At just over 5,100m (17,058 ft.), Mt. Kenya is the highest mountain in Kenya and the second highest in Africa after Mt. Kilimanjaro. Since time immemorial, the Kikuyu have revered Kirinyaga – meaning White Mountain – as the home of their god Ngai/ It is a giant extinct volcano whose ridges have been worn down, leaving only the central peaks.
Since 1991, Mount Kenya National Park & Reserve is one of 103 Africa’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, playing a key role in Kenya’s cultural, economic and ecological arena; supplying over seven million people with their daily water needs and providing a home to several endemic species.
The explorer Dr. Krapf, reported seeing the mountain in 1849, with Joseph Thomson confirming the snow caps in 1883. Count Teleki reached the snow line in 1887, and Captain Dundas in 1899.
Dense forests and bamboo shelter elephants, buffaloes and black rhinos; larger herbivores such as plains zebras and common elands graze as high as the alpine meadows; bushbucks and waterbucks are common, with the occasional melanistic serval and leopard sighting.
Black-and-white colobus leaps into the overgrown ravines when spotted, Sykes’ monkeys feed along the roads. Elephants and buffaloes appear suddenly from the bush (up until 4,000m in the Teleki Valley), and black-fronted duikers, sunis, and giant forest hogs live in the under story. Tree hyraxes screech after sunset and white-tailed mongooses dart across the roads. Once a stronghold of black rhinos, about 6 families are believed to still remain at the forests, with other rarities including the golden cats.
Hartlaub’s turacos, white-headed wood-hoopoes, and red-fronted parrots; pairs of Hunter’s cisticolas, silvery-cheeked hornbills sun themselves on the topmost branches. Parties of white-headed wood-hoopoes probe cracks; and Cinnamon-chested bee-eaters snap prey from exposed branches. The mighty lammergeier cruises the greatest heights, with Verreaux’s eagles and mountain buzzards constantly on patrol.