Mt. Kenya is the highest mountain in Kenya, standing at an impressive height of 5,199 meters – Batian (17,057 feet), Nelion (5,188 m or 17,021 ft) and Point Lenana (4,985 m or 16,355 ft). It is a challenging climb, and reaching the summit requires proper planning and preparation.
Whether you’re an experienced climber or a novice hiker, here are 20 things you should know before hiking Mt. Kenya.
Watch My Mt Kenya Summit Vlog
1. Know the routes
Mt. Kenya has several routes to the summit, each with varying degrees of difficulty. The most popular routes are the Sirimon and Chogoria routes, but there are also the Burguret and Naro Moru routes. I used the Sirimon route while ascending, and Chogoria route while descending. Chogoria is more scenic in my opinion, because of the lakes and tarns you see along the trail.
2. Get a guide
It’s advisable to get a local guide to help you navigate the mountain, particularly if you’re not an experienced climber. A guide will also provide valuable information on the local flora and fauna, as well as the history and culture of the area. I used Mona Trails on Instagram so I didn’t have to worry about the logistics of a guide. Our guides, Samson and George were super helpful, I could not have summited without them.
3. Know the weather
The weather on Mt. Kenya can change rapidly, and it’s important to check the weather forecast before starting your climb. The best time to climb is during the dry season, which runs from December to February and from June to October.
We hiked during what could be called the wet season, but then again the mountain has its own climate, so you can never be too careful. It rained on the first day, from Shipton’s camp to Old Moses camp, and the second last day, from Mintos camp to Lake Ellis camp.
4. Get fit
Climbing Mt. Kenya requires physical fitness, so make sure you’re in good shape before attempting the climb. Train regularly and do exercises that strengthen your core and legs. In addition, do a couple of prep hikes on high altitude areas such as the aberdare ranges to get fit and get used to the altitude.
Mt. Kenya is a high-altitude mountain, and acclimatization is crucial to avoid altitude sickness. Spend at least a day at the base of the mountain to allow your body to adjust to the altitude.
6. Pack the right gear
The right gear is essential for a successful climb.
Pack warm clothes, a waterproof jacket, sturdy hiking boots, a hat, gloves, and sunglasses. A headlamp is also necessary for night hiking. I bought a chargeable headlamp which malfunctioned on me and pretty much anyone else who had a chargeable headlamp. If you can, buy the battery one and pack an extra pair of batteries.
7. Bring enough food and water
Bring enough food and water to last you the duration of your climb. The water on Mt. Kenya is not safe for drinking, so bring water purification tablets or a filter.
This also depends on who is hosting you/planning your summit. I found that I did not use much of what I carried because the food provided was so good! I actually had to give away some of the supplies to the porters and guides.
8. Pack a first-aid kit
A first-aid kit is essential in case of an emergency. Include items like bandages, painkillers, and altitude sickness medication.
9. Get travel insurance
It’s important to have travel insurance in case of an emergency or medical evacuation. Everyone in my group, 6 of us purchased the Maisha Annual Cover which is an ‘Air and Ground Ambulance Plan aimed at providing quality and affordable medical evacuation services to individual, group or corporate subscribers. ’
10. Respect the environment
Mt. Kenya is a fragile ecosystem, and it’s important to respect the environment. Leave no trace and follow the “leave only footprints” rule.
11. Hire porters
If you have heavy gear or equipment, hire porters to carry them for you. This will make your climb easier and more enjoyable.
12. Know your limits
Climbing Mt. Kenya requires physical and mental endurance. Know your limits and don’t push yourself beyond what you’re capable of.
13. Take breaks
Take regular breaks to rest and catch your breath. This will help you conserve energy and prevent exhaustion. I found that it helps hiking with people you know in the past. All 6 of us had hiked together in the past and did 4 prep hikes before Mt Kenya which built within us great bonds.
We relied on the camaraderie to ask for support and survive the 4 days out there.
14. Stay hydrated
Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Dehydration can lead to altitude sickness and other health issues. For this, I bought a 2L hydration bladder from Hawi Outdoors for easy sipping and hydration.
15. Watch your step
Mt. Kenya has rocky terrain, so watch your step to avoid tripping or falling. Especially from Shipton’s camp to the summit.
16. Follow the rules
There are rules and regulations in place to protect the environment and ensure the safety of climbers. Follow these rules and respect the authority of park rangers. The guide will brief you before you start the Mt Kenya experience, and every morning before you start hiking Mt Kenya trails, from one camp to the next.
17. Be prepared for emergencies
In case of an emergency, know how to call for help and have a plan in place. Share your medical insurance details including the flying doctors card with the guide or hike host/hostess.
18. Respect the local culture
Mt. Kenya is home to several indigenous communities, and it’s important to respect their culture and way of life.
19. Enjoy the view
The summit of Mt. Kenya offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. Take time to enjoy the scenery and appreciate it.
20. Make Memories
I made a lot of great and shared memories about summiting Mt Kenya. It was my first time to camp in the wild and use the washroom in the wild. Thankfully, each camp has a latrine situation but still.
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