Category Archives: Mount Kenya Trekking

HiKing and climbing mount kenya

Mount Kenya is a mountain in Kenya that lies astride the equator. It has many hiking trails. Some are luxury trails, others moderate, while others are hardship trails and for the the more extreme climber, there are Technical trails requiring special mountaineering skills.

The peaks of mountain kenya are

Batian, Nelion and Lenana. Most people when they talk of climbing mountain Kenya, they attempting to reach point Lenana.

Altitude Sickness

Altitude sickness, also called mountain sickness, is an illness that can affect mountain climbers, hikers, skiers, or travellers at altitudes above 2,400 meters.

Causes

Mountain sickness is caused by the failure of the body to adjust to reduced air pressure and lower oxygen levels at high altitudes. The faster you gain altitude, the more likely that you will suffer an attack. You are also at higher risk for mountain sickness if:

  • You live at or near sea level and travel to a high altitude.
  • You suffer from motion sickness.
  • You have not acclimatized to the altitude.
  • Alcohol or other substances have interfered with acclimatization.
  • You have medical problems involving the heart, nervous system, or lungs.

Symptoms

Mild mountain Sickness

In most cases, the malady is mild. Symptoms of mild to moderate mountain sickness may include any one or more of the following:

  • Light-headedness
  • Headache
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Shortness of breath

The symptoms often disappear when no father altitude is gained or if one descends. However, if one asserts themselves or climbs too fast, the mountain sickness may become acute and life-threatening as it affects the nervous system, lungs, and heart.

Acute Mountain Sickness

Symptoms of acute mountain sickness include:

  • Chest tightness or congestion
  • Confusion
  • Coughing
  • Coughing up blood
  • Decreased consciousness
  • Inability to walk in a straight line
  • Unable to walk
  • Shortness of breath at rest

Treatment

The main treatment for all forms of mountain sickness is to descend to a lower altitude as rapidly and safely as possible. You should not continue climbing if you develop symptoms without allowing for the symptoms to disappear. Extra oxygen may be given, but the patient must still descend to a lower altitude to allow for acclimatisation.

If symptoms persist, seek medical attention. Acetazolamide may be given by a medic.

Prevention

  • Climb the mountain gradually. Walk even if a road is provided.
  • Insert an extra day in your itinerary for every altitude gain of 600 to 1000m.
  • Hike high Sleep at a low.
  • Stop immediately symptoms are recognised and wait for them to subside
  • Drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids.
  • Eat regular meals that are high in carbohydrates.

Mt Kenya Trekking, Naro Moru Trail

Location Mt Kenya  Nationa Park and Mt Kenya Forest
Starting Point  Mt. Kenya National Park Naro Moru gate
Ending point Mt. Kenya National Park Naro Moru gate
Walking Duration 4 days
Terrain Forest, Bamboo, Alpine and snow
Difficulty Difficult
Elevation gain 2572m

The aim of this hike is to reach point Lenana on Mt Kenya.

This is arguably the most popular of the Mt Kenya trails. Perhaps this is on account of the good accommodation along the route or perhaps due to the short distance to the peak thus making it the fastest route to point Lenana. It is not all that scenic though. The final ascent to the peak is aided by the Olonana via ferrata. Of note on this route is the treacherous vertical bog on day two that can easily ruin ones morale once and if the boots get wet inside. The extremely steep trail on scree in day tree is a major trial.

The summit is easily reached in 4 days but an extra acclimatisation may be added either at the base, Naromoru River Lodge or Mackinder’s camp. For acclimatisation, most climbers begin the trek at the park gate, although it is possible to drive a vehicle up to and beyond the Met station (3050 metres).

Itinerary:

Day 1: Naro Moru Park Gate (2413masl) – Met Station (3050masl)
Time = 3-4 hrs, Walking distance = 9.5km, Altitude gain = 637m
The trek starts at the Mount Kenya National Park, Naro Moru Gate that is at an altitude of 2600m above sea level. The first stretch to the met station is through a motorable road with an occasional cutting of contours through the bamboo. This is a gentle 9.5 Kilometres trek that takes 3 – 4 hrs gaining an elevation of 450m and ends at Met station 3,000m.

Day 2: Met Station (3050masl) – Mackinder’s Camp (4300masl)
Time 5-6 hrs, Walking distance = 9.4km, Altitude gain = 1200m
The trek up to the UHF booster station is on a motorable gravel road through the bamboo zone. From the road head, it is a short walk in the rainforest that suddenly gives way to giant heather, tussock grass in the marshy vertical bog to arrive at the “Picnic Rocks” in time for lunch.

The terrain is tussock grass that gradually thins to alpine dessert all the way to Mackinder’s camp, gaining 1200m.

Day 3 (a): Mackinder’s Camp (4200masl) – Lenana Peak(4985)
Walking time 4hrs, Distance 5km, Elevation gain 785m
Wake at 2:00 am in order to launch an assault on point Lenana at 3:00 a.m. The trek takes you through Mackinder’s valley with the terrain mainly frozen scree and at times bare rock. You go past point John and Hans glacier and on to Austrian’s hut at 4790m. Expect snow and Ice. At the Austrian’s hut, you strip your luggage to a bare minimum and start kicking the snow to the peak an ascent of a further 200m. If all goes well, the 6km journey takes about 4 hrs and hikers target to be there at sunrise at 6:30 am for spectacular photos.

Day 3 (b): Lenana Peak (1985) – Met Station 11hrs, 11km, 785m ascent
Having summited, you descend down to Mackinder’s Camp for breakfast shedding 2hrs and then walk another 4hours to Met Station for dinner and overnight.

Day 4: Met Station (3050masl) – Naro Moru Forest gate (2600masl), 3hrs, 9km, 400m
After breakfast, you start your trek downhill for 9km through the rainforest to Naro Moru Park Gate.

Getting There
If driving, Naro Moru Town is to the west of Mt. Kenya and is easily identifiable in google maps near Nanyuki. The park gate is 18km from Town on an earth road.

If using public transport, take the Nanyuki matatus (from Accra Road, Tea Room area if in Nairobi). Arrange to meet your guide at Naro Moru bus station by calling them when the Matatu departs from your location.

Usually, the mountain guide would arrange your transfer from the Naro Moru town to the forest gate and back. Seen parking list

Mt Kenya Packing List

Mt Kenya Trekking, What to Carry

Trekking up mount Kenya to Lenana peak does not require any technical gear or rock climbing skills (barefoot it). All you need is a good pair of legs, endurance and some humour. Nevertheless, there some things you need to carry with you to make your life more bearable. Some things will be provided by your tour guide others will not. It is imperative you find out what is included in your package to avoid duplication or lacking some crucial personal effect while up there.

The mountain climate is capricious. Clouds can appear suddenly, quickly degenerate to soaking rain, and give way to sunshine within the hour. Early morning frost is common every other day of the year. Therefore hikers are advised to take their outdoor gear serious.

Things usually included in the trip package by the tour guide

  1. KWS Park fees
  2. Transport to and from the Nearest town (Nanyuki, Naromoru, Chogoria) to the park gate.
  3. Accommodation while on the mountain (bunkhouses or tents)
  4. Three meals a day whilst in the mountain
  5. Guide, Cooks & Porters

Things usually not included in the trip package.

  1. Accommodation other than on the mountain prior to & after the trip
  2. Hotel meals out of the mountain
  3. Grants & Tips
  4. Personal bites/ energy bars taken while hiking
  5. Alcoholic drinks

Recommended personal effects.

Pack light as the guide may require you to carry or discard some items if your rucksack if too heavy. Start with the must-have items then throw in the luxury items if space and weight allows.

Toiletries
Underwear
Face towel
Soap
Sunscreen
Lip Balm
Hand Sanitizer
Toilet Paper
Wet Wipes
Snacks, light-weight, high calorie, high energy (optional)

Rain Gear
Hiking trousers or shorts
Rain Trouser
Raincoat or Poncho
Bin liners (for lining bags)
Waterproof (paper) bags (for electronics)
Long Underwear (moisture-wicking fabric recommended)
Short Sleeve Shirt, light-weight, moisture-wicking fabric

Warmth Gear
Balaclava or cap (Woollen, fleece or Thinsulate) for your head
Puff Jacket (down, fleece, fibre or Thinsulate) avoid wool
Thermal underwear
Fleece Jacket
Gloves

Footwear
Hiking Boots
Thick socks (3 pairs)
Gym shoes, Sneakers or trainers (for resting in the evenings)
Gaiters**

Sleeping
Sleeping Bag 15°C [4 seasons]
Sleeping mat (if camping)

Trekking Aids
Walking Sticks
Head Torch
Sunglasses
Large Ruck Suck (from 60litres to be Carried by porters)
Small Day bag (20 to 30 litres for your hiking needs)

Optional comfort accessories;
Wet wipes
Personal travel insurance cover
Personal healthy bites/ snacks.
Passport/Identification Card
Prescription drugs
Painkillers
Anti-nausea
WC liner
Pencil and Notebook, miniature, for trip log
Camera, with extra batteries
Power bank
Book reader or book
Board game/playing cards
Sunglasses or Goggles
Vacuum flask
Camel-back water pouch
Stuff bags

Statutory Requirements
ID Passport
Vaccination cards (passing through the airport)

Mt Kenya Trekking, Sirimon Trail.

Location Mt Kenya  Nationa Park and Mt Kenya Forest
Starting Point Sirimon Mt. Kenya National Park  gate
Ending point Sirimon Mt. Kenya National Park  gate
Walking Duration 4 days
Terrain Forest, Bamboo, Alpine and snow
Difficulty Difficult
Elevation gain 2340m

The aim of this hike is to reach point Lenana on Mt Kenya. The approach is from the West of the Mountain at Nanyuki, and the trail starts at the  Sirimon Gate. It is considered the route with the highest success rate by guides and peak baggers.

The hike usually takes four days, but one can elect to spend one extra day for acclimatisation before the ascending to the summit. Sirimon is on the leeward side of the mountain so the trail is not as we as the others. The ground is predominantly rocky.

The first two days are fair, but ascending to Point Lenana (on summit night) can be trying but manageable.  Accommodation is either camping tent or mountain huts.

Day 1: Sirimon gate (2645masl) – Old Moses camp. ( 3,385masl)

Time 3-4 hrs, Distance 9km, Elevation gain 740m.
From the gate, the trek climbs gently through a magnificent rainforest to give way to bamboo at the road-head. The human/animal track passes through a giant heather zone before reaching the high altitude moorland and on to  Old Moses camp.

This is a gentle trek with an elevation gain of 650 metres over a 9km walking distance that takes 3 – 4 hrs.

Day 2: Old Moses (3385masl) – Shipton camp (4260m).

Time 7 hrs, Distance 13km, Elevation gain 875m.
You break camp and leave early for a 13km trek that takes seven hours at moderate speed gaining of 900 metres in elevation. The trek will see you cross several small streams, including Ontulili and Liki.  The Moorland starts at Liki and the climb gets steep as you continue uphill through the panoramic Mackinders Valley.

Optional Day: Shipton Camp – Acclimatisation Day
An extra night may be spent at Shipton for better acclimatisation. The day is spent taking a short walk to Oblong tarn (4570m) and Hausberg tarn 4560m uphill climbing to 4500m and back for lunch and rest and early to bed in preparation of early morning wake-up.

Day 3(a): Shipton (4260m) – Point Lenana(4,985m)

Time 3-4 hrs, Walking Distance = 2km, Elevation gain 725m

Wake at 2:00 for tea and biscuits to leave camp at 3.am for an attempt on the summit. The trail is predominantly scrambling on frozen treacherous scree (that can get worse if it defrosts before you climb). If all goes well you should reach point Lenana just before sunrise at 6:00 am.

The climb takes 3-4 hours.

Day 3(b): Point Lenana(4,985m) – Old Moses (2,650m)

Time 8 hrs

After the summit, you descend back to Shipton for breakfast at around 9:30 a.m and a short rest. Then you descend further to Old Moses for the overnight stay.

Day 4: Old Moses- Sirimon Gate2 hrs, 9km

After breakfast, descend on through the thick indigenous forest to Sirimon gate for you transport to Nanyuki

Getting There

If using public transport from Nairobi take Matatu to Nanyuki preferably before 7:00 am as the journey takes at least 3 hours. Arrange for your guide to meet you at the bus station for gear inspection and last minute shopping. Then take hired transport to the Sirimon gate.

On your way out, arrange for your guide to organise transport to the Nanyuki town where you may take lunch as you depart to your destination.

Mt Kenya Trekking. Sirimon – Chogoria

Location Mt Kenya  Nationa Park and Mt Kenya Forest
Starting Point Sirimon Mt. Kenya National Park  gate
Ending point Chogoria Mt. Kenya National Park  gate
Walking Duration 4 days
Terrain Forest, Bamboo, Alpine and snow
Difficulty Difficult
Elevation gain 2335m

This trek sees the hiker traverse Mt Kenya from West to East via point Lenana using the Mountain’s two most scenic trails, Sirimon trail and the Chogoria trail, that also have the highest likelihood of encountering big game. The hiker has a choice of four or five days on the mountain. Sirimon is on the leeward side of the mountain is rocky and relatively dry while Chogoria is on the windward side offers lush bamboo and highland forests. The trail, therefore, traverses diverse terrain in terms of flora and fauna.

The ascent to Point Lenana (on summit night) can be trying but manageable, but the first two days are fair.

Accommodation on this hike is in mountain huts.  Nonetheless, if you prefer to camp you can do so on all nights on the mountain.

Day 1: Sirimon gate (2650masl) – Old Moses camp. ( 3,300masl) 3-4 hrs, 9km, 650m ascent.
From the gate, the trek climbs gently through a magnificent rainforest to give way to bamboo at the road-head. The human/animal track passes through a giant heather zone before reaching the high altitude moorland and on to  Old Moses camp.

This is a gentle trek with an elevation gain of 650 metres over a 9km walking distance that takes 3 – 4 hrs.

Day 2: Old Moses (3300masl) – Shipton camp (4200m). 7 hrs, 13km, 900m ascent.
You break camp and leave early for a 13km trek that takes seven hours at moderate speed gaining of 900 metres in elevation. The trek will see you cross several small streams, including Ontulili and Liki.  The Moorland starts at Liki and the climb gets steep as you continue uphill through the panoramic Mackinders Valley.

Optional Day: Shipton Camp – Acclimatisation Day
An extra night may be spent at Shipton for better acclimatisation. The day is spent taking a short walk to Oblong tarn (4570m) and Hausberg tarn 4560m uphill climbing to 4500m and back for lunch and rest and early to bed in preparation of early morning wake-up.

Day 3: Shipton (4200m) – Point Lenana(4,985m)- Mt Kenya Bandas (2,900m) 11-12 hrs, 785 ascent, 2,085 descent.

Wake up to leave camp at 3.am for an attempt on the summit. The trail is predominantly scrambling on frozen treacherous scree (that can get worse if it defrosts before you climb). If all goes well you should reach point Lenana just before sunrise at 6:00 am.

The climb takes 3-4 hours.

After the summit, you descend to Minto’s hut for breakfast and a short rest. Then you descend further along the Gorges valley where you can enjoy good views of the Temple, Lake Michaelson, Mushroom rocks and Giants billiards table Mountain, taking lunch en route and on to Mt Kenya Bandas for dinner and overnight stay.

Day 4: Meru Bandas- Chogoria town2 hrs, 10km

After breakfast, descend on through bamboo forest then virgin rainforest to the forest gate to take your transport to Chogoria town and to your destination.

Getting There

If using public transport from Nairobi take Matatu to Nanyuki at Accra Road (Tea Room) preferable before 7:00 am as the journey takes at least 3 hours. Arrange for your guide to meet you at the bus station for gear inspection and last minute shopping. Then take hired transport to the Sirimon gate.

On your way out, arrange for your guide to organise transport to the Chogoria town where you may take lunch as you depart to your destination.