The nature-rich country of Kenya is home to Africa’s second highest mountain, Mount Kenya. It is located in Mount Kenya National Park, which is not only an amazing place to view this majestic mountain, but to also indulge in some excellent animal and bird viewing. The park has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Mount Kenya rises to a height of 6000 metres/19,500 feet. It may seem surprising that its glacier-clad summits are situated only 16 kilometres/10 miles south of the equator. It has also significant importance to the local Kenyan tribes, who view it as a holy mountain. This extinct volcano, apart from its snowy peaks, has forested lower and middle slopes. When you first sight Mount Kenya, you will certainly be taken by its beauty amid such dramatic scenery.
The Mount Kenya National Park includes Mount Kenya and is basically a forest reserve in which a number of animal species reside. These include elephants, tree hyrax, white tailed mongoose, black fronted duikers, mole rats, bushbucks, waterbucks, elands, leopards, black rhinos, and buffaloes.
Let’s Not Forget Birders
There are at least 160 bird species existing in Mount Kenya National Park, with 53 of Kenya’s 67 African Highland biome species, including the rare and threatened Abbott’s starling. It is home to 6 of the 8 bird species that are endemic to the Kenyan Mountains. The park is also home to several species of eagles that sometimes soar high above.
Walking and Climbing Mount Kenya
There is no doubt that Mount Kilimanjaro, in Tanzania, is well known for its walking and climbing activities, but Mount Kenya also offers the same challenges. The majority of climbs involve rock climbing via the easiest route, although some only require a scramble or a walk. The highest peak that can be ascended without climbing is Point Lenana, at 4,985 metres/16,355 feet. Believe it or not, 15,000 visitors to the surrounding National Park annually climb this peak.
For the less skilled, there are eight walking routes up to the main peaks. Perhaps trekking might be a more appropriate word for this activity. The most common routes are the Chogoria, Naro Moru, and Sirimon routes. There is also a Summit Circuit path that circumnavigates the whole mountain in a day or two’s walking.
Accommodation in the National Park
Accommodation in Mount Kenya National Park ranges from very basic to luxurious. The more luxurious lodges are found on the lower slopes in and around the forest. These lodges have hotel-style accommodation – usually with log fires and hot running water. Many offer guided walks plus other activities such as fishing and bird watching.
With magnificent views of Mount Kenya, the famous luxury Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club Resort is set in over 100 acres of landscaped gardens. It was originally the retreat of movie star and Club founder, William Holden. Some of the Club’s illustrious former members have included Winston Churchill and Bing Crosby. Activities available include horseback riding, golf, croquet, a bowling green, table tennis, and swimming. You can view animals right from your bedroom window.
Accommodation higher on the mountain is more basic. These are huts that have bunkrooms with beds and provide somewhere to cook and eat. Some have running water. Camping is allowed anywhere in the National Park but is most encouraged around the huts to limit the environmental impact.
To sum up, the attractions of Mount Kenya National Park are the magnificent scenery, excellent lodge accommodation, and interesting animal and bird viewing.