An extinct stratovolcano of extreme beauty, Mount Kenya is the second-highest mountain in Africa, at 5,119 m (17,058 ft). Despite being not far south of the equator it has for thousands of years been capped with glaciers, although these now retreating at an alarming rate. The national park was created in 1949 and it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.
The high peaks, above the beautiful U-shaped glacial Mackinder Valley and emerald green tarns, are a draw for climbers, but the lower slopes hold a fantastic array of wildlife in their beautiful and carried habitats.
During the dry periods, large mammals, such as eland, elephant, buffalo and zebra, move upwards to the high open moorland and have been as high up as 4,000 m (13,120 ft).
Below the moorland is an area of high-altitude heath and shrubs, then a layer of upper forest with small trees and mosses, then a dense forest of bamboo followed by a montane forest with podocarpus, juniper and cedar, and finally a fry upland forest.
These varied habitats support black-and-white Colobus and Sykes monkeys, baboons, bushbuck, waterbuck, bush pigs, giant forest hogs, black rhinos, leopards, genet cats and hyenas, black-fronted duiker, bongos and Sunni buck. With such a range of heights and habitats, Mt Kenya is also known for its amazing variety of birds.
There are many climbing routes within the park, with huts to stay in overnight, suitable for different levels of fitness and ability. Although there are enough beautiful landscapes and amazing animals lower down, it is only by getting to the higher reaches of the mountain that you can appreciate the worth of this spectacular place.
The second-highest mountain in Africa.
How to reach
By road from Nairobi
When to visit
The dry seasons are January-March and July-October. The wet seasons are from March-June and October-December.
You should know
At this height, the air is thinner and altitude sickness is a possibility. Don’t over-exert yourself until you have adjusted.