Mount Kenya, like any other mountain, means different things to different people. For many years, it has been that strong tower that housed the snow that was absent everywhere else. Beer lovers gather in bars across the country to sip on White Cap, while engaging in deep and not-so-deep conversations. Guess it’s safe to say Mount Kenya houses our deepest thoughts, our fears, our hopes… our pride.
What’s more, before Kenya got her independence, her soldiers used some parts of the mountain as hideouts. They held regular meetings in caves, hoping that they’d one day stand as high as Africa’s second highest peak.
Modern day Mount Kenya
Kenya has since attained her independence. There are now fewer glaciers. Dozens of hikers flock the mountain with a hope to make it to the summit. Some of them make it, a few others do not. A lot has changed. Regardless, it is still, in my opinion, one of the most unexplored places on earth.
Mount Kenya provides hikers with diverse and incredible possibilities. We will not talk about summiting, just yet. Walking around Mount Kenya (national park) is one of the most beautiful experiences you will ever have. We could focus on the alpine meadows or tarns or the equatorial and exotic vegetation. We could also just talk about the animals and birds. Or should we talk about the sunrise and sunset over the park?
Let’s talk about…
The scenic Chogoria route!
Mount Kenya stands at around 200km north of Nairobi. The mountain is accessible from Kenya’s capital and other towns by road. One may also choose to be fancy and fly there. There are numerous identifiable trekking routes namely: Naro Moru, Sirimon (both accessed from Nanyuki), and the Chogoria one.
The Chogoria one is considered to be the most grammable route. There are numerous features that one is certain to find enchanting.
The most amazing part about this trekking path is that one could do a lot, besides summiting. This option is ideal for those who love having a good time without getting rushed. It is also recommended for those who barely have any time off their busy schedules.
Here’s how you can make the most out of that one weekend.
I’m giving the following outline assuming you’ve driven all the way up to the park from Chogoria town.
Catch the sunrise at the Mount Kenya Chogoria KWS Bandas
Found at around 2650 meters above sea level, these bandas provide an obvious vantage point. The skies turn golden, and the reflection is felt (and seen) on the mountain.
Weirdly, one barely feels the cold that early morning… well, up until after the sun rises. It is a decision you will forever cherish so get out of bed this once. And BTW, no two sunrises are the same.
Hike to Lake Ellis
This hike is normally done almost immediately after sunrise. It is dependent on whether or not there are elephants on the hiking track. It seriously can’t get better than that. You know, all that rawness? So, the KWS rangers are very alert, and do their best to ensure everyone is safe. Of course, however, there is a reason why it is called the wild – go figure 😉
The lake is found at around 3600 meters above sea level. Take note of instructions from your guide to ensure you make it to the very top. A sudden change in altitude can easily prevent you from proceeding. There is so much to enjoy as one heads up anyway. Take your time to take it in.
Most gorgeous place I’ve been to in a while. If I had a dollar for each time I said this… yikes! Lake Ellis is extremely calming. When I visited, we all went silent in an unrehearsed manner. You can almost hear the fish move. The blue waters barely move, except when the soft wind caresseses its surface. Birds occasionally land on the top hoping to land a catch. Everything looks like a well-organized cult, everyone playing their designated roles.
Lake Ellis is perfect for lunch breaks. It is ideal for proposals. One may fish if they have time… the possibilities are endless.
Bush Whack to the Nithi Falls
Guys look, waterfalls come first then EVERYTHING else follows. Go look it up or ask around… these are facts only 😀 Also, few things are as delightful as walking in the bushes trying to create your own path.
The feeling is further elevated by a constant reminder of buffaloes in the vicinity. I’m not even kidding: you’ll narrowly miss fresh dung a couple of times.
At some point, everything got so exciting that I started screaming – by now you know I do this a lot, no? Stella (No, this is not code for anything) softly said, “continue inviting the hyenas, they’ll gladly show up.” Stella is an honorary warden who has the entire Mount Kenya figured out. She is a traveler so she understands the thrill in trying to create one’s path. Am I endorsing her? Shamelessly so!
The Geography learned at school prolly won’t make a lot of sense till you’re walking in and around Mount Kenya. The Mountain is home to some of the most diverse and uncommon vegetation. Once in a while, your awesome guide will tell you something about some plant being extremely rare. Some, I hear, can only be found on that Mountain, and South Africa. If you know your way round plants, you have to love it there! If you don’t, like yours truly, just gasp and live the moment!
Nithi Falls is about 30 meters high, and is found at around 3300 meters above sea level. Getting down there calls for good hiking shoes as it can get extremely steep and slippery. The water falls in indescribable majesty, hitting the rocks below and creating a stream. Abseiling there would be incredible! There isn’t that yet, relax 😀
The “table mountain”… etc
As was mentioned earlier on, there is a lot to do in the Mount Kenya Park. We have a hill that looks like the much hyped table mountain in South Africa. It is hikeable, despite the fact that very few people have made their way there.
As one continues going up the mountain, there are other crater lakes and the vegetation keeps changing. Lake Michaelson is definitely a sight to behold.
Now, we went up to 3600 meters above sea level in this post. Mount Kenya cannot be summarized in a few blog posts. Go there this weekend and see what you’ve been missing. There is still a lot left to explore, even before one plans on summiting. After all, hiking is meant to be fun, not torture.
On that note, does any one of you hope to do the Everest some day?
Talk to Stella: 0717117383. Special discounts if you mention Wachera 😉
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Cheers to new paths!