This is a beautiful mountain! It’s not the highest freestanding mountain in Africa and it’s not one of the Seven Summits – those accolades go to Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Mount Kenya is the second highest mountain in Africa and is higher than Mont Blanc. It is without doubt a serious high altitude challenge, but with a good chance of reaching the third highest point – Point Lenana at 4,985 metres. The tourist trails on Mount Kenya are surprisingly uncrowded and it’s very easy to get off the beaten track and not bump into anyone. The scenery is wonderful – waterfalls, lakes, tarns, glaciers and jagged, snowy peaks. In the early morning frost, at high altitude, it’s difficult to believe you are on the Equator in Africa. No wonder it’s in the 1,000 Places to See Before you Die – definitely one for the bucket list!
The best times to visit Mount Kenya are December to March and June to October. The ground is at its driest from December to mid-March. After heavy rain, some trails can become waterlogged, and occasionally an itinerary has to be changed if there is too much snow at very high altitude.
It is advisable to avoid late March to late May – the long rains, and November – the short rains.
You may well experience the odd shower whatever time of year you visit. The mountain has its own micro-climate with convectional rainfall sometimes occurring from late morning to late afternoon.
You fly to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi.
From the UK, the flight takes 8.5 hours, and there are direct flights from London Heathrow with British Airways and Kenya Airways.
Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi is the hub of East Africa with connections to most of sub-Saharan Africa. The airport is currently undergoing a massive renovation and the new Arrivals Terminal has just opened.
You will be met at Jomo Kenyatta by a representative of our ground handler. If you arrive in the early morning, you transfer to Wilson airport (about 30-40 minutes away depending on the rush hour traffic) for the mid-morning flight from Nairobi Wilson up to Nanyuki. Alternatively, you can transfer by Landcruiser which takes about 4 hours. If you arrive in Nairobi in the evening, you can stay at a hotel near the airport and then transfer up to Nanyuki the following morning, either by air or vehicle.
We recommend staying overnight in a hotel near Nanyuki to acclimatise. Then the following day, you set off on your trip.
In an ideal world, the more time you have to acclimatise, the better, particularly if you normally live at sea level. Strangely, some people are unaffected by altitude and others really feel it. No-one really knows why some people acclimatise quicker than others, but on the basis that you may be starting to walk up the mountain just over 24 hours following arrival in Kenya, we advise taking it very slowly on the ascent, and drinking as much water as you possibly can.
We cover this very important subject in more detail in our Information document which we email to you, if you decide to travel with us.
If you are planning to climb Point Lenana, we would suggest allowing at least seven days for your mountain trip:
Day 1 – Travel up from Nairobi, rest and acclimatise in Nanyuki overnight at local hotel.
Days 2,3,4,5 – Your mountain trip.
Day 6 – Your last day on the mountain and overnight at local hotel.
Day 7 – You transfer back to Nairobi.
We usually recommend Kongoni Camp for pre and post-trip hotel stays for small groups. If you are a large group of ten plus, we recommend the Naro Moru River Lodge. Many of our guests treat themselves after the mountain and either stay at Soames Hotel or the Mount Kenya Safari Club.
Although we are occasionally asked by people if they can join a group, we don’t really offer this option. So your group will be just that, your own private group. The only exception is if two people are travelling independently and both have the same dates and both ask if there is someone they can join. We have managed this once!
Our guests range from independent travellers on their own, to couples, families with their children to groups of friends. We have taken people in their late sixties and the record for our youngest summiteers is still held by the Roberts’ girls, who were 12 and 10 years old.
On your trip, you will be accompanied by our full support team of guides, cook, server and porters. Usually, our Guide and Assistant Guide both accompany a group, even if you are only two. This is both to help you if you are climbing up to Point Lenana and as a safety precaution in case a member of your group has to descend. Our Cook will prepare your meals and our Server will of course serve your meals and will encourage you to eat and drink as much as possible. The number of porters will depend on the size of your group and whether or not you are camping. The porters will be carrying your main backpacks, all our camping, cooking and picnic equipment, food and water, as well as their own kit.
When you book, we provide a detailed Information document which covers every aspect of your trip from Health issues to a fully comprehensive Kit List. If you are a seasoned trekker, the gear list will be very familiar. If you have never done this type of trip before, you need to consider investing in Pac-lite waterproofs and a Sigg bottle just for starters. Trekking equipment is very versatile and can be used for all sorts of adventures so it’s well worth buying some quality kit.
We recommend camping, unless you specifically want to stay in the bunkhouses, with the exception of the Chogoria Bandas where we stay on our first night on the Chogoria route. This simple mountain lodge is very different to the bunkhouses on the Sirimon and Naro Moru routes. You have much more privacy and space in the Chogoria Bandas with your own cottage containing private bedroom, attached bathroom, sitting room and kitchen.
The greatest advantage about camping is flexibility – you can stay in more scenic locations off the beaten track, such as on the shores of the mountain’s lakes. This transforms your trip into a real mountain adventure.
However, camping trips are more expensive than staying in the bunkhouses, as they need more organisation. On the mountain, more porters are needed to carry our equipment and our camps have to be set up and then de-rigged. Off the mountain, our equipment has to be collected and returned to its store, as well as being checked and cleaned.
We provide Terra Nova Quasar two-man tents and Prolite Plus Thermarest sleeping mattresses.
Our Cook is happy to work with you if you have specific dietary requirements, and we can of course cater for vegetarians and we have done a gluten free trip in the past. Many people lose their appetite as they reach higher altitudes, and we try to prepare dishes which are very easy to eat and palatable, as well as nutritious and energy-giving, e.g. suppers are usually vegetable soups followed by minced beef-based sauces with rice, pasta or potatoes. Our Cook can also produce chips and roasties! All our cooking equipment and supplies are carried by porters, so there is a limit to what can be prepared, but it’s amazing what can be produced on either a primus stove or a small gas cylinder. We boil all water for hot drinks and try to provide at least enough bottled water for the first two days. Mountain water can then be boiled for drinking and we recommend bringing Nuun tablets both for electrolytes and flavour.
Whenever possible, we try to use 4×4 Toyota Landcruisers for our transfers. We don’t think it’s worth skimping on your safety when it comes to road travel.