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Mount Kenya: Africa's 2nd Tallest Mountain

Mount Kenya is the second highest peak in Africa, lying immediately south of the Equator.  The Mount Kenya area was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1997. The Kikuyu, who refer to the mountain as Kirinyaga, or Kere-Nyaga (“Mountain of Whiteness”), traditionally revere it as home to their omnipotent deity Ngai. Johann Ludwig Krapf was the first European to see the mountain (1849), and it was partially climbed by the Hungarian explorer Sámuel, Gróf (count) Teleki (1887), and the British geologist John Walter Gregory (1893). The British geographer Halford John Mackinder was the first to reach the summit, along with the Swiss guides César Ollier and Joseph Brocherel, in 1899. The town of Nanyuki, which is about 120 miles (190 km) north of Nairobi by rail, lies at the northwestern foot of the mountain; both Nanyuki and Naro Moru (to the west) are chief bases for ascents.

The mountain is an ancient extinct volcano, which during its period of activity (3.1-2.6 million years ago) is thought to have risen to 6,500 m. There are 12 remnant glaciers on the mountain, all receding rapidly, and four secondary peaks that sit at the head of the U-shaped glacial valleys. With its rugged glacier-clad summits and forested middle slopes, Mount Kenya is one of the most impressive landscapes in East Africa. The evolution and ecology of its afro-alpine flora provide an outstanding example of ecological and biological processes. Through the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and Ngare Ndare Forest Reserve, the property also incorporates lower lying scenic foothills and arid habitats of high biodiversity, situated in the ecological transition zone between the mountain ecosystem and the semi-arid savanna grasslands. The area also lies within the traditional migrating route of the African elephant population.












Mount Kenya straddles the equator about 193 km north-east of Nairobi and about 480 km from the Kenyan coast. At 5,199 m, Mount Kenya is the second highest peak in Africa and is an ancient extinct volcano. There are 12 remnant glaciers on the mountain, all receding rapidly, and four secondary peaks that sit at the head of the U-shaped glacial valleys. With its rugged glacier-clad summits and forested middle slopes, Mount Kenya is one of the most impressive landscapes in East Africa. The evolution and ecology of its afro-alpine flora also provide an outstanding example of ecological processes.

The property includes the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and Ngare Ndare Forest Reserve (LWC-NNFR) to the north. The two component parts of the property are connected via a wildlife corridor which is part of the buffer zone for the property, and which provides vital connectivity for elephants moving between Mount Kenya and the larger conservation complex of the Somali/Maasai ecosystem. The LWC-NNFR extension incorporates the forested foothills and steep valleys of the lower slopes of Mount Kenya and extends northwards onto the relatively flat, arid, volcanic soils supporting grassland and open woodland communities on the Laikipia plain.

Key features


Include Elephants, tree hyrax, white tailed mongoose, suni, black fronted duiker, mole rat, bushbucks, water buck and Elands. Animals rarely seen include leopard, bongo, giant forest hog .


Over 130 bird species have been recorded.


Park Size
2124 sq. Km



Peak Altitude
  [m] [ft]
Batian 5199 17057
Nelion 5188 17021
Point Lenana 4985 16355
Point Pigott 4957 16263
Point Thomson and Thomson Flake 4955 16257
Point Dutton 4885 16027
Point Melhuish 4880 16010
Point John 4863 15955
Point Peter 4757 15607
Midget Peak 4700 15420



1880s to 1890s Early exploration and attempts on Mount Kenya by Count Teleki, Dr J W Gregory, George Kolb and others.
1899 First ascent of Mount Kenya by Halford MacKinder, C. Ollier, and J. Brocherel. They ascended Nelion as far as South Ridge, traversed onto the Diamond Glacier and then summited Batian via the Gates of Mist.
1929 First ascent of Nelion via what is now the Normal Route by Eric Shipton and Percy Wyn Harris. They descended into the Gates of Mist and then climbed Batian, thus making the second ascent of Mount Kenya.
1930 First traverse of Mount Kenya by Eric Shipton and Bill Tilman. They climbed the West Ridge of Batian from Firmin Col and then descended via the Nelion Normal Route.
1943 Italian P.O.W.s , Felice Benuzzi, Giovanni Balletto and Enzo Barsotti, inspired by the magical sight of Mount Kenya, escaped from their wartime internment camp near Nanyuki and made an attempt on Batian by the West Ridge, with improvised equipment, sparse food and no maps or prior knowledge of the mountain. They didn't summit Batian, but were able to plant an Italian flag on Point Lenana, thereby thumbing their noses at their British captors. They then returned to face the music at the prison camp. Benuzzi recounts their fascinating story in his book "No Picnic on Mount Kenya."
1944 Arthur Firmin and P.H. Hicks made the first ascent of the Batian by what is now the North Face Normal Route.
1970s Most of the major remaining lines on the mountain were opened by Ian Howell, Iain Allan and others.
1973 First ascent of the Diamond Couloir by Phil Snyder and T. Mathenge.
1976 Ian Howell and D.J. Temple open the Diamond Buttress original route.
1980s to present Steady ongoing development of new and mostly harder routes between the existing lines.

The park receives over 16,000 visitors per year. There are several vegetation bands from the base to the summit.  The lower slopes are covered by different types of forest. Many alpine species are endemic to Mount Kenya, such as the giant lobelias and senecios and a local subspecies of rock hyrax.


Mount Kenya National Park

Mount Kenya National Park, established in 1949, protects the region surrounding the mountain. Currently the national park is within the forest reserve which encircles it.  In April 1978 the area was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.  The national park and the forest reserve, combined, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.

The Government of Kenya had four reasons for creating a national park on and around Mount Kenya. These were the importance of tourism for the local and national economies, preserve an area of great scenic beauty, conserve the biodiversity within the park and to preserve the water catchment for the surrounding area.


The main peaks and glaciers of Mount Kenya are near the centre of the mountain.

The peaks of Mount Kenya are almost all from a volcanic origin. The majority of the peaks are located near the centre of the mountain. These peaks have an Alpine appearance due to their craggy nature. Typically of Alpine terrain, the highest peaks and gendarmes occur at the intersection of ridges.[7] The central peaks only have a few mosses, lichens and small alpine plants growing in rock crevices.  Further away from the central peaks, the volcanic plugs are covered in volcanic ash and soils. The vegetation growing on these peaks is typical for their vegetation band.

The highest peaks are Batian (5,199 metres (17,057 ft)), Nelion (5,188 m (17,021 ft)) and Pt Lenana (4,985 m (16,355 ft)). Batian and Nelion are within 250 m (270 yd) of each other, separated by the Gate of the Mists gap (5,144 metres (16,877 ft)). Coryndon Peak (4,960 m (16,273 ft)) is the next highest, but unlike the previous peaks it does not form a part of the central plug.

Other peaks around the central plug include Pt Piggot (4,957 m (16,263 ft)), Pt Dutton (4,885 m (16,027 ft)), Pt John (4,883 m (16,020 ft)), Pt John Minor (4,875 m (15,994 ft)), Krapf Rognon (4,800 m (15,748 ft)), Pt Peter (4,757 m (15,607 ft)), Pt Slade (4,750 m (15,584 ft)) and Midget Peak (4,700 m (15,420 ft)). All of these have a steep pyramidal form.

Significant craggy outlying peaks include Terere (4,714 m (15,466 ft)) and Sendeyo (4,704 m (15,433 ft)) which form a pair of twin peaks to the north of the main plug. Together, they form a large parasitic plug. Other notable peaks include The Hat (4,639 m (15,220 ft)), Delamere Peak, Macmillan Peak and Rotundu.



Sources: Wikipedia

 Africa Team








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Beautiful. They should market the mountain more.
Reply    Favorite    Flag as Abusive    Posted at: 1/10/2017 3:56:44 PM
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