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Mount Kenya, Africa's second highest peak is regarded as the realm of Ngai, God of the local Kikuyu people. Traditionally, all Kikuyu home were built to face this sacred peak. They call it Kirinyaga, or place of light. The mountain is an awe-inspiring sight. Its ragged series of peaks are crowned with snow, and its slopes are thick with forest. The mountain is best seen at dawn, when the day early light silhouettes its impressive summit high over the surrounding plains.
Go Hiking to the Africa's second highest peak, Mount Kenya
The first thing to do at Mount Kenya is of course to hike it. Scaling Mount Kenya, the country's highest and the continent's second-highest mountain, is on the bucket list of many adventurers. The jagged summit peaks, sharp cliffs, and snow-capped crags can be seen on the northern road from Nairobi when the mountain is not shrouded in clouds. Hiking this monster usually takes from three to seven days, depending on fitness levels. Of the different possible routes up, the popular Chogoria route passes through lush green pastures and by icy blue lakes, crossing dusty martian landscapes along the way. The highest point hikers can reach without specialized climbing equipment is Lenana, which can be easily reached by any fit trekker. This trek takes between 3 and 5 days, through a fascinating world of forests, wildlife, and unique mountain vegetation including pod carpus and groundsel, and finally one of the world's rarest sights, equatorial snow.
Another thing to do at Mount Kenya is for accomplished horse-riders who also have a love for the universe. Olepangi Farm, a beautiful lodge and horse ranch in central-northern Kenya, offer 5 day horse riding safari's through the beautiful, wild landscape of the Lolldaigas. From horse-back you'll be able to get up close to wildlife in the daylight - from herds of elephant to towering giraffes - and by night you'll be situated in the best place in Kenya to see the stars: right on the equator with both the southern and northern hemisphere in one night's sky.
The Rutundu log cabins perch right above the lake's shore, and as the night descends on them, the staff place warm water bottles in your bed wrapped in plaid flannel sleeves. By morning the ground is frozen, but the skies are clear, the coffee is hot and the fire is still smoldering from the long night. Mists rise off the lake, obscuring its surface and you tiptoe into the old boat, sliding the oar gentling below the surface, and cast custom made flies across the lake with names like Flashy Bugger, Olive Nymph and Alice Devil. This really is a beautiful thing to do at Mount Kenya.
How to Get Tickets?
Ticket fees are payable at the three main park gates, and the current ticket tariffs are available on the Kenya Wildlife Service website. Camping tickets are included in the Park Ticket Fees, and camping is thus essentially free once you're in the park. You can purchase the 1 day entry tickets if you plan to spend only one day in the park or 3 days entry tickets if you plan to spend 3 days in the park.
How To Get Around?
Getting around Mount Kenya is pretty rough, you'll have to walk and hike for hours or even days to go to the top.
What Should I Wear?
If you plan to climb the mountain to the peak, you need the best shoes to climb through the harsh terrain as you approach the peak. You also need to have proper clothing, jackets for the cold (Mount Kenya has permanent snow at its summit, and is cold throughout the year), and a few pair of shirts, underwear, gloves, hat, and socks. You'll need a lot of water and food as well, so be prepared before you go.
Best Time to Visit
Although Mount Kenya is open all year round, it is certainly more difficult in the rainy seasons of March to June and October to December. Therefore, the best times to visit Mount Kenya are the dry seasons between January - February, and July - September.
Will I Need a Guide?
Yes, it is safer and easier to explore Mount Kenya with a guide. Climbing Mount Kenya is very accessible and there-in lies the problem. With a decent level of fitness, it is easy to gain altitude quickly. The trekking crew will usually consist of a guide, cook, porter for the cooking gear plus a personal porter per trekker. All guides and porters must be registered with Kenya Wildlife Services and hold a mountain guide park from Mt Kenya National Park.
How To Get There?
There are six gates into Mount Kenya National Park. 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. There is an airstrip in Nanyuki with both scheduled and charter flights available. Many trekking companies can organize transfers from Nairobi to Mt. Kenya.