Climbing Mount Kenya is something else. Yes, of course, you should climb Kilimanjaro but when you are looking for a more interesting piece of rock in Africa, you will sooner or later come across Mount Kenya. Mount Kenya offers outdoor enthusiasts and mountaineers different options to bag one of the three peaks on Mount Kenya. You can make it as difficult as you possibly want. In this blog post we will focus mainly on the easiest but not less exciting way of climbing Mount Kenya: By foot. Yes, you can go trekking on Mount Kenya. We spoke to Evans Mwangi, who has climbed Mount Kenya hundreds of times as a guide and a porter and share his insights and tips.
Everyone can name the highest mountain in Africa but did you know that Mount Kenya is the second highest? With 5,199 meters Batian Peak is a bit higher than Nelion (5,1888m) and Point Lenana (4,985m). If you want to summit the first two peaks mentioned, you will need to gain some experience in traditional rock climbing. However, if you want to climb Point Lenana, you can just buy a decent pair of hiking shoes. You can get to the third highest peak on the second-highest mountain of Africa in only a few days of hiking. Evans Mwangi of Go To Mount Kenya has gone a few hundred times before you and these days he is sharing his expertise with trekkers from all over the world who want to trek to Point Lenana.
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Climbing Mount Kenya with Evans Mwangi
"I was only 18 years old when I started as a porter on Mount Kenya. It was a good way to make money in those days," remembers Evans Mwangi, managing director of Go To Mount Kenya, a trekking company specialized in Mount Kenya tours. "It was 1989. As I liked hiking so much, it was an obvious choice for me. The money was good and it kept me fit. No one in my family was into it, but I went for it anyway. Before I knew it, I was in my 20s and I had climbed Mount Kenya so often that I knew the mountain like the back of my hand. I was a cook for a few years and I then became a guide and started leading trekking expeditions."
"I remember the mountain in those days. The glaciers on Mount Kenya, especially the Lewis Glacier, could be enjoyed in all their glory. Over the years the glaciers became smaller and smaller. One of them is just dust and rocks these days", says Evans with a slightly sad tone. "Climate change definitely took its toll on Mount Kenya. Everything else if still as it was, of course. The route itself hasn't changed."
The Importance of Mount Kenya
Mount Kenya isn't just a great mountain to see and climb. The second-highest mountain of Africa is a massive catchment area and plays a vital role in the agricultural sector on the lower slopes of the mountain. "This is why you will see that every door in houses around Mount Kenya is facing the mountain. People believe the Gods are on the mountain and they provide. Without rain, no crops," explains Evans. "On top of that, tourism on Mount Kenya plays another vital role. Many people have jobs as a guide, a cook or a porter on the mountain. The trekking industry definitely makes a positive change in the livelihoods of people on and around Mount Kenya." The Kikuyu, Ameru, Embu, and Maasai all call Mount Kenya their home.
There came a point for Evans to professionalized and to start his own company. Evans took a course in guiding and can now name all the vegetation on Mount Kenya and is a professional when it comes to preventing altitude sickness. Evans now has two daughters and one son. Will they be part of the company one day? "I will leave that up to them. If they want to, they are welcome to. Of course, I am not as often on Mount Kenya as I used to be, but I do try to bring my family or my friends every now and then. Nothing is more rewarding than to have a few Tusker Beers after having successfully made it to Point Lenana."
Tips for Climbing Mount Kenya from Evans
"Some friends and I tried to climb to one of the other peaks some time ago. But for this, you need to be a very experienced rock climber. We didn't make it all the way to Batian, unfortunately. But, the trek to Point Lenana can be done by everyone, especially if you take it pole pole. This is Swahili for taking it easy", explains Evans. A guide will tell you the same when climbing Kilimanjaro. Taking it easy is key if you want to prevent altitude sickness and make it successfully to your goal. "As soon as you make it to 3000 meters, it is okay to take it slower. Also, you must drink lots of water to stay properly hydrated."
Most treks on Mount Kenya are either 4,5 or 6 days. If you have the time, Evans suggests doing it in 5 days at least. "This will give you more time for acclimatization and this way the trek doesn't become the rush. This will also allow you to do one of the longer routes, like the 6-day Burguret-Chogoria Traverse. Personally, I love the Chogoria side of the mountain", tells Evans. Further one you will find one of Evans his favourite itineraries.
What is the Best Season for Climbing Mount Kenya?
Mount Kenya can be climbed all year round. But if you want the best conditions, then you should be planning for January to March or June to October. *Then you are avoiding the rainy season and you get the best weather and with that the best views", Evans agrees. Of course, the weather on the mountain can be hard to predict and all seasons are possible at any time on the day, but if you stick to the best seasons, you can get the best bang for your buck.
Huts While Climbing Mount Kenya
Because Mount Kenya has so many different routes, there a lot of huts to be found on the mountain. Below we give you a description of the ones that will apply when you are trekking to Point Lenana. (Source)
Around the Peak Circuit Path Austrian Hut/Top Hut (4,790 metres (15,715 ft)
Austrian Hut is the highest hut on Mount Kenya, with the exception of Howell Hut on Nelion. It is a good base for the ascent of Lenana, or for exploring the surrounding area. Peaks that can be ascended with Austrian Hut as a base camp include Point Thompson, Point Melhuish, and Point John. It is also the starting point for the Normal Route up Nelion, as well as other routes up to the summits. The hut was built with Austrian funding, following the rescue of Gerd Judmeier.
Two Tarn Hut (4,490 metres (14,731 ft)
Two Tarn Hut is located on Two Tarn Col beside a lake. It is often used before ascending Batian from the southern and western routes. Kami Hut (site of) (4,439 meters (14,564 ft)) Kami Hut was constructed in 1963and was used by climbers of the north face of Batian until the local Kami Tarn became too polluted.
Kami Hut (site of) (4,439 metres (14,564 ft)
Kami Hut was constructed in 1963 and was used by climbers of the north face of Batian until the local Kami Tarn became too polluted.
Huts on Chogoria Route Meru
Mt Kenya Lodge (3,017 metres (9,898 ft)
This is a privately owned lodge on the edge of the national park. Park fees have to be paid. The lodge is about 500 m from the park gate, and consists of several log cabins, each with a bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and living area with log fireplace. There is hot running water in the cabins, which sleep 3–4 people. The campsite is located at the park gate, and has running water.
Urumandi Hut (site of) (3,063 metres (10,049 ft)
This hut was built in 1923 and is no longer used.
Minto's Hut (porters only) (4,290 metres (14,075 ft)
Minto's Hut sleeps 8 porters, and is situated near Hall Tarns. There is a campsite nearby. Water is taken directly from the tarns. The tarns have no outflow and so the stagnant water needs to be filtered or boiled before use.
Huts on Naro Moru Route
The Warden's Cottage (2,400 metres (7,874 ft)
This was home to the park's senior wardens until 1998. There are two bedrooms, a bathroom, a kitchen and a living area with veranda and log fire. There is running hot water. The cottage is inside the national park, so park fees must be paid.
Meteorological Station (3,050 metres (10,007 ft)
The Met Station is administered by Naro Moru Lodge. There are several bunkhouses here as well as a campsite. Mackinder's Camp (4,200 meters (13,780 ft) Mackinder's Camp is also administered by Naro Moru Lodge. There is a large bunkhouse and plenty of space for camping.
Sirimon Bandas (2,650 metres (8,694 ft)
Sirimon Bandas are located at Sirimon Gate, just inside Mt Kenya National Park. The bandas each have two bedrooms, a kitchen, a dining room, a bathroom and a veranda. There is hot running water. The surrounding area contains much wildlife, including hyaena, zebra, many antelope, baboons and lots of species of birds. Park fees have to be paid, although the bandas are situated just outside the gates. There is a campsite next to the bandas, with running water and long drops.
Old Moses Camp (3,400 metres (11,155 ft)
Old Moses Camp is administered by Bantu Utamaduni Lodge. It has dormitories and a large campsite, as well as accommodation for guides and porters.
Liki North Hut (3,993 metres (13,100 ft)
Liki North Hut was little more than a shed to keep the weather off, but now it has lost its roof so provides no shelter any more. However, there is space to camp, a basic toilet and a river nearby for water. It is on the lesser used path between Old Moses and Shipton's Camps and can by used as a base for climbing Terere and Sendeyo or to stop off on the way to Shipton's Camp.
Shipton's Camp (4,236 metres (13,898 ft)
Shipton's Camp is administered by Bantu Utamaduni Lodge. It is home to many rock hyrax, as well as striped mice, many types of sunbirds and Alpine Chats. Mountain Buzzards fly overhead. The vegetation is dominated by giant groundsel, but there are many flowers and lobelia as well. On the skyline is a view of Points Peter and Dutton, with Batian overshadowing them. Also in view are Thompson's Flake and Point Thompson, with Point Lenana on the other side of the Gregory Glacier. In front of the main peaks is the Krapf Rognon, with the Krapf Glacier behind.
Huts, if you are not camping, are always included in your trekking package. Here you can find our offers.
What Should I Pack While Climbing Mount Kenya?
Trekking in Mount Kenya requires decent gear. Especially the basics like an 80-90l backpack and quality trekking socks.
- Waterproof Jacket, breathable with hood
- Insulated Jacket, synthetic or down
- Soft Jacket, fleece or soft-shell
- 2 Long Sleeve Shirts, light-weight, moisture-wicking fabric
- Short Sleeve Shirt, light-weight, moisture-wicking fabric
- Waterproof Pants, breathable (side-zipper recommended)
- 2 Hiking Pants (convertible to shorts recommended)
- Fleece Pants - Shorts (optional)
- Long Underwear (moisture-wicking fabric recommended)
- 3 Underwear, briefs (moisture-wicking fabric recommended)
- 2 Sport Bra (women) Headwear
- Brimmed Hat, for sun protection
- Knit Hat, for warmth
- Balaclava, for face coverage (optional)
- Bandana (optional)
- Gloves, warm (waterproof recommended)
- Glove Liners, thin, synthetic, worn under gloves for added warmth (optional)
- Hiking Boots, warm, waterproof, broken-in, with spare laces
- Gym Shoes, to wear at camp (optional) - 3 Socks, thick, wool or synthetic
- 3 Sock Liners, tight, thin, synthetic, worn under socks to prevent blisters (optional)
- Gaiters, waterproof (optional)
- Sunglasses or Goggles
- Backpack Cover, waterproof (optional)
- Poncho, during rainy season (optional)
- Water Bottle (Nalgene, 32 oz. recommended
- Water Bladder, Camelback type (recommended)
- Towel, lightweight, quick-dry (optional)
- Stuff Sacks or Plastic Bags, various sizes, to keep gear dry and separate Equipment
- Sleeping Bag, warm, four seasons
- Sleeping Bag Liner, for added warmth (optional)
- Trekking Poles (recommended)
- Head lamp, with extra batteries
- Duffel bag, (waterproof recommended) for porters to carry your equipment.
- Daypack, for you to carry your personal gear
- Toiletries (Option)
- Lip Balm
- Insect Repellent, containing DEET
- First Aid Kit
- Hand Sanitizer
- Toilet Paper (To be provided)
- Wet Wipes (recommended)
- Snacks, light-weight, high calorie, high energy (optional)
- Pencil and Notebook, miniature, for trip log (optional)
- Camera, with extra batteries (optional)
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Itinerary for Climbing Mount Kenya
The following itinerary is a favorite of Evans Mwangi: "Chogoria is fantastic. This shows a more beautiful side of the mountain and allows us to camp in some special places. An absolute favorite of mine." Here you can find the itinerary of this trek and more information.
Day 1: Nairobi – Mt Kenya Bandas (2,900m) 3hrs, 10km walk, 950m ascent.
After pick up in Nairobi, we drive through agricultural country up to Chogoria town for lunch. After lunch, we take 4×4 and drive up to the edge of the bamboo forest where we start our trek through the dense bamboo forest for distance of 10 km up to the Mt Kenya Bandas. Dinner and overnight at the Mount Kenya Bandas. (3000m)
Day 2: Mt Kenya Bandas – Minto`s campsite ( 4,200m) 8-9 hrs, 17km, 1,400 ascent.
Today you commence early for a long trek on a wide track through the forest, with occasional sightings of elephant, bushbuck, buffalo and impala. Emerging from the forest, you walk through heather before crossing the Nithi River to reach the moorlands from where you can enjoy good views of the picturesque Gorges Valley, the Temple, lakes, mushroom rocks, billiards table and the high peaks. Total walking time approx. 8 hours, picnic lunch en route.
Day 3: Minto`s – Pt Lenana ( 4,985m) Judmiere Camp (3,300m) 11-12 hrs, 785m ascent, 24km walk, 1,685m descent
Predawn attempt of the summit starts at 0300hrs and you hike for about three hours up to point Lenana (4,985m), the hikers summit, arriving there for the African sunrise. Descend Shipton`s camp for breakfast. After breakfast, begin a 5 hour descent via Mackinder`s valley to the Judmiere camp. ( 3,300m) The descent is gentle and it offers ample time to enjoy fascinating scenery which includes the moorlands before reaching the camp. Dinner and overnight at judmiere camp.
Day 4: Judmiere Camp – Nairobi. 2 hrs walk.
After early morning breakfast, descend for 3 hours to the Sirimon Park gate to catch a vehicle for the return journey to Nanyuki for lunch. Later transfer back to Nairobi arriving by 1700hrs.
How To Train for Climbing Mount Kenya?
If you are wondering about how to train for your Mount Kenya trek, you can use these five steps to become the best version of yourself. Fitness is not as important as the right acclimatization, but it can definitely make things easier and help you on your way to Point Lenana.
Aerobic fitness: You best get moving as soon as you have your mind set on your Mt Kenya climb. With the right aerobic fitness, you will have an improved heart rate, healthy muscles, and great lung capacity. Do power walking, running, hiking, trekking, cycling and/or swimming. Don’t worry. you don’t need to train for a marathon. One hour, 3 to 4 times a week is plenty of exercise.
Endurance: When you are comfortable doing exercise a few times a week, you can fire it up by doing some longer sessions. The best thing you can do is walking long distances, at least once a week. If you can hike comfortably for a prolonged time, you are good to go.
Gear: Don’t use your backpack and shoes that you purchased for your Mt Kenya ascentfor the first time after your land. Break them in and use this equipment when you are working on points 1 and 2. Altitude: If you can, you can mimic the altitude by hiking and trekking in the hills and mountains. If you do not live in the right area for that, then don’t panic. The first two points are most important.
Know your body: This is perhaps the most important part. If you are questioning your physical capabilities, you should perhaps go see a professional for monitoring. It is important to know your body, so you can notice any warning signs when you are on your way to Point Lenana.
How much does climbing Mount Kenya cost?
As there is different trekking routes on Mount Kenya, there are different options and prices as well. You can climb Mt Kenya in as little as 4 days but you can also do a traverse and spend 6 days on the mountain. 4 to 5 days on the mountain, regardless of which route you choose can cost between 600 and 700 EUR or 700 and 800 USD. If you are interested in doing the Burguret - Chogoria Traverse, for example, you can expect to pay about 975 EUR or 1080 USD.
Should I tip my guide after have climbed Mount Kenya?
In the mountaineering and trekking industry, it is common to tip your guide and other support staff after you have safely descended. And why not? If it wasn't for them, you might not have submitted and they are there to keep you safe. Just as when you are trekking in Nepal or when you are climbing Kilimanjaro, it is expected to give your guide and porters a tip. It is normal to tip about 8 to 12% of the total trekking price. The tips will be split among your staff.
Where to book your Mount Kenya climb?
The great thing about the internet is that you can find anything anywhere. The same goes for hiking and trekking providers. However, since there is so much on offer, it can be overwhelming to find a trekking operator of your liking. That is why Bookatrekking.com does the selection for you.We only join hands with the best hiking and trekking providers we can trust. You can rest assured that the trekking operators on Bookatrekking.com are reliable.You can find the perfect trekking route for climbing Mount Kenya here.