Formed over 3 million years ago, Mount Kenya often referred to as the “ place of light” is the second tallest mountain in Africa after Mount Kilimanjaro. It is an extinct stratovolcano that is thought to have risen over 23,000 ft (6,500m) and is located on the equator in central Kenya.
The Mountain’s trio of summits, the highest, Batian, is 17,057ft (5199m), the Nelion and Lenana, stand at 17,021ft (5188m) and 16,355ft (4985m) respectively. These snowcapped peaks tower over the surrounding savannah landscape, stony and silent.
Not only has is it deemed a UNESCO World Heritage site for its beautiful glaciers, world-class flora, and fauna, and breathtaking views, the mountain also has quite a fascinating history.
Traditionally, the Kikuyus regarded the mountain which was known as Kirinyaga, or “place of brightness”, as the realm of Ngai, the god of the local Kikuyu people. “Whether they were praying, burying their dead, or performing sacrifices, Kikuyus faced Mount Kenya, and when they built their houses, they made sure the doors looked toward it” Professor Maathai’s autobiography Unbowed. Sadly due to the introduction of religion by the European missionaries during the colonial era, these beliefs and traditions have now virtually died away
The majestic mountain is where Munyao Kisoi voluntarily braved the harsh cold weather and rugged terrain of Mount Kenya, to hoist the flag of Kenya in 1963 when the country gained independence from British colonialism and was declared a free state.
The mountain, to this day, remains one of the country’s greatest symbol of independence and national unity.
Surprisingly, due to its close proximity to the equator, the sun rises and sets at the same time every day!
Although Mount Kenya is smaller than Mount Kilimanjaro, it is considered a more difficult to climb. The mountain has complex terrain that requires some mountain climbing and rock-climbing skills to get to the two highest peaks Batian and Nelion. The third peak and lowest summit on Mount Kenya is Point Lenana, which rises up 4,985 meters (16,354 feet) in elevation. This is the most popular peak for hikers as it does not require any technical climbing skills to reach. This trek takes between 3 and 5 days, through breathtaking scenery. The mountain boasts of pristine wilderness with lakes, tarns, glaciers, and unique slopes covered with dense forests, mineral springs and, high altitude adapted plains. It is home to a selection of rare and endangered species of animals and other animals such as elephants, tree hyrax, white-tailed mongoose, black-fronted duikers, mole rats, bushbucks, waterbucks, elands, leopards, black rhinos, and buffaloes.
Main road access to Mount Kenya is via Nanyuki or Naro Moru, both easily accessed from Nairobi by bus/matatu or private transport. Some trekkers and climbers access the mountain from Chogoria.