Mt Kenya – Kilimanjaro’s Little Sister

360 Expeditions

At 360 Expeditions, we always look for the path less trodden, the secret summits, and the spectacular views hiding in plain sight. This sense of adventure and exploration enables us to create some of the most unique expedition routes in the industry. The world is awash with gorgeous mountains and sublime trekking experiences that are overlooked because of their proximity to a big-name summit or trail. For instance, we find it shocking (do we find it shocking? Too strong a word perhaps say surprising?)  that the breathtaking Gokyo Lakes route is often sidelined for the “traditional” Everest Base Camp trek. Although this does mean it leaves quieter trails to be discovered for the likes of people who yearn for a slightly different mountain experience.

Mt Kenya is another excellent example. Africa’s second-highest mountain is Kilimanjaro’s little sister, a less-frequented and intriguingly wild peak to explore. While Kilimanjaro secures its crown as one of the Seven Summits, Mt Kenya offers something different. Mt Kenya is an underappreciated gem and just as exciting a proposition as its slightly larger sibling. And we’re going to explain why.

Mt Kenya – the essentials

Unsurprisingly, Mt Kenya is situated in Kenya, 150 km north of the capital, Nairobi, and just 16 km south of the equator. The mountain actually gave its name to the country and it sits at the heart of the territory, its highest peak reaching 5,199 metres above sea level. There are three notable high points – Point Lenana (4,985m), Nelion (5,188m) and Batian (5,199m). While the first is a trekking summit, the second two are technical climbs that require climbing experience and specialist equipment.

While the name ‘Kenya’ appears to be a European imposition, it may also be a corruption of words used for the mountain in local languages. The Kikuyu, Embu, and Kamba languages use the words Kirinyaga, Kirenyaa and Kiinyaa when speaking of the mountain, all of which bear a resemblance to ‘Kenya’. In all these cultures, Mt Kenya has a strong spiritual and cultural significance and is often considered the home of a deity. Today, more than 15,000 people climb the mountain every year, making it one of Kenya’s most iconic natural landmarks.

What makes Mt Kenya special?

So many factors make Mt Kenya a truly special trekking destination that it is hard to narrow them down to a concise list. Somehow, after much deliberation, we settled on five key reasons you should consider Mt Kenya for your next adventure.

  1. The landscape

This trek takes you through the equatorial rainforest, across moorland, around stunning high-altitude lakes, along deep gorges and above glaciers. It is unbelievably beautiful and varied, and the route captures the same spirit of adventure and isolation the first explorers must have felt as they scaled Mount Kenya. Sunrise on the trekking summit, with what seems like the whole of Africa spread out below you, is unforgettable.

  1. The flora and fauna

Sometimes, the Mt Kenya trek can feel like you’re in Jurassic Park. Minus the raptors hiding in the grasses, of course. Loaded with lush vegetation and a remarkable amount of wildlife, including elephants and waterbuck, this is a dream route for any nature lover.

  1. The quiet trails

Part of the reason the wildlife is so abundant here is that there are so few people to frighten it off. The Mt Kenya trails are wonderfully quiet, resulting in a mountain experience like few others. If you value that feeling of isolation and want to immerse yourself in the solitude of the wilderness, this is the expedition for you.

  1. The challenge

With a serious amount of ascent and the altitude to contend with, Mt Kenya is a tough but achievable challenge. We reckon it is the perfect first trekking peak for those looking to push themselves and try something new. It is also an excellent training peak for anyone wanting more experience before taking on a trickier trek. If you have climbing experience, you can extend the trip and ascend the true summit via a technically challenging climb. You can learn more about this on our Mt Kenya FAQ page.

  1. The guides and your food

We work with great local guides and porters and recognise they contribute a huge amount to the expedition and your experience. They bring considerable experience, local knowledge, energy and excitement to the trip. When it comes to the food, we are always in awe of what the cooks can do with extremely basic equipment. While the primary aim is to provide you with carb-heavy meals to replenish energy stocks, the cooks manage to produce nutritionally balanced meals using the best local ingredients. It’s nothing short of a miracle!

Mt Kenya 360 sample itinerary

To give you a feel for how a Mt Kenya expedition goes, we wanted to share our trek itinerary. This ten-day schedule includes travel and transfers.

Day One – Depart the UK, typically from London Heathrow.

Day Two – Arrive in Nairobi, transfer to Mt Kenya and evening briefing.

Day Three – Drive to Chogoria Gate, our entrance to the national park. Start the trek from Chogoria Bandas and head up through ancient woodlands, heathlands and moorland to our lakeside camp.

Day Four – Trek through moorland populated by unique high-altitude plantlife, cross the mouth of the great Gorges Valley and onto Lake Michaelson, where we will camp.

Day Five – Break 4,000 metres as we climb over the ridge surrounding Gorges Valley. A scree scramble takes us near the Lewis Glacier and our final camp before the summit.

Day Six – A 3 am start sees us head for the summit and a breathtaking sunrise over the mountain’s eastern panorama. After taking in the majesty of the moment, we descend back to Mackinder’s Camp for the night.

Day Seven – We continue our descent with a gentle walk down the valley to the gates of the National Park and our vehicles. Tonight, we stay at the Naromoru River Lodge and enjoy a luxurious dinner to celebrate our accomplishments.

Day Eight – A relaxing day by the pool at Naromoru River Lodge. You’re full board, so sit back, relax and enjoy.

Day Nine – After a leisurely morning, we will transfer back to Nairobi, stopping at the equator on the way. In the evening, we dine at the famous Carnivore restaurant before catching our flight home.

Day Ten – Arrive back in the UK.

You can find a more comprehensive account of the itinerary on our Mt Kenya trek page.

Mt Kenya with 360 Expeditions

As you can see, we have a lot of love for Mt Kenya and enjoy accompanying trekkers on this excellent adventure. Whether you are looking for a training trek before tackling a larger peak or simply prefer taking the trail less travelled, we think Mt Kenya is a brilliant choice.

Head to the Mt Kenya expeditions page to learn more or contact the 360 team if you have any questions about the trek.

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