Mount Kenya is the country's highest mountain. Sitting astride the equator its icy summit reaches to 5199m (17,058 ft). The entire mountain above the 3200m contour forms a national park. The mountain consists of three principal zones: the rocky peak area i.e. eroded volcanic plug, the alpine zone with its distinctive giant vegetation and the vast gentle lower slopes drenched in mountain forest and bamboo jungle.
Mt. Kenya is an imposing extinct volcano dominating the landscape of the Kenyan Highlands, East of the Rift. Mt. Kenya lies about 140 km North, North-East of Nairobi with its Northern flanks across the Equator. The mountain has two main peaks - Batian (5200m) and Nelion (5188m). The mountains slopes are cloaked in forest, bamboo, scrub and moorland giving way on the high central peaks to rock, ice and snow. Mt. Kenya is an important water catchments area, supplying the Tana and Northern Ewaso Ngiro systems.
The park includes a variety of habitats ranging from higher forest, bamboo, alpine moorlands, glaciers, tarns and glacial morains.
The park, which was inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1997 and is also a Biosphere Reserve, covers 715 km2, and includes the Peaks consisting of all the ground above 3200m with two small salient extending lower down to 2450m along the Sirimon and Naro Moru tracks. Surrounding the park is Mount Kenya National Reserve with an area of approximately 2095 km2.
Climate, flora and fauna on Mt. Kenya varies with altitude.
HOW TO GET THERE
175 kms from Nairobi, the park can be reached on Nanyuki-Isiolo road via Sirimon Track or Nyeri-Nanyuki road near Naro Moru. The park is also reachable via Chogoria on the Embu - Meru road, about 150km north of Nairobi.
The closest commercial airstrip to the park is at Nanyuki.
Pristine wilderness, lakes, tarns, glaciers and peaks of great beauty, geological variety, forest, mineral springs, rare and endangered species of animals, High altitude adapted plains game, Unique montane and alpine vegetation with 11 species of endemic plants..
Liki North Hut; Minto's Hut; Austrian Hut; Mackinders Hut (managed by Naro Moru Lodge); Judmare Hut; Shiptons Hut (managed by Mountain Rock Hotel).
Sirimon Bandas, Warden's Cottage
Mountain Lodge (Serena Hotels); Rutundu Fishes Lodge (book through Lets Go Travel)
Mountain climbing, game viewing.
This varies with altitude and rainfall, and there is a rich alpine and sub-alpine flora.Between 1200m and 1850m, the vegetation is mainly dry upland forest comprising of Croton associations. Juniper us procera and Podocarpus spp. are predominant in the drier parts of the lower zone (below 2,500m), with rainfall between 875 and 1400mm (Naro Moru and Sirimon tracks on the western slopes). In wetter areas (over 2200mm/year) in the southwest and northeast, Cassipourea malosana predominates. Higher altitudes (2,500-3,000m with rainfall over 2000mm/year) are dominated by a dense belt of bamboo Arundinaria alpina on south-eastern slopes, and a mosaic of bamboo and Podocarpus milanjianus with bamboo at intermediate elevations (2,600-2,800m), and Evalasting Podocarpus at higher and lower elevations (2,800-3,000m) and (2,500-2,600m).
Towards the west and north of the mountain, bamboo becomes progressively smaller and less dominant. There are also areas in zones of maximum rainfall 2,000-3,500m with up to 2,400mm/year, where Hagenia abyssinica with Hagenia revolutum predominate.
Above 3,000m, cold (low temperatures) become a more important factor, tree stature declines, and Podocarpus is replaced by Hypericum spp. A more open canopy here results in a more developed understorey. Many of the trees are festooned with mosses. Grassy glades are common especially on ridges. High altitude heath between 3,000m and 3,500m is characterised by shrubs with small leaves like African sage, Protea and Helicrysum.
The lower alpine or moorland zone (3,400-3,800m) is characterized by high rainfall, a thick humus layer, low topographic diversity, and low species richness. Tussock grasses Festuca pilgeri, and sedges Carex spp. predominates. Between the tussocks there are Alchemilla cyclophylla, Alchemilla johnstonii, and Geranium vagans. Above the 3500m contours is the Afro-alpine zone, moorland characterised by tussock grasses, senecios and lobelias.
The upper alpinezone (3,800-4,500m) is more topographically diverse, and contains a more varied flora. Many of the species here are bizarre, especially the giant rosette plants Lobelia telekii and Lobelia keniensis, Senecio keniodendron and Carduus spp. Senecio brassica is found in both the lower and upper alpine zone.There are a variety of grasses on well-drained ground and along the streams and riverbanks such as megaphytic Senecio battescombei and Helichrysum kilimanjaro.Continuous vegetation stops at about 4,500m although isolated vascular plants have been found at over 5,000m. There are 13 species endemic to Mount Kenya listed in Hedberg, (1951).