> Hiking atop Mt Kenya in Kenya during October <

 

Everyone knows Kilimanjaro, a mountain that’s climbed by many thousand trekkers each year. Just a few hundred kilometers north of Kilimanjaro the dormant volcano Kïrï Nyaga, or Mount Kenya, lies as the second highest peak on the African continent. Somewhat lying in the "shadow” of Kilimanjaro, much fewer people visit Kenya to challenge the Mt Kenya traverse and climb.

 

Standing at 5.199m, Mt Kenya is roughly circular and about 60km across. It's surrounded by fertile farmlands from where steep hills rise out of the gentler slopes. At the center of the massif, the main peaks rise sharply from around 4.500m to the main summits of Batian, Nelion and Lenana (+5,000m). Mt Kenya includes many distinct vegetation and geological zones, including rainforest, bamboo, moorland grasses, alpine Lobelia plant forests, tarns and meadows, and, at the uppermost elevation, rock, glaciers, and ice.

 

We did the Chogoria Route, starting from east, which is also one of the longest, but also the most spectacular and picturesque trail on the mountain. As we combined this route with a descend towards northwest to reach Nanuyki village, we got to traverse the complete Mt Kenya massif during a very long and tough trek. When reaching the higher parts in the central and rocky massif, we had both time and energy for an inclusion of the wild Summit Circuit Route to circle around the main peaks. This allowed us to have enough time on the high rocky parts of the mountain to acclimatize, and we had magnificent views to glaciers, deep gorges, and the many tarns (glacial lakes).

The Mt Kenya-traverse and climb is an enduring and tough trek. 90% of visiting climbers underestimate the mountain and many fail the summit. Two key challenges are the rapid gain of altitude on all routes, where climbers run the risk of high altitude sickness, and the long and strenuous daily treks of up to 10-16 hours depending on the route and number of stops. The mountain has very unpredictable weather and heavy rain can be encountered (and expected) all year round. This is indeed part of the great experience of climbing Mount Kenya.

For more climbs on the African continent, check our climbs of the Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda, the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, and the Nyiragongo in the DR Congo.

 

 

Selected pics:

KÏRÏ NYAGA / MOUNT KENYA 

Spectacular and grande volcano traverse and climb to 5.100m along the dramatic Chogoria Route

Location of Mt Kenya
Location of Mt Kenya
First night in Kenya
First night in Kenya

We arrived in Nairobi at midnight at drove three hours in Northern direction before finding place to sleep - a hostel in Embu

Boy in Chogoria
Boy in Chogoria

Our trek started from Chogoria village in the farmland East of Mt Kenya

Picking up goods for the trek
Picking up goods for the trek

We rented a 4x4 and picked up food, lamp oil, ropes, etc, in Chogoria town, before heading to the Chogiria trail leading to the Mt Kenya National Park

Stuck in mud
Stuck in mud

Heading through the jungle towards the Chogoria trail... and getting the 4x4 free from knee-high mud

Start of Chogoria route to Mt Kenya
Start of Chogoria route to Mt Kenya

The Chogoria trail is one of the most tough trails leading to the Mt Kenya. But it's without question the most scenic and rewarding of routes to the mountain massif.

Time for a break
Time for a break

We had several porters to carry food, water, ropes etc. The Eastern part of the central massif allures in the backdrop

Lunch time in the clouds
Lunch time in the clouds
Heading towards the higher parts
Heading towards the higher parts

The Eastern central massif it hidden in grey clouds.... prepare for rain!

View of Chogoria Route
View of Chogoria Route

The spectacular Chogoria Route. The parth is in between Lake Ellis to the left and the Gorges Valley to the right

Waterfall
Waterfall

Along the Chogoria route are many canyons and waterfalls

Thick clouds appear
Thick clouds appear

The weather on Mt Kenya can change in a few minutes, from blue sky to fog, and from heavy rain to icy hail and snow

Emptyness
Emptyness

There are parts on Mt Kenya that looks like the Moon. When mist kick in the landscape really becomes Tolkienesque

Giant Lobelia plant
Giant Lobelia plant

The upper alpine zone of Mt Kenya, at +4,000 m above sea level, is a scrubland with a Jurassic Park-like vegetation. Jakob is standing next to a so-called "Giant Lobelia", a surreal and beautiful plant that can grow very tall

Looking for the base camp
Looking for the base camp

... and views to the central massif

View to Mt Kenya massif at dusk
View to Mt Kenya massif at dusk
Above the clouds, 4000m
Above the clouds, 4000m

Close to Mintons's camp. The Kenyan highlands are 1.5km below us.

First camp in 4,200m
First camp in 4,200m

Just prepared the tent before the sun disappeared. At equator this happens in 20 min, so little time to find a place to sleep. This was our camp on the first night, which was situated on the flanks of Mount Kenya at around 4,200m

Dinner's served
Dinner's served

At high altitude one losses the appetite. So meals are forced down to regain energy for the long days of trekking

7 AM breakfast close to Minto's hut
7 AM breakfast close to Minto's hut

And a great view to the central massif, where we the same day took the central circuit route

Towards the high parts of Mt Kenya
Towards the high parts of Mt Kenya
Weather changes
Weather changes

The weather is extremely unpredictable each day during the trek. During two hours you can have sun, clouds, sun, sudden snow blizzad, extreme fog, and then back to sunny weather again

Gliant Lobilia forest
Gliant Lobilia forest

...No need anymore to imagine how the plant fauna looked like when dinosaurs were at the end of the food chain. With constant rainfall and sunlight the plants at the mountain have evolved to reach epic proportions.

Climbing at 4700m
Climbing at 4700m

Central circuit route

Tarns near the summit circuit path
Tarns near the summit circuit path

The summit circuit is a part of the Mt Kenya massif where one can circle around the major peaks. When the clouds split open, there are spectacular views to several tarns (small glacial lakes) with different colors. Here with views to the highest lakes in Africa, which are on the slopes of Mt. Kenya, incl. Lewis Tarn at 4587m

Along the summit circuit route
Along the summit circuit route

Thick clouds appear at 4 PM before we reach the Shiptons camp. We were a bit dazed from the altitude and the summit circuit and had to gain energy for the Mt Kenya summit

Shiptons Camp close to the summit
Shiptons Camp close to the summit

Shiptons Camp at 4200m is usually from where the summiting is started.The hut is owned hut by the Mountain Club of Kenya

View to clouded Mt Kenya peaks
View to clouded Mt Kenya peaks

Anders and Thomas the evening before we summited Mt Kenya. Just had a caloric rich pasta meal and are going to play cards and drink coffee before hitting the sleeping bags. A 6-8 hours night climb to the summit awaits

5,000m Peak Lenana at 5 AM
5,000m Peak Lenana at 5 AM

Thomas at the Mt Kenya Peak Lenana summit. We are waiting for sunrise

Waiting for the sunrise
Waiting for the sunrise