Mount Kenya Natural History, This is Africa’s second highest mountain at 5,199m and the highest of all Kenya Mountains. Mount Kenya is roughly circular, about 60km across at the 200mm contour, where the steep font hills rise out of the gentler slopes of the centered highlands. At the centre of the massif, the main peaks rise sharply from around 4,500m to the main summit of Batian 5,199m, Nelion 5,188m and point Lenana 4,985m. Other major summits on the mountain include Point Piggott 4,957m, Point Dutton 4,885 and Point John 4,883m. Of the three main peaks (Batian, Lenana and Nelion), only point Lenana can be reached by trekkers and the other two being only for technical climbers.
After the cultivated farmlands on the lower slopes the trails pass through the rain forest, rich in trees of many species but noticeably camphors, then onto a bamboo zone growing to heights of more than 12m or more up through open moor land before reaching the moonscape of higher slopes. The forests are rich in wildlife including elephant, buffalo and monkeys with even the moor lands offering a long list of mammals including the rock hyrax, the nearest living relative of the elephant.
Mt. Kenya is an ancient volcanic mountain much older than Mt. Kilimanjaro. It’s believed to have once reached well above 6000m. What is left today is volcanic plug which erosion has fashioned into the complex jagged outline of the central peaks.
When to Trek
Although, Mount Kenya can be climbed all year round, it’s safest to climb Mt. Kenya during the dry seasons: January-February and August to September off the most reliably fine weather. The main routes are likely to be more crowded at this time of the year. If you favor complete solitude over the sunny skies, try going slightly off the peak season. It’s best to avoid the two rainy seasons from mid March until June and from late October to the end of December.
Mount Kenya climbing Routes/Itineraries
There are three main routes, which penetrate the forest and the moorland. The routes are Naromoru, Sirimon and Chogoria and each of which has something different to offer. Naromoru is the fastest route to point Lenana but not as scenic as the other two. Chogoria is the most scenic and Sirimon the most interesting because it is on the drier side of the mountain.
Note: The normal pattern of weather on Mount Kenya is for clear mornings with mist closing in from 10:00am although this can clear by evening. Therefore, early morning starts are the order of the day with a 2am start for the final ascent to point Lenana, if you want to catch the sunrise.