Fitness, Altitude and Safety on Mount Kenya
The difficulty is that climbing Mount Kenya is relatively accessible. With a good level of fitness, it’s easy to gain altitude rapidly and find yourself with a pounding headache and all the symptoms of acute mountain sickness the night before summiting. Trekking with a knowledgeable and experienced guide, at a reasonable and moderate pace, and staying hydrated makes all the difference. Allowing additional time for your ascent is always the best strategy; an extra day in Shipton’s Camp relieves the pressure of the schedule and allows you to enjoy the fantastic trekking around the summit.
In general, a rigorous fitness regimen is not required before to climbing Mount Kenya; anyone who is trek fit and comfortable walking 6-8 hours per day should be OK.
Guides, Porters and Cooks
A trekking crew will typically include a guide, cook, and porter for cooking equipment, as well as a personal porter for each trekker. It has been said before, but a good experienced guide is essential on Mount Kenya for two reasons: (1) they will keep you on track, be able to diagnose altitude sickness symptoms using their experience, and have the confidence to make critical decisions, and (2) their knowledge of the mountain’s flora and fauna will bring the environment to life. All guides and porters must be registered with Kenya Wildlife Services and have a Mt Kenya National License mountain guide park.
All of the guides will have a decent understanding of the routes, but only the best will have knowledge of animals and expertise dealing with altitude sickness issues.
Mount Kenya Route options
There are five primary approaches to the summit.
Sirimon is the most popular climb since the altitude gain is gradual and it provides one of the most scenic picturesque approaches to the summits. When climbing, allow at least two nights, however, we recommend staying an extra night at the last camp (Shipton’s) on the way up.
Burguret is the ideal way to go if you want to escape the traffic. On this little-used path, you’ll be hacking through magnificent forests and camping in remote campgrounds. Going up this road is difficult; it resembles a game track in sections, and it is often muddy and difficult to navigate. Burguret is frequently combined with Chogoria or Sirimon trails.
Naro Moru: The most popular descending path is Naro-Moru, which is fast and simple (at least on the way down!). In the wet season, Naro Moru goes through the well-known vertical bog area, which becomes quite flooded. On this path, the greenery is at its most stunning. It may be done in one long day, but most people do it in two days and one night.
Chogoria: Choose dramatic Chogoria over Naro Moru for the descent if you have more time. The Chogoria path takes you past tarns, waterfalls, and a breathtaking canyon. Allow for a two- or three-day descent.
Timau: Timau is rarely visited these days because there is little forest on this side of the mountain and no amenities, only open land.
Best time to climb Mount Kenya
First and foremost, despite being in the equator, Mount Kenya is cold at night at a height of 4,000 meters! You must be prepared for temperatures far below freezing at night (a decent three/four-season sleeping bag is required). At Point Lenana, temperatures as low as – 10 or even negative 20 degrees Celsius are not uncommon. If you’re hiking during the short or long rains, anticipate plenty of scorching overhead sun and rain.
The long rains, which go from mid-March to mid-June, and the short rains, which last from September to October, are the two rainy seasons in Kenya.
Mount Kenya is trekkable throughout the year, but be prepared for heavy rains and muddy trails during the long rains. The good news is that even during the worst rainstorms, there is generally dependable sunlight for a large chunk of the day (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.). You may anticipate lots of sunshine outside of the wet season.
How to get to Mount Kenya
Mount Kenya is about a short 4-hour drive from Nairobi. There are decent paved roads all the way to the villages at the foot of the mountain, but the final stretch up to the park gates is a rough dirt road that may become nearly impassable during the rainy season, necessitating the use of a 4wd vehicle.
Mount Kenya National Park Entrance Fees
The Kenya Wildlife Service continues increasing park admission fees (to the extent that most websites offering Mount Kenya treks are displaying out-of-date prices). Currently, a three-day package costs $150 per adult, a four-day package costs $220 per adult, and a five-day package costs $300 per adult. This includes both the admission cost and the camping expenses. So, on a normal 5 day Sirimon Naro-moru itinerary from Nairobi, you’ll need to spend $220 per person for 4 days in the park. For current prices, go to http://www.kws.org/.
Combining Mount Kenya Treks and Safaris
You’d be crazy to travel to Kenya only to climb Mount Kenya and not see some of the best attractions in the country and experience the wildlife in the Kenyan parks. The majority of visitors will wish to combine their hike with a safari. The northern parks of Meru and Samburu are the closest to Mount Kenya. Both parks are beautiful, with dry landscapes that are evocative of the Lion King. There are mid-range camping choices available, as well as the standard luxury safari hotels. You can go to Samburu in a couple of hours from Mount Kenya, and if you don’t have much time, three days will be plenty to have a decent taste of the region before returning to Nairobi for your trip home.
You may drive from Mount Kenya to Masai Mara through the Rift Valley Lakes if you have more time. This extension should take about 6 days.