Climbing Mount Kenya: A Guide to Routes, Cost, and Preparation

Climbing Mount Kenya: Famously known for its amazing mountain climbing safaris, Mount Kenya is the most remarkable tourist attraction in Kenya. Rising to a height of 5,199 meters, it is the tallest mountain in Kenya and the second tallest in Africa after Mount Kilimanjaro.

Approximately 3 million years ago, Mount Kenya was formed as an extinct stratovolcano. It is located in the former Eastern and Central provinces of Kenya, which are now known as Meru, Embu, Laikipia, Kirinyaga, Nyeri, and Tharaka Nithi. This majestic volcano is situated in the center of the Mount Kenya National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an important Kenya safari destination.

Notably, Kenya derives its name from this breathtaking mountain. If you plan on embarking on a Kenya mountain climbing safari, the following frequently asked questions will serve as a guide to climbing Mount Kenya.

How Tall Is Mount Kenya

Mount Kenya rises to an elevation of 5,199 meters (17,057 feet) above sea level, making it the highest mountain in Kenya and the second-highest peak in Africa after Mount Kilimanjaro.

How to get to Mount Kenya?

To get to Mount Kenya, you can fly into either Jomo Kenyatta International Airport or Wilson Airport in Nairobi, which are the two main international airports in Kenya. From there, you can take a domestic flight to Nanyuki or Meru, which are the nearest towns to Mount Kenya.

Alternatively, you can take a bus or hire a private car from Nairobi to Nanyuki or Meru. The journey takes approximately 3-4 hours, depending on the traffic and road conditions. Once you arrive in Nanyuki or Meru, you can arrange for a vehicle to take you to the Mount Kenya National Park gate, which is the starting point for climbing the mountain.

Summits of Mount Kenya

Mount Kenya has three main summits: Batian, Nelion, and Point Lenana. Batian is the highest peak and stands at 5,199 meters (17,057 feet) above sea level. Nelion is the second-highest peak and is slightly lower than Batian, standing at 5,188 meters (17,021 feet) above sea level. Point Lenana is the third-highest peak and is commonly reached by hikers who want to experience the thrill of climbing a mountain but do not necessarily have technical climbing skills. Point Lenana stands at 4,985 meters (16,355 feet) above sea level.

The ascent to Batian and Nelion requires technical climbing skills and experience, and it is recommended that climbers attempt these peaks only with the assistance of an experienced guide or mountaineering company. The ascent to Point Lenana, on the other hand, is a non-technical hike that can be done by anyone in good physical condition.

How hard is it to climb Mount Kenya?

Climbing Mount Kenya can range from moderate to very difficult, depending on the route you take and the peak you aim to summit. The ascent to Point Lenana, the third-highest peak, is the most accessible and can be done by hikers with good physical fitness and little or no technical climbing skills. However, the hikes to the higher peaks, Batian and Nelion, require technical climbing skills and experience.

The technical climbing routes to Batian and Nelion involve rock climbing, ice climbing, and glacier travel. These routes are challenging and require specialized gear and knowledge of mountaineering techniques. It is highly recommended that climbers attempting these peaks have prior experience in technical climbing, as well as good physical fitness, mental resilience, and acclimatization to the high altitude.

Overall, climbing Mount Kenya is a physically demanding activity that requires proper preparation, training, and equipment. It is important to hire a licensed guide or mountaineering company to ensure your safety and success in summiting the mountain.

Routes used when climbing Mount Kenya?

There are five main climbing routes used to ascend Mount Kenya, each leading to different peaks of the mountain. These routes are:

Sirimon Route

The Sirimon route is a popular climbing route to reach the summit of Mount Kenya, offering a stunning approach to the final peak of the mountain. This route requires a minimum of two days to climb, but it is recommended to add an extra day to adjust to the altitude.

The Sirimon route has two main camps: Old Moses, located at an altitude of 3,300 meters (10,800 feet), and Shipton’s camp, located at 4,200 meters (13,800 feet). Climbers can stay at these camps during their ascent of the volcano.

Burguret Route

The Burguret route is a challenging climbing route that is best suited for solo climbers. It is a rarely used route that runs through a tropical rainforest at its starting point and features wild vegetation and muddy terrain.

Ascending Mount Kenya via the Burguret route requires a minimum of three nights and leads to the majestic peak of the mountain. This route can also be combined with other trails for a more varied climbing experience.

Naro Moru Route

The Naro Moru route is a popular climbing route used to ascend Mount Kenya. It is one of the fastest and most direct routes to Point Lenana, the third-highest peak of the mountain. The Naro Moru route is known for its steep and challenging terrain, including the “Vertical Bog” section, which is a steep ascent through a boggy area.

The Naro Moru route typically takes 3-4 days to climb and has several camps along the way, including Met Station, Mackinder’s Camp, and Austrian Hut. Climbers using the Naro Moru route can expect to see a variety of wildlife, including buffalo, monkeys, and various species of birds. Overall, the Naro Moru route offers a challenging and rewarding climbing experience for those with good physical fitness and the ability to handle steep and rugged terrain.

Chogoria Route

The Chogoria route is a scenic climbing route used to ascend Mount Kenya. It is considered by many climbers to be the most beautiful and scenic route to the mountain’s peaks. The Chogoria route begins in the lush forest of the lower slopes and passes through a series of stunning valleys, tarns, and glaciers.

The Chogoria route typically takes 5-6 days to climb and is longer than many other routes, but it offers a more gradual ascent and better acclimatization to the high altitude. Along the way, climbers can expect to see a variety of wildlife, including elephants, buffaloes, and various species of monkeys and birds.

The Chogoria route has several camps along the way, including the Meru Mount Kenya Bandas, Lake Ellis, and Mintos Hut. Climbers using the Chogoria route will need to be in good physical condition and have experience with high-altitude trekking, as the route can be challenging in places. Overall, the Chogoria route is a stunning and rewarding way to climb Mount Kenya.

Timau Route

The Timau route is an older and less frequently used track on Mount Kenya. While it was once a popular route, it is no longer one of the best options for climbing the mountain, as there are no places to stay overnight along the way.

What is the weather like in Mount Kenya?

The climate of Mount Kenya is influenced by its location near the equator, resulting in generally warm and sunny days with gradually dropping temperatures at night. The mountain experiences two distinct seasons: a dry season and a wet season. The dry season typically occurs from December to March and July to September, with the best time for climbing Mount Kenya falling within this period. During the dry season, precipitation is minimal and daily temperatures range between 11ºC to 26ºC, depending on the elevation.

Despite the high altitude of the mountain, temperatures rarely drop below freezing. However, climbers are still advised to bring warm clothing, especially for nights spent at high elevations. Essential items for climbing Mount Kenya include a sleeping bag, thermal base layers, fleeces, and protective outer layers.

How much does it cost to climb Mount Kenya with a guide?

The cost of climbing Mount Kenya with a guide varies depending on several factors, such as the climbing route, the length of the climb, and the number of climbers in your group. On average, the cost of climbing Mount Kenya with a guide can range from around $1,000 to $2,000 per person, with some operators charging more or less than this depending on the level of service and support provided.

It is important to note that the cost of climbing Mount Kenya with a guide typically includes a variety of expenses, such as park fees, guide fees, accommodation, and meals while on the mountain. Some operators may also provide additional services, such as transportation to and from Nairobi or other nearby cities.

When planning to climb Mount Kenya, it is important to research and compare the prices and services offered by different tour operators to find one that suits your needs and budget. It is also recommended to book your climb in advance to secure your spot and ensure availability of necessary resources.

How To Prepare For Mount Kenya Climbing

Preparing for a Mount Kenya climb requires physical, mental, and logistical preparation. Here are some tips to help you prepare for your climb:

  1. Get physically fit: Climbing Mount Kenya can be physically demanding, so it’s important to prepare by getting in shape. Start by doing cardiovascular exercises, such as running or hiking, to build endurance. You should also do strength training exercises, such as squats and lunges, to build leg muscles.
  2. Acclimate to the altitude: Altitude sickness is a common problem when climbing Mount Kenya, so it’s important to acclimate your body to the altitude by spending a few days at a higher elevation before your climb.
  3. Pack appropriate gear: Make sure you have all the necessary gear for your climb, including warm clothing, hiking boots, a backpack, and a sleeping bag. It’s also important to pack enough food and water for your climb.
  4. Plan your route: Choose a climbing route that suits your level of experience and physical fitness. Research the route and make sure you understand the trail conditions and any potential hazards.
  5. Hire a guide: Hiring a guide can help ensure your safety and make your climb more enjoyable. Look for a reputable guide service with experienced guides who are knowledgeable about the mountain.
  6. Get necessary permits: Make sure you obtain any necessary permits or passes for your climb. This may include park entry fees or camping permits.

By following these tips and preparing properly, you can increase your chances of a successful and enjoyable climb up Mount Kenya.