Batian and Nelion Peaks

Staying At The Batian House

Batian House is 175km from Nairobi and is located on the north-eastern part of Nairobi. It can be unnerving having a troop of lascivious baboons cavort on the roof of your room at dawn. Nor does the site of an unmistakably buffalo shaped hole in the garden fence inspire confidence. It may also seem unconventional to find 50 lilies white, lean, mean, magnificently muscled British Army recruits walking across your back lawn at breakfast.

All these things are part for the course while staying at the Batian House, the KWS self- catering option on Mount Kenya. The house is named after Batian, a legendary Maasai Laibon or medicine man who was known for his wisdom and bravery.

The Batian was a house that was occupied by a Senior Warden of Mount Kenya National Park. The KWS decided to give him alternative accommodation and market the warden’s house as a self-catering option for visitors to the Park.

Magnificently located at the foot of the broad avenue that leads from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) headquarters at Naro Moru Gate to the Road Head and the Meteorological Station, the house enjoys an uninterrupted view of the mountain’s snowcapped peaks. These views are best seen early in the morning and just before dusk when they are not covered in cloud.

Immediately in front of the house is a salt-lick water hole, the favourite haunt of the local buffalo. To the rear of the house is a wide sweep of lawn leading up to its imposing entrance gates, several meters beyond them lie the workshops, offices and housing of KWS.

You would hardly know that you have neighbours, however, but for the occasional passage of a busy tractor loaded with a crew of community workers who are off to grade the road or lop bamboo.

The house itself is long, single roofed and stone-built with a broad stone-flagged terrace facing the mountain. There is a long dining table that seats eight people. Inside it offers a generous living room equipped with sofas and armchairs, hung with local oil paintings and black and white photographic prints of the mountain.

The living room has a television, rugs, and a baronial sized fireplace. KWS policy dictates that you bring your firewood, kindling and newspapers. There is also an open plan dining area incorporated into a living room which offers an elegant dining table and chairs that seats eight people. French doors lead off the living room and onto a verandah.

Also off the living room is a spacious kitchen with extensive modern cupboards (containing a complete set of crockery, serving dishes, pans, cooking utensils, cutlery and glasses, a gas cooker with four rings and an oven and a large refrigerator.

Hot water for the kitchen and bathrooms is provided for by a traditional means of lighting firewood at the rear of the house. This firewood here is supplied by the KWS.

There are four spacious and well-presented bedrooms, two at either end of the house. All offer fitted cupboards, mirrors and a complete set of beddings and towels. Two of these bedrooms have large double beds and one has two single bunk-beds, the other two have ordinary single beds. There are two bathrooms, one on either end of the house.

The house used to stand at the beginning of the main dirt track that leads to the peaks, but nowadays this branches off to the left just after the main gate. You can, however, still start the 5, 100-meter climb from the privacy of your verandah and there is a feeling of great privilege to drive or walk straight down the mountain into your backyard.

A five-minute walk from Batian house is a spacious public campsite which is charmingly located in a forest clearing. There are picnic tables, water and pit latrines. Campfires are permitted but you must bring your firewood.

The Batian House can be hired in its entirety. It sleeps a maximum of eight people.  As a guest KWS will provide you with a caretaker, kerosene lamps, blankets, pillows, bed linen, towels, soap and toilet paper. Generator electricity is only available at night.

Here are the current rates of Batian Guest House

How To Get There

By Road

From Nairobi, travel north-east on the A2 Thika, Karatina and Nyeri. 13km before Nyeri the road divides. Turn right with the A2 towards Kiganjo and Naro Moru which is about 25km. At Naro Moru, turn right and travel 17 km to Naro Moru Gate.

By Air

You can arrive here using the Nanyuki airstrip.

During the dry season, access to Naro Moru gate and the cottage is possible by a 2WD although 4WD is recommended. The 4 WD is essential during the rainy season.

Climate

Mount Kenya’s weather is very volatile and varies with altitude. At points, over 4,000 meters the mountain is usually cold and can be both misty and windy. During sunshine hours, daytime temperatures may rise to over 15 degrees centigrade and during periods of cloud cover, they may drop to nearly 0 degrees. Nocturnal temperatures habitually drop to around 10 degrees centigrade.

Mount Kenya National Park

This is one of the world’s highest National Parks. Straddling the equator, the mountain offers a unique mosaic of forest, mood land, rock and ice and is crowned by the glittering twin peaks of Batian at 5,199 m and Nelion at 5,188. The sacred home of Ngai the God of the Kikuyu people. Mountain Kenya is Kenya’s highest mountain, a national icon, a climber’s mecca, the nation’s namesake, a UNESCO Natural World Heritage site and a wildlife stronghold.

The most popular route, the Naro Moru route enjoys easy access, good bunkhouses and provides the quickest route to Point Lenana. Generally easy underfoot, it can become steep and boggy and although most stages are the only strenuous, the day the summit.

The overall altitude gain is 2985m, the distance is 38 km. climbing takes 3 days. The starting point is at Naro Moru Gate and the finish point, the metrological station with the highest point being point Lenana. It takes 3 to 4 hours. The Met station to Mackinder’s camp is about 5 to 6 hours. Mackinder’s camp to point Lenana plus it’s decent enough and it takes about 5 to 6 hours.

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