Mt. Kenya Hike
Experience this Unique Alpine Ecosystem at the Equator
Experience this unforgettable trek to the ‘roof’ of Kenya. Mt. Kenya towers over the northeastern side of the Great Rift Valley. Rainforest, bamboo, tarns, alpine meadows, exotic high-altitude vegetation, sunbirds, hyrax and soaring eagles make a trek on this volcano one of the most unique mountaineering experiences in the world. Expert guides lead our group up less-traveled routes, allowing adequate time for acclimatizing and taking in the dramatic views across the Kenyan landscape.
For standard meeting places and times, see Dates & Fees tab.
DAY 1: Your guide will meet you in the evening at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. Transfer to your hotel in Nairobi for a night of rest.
DAY 2: Leave Nairobi, passing through the coffee farms and tea farms of the central highlands. Interact with local farmers along the way and learn about their work. Stopover in Karatina, a town in central Kenya named for the largest market in Africa. Overnight at a lodge near the base of Mount Kenya.
Day 3: After a hearty breakfast, head to the mountain. Pass the equator and have lunch at Tam Trout Tree near Nanyuki town before heading to the Sirimon Park gate. Start hiking at an elevation of about 7,500ft in the thick of the montane forest zone. Continue hiking towards Old Moses Camp, 9,500ft above sea level in the Giant Heath zone. This hike will take approximately 3 to 4 hours. Overnight at Old Moses hut.
Day 4: Hike up the sprawling Mooreland to the spectacular Likii Valley, an area of beautiful high altitude plants such as Ostrich Plum Lobelia and Cabbage Groundsel. Continue to the splendid Mackinder Valley, trekking past peculiar looking giant groundsel and lobelia plants to arrive at Shipton's camp at 13,796ft. Spend the night at Shipton’s, below the towering peaks and glaciers, with its resident populations of bizarre rock hyrax and beautiful sunbirds. This trek will take 6-7 hours.
Day 5: To help with acclimatization, take a rest day at Shipton's. Short walks are possible on the summit circuit here. We can climb the Hausberg Col and then return to Shipton's for lunch. We will gain approximately 1,148ft of elevation. Climbing high and sleeping low is best for acclimatization. Short overnight at Shipton's hut.
Day 6: Wake early in order to reach Pt. Lenana at 16,355ft for sunrise. The climb starts on frozen scree and continues on a rocky track with some very minor scrambling. With a good moon, you barely need a flashlight as the pollution-free sky gives you as good a view of the stars as almost anywhere on Earth. The climb takes between 3 and 5 hours, with an exhilarating view of Kilimanjaro usually visible on the horizon. After taking photographs to capture the moment, descend on the western side of the mountain to Mackinder’s Camp. This will take approximately 2 hours. You’ll have a meal and rest here or take short walks in the vicinity. Overnight at Mackinder’s Camp at 13,778ft.
NOTE: Approximately 70% of the people who do this trip actually summit. The decision to summit is solely the responsibility of our guides. You will not summit if our guide decides it would be unsafe to do so.
Day 7: After breakfast, descend down to either the Metrological station or the park gate and transfer to Naromoru River Lodge. This hike will take approximately 3-4 hours. Overnight at the lodge.
Day 8: Return to Nairobi to continue your travels in Kenya - or for flights home.
Travel, Terrain, Etc...
TERRAIN/ROUTE CHOICES: Mt. Kenya routes involve hiking 3-6 hours a day over rough terrain. No technical climbing is necessary to reach Pt. Lenana, Mt. Kenya's 16,355ft summit.
TYPE OF TRAVEL/DISTANCE: We will use Toyota vans and/or Land Cruiser four-wheel drive vehicles to transfer to and from the mountain. You will hike throughout the trip covering 3-6 miles a day.
WEATHER: Mt. Kenya's climate is similar to other mountain ranges across the globe. Although unpredictable, there is typically warm weather during the day (55-75ºF) with clear skies in the morning and clouds building up by afternoon. Temperatures can fall to 20ºF at night, especially at the higher elevations. Rain or snow is always a possibility.
EQUIPMENT AND CLOTHING: All you need to provide is personal gear, such as clothing, sleeping bag, and boots. A detailed equipment list will be sent to you upon confirmation of your participation.
LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY: Previous mountain climbing experience is not necessary to climb Mt. Kenya, however this is one of our most strenuous trips. We do recommend that you do some fitness training before this trip--the more fit you are the more you will enjoy the hike. Summiting Pt. Lenana is strenuous. Approximately 70% of the people who do this trip actually summit. The decision to summit is solely the responsibility of our guides. You will not summit if our guide decides it would be unsafe to do so.
HEALTH: It is important that you make an appointment at least 4-6 weeks before your trip and inform your doctor that you are traveling to Kenya. This allows for adequate time to get new immunizations, if required, and ensure that others are up-to-date. Due to the elevation, there is no risk of contact with mosquitos and you will not need anti-malarial medication for this trip unless you will also be going on a safari. Please talk to your doctor about the risks of exercise at high altitude as well. We also encourage you to check the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's website for the most up-to-date recommendations.
ACCOMMODATIONS: Before and after your trek you will stay in one of the nice lodges or hotels in Nairobi and/or the surrounding area. Most rooms are double occupancy with two beds. Participants will be paired by gender or requests to room together. On the mountain, you will camp out in tents or stay in one of the very basic huts found on the mountain.
MEALS: Relax while all meals are made for you. You'll indulge in a mix of Kenyan cuisine and typical mountaineering food like pasta and rice dishes. We will use water from abundant streams–it is very fresh but typically we treat it just to be safe. The purchase of alcoholic beverages is not included in the trip fees.
PASSPORT/VISA: U.S. citizens need a passport to enter Kenya, and it must be valid for at least 6 months beyond your planned departure. Two blank passport pages (excluding the Amendments pages) are typically required for entry stamp and visa. Prior to visiting Kenya, all travelers must fill out an online eVisa application via the eCitizen portal, https://www.ecitizen.go.ke/. Cost is about $53 USD. After receiving the eVisa, travelers must download and present a hard copy of the eVisa upon arrival in Kenya. Approval after application and payment takes an estimated seven to ten days. We encourage you to check the State Department website for the most up to date entry requirements for Kenya.A note about the itinerary: Our trips are real adventures in the outdoors. While we'll make every effort to follow the itinerary listed here, elements may change due to weather or reasons beyond our control.
Kenya lies on the equator, and borders the Indian Ocean, Tanzania, and Uganda, among other countries. It has a warm and humid climate along its coastline on the Indian Ocean that changes to wildlife-rich savanna grasslands as you move inland towards the capital of Nairobi. Nairobi has a cool climate that gets colder as you move towards Mount Kenya, which has three permanently snowcapped peaks. The warm and humid tropical climate reappears further inland towards Lake Victoria, before giving way to temperate forested and hilly areas in the western region.
Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi, lies next to a national park. The country is famous for its safaris and diverse world-famous wildlife reserves such as Tsavo National Park, the Maasai Mara, Nakuru National Park, and Aberdares National Park that attract tourists from all over the world.
Lake Victoria, the world’s second largest freshwater lake (after Lake Superior in the U.S. and Canada) and the world’s largest tropical lake, lies in the southwest part of Kenya and is shared with Uganda and Tanzania.
Mount Kenya, an imposing extinct volcano, dominates the landscape of the Kenyan Highlands east of the Rift. Mount Kenya lies about 140 kilometers north-northeast of Nairobi with its northern flanks across the equator. The mountain has three main peaks - Batian (5200 meters), Nelion (5188 meters), and Point Lenana (4985 meters). The mountain slopes are cloaked in forest, bamboo, scrub, and moorland that give way to rock, ice, and snow as you ascend in altitude.
Designated as both a Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997, Mount Kenya covers 715 square kilometers. This reserve includes the peaks consisting of all the ground above 3200 meters with two small salients extending down to 2450 meters along the Sirimon and Naro Moru tracks. Surrounding the park is Mount Kenya National Reserve with an area of approximately 2095 square kilometers (517,000 acres).
The tourism sector has exhibited steady growth in most years since independence and by the late 1980s had become the country’s principal source of foreign exchange. Tourists, the largest number from Germany and the United Kingdom, are attracted mainly to the coastal beaches and the game reserves, notably, the expansive Tsavo National Park (20,808 square kilometers, or 5.14 million acres) in the southeast. Tourism has seen a substantial revival over the past several years and is the major contributor to the pick-up in the country's economic growth. Tourism now ranks as Kenya’s largest foreign exchange earning sector, followed by flowers, tea, and coffee.
Kenya’s human population remains quite diverse. About 41 million people live in Kenya, coming from 42 different peoples and cultures, including, Swahili on the coast, pastoralist communities in the north, and many different communities in the central and western regions. The Maasai culture is well known because of tourism, despite being a minor percentage of the Kenyan population. They are renowned for their elaborate upper body adornment and jewelry.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What are the visa requirements for Kenya?
A visa is simply a stamp in your passport that permits travel in a foreign country. You need to have a Single-entry tourist visa to get through customs in Kenya for this trip. There are two ways to obtain this visa: A. In advance, from the Kenyan Embassy in Washington, DC. This method is preferred by the Kenyan government because it reduces congestion in the airport and allows for efficient processing. To get your visa using this method you must use certified mail to send your actual passport and the following to: EMBASSY OF THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA 2249 R STREET, N.W. WASHINGTON, D.C. 20008 TEL: 2023876101 Enclose the following: 1. Form V 2. Valid Passport - to be submitted with the application 3. Completed (filled in) application form (in duplicate in case of multiple journey visas) 4. Copy of Round Trip Ticket or copy of Itinerary 5. Two passport size pictures (full face showing both ears) 6. Visa Fee of $50.00 for Single Entry (Tourist/Business), or $100.00 for Multiple Entry (Business) or $20.00 for Transit Visa payable in Cashiers Cheque or Money Order ONLY (Cash and Personal Cheques are not acceptable) 7. A self addressed stamped envelope for the return of your passport (s). The envelope should have enough postage for: Express Mail, Certified Mail or Priority Mail with delivery confirmation. B. The second option is to get the visa upon arrival at Jomo Kenyatta Airport in Nairobi. This usually involves waiting in line and dealing with grumpy customs agents but it does work. You still need to fill out Form V, pay $50 US cash, and show a copy of your return plane ticket. I don't think you need a photo but it wouldn't hurt to bring one. If choose to do this I recommend filling out Form V ahead of time because that will help you get to the front of the line faster. We hope this information is clear. Please contact us with any questions.
What are your thoughts on safety in Kenya?
Safety is our top priority on every trip, and Kenya is no exception; we would not offer a trip of any kind that places our groups in unsafe situations. Please rest assured that we take every precaution that we can and monitor conditions during our time there. We also register our entire group and route with the US Embassy. We are confident you will be impressed with the level of safety and security you will experience in Kenya. Tourism is Kenya's primary industry and it is in their worst interest for any crimes to happen to tourists. You will find the wonderful local people going to great lengths to ensure your safety and comfort. For more, information, go to http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_923.html
Do I need international travel insurance if my health insurance doesn’t cover me on an international trip?
If your health insurance doesn't cover you while abroad, it is a good idea to consider a basic travel-specific insurance. We refer our participants to Travel One for travel insurance needs. You can reach Travel One at 800-247-1311 or click here to visit their website.
How large are the groups that typically go on the Kenya and Mt Kenya trips? Do these groups include families with kids? Are they mostly couples?
Typically, the group size for this trip is 7-12 people. Most of our trips are geared for adults, both male and female who range in age from 18 and up. These trips may include a couple, but not necessarily. Nor would these trips include a family with children younger than age 18.
What is the main difference between the Kenya and Tanzania trips?
These trips are very similar. In Tanzania you'll get to experience more of a human anthropology aspect and visit one of the last remaining true nomadic tribes in the world, the Hadzabe Bushmen. You'll also visit the world-renowned Serengeti National Park and world heritage site, Ngorongoro Crater, home to the largest unbroken caldera in the world. The Tanzania trip also involves more walking. In Kenya, we visit many comparable places, including Samburu National Reserve and Masai Mara. Spectacular opportunities abound for wildlife viewing and we also spend time with three different local tribes: the Maasai, Samburu, and Kikuyu. We suggest reading about some of the following places and deciding based on what piques your interest: Kenya: Masai Mara, Samburu, Nakuru National Park, Lake Naivasha, Mt. Kenya Tanzania: Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti, Lake Manyara, Lake Eyasi, Oldupai Gorge
Why is there a difference in price between the Kenya and Tanzania trips?
Tanzania, generally, is much more expensive then Kenya. The places are harder to get to but at the same time more popular. The park fees (daily entrance) in Tanzanian parks are often double those in Kenya. Due to the economy, geography and a few other factors, lodges, food, vehicles, and petrol also cost in Tanzania and are the main reasons for the difference in price.
When is the best time to visit Kenya?
We generally offer Kenya trips in May-June, September-October, or January-February to optimize peak wildlife presence, dry seasons, low tourist seasons, and affordable airfare.
What shots do you recommend if one goes to Africa?
We recommend that you check with your doctor as early as possible prior to leaving to ensure you are up to date on your standard immunizations. Your doctor may also recommend immunizations against things like typhoid and yellow fever but we leave that up to you to decide. During the safaris there is the possibility of exposure to malaria carrying mosquitoes and thus you will also need to bring an anti-malarial medication.
What is the policy for tipping in Kenya?
You will not need to tip your drivers and safari guides unless they go out of their way for you personally and you really want to show them you appreciate it. If you do Mt. Kenya you will be expected to tip your guide and porter (anything from $5 to $40 is appropriate). You will need to tip a very small amount if you order alcoholic beverages at hotels as these are not included in the trip fee.
Do you meet people at Jomo Kenyatta Airport for the Kenya trips? What is the airport like?
We do meet you right outside customs at Jomo Kenyatta airport. Many times, we work with our travel agency to try to get people on the same flight from Amsterdam to Nairobi, but regardless we'll meet you there. Jomo Kenyatta Airport is not quite as modern or as large as typical major US city airports, but it has almost all the same amenities and good security. The airport is actually near Nairobi National Park and it is not uncommon to see giraffe or zebra from your plane as you are circling in to land.
Is bottled water available on trips to Kenya and Tanzania?
Bottled water is recommended on our trips to Kenya and Tanzania, and is available everywhere we stay throughout the trip.
On the Mt Kenya trip, is there rock climbing or steep, high trails involved?
Yes, the trails are steep at times, especially near the top. No technical climbing is required (no ropes, harnesses, etc). The pace of the trip is moderate, so anyone who can walk, is in decent shape, and is determined can make it.
What is the nearest meeting place for the Kenya Safari and Mt Kenya trips?
The group usually meets in Nairobi, but if for some reason someone was already in Kenya, s/he could meet us in a town called Naro Moru, though Nairobi should be much more convenient for them. We will do pickups at Jomo Kenyatta Airport and 1 or 2 Nairobi city hotels.
The State Department says the terrorist threat is high in Kenya. Can you offer any information about that?
The State Department has a travel warning issued for Kenya. It was issued in June 2014 and has not changed. The areas that are the focus of the warning remain border counties (with Somolia and Ethiopia), the Eastleigh neighborhood of Nairobi, and Mombasa on the Indian Ocean Coast. You can read the full report here: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/alertswarnings/kenya-travel-warning.html. Canada provides a similar report that I feel better highlights the highly regional nature of these warnings: http://travel.gc.ca/destinations/kenya. We monitor these travel advisories, as well as current events in Kenya, very closely, and our local guide keeps us posted on what he’s hearing in-country and what he’s seeing on the ground. Since Wilderness Inquiry started guiding trips in Kenya in 2005, we have run all scheduled trips with itineraries that kept our groups far away from areas where problems have occurred. Similarly, your trip itinerary will take you only to areas that have been consistently safe for travel.
Which immunizations do you recommend when traveling to an international destination?
Prior to departure, we recommend that you check with your doctor as early as possible to ensure you are up to date on your standard immunizations. Your doctor is in the best position to recommend specific vaccinations to specific destinations.
How safe are international trips with Wilderness Inquiry?
Safety is our top priority on all Wilderness Inquiry trips. We maintain awareness of all State Department travel advisories and ensure our itineraries follow appropriate routes. We have an excellent record of safety on all international trips and only run trips when we feel comfortable and confident in participants having an excellent experience.
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No Dates Scheduled
Mt Kenya is a spectacular trip, we think much more interesting than climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. It has water, glaciers, great vegetation, and it's less expensive because the fees are far less than Kilimanjaro. Unfortunately, most people have never heard of Mt. Kenya which is why we typically do this trip for pre-existing groups. If you have 4 or more people who wish to climb Mt. Kenya click on the "Do a Custom Trip" button on lower right hand side of this screen. If you'd like to climb another mountain in Africa, join our public Mt. Kilimanjaro trip.
Check out our other trips to Kenya and Tanzania below:
Call us to arrange one of these trips for your group: