Mount Kenya is the country's highest mountain. Sitting astride the equator its icy summit reaches to 5199m (17,058 ft). All of the mountain above the 3200m contour forms a national park. In fact the mountain consists of three principal zones; the rocky peak area, actually an eroded volcanic plug, with its mantle of glaciers and snowfields; the alpine zone with its distinctive giant vegetation; and the vast gentle lower slopes drenched in mountain forest and bamboo jungle.
It is no wonder that this remote majestic wonderland was considered as God's domain by awed farmers at its foothills. Many rivers flow from the perpetual snows, among them the mighty Tana, Kenya's largest and longest river and source of much of Kenya's electricity supply. Most visitors are content to marvel at the mountain's beauty but some will want to attempt to reach the peaks; a feat requiring considerable rock climbing skill. But the mountain's lesser peaks and glaciers can be scaled and walked by the fit and the adventurous. Point Lenana, 4985m, can be easily reached. In fact the majority of visitors go to the mountain to enjoy the walking and especially the high level hut-to-hut hike round the mountain with its humbling vistas.
Wildlife within the forests below the park boundary includes elephant, buffalo, lion, several species of antelope including the rare bongo and occasionally the melanistic forms of both the leopard and the serval. Much of this wildlife can be seen from the safety of Mountain Lodge which lies just inside the forest on the south side of the mountain. Mountain climbers should appreciate the need for acclimatisation over several days before attempting the high peaks. Naro Moru River Lodge specialises in assisting climbers with guides, porters and equipment. It is quite unwise to attempt to climb during the rains. The best months are January and February and late August through September. Serious climbers may seek advice from the Mountain Club of Kenya. For those who wish to savour the mountain air, the glorious views and the peace and tranquillity which emanate from the mountain, there are many hotels around the foothills among them the famed Mount Kenya Safari Club.
Special thanks to the Kenya Association of Tour Operators for helping GORP develop Kenya parks information.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication