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.
Apart from mountain climbing, Mt. Kenya offers exhilarating outdoor attractions and diverse activities for the ultimate experience.
Popular on the lust are hikes, treks, and nature walks, to sundowner cocktails, golfing, and trout fishing.
Mt. Kenya (715 km2) is the only spot in the world where snow is found on the equator, its glacier-clad summits 16 kilometres/10 miles south.
According to Kikuyu tradition, the mountain is the throne of the god Ngai who bestowed the surrounding highlands on the Kikuyu people.
The three peaks of the mountain are Batian, Nelion and Lenana, named after Maasai chiefs.
German born British protestant missionary and explorer Dr. Johann Ludwig Krapf (Church Missionary Society), recorded seeing the mountain in 1849, having arrived in Mombasa five years earlier via Zanzibar and building a church at Rabai.
Few believed him, with Scottish geologist and explorer Joseph Thomson (Royal Geographical Society) confirming the snowcaps in 1883. Thomson had earlier arrived in East Africa on 1878 for an expedition searching east and central African lakes. It was during these trips that Thomson named several Kenyan landmarks, such as the Aberdare Range, which he named in honor of the then-President of the RGS, or Thomson Falls, which he dedicated to his father. His name lingers today in the Thompson’s gazelle, one of the most recognizable inhabitants of the African savannah.
Hungarian aristocrat and explorer Count Samuel Teleki von Szekn, with his companion Ludwig von Höhnel reached the snow line (14,000 feet) in 1887 on an expedition in East Africa to present day Lake Turkana with the blessings of Austrian Crown Prince Rudolf.
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.