Mt. Kenya National Park is one of the most unique environments you will experience. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and considered one of the most impressive landscapes in East Africa. Mount Kenya National Park is the second-highest mountain in East Africa and Africa after Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Mt. Kenya, the Kenya coast, Lake Nakuru, Masai Mara national parks and Kenya wildlife are some of the most popular tourist safari destinations in Kenya. In this post, I share with you an extensive guide on enjoying this beautiful mountain.
Mt Kenya National Park has some impressive landscapes with rugged glacier summits, alpine moorlands and a diverse range of forests that show a variety of ecological places.
Mount Kenya has been an international biosphere reserve with an extinct volcano. A volcano las erupted over 3 million years ago. It was gazetted as a National Park in 1949. It is managed by Kenya Wild Life Service (KWS).
Where is Mount Kenya Located?
Mt. Kenya is located in central Kenya. It is 175 kilometres from Nairobi there are several ways to get here. The first one is through the Nanyuki – Isiolo highway or via the Nyeri- Nanyuki highway which is near Naro Moru. Another route to access the mountain is through Chogoria on the Embu – Meru highway that’s about 150 Km from Nairobi. These are the options you can use if you want to go to Mount Kenya.
You can also travel here by air. The closest airstrip is however in Nanyuki and from here you will have to drive all the way to the mountain.
Ready to go to Mount Kenya? Find the current Mt. Kenya Park Fees here
How Tall Is Mount Kenya?
Mt. Kenya height is between 2200 meters to 5200 meters. There are a total of 800 plant species with 81 of these that are only found here.
Mount Kenya Peaks
- Mt. Kenya Batian peak is the highest peak at 5,199 meters
- Mount Kenya Nelion peak is the second highest peak at 5,1888 meters
- Mount Kenya Point Lenana is the third highest peak at 4,985 meters
Facts About Mount Kenya National Park
- There are over 800 recorded plant species with 81 of these that are only found in the forest reserve
- It is managed by Kenya Wildlife Service.
- Animals found here include the Cape Buffalo and the Elephant. Others include the hyrax, birds and various monkey species.
- There are over 130 species of birds which include the hoopoes, bee-eaters, francolin, the Jackson francolin and the scaly francolin.
- Another Mount Kenya fact is the national park is about 2800 sq. km
Things To Do In Mount Kenya National Park
Camping and Hiking
One of the most popular activities people do when they get to Mt. Kenya is go camping as they go climbing mount Kenya. There are public campsites and these are located in the forest reserve zone at an average altitude of 2,500 m. Camping areas are located at Naro Moru, Sirimon and Chogoria gates. Here you will find picnic tables, water and road head public campsites.
Places to camp include Met Station at the Naro Moru route, Judmaier/ Old Moses at the Sirimon Route and Chogoria Roadhead at the Chogoria Route. These campsites are 3000 meters above sea level.
Trailhead campsites are located about 4,000 meters above sea level. At the Naro Moru route, there’s Mackinder’s camp, Shipton’s camp at the Sirimon route and Minot’s hut at Chogoria route. You will find pit latrines, and water provided. This is an alpine zone and fires are not allowed. If planning on camping here, carry a camp stove.
Peak circuits also have campsites: These are the peak zones of an average of 4,600 m. They are Austrian Hut and Top Hut located at Naro Moru, Kami at Sirimon and Two Tarn at Chogoria. Fires are not allowed here too. Water and pit latrines are provided.
Tips While Camping In the Mt. Kenya Forest Reserve
- Stay on trails where they exist as this protects the surrounding vegetation and prevents soil erosion.
- Camp on durable surfaces such as rock or bare ground instead of vegetation.
- Camp at least 50 meters away from water, this helps prevent contaminating the water with human waste.
- Wear appropriate clothing. The peaks can get very chilly so pack warm clothes.
Drive to Lake Ellis
You can take day trips where you can hike to see several waterfalls around Mt. Kenya Forest. There are also lakes you can day trips to. These are Lake Alice and Lake Ellis. To get here you have to drive through the forest reserve. To drive to Lake Ellis, you will need a 4 by 4 vehicle as the road is swampy, muddy and you have to plan your route before you pass through. In some instances, you may have to alight the vehicle and wait for the driver to go through the swampy paths.
While you plan your stay at Mount Kenya and hiking to the highest peaks is not one of your favourite past times, you can choose to drive and these two beautiful lakes inside Mount Kenya forest.
If using the Chogoria gate, the drive to Lake Ellis is about 40 minutes so plan ahead to have packed lunch and have a picnic by the lake.
Fishing is allowed at Lake Ellis at Ksh. 1,550 per person. It is a beautiful spot to have picnics. There are two campsites across the lake.
Hike Up To Nithi Falls
Nithi Falls is located inside Mount Kenya. The hike to Nithi falls can be part of your day trip at Mount Kenya. You can start by hiking up and down trails to get to Nithi Falls. Take photos and relax here for a while before trekking down and driving up to Lake Ellis.
Mount Kenya National Park Hotels
Mount Kenya Lodge
This is a camping ground with bandas that are managed the county government of Tharaka Nithi. The lodge was built long ago and it looked it could do with a facelift. However, this was the most convenient place from the Chogoria gate to take day trips and spend some time at Lake Ellis.
The Serena Mountain Lodge
This lodge is located in Nyeri within Mount Kenya National Park.
Mountain Rock Lodge
This lodge is located by the slopes of Mt. Kenya it is 7 kilometers from Naro Moru and is less than 1km from the main road.
The Kenya Wildlife Service has self-catering Lodges
The Batian Guest House is located on the foot of the mountain. The guest house has four bedrooms: two bedrooms with double beds and one bedroom with a double-Decker and one bedroom that has two single beds. There is also a hot shower and toilet.
Sirimon Bandas are situated at the Sirimon Gate with accommodation that has two semi-detached bandas housed in one cottage. Each Banda has two bedrooms, one with a double bed, and one with two single beds. Each band has a hot shower and toilet.
Both the bandas have a caretaker, kerosene lamps, blankets, pillows, bed linen, towels, soap and toilet tissue.
What To Pack for Mount Kenya
Be thorough in your packing. Make sure you pack everything you will need for your trip because once you get to the remote towns it will be difficult to get some supplies. You can also opt to shop for supplies in Nanyuki. I would advise spending a day or two in Nanyuki to plan well for the tour to Mt.Kenya. Or you can plan ahead in Nairobi and go straight to Mt. Kenya without stopping over at Nanyuki.
Download the complete packing list to Mt. Kenya.
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