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Mount Kenya National Park

Giant Lobelia on the moors of Mount Kenya.

Best time to visit: September, October, January, February

Safaris: Upon Request

Activities: Game Walking, Bird Watching, Hiking

Accommodation: Adventure camping

Day: Dependant upon the altitude, daytime from 26° C (80° F) to below freezing on the peak. Night
Night: from 14° C (60° F) to below freezing on the peak

At 17,058 feet (5,199 meters), Mount Kenya is Africa's second highest mountain. The mountain offers both easy and challenging ascents with scenic beauty.

To the Kikuyu tribespeople of the area, it is the home of the Supreme Being, Ngai, a name also used by the Masai and Kamba tribes. Kere Nyaga, the Kikuyu name for the mountain means Mountain of Brightness, Ngai's official home.

Part of the mountain's fascination is the variation in fauna and flora as the altitude changes, including giant Groundsel and lobelia. The lower slopes are covered with dry upland forest; the true mountain forest begins at 6,000 feet and is mainly cedar and podo.

At 7,500 feet a dense belt of bamboo forest begins, which merges into the upper forest of smaller trees interspersed with clear glades. In this area the trees are festooned with high altitude lichens.

The high altitude heath at the top (9,000-10,500 feet) is generally open and dotted with shrubs such as the African sage, protea and helichyrum. Above 10,500 feet is open moorland.

These various forest belts are host to many different animals and plants with at least eleven unique species. Game to view includes: black and white Colobus monkeys, Sykes monkeys, bushbuck, rock hyrax, buffalo, elephant, waterbuck, black rhino, duikers, leopard, giant forest hog, genet cats, bush pigs and hyena. More elusive is the Bongo, a rare forest antelope.

Mount Kenya offers several grades of hiking and climbing in Kenya.

There are many routes available to explore Mount Kenya, the majority of which take approximately 5-7 days. The majority of the ascents consist of hiking; no technical climbing skills are required. Most fit hikers may reach the lowest peak of the mountain, Point Lenana, at just over 16,000 feet. Points Nelion and Batian at over 17,000 feet require technical expertise and knowledge.

Forest roads allow vehicular exploration up to a level of 10,000 feet; the remainder of the mountain must be traveled on foot. Porters and guides provide both information and a helping hand to mountain enthusiasts.

With its easy access, knowledgeable and well-organized guiding services, and beautiful scenery, Mount Kenya is a popular destination for hikers of all ages.

Copyright Melinda Rees of Eco-resorts

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