Mount Kenya National Park

Mount Kenya National Park is located East of the Great Rift Valley, approximately 175 km (108.74 mi) north-east of Nairobi. At 5,199 m (17,057 ft.), it is the second highest peak in Africa after Kilimanjaro on a Kenyan vacation.

The area was originally designated as a forest reserve before becoming a national park in 1948. By 1978, the park had become a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and in 1997, both the park and the forest that surrounds it were named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was listed under natural criteria because Mount Kenya National Park offers one of the most impressive landscapes in Eastern Africa as well as for the ecological processes that happen in the various ecosystems within the park and on the mountain.

To the Kikuyu tribespeople who live on the southern and western sides of the mountain, Mount Kenya served as the throne on earth for their god Ngai. Besides having cultural significance, the mountain is an important water tower providing water for about 50% of the country’s population, producing 70% of Kenya’s hydroelectric power.

The two highest peaks Batian (5,199 m, 17,057 ft.) and Nelion (5,188 m 17,021 ft.) attract very skilled mountaineers while trekkers can reach Point Lenana, the third highest peak at 4,985 m (16059 ft.). Regardless of which peak is climbed, incredible views of the surrounding country will be enjoyed on travelling to Kenya.

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. The park is a home to over 60 bird species existing, 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.

The vegetation of Mount Kenya National park is diverse due to the difference in the altitude hence changes on the vegetation zoning in the park. The flora of the park is divided into different vegetation zones that keep changing as the altitude changes; different plants dominate each zone as per the adaptation capacity of the plant to the altitude. There is the cultivated zone covered by the open savannah grassland though turned into agricultural land by the kikuyu, the Bamboo zone found in the middle of the mountain covered by bamboo forests, is restricted area, and receives high rainfalls. The heathland and Chaparral is found between 3,200 to 3,800 meters above sea level, it mostly occupies the wettest part of the mountain while the chaparral is found in the direr areas of the mountain. The dominant plant is Heathland is Erica while in Chaparral its African sage.

The timberline forest is found around 3,000 to 3,500 meters above sea level, its dominated by African rosewood. There is also Nival zone with glacier and it is above 45000 meters. Lastly is the Afro-alpine vegetation zone at the mountain and starts from 3,500 meters above to 45000 meters. It’s dominated by two giant species Dendrosenecio Keniensis and Dendrosenecio Keniodendron.

What to do in Mount Kenya National Park

The park is a home of serval interesting activities that make travellers trip to Africa more memorial. The true wilderness of Africa is experienced when one enjoys the safari to Mount Kenya national park, below are some of the activities one can participate in

 

Mountain Climbing and Hiking

Mount Kenya is a popular destination for both mountain and hiking. The mountain is Africa’s second highest mountain at 5,199m (17,058ft.) and the highest Kenyan mountain. Mount Kenya is about 60km across and the main peaks rise sharply from around 4,500m to the main summit of Batain 5,5199m, 5,188m and point Lenana 4,985m. Other major summits on the mountain include Point Piggott 4,957m, Point Dutton 4,885m and Point John 4,883m. Of the three main peaks (Batain, Nelion and Lenana), only Lenana can be reached by trekkers and the other two being only for technical climbers.

A climb to the top of the Mountain Kenya gives tourists a breath-taking moment. You will be able to see glaciers, Lakes, birds as well as a variety of animals and plants. The challenge is worth undergoing and extremely fascinating.

The best period for climbing is from mid-January to February and from late August to September, when the season is dry.

 

Bird Watching

Birding activity in Mount Kenya National park especially at the forest trails is one of the spectacular activities that can enhance your satisfaction. The different habitats, that is, the montane forest, the montane grassland, the bamboo and the moorland, look out for globally threatened species such as lesser Kestrel, Sharpe’s Long claw, Abbott’s Starling, Jackson’s Widowbird. Other birds to see include Hartlaub’sTuraco, Brown-Hooded Kingfisher, Giant Kingfisher, Grey-olive Greenbul, Zanzibar SombreGreenbul, Brown-backed Scrub-Robin, Black-Throated Wattle-eye, Singing, Red faced, Winding, Rattling, Croaking Cisiticolas, Mountain Yellow Warbler, African-moustached Warbler, Broad-tailed Warbler, African Golden Weaver, Yellow-crowned Bishop, African Fire finch, Yellow-bellied Waxbill, and Abyssinian Crimson wing. More than 130 species of birds can be sighted here.

 

Animal Viewing

The Mount Kenya National Park includes Mount Kenya and is basically a forest reserve. Forest belts play host to a great variety of animals. Whether it is an early morning game drive or an evening game drive, you are guaranteed that you will be able to see a variety of animals such as Elephants, Buffalos, antelopes, Mongoose tree hyrax, white tailed mongoose, black fronted duikers, mole rats, bushbucks, waterbucks, elands, leopards and black rhinos and as well as other fascinating animals.

 

Cave Exploration

With caves such as Mau Mau caves, Shipton’s caves among others, the mau mau warriors used mau mau cave as a place to store their supplies and a hideout from colonialists, which makes it a great historic value. The trail to the caves offer great adventure opportunities with different scenic views such as waterfalls and rivers. This activity involves the search for ancient artifacts to learn the history and unravel secrets of the land behind the caves.

WhEN TO VISIT Mount Kenya National Park

The weather at Mount Kenya National Park consistently offers guests a unique African highlands safari experience at any time of year. Like other locations in Kenya, the park experiences both dry season and rainy season, and the presence or absence of rain influences wildlife, activity experiences and visitor levels. The dry season occurs from the end of July to October; dry season is highly recommended but also busiest time in Mount Kenya National Park. During the dry season, large mixed-species groups of animals are found near rivers, streams and other substantial water sources. There is a chance to see varied wildlife in one location, and the fauna is easier to observe thanks in part to the thinned flora. All of these conditions maximize wildlife viewing.

There are some cloudy periods and rain from March to May, and drizzle from October to early December which may restrict clear views. The rains replenish watering holes around the park and vegetation emerges from rich soil. The animals disperse across the park because food and water are more plentiful. Accommodation prices in Mount Kenya during the rainy period lowers; though, other costs such as logistics, park fees, activities rate etc. remain the same throughout the year.

HOW TO GET To Mount Kenya National Park

Mt Kenya is about 4 hours’ drive from Nairobi. Roads are well paved all the way to the towns at the foot of the mountain, however, the last stretch of road up to the park gates is a rough dirt road that can get almost impassable in the rainy season, and a 4WD is highly recommended.

 

By Air

An airstrip in Naro-Moru town is available for those who wish to take a flight to Mt Kenya. There are also scheduled domestic flights that operate daily on this routing.