A Guide to Climbing Majestic Mount Kenya

 
Kenya's highest mountain (and Africa’s second highest mountain after neighbouring Tanzania's Mount Kilimanjaro) located within an eponymous national park around the centre of the country, this extinct volcano is estimated to be 2.5 million years old. Time has taken its toll on the former, reducing the peak from around 6,500 meters originally to 5,199 today as well as eroding the crater. Its higher slopes permanently covered in snow, surrounded by 715 square kilometers (1,852 sq. miles) of national park, the mountain consists of of three peaks - Batian (the highest), Nelion, and Lenana.and three main zones: - the rocky peak zone, the Afro-alpine moorland with its scattering of giant vegetation and the extensive tower slope covered with mountain forest and a bamboo there are more than 81 plant species. Any fit and prepared person can reach point Lenana - the so-called trekker’s peak - but the summit with the twin peaks of Batian and Nelion is considered even more technically challenging than the higher Kilimanjaro.
 

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Aspects of Climbing

Weather and When to Go

Kenya has two rainy seasons: the long rains from mid-March to mid-June and the short rains in September and October. Mount Kenya remains trekkable throughout the year, but especially during the long rains you will need to be prepared for some heavy rainfalls and muddy tracks. The good news is that even in the depth of the long rains, there is usually reliable sunshine for a good portion of the day in the mid-morning and afternoon (10 am to 3 pm). Outside the rainy season, you can expect plenty of sunshine.

Beyond that, temperatures up here do vary with the seasons. But as a general rule, it does gets freezing at night! You need to be prepared for overnight temperatures well below freezing - -10⁰ down to even -20⁰ Celsius (14⁰ to -4⁰ Fahrenheit) are not unheard of at Point Lenana (a good three- or four-season sleeping bag is a must). Otherwise, expect plenty of hot overhead sun and rain if you are trekking during the short or long rains.

How to Get Here 

From Nairobi to Mount Kenya is around a three and half hours’ drive.There are well- tarmacked roads all the way to the towns of Naromoru, Nanyuki, and Chogoria at the foot of its eastern slope, but the last stretch of the road up to the park gates is a rough dirt road that can get almost impassable in the rainy season, when a four-wheel-drive vehicle is essential.

Pace Yourself

Climbing Mount Kenya is very accessible - but that in itself can be a problem, because with a decent level of fitness it's easy to gain altitude quickly and find yourself the on the night before summiting with a throbbing headache and all the symptoms of acute mountain sickness. Trekking with a good experienced guide, taking a sensible easy pace and keeping hydrated makes all the difference. The best approach is always to allow extra time for your ascent, an extra day at Shipton’s Camp takes all the pressure of the itinerary and gives you time to enjoy the fabulous trekking around the peak. Generally speaking, it isn’t necessary to undergo a grueling fitness regime prior to attempting Mount Kenya, anyone who is trek fit and is comfortable walking six to eight hours each day.

Guides, Porters, and Cooks

Your trekking crew will usually consist of a guide, cook, and one porter for the cooking gear, along with a personal porter per trekker. It has been said before, but a good, experienced guide is so important on Mount Kenya, for two reasons: 1. they will regulate your pace, be able to draw on their experience to diagnose altitude sickness symptoms, and have the confidence to make critical decisions. 2. their knowledge of the wildlife and fauna on the mountain will bring the environment alive. All guides and porters must be registered with Kenya Wildlife Services and hold a mountain guide park from Mount Kenya National Park. It is fair to say that all the guides will have a good knowledge of the routes, but only the good guides will have wildlife knowledge and experience of dealing with altitude sickness problems.

5 Main Route Options

The Sirimon Route: Starting from Nanyuki, this is the most popular ascent as the altitude gain is nice and steady and it offers one of the most beautiful approaches to the peaks. Allow a minimum of two nights to peak when ascending, although we recommend spending an extra night at the last camp (Shipton’s) on the way up.

The Burguret Route: If you want to avoid the crowds then Burguret is the best route. You’ll be hacking through the pristine rainforest on this little-used route, overnighting at wilderness campsites. Going up this route is challenging, though - it's little more than a game track in places, often muddy and rough under foot. Burguret is usually combined with a Chogoria or Sirimon route descent. Allow a minimum of three nights before peak when ascending.

The Naromoru Route: The most popular descent route, fast and easy (at least on the way down!). Naro Moru passes through the notorious vertical bog section which gets much waterlogged in the rainy seasons. The vegetation is at its most striking on this route. It can be descended in one very long day, usually done in two days and one night, arriving ijn the town of Naromoru.

The Chogoria Route: If you have more time then choose dramatic Chogoria over Naro Moru for the descent. The Chogoria route passes by tarns, waterfalls, and an incredible gorge.  Allow two or three days for your descent. 

The Timau Route: This one is little used nowadays, as there is the little forest on this side of the mountain and no facilities, just lots of wide open country.

 

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Organising a Trekking Expedition


Independent vs. Tour Group

If you want to attempt the trek independently, you’ll need to get yourself to the park gates by taxi or matatu (a privately owned minibus operated as a shared taxi). The park authorities do not allow trekkers to enter the park alone, so there will need to be two or more. You’ll need to be prepared to bring all your own gear and provisions (climbing gear is available for hire in nearby towns). The biggest challenge you will find is navigation on the mountain. Paths are not clearly marked and cloud cover is common. If you don’t want to hire camping equipment, then there are huts all the way on the Sirimon route.

But as we said, navigation can be quite challenging, and in fact each year trekkers die on Mount Kenya attempting to get to Point Lenana; it is easy to get lost in the cloud cover! So it's by far better to book a trekking expedition with a team of expert, experienced guides with extensive high-altitude experience.

Pair Mount Kenya with a Wildlife Safari

When coming to climb this iconic mountain, it would be a pity to not also set aside time to explore Kenya's most famous offering: its wildlife safaris. And as it happens, there are a couple of fantastic game parks to the north of Mount Kenya which make a convenient add-on to a climbing trip and offer both luxury and budget options. Samburu National Reserve is a two-hour drive away, and in three days you can get a good taste of its abundant wildlife, including elephants, zebras, giraffes, leopards, cheetahs, and lions. Even closer- just one hour - is Meru National Park, where conservationists George and Joy Adamson raised Elsa the lioness, made famous in the movie Born Free; it offers a similar variety of animals (as well as rhinos and crocodiles). And if you have more time (say, a week), then you can journey on by road from Mount Kenya to Masai Mara via the Rift Valley Great Lakes.

 

YHA-Kenya Travel Tours and Safaris

Our budget adventure climbing, camping safari packages are well planned and thought out to fit your budget. Activities are very exciting and innovative we ensure that after climbing Mount Kenya you will have a life-changing impact and leave you with indelible memories.

These adventure mountain climbing expedition trips are designed so well to suit all types of adventure travel budgets and mode of travel be it Solo, families, independent travelers, groups, small group adventures and travelers of all ages and size. Please choose any of our budget adventure climbing to mount Kenya itineraries provided on this site that best suits your interest in any of our adventure budget expedition hiking tour of Mount Kenya. We hope that you will enjoy traveling in and around Kenya’s most scenic places like Mountain Kenya to enable you to enjoy, take awesome photos and save on great budget safari travel holiday deals that we offer.

​YHA-Kenya Travel offers you the opportunity to sample climbing Mount Kenya as well as other adventure and ecotourism activities, some of which are a very excellent range of short-term budget travelers. We arrange trekking trips for climbing Mount Kenya and this includes transport to and from Nairobi. At the cheaper end, this will involve your guide meeting you in Nairobi and travel with you on a public minibus (matatu) to the mountain. This saves a lot of money, but be prepared for delays and extra costs once you get to the mountain if it is raining as you’ll be forced to sort out a 4wd to get to the park gates. If you pay a little more than your trek will include the transfer in a private vehicle from Nairobi. Your trek crew and equipment will be ready and wait for you at the foot of the mountain.

We also handle other aspects of Kenya travel - including the Masai Mara game reserve, the Great Lakes in the Rift Valley, and the beautiful beaches and other sites on the Kenyan coast - as well as many destinations and activities in next-door Tanzania..

Mount Kenya Climbing Adventures with itineraries and all-inclusive prices (subject to change based on travel group choices, weather, and road and political conditions):

3 Days Adventure Climbing Mount Kenya Sirimon Down Sirimon.

4 Days Adventure Climbing Mount Kenya Up Sirimon Down Sirimon.

5 Days Adventure Climbing Mount Kenya Up Sirimon Down Sirimon.

5 Days Adventure Climbing Mount Kenya Naromoru Route.

5 Days Adventure Climbing Mount Kenya Up Naro Moru Out Chogoria Route.

6 Days Adventure Mount Kenya Climbing Up Chogoria Out Timau Route.

6 Days Adventure Climbing Mount Kenya Up Naro Moru Out Chogoria Route.

7 Days Adventure Climbing Mount Kenya Up Chogoria Out Naro Moru Route.


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