MOUNT KENYA NATIONAL PARK
Although a distinctly separate massif from the Aberdares, Mt Kenya also forms part of the central highlands. It's Africa's second highest mountain at 5199 metres, and its gleaming and eroded snow- covered peaks can be seen for the miles until the late morning clouds obscure the view.
This mountain is so vast that it's not hard to understand why the Kikuyu deified it, why their houses are built with the doors facing the peak and why it was probably never scaled until the arrival of European explorers. These days it's every travellers dream to get nearto the top for unforgettable memories.
Mt Kenya's highest peaks, Batian and Nelion, can onlybe reached by mountaineers with technicalskills. However, point Lenana, the third - highest peak, can be reached by trekker, and this is the usual goal for most people. As you might imagine, there are superb views over the sorrounding country from point Lenana and other high points around the main peaks, though the summit is often clothed in mist from late morning until late afternoon.
Many people do the ascent to Point Lenana much too quickly and end up suffering from headaches, nausea and other ( sometimes more serious) effects of altitude of altitude sickness. Another problem can be the weather ; many visitors go up the mountain without proper gear, completely unprepared for the cold and wet conditions often encountered. If you 're not a regular mountain - walker and don't know how to use a map and compass, going up and down anything other than Naro Moru route without a guide is simply asking for trouble. The best times to go as far as fair weather is concerned, are from mid - january to late February and from late August to September.
The three main trails are the Naro Moru, Sirimon and Chogoria trails. Naromoru route: This is the most straightforward and popular of the routes. It's also the least scenic, although it's still a spectacular and very enjoyable trail.Sirimon route: This is the least used of the three main routes but the driest. It is also the longest approach to point Lenana, and inolves some serious sections of of trekking. If you are inexperienced in high mountain conditions, don't attempt this route without a guide. Chogoria route: This route, from the easternside of the mountain, is undoubtedly the most beautifulof the accessroute to the summitand certainly the easiestas far as gradientsgo.This is a good route if you've got some trekking experience.
Some of the iteneraries that Inside Africa Budget Safaris, who is one of the outfitters in Kenya offers are as below:
The Best Of Mount Kenya - 7 Days
This trek offers some of the best views of the main peaks with a gradual ascent which can be done at a leisurely pace. You traverse the mountain by ascending the Sirimon track, join the best of Timau, then enjoy the best of the Chogoria route before descending via the Naro Moru track.
Depart Nairobi in the morning and drive to the Mount Kenya Region. Arrive and check-in at the Naro Moru River Lodge. The rest of the morning will be spent sorting and organizing equipment for the mountain trek. After lunch at the Lodge, you'll be driven to the Sirimon gate and then on to the road head at 3,300m. The afternoon walk is relatively easy, giving you a chance to acclimatize. Overnight at Judmaier's Camp (3,300m) in the high altitude mountain tents.
After breakfast, trek up the moorland and break away from Sirimon track at altitude of 3,940m, contouring into the Sirimon Valley. This is a rarely visited area with a tremendous amount of wildlife. Overnight in Sirimon Valley at an altitude 3,940m.
An early start out of the Sirimon Valley, you hike into the Hinde Valley and then proceed across the Nithi and Gorges Valleys. This is undoubtedly one of the most scenic areas of the mountain with its 1,000 - vertical cliffs, its virgin valleys and cascading water-fall. It is without a doubt one of the most spectacular trekking areas in Kenya. The night camp is at Hall Tarns(4,300m).
Descend to Lake Michaelson, in the depth of the Gorges Valley. See the incredible cave formation known as the Temple. Walk down the valley to Vivienne falls (named after the famous author of Speak to the Earth). Return to camp in the afternoon. Overnight at Hall Tarns (4,300m.).
Today's hike takes you on an Alpine ascent up the third highest peak of Pt.Lenana (4,985m via north face which is seldom used by tourists. It takes approximately 4 hours of stiff walking to reach the summit. Descend to Teleki Valley and spend the night at Mackinders Camp (4,150m).
After and early breakfast, descend the mountain via the Naro Moru route completing a fine circuit of Mt. Kenya. Transfer back to the Naro Moru River Lodge for a well-earned rest. Dinner and overnight stay at the Lodge.
After breakfast, check out of the Lodge and transfer to Nairobi for your flight home or continue with onward arrangements.
Experiencing a cross section of Mt Kenya's trails
Visit the spectacular cave formation known as the Temple
Summiting Mt Kenya's third highest peak - Pt Lenana
An opportunity to encounter wildlife along the trail
Enjoy a game viewing safari in the nearby Mt Kenya or Masai Mara National Parks.
Extend on and fly to Mombasa or Zanzibar Island for a few days relaxation on tropical white beaches.
Visit one of the many exclusive lodges in the area for some luxurious pampering.
Spend some time exploring the craft markets of the local villages and towns.
For most hikes accommodation will be in huts or tents as provided by the tour guide. Cooking and eating utensils will also be provided. The following gear list serves as a general guideline, however certain routes or trails may have additional gear requirements due to weather conditions or terrain. Please check prior to departure if there are any specific requirements.
Well worn in, comfortable hiking boots and spare laces
Running shoes or sandals
Shorts, trousers or skirts
Socks & underwear including thermals for higher altitudes
Wet weather raingear (Waterproof trousers / poncho)
Warm polar jacket
Gloves, scarf and warm hat
Sunglasses and sunhat
Headlamp and torch
Four season sleeping bag
Backpack with waterproof cover
First aid kit
Water purification tablets
HINT'S & TIPS
A good level of fitness is advised so that you can get maximum enjoyment from the trek.
The weather can be unpredictable at altitude make sure you have clothing for all seasons including warm polar wear and rainwear.
Altitude sickness is often experienced when summiting too fast. Being aware of your own physical ability and knowing the warning signs can prevent this from becoming fatal. Listen to your body and be prudent if you start feeling unwell.
Make sure your hiking boots are well worn in and use petroleum jelly to prevent chaffing and blisters and to soothe your feet after a long day's walk.
John Schuff is an outfitter in Kenya. He specializes in offering different travel services in Kenya and Tanzania. For more about his site visit http://www.insideafricatravel.com