Single rooms and single tent occupancy is available, but a modest charge will apply.

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Model of Mount Kenya in the grounds of the Rock Hotel

General Information

Climate
Mount Kenya is on the Equator. There is a pronounced wet season from March to May, but apart from that, the mountain is good to visit in any month. At the foot of the mountain temperature at dawn is typically 9º and mid-day 22º. As you gain altitude the temperatures decline and the summit is often dusted in snow.

Visa requirements
A valid passport is required. Visas are required by UK or EC passport holders and can be obtained upon arrival at Jomo Kenyatta airport, Nairobi for $50 (cash).

Vaccinations
No vaccinations are compulsory. Check with your local clinic and inoculations such as cholera, typhoid, yellow fever, rabies and hepatitis should be considered.

Altitude
This itinerary involves significant altitude; it is paced so that you have plenty of time to acclimatise, but altitude is an unpredictable beast. Your leader is well-used to watching for the early signs of problems, but if you feel uncomfortable at any time, you should seek assistance immediately. It is important to keep well hydrated when trekking at altitude, particularly in hot conditions.

First Aid
The local leader will have appropriate first-aid training and experience and will carry a basic medical kit. You should bring your own personal first aid kit consisting of the basics: antiseptic cream, throat lozenges, diarrhoea treatment (Imodium) painkillers, plasters and blister treatment, insect repellent (containing DEET), and re-hydration salts (Dioralite). Glucose tablets or Kendal Mint cake.