Kenya is situated suitably within the East African region and is a home to more than 20 magnificent National Parks that offer breathtaking landscapes, numerous wildlife species and birdlife, one of which is Mount Kenya National Park. Lying just at the Heart of Kenya (Central), Mount Kenya National Park was gazetted in 1949 for mainly four reasons that include to conserve the rich biodiversity within the area, because tourism was/is considered very important for the local and national economies, to preserve the area of wonderful scenic beauty and to preserve the water catchment for the surrounding area (especially Northern Ewaso Nyiro systems and Tana). It was formerly a Forest Reserve before gaining the National Park status, became a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in April 1978, and the Park together with the Forest Reserve were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.
This phenomenal Park extends for only 715 square kilometers (276 square miles/71,500 hectares) with its largest part being above the 3000 meter (9800 feet) contour line while the Forest Reserve covers an area of 705 square kilometers (272 square miles), thus combined this Protected Area covers over 1420 (548 square miles).
Standing at 5199 meters above sea level (17,057 feet) above sea level, Mount Kenya is actually the second tallest mountain in the African Continent and boasts of typically pristine wilderness with lakes, tarns, glaciers, several mineral springs, thick forests and a number of exceptional and endangered wildlife species, game that are adapted to the high elevation as well as extraordinary montane and alpine vegetation types. The highest Peaks of this Mountain are Batian that stands at 5199 meters (17,057 feet) above sea level, Nelion at 5188 meters (17,021 feet) and Point Lenana standing at 4985 meters (16,355 feet) above sea level. The slopes of this Mountain are blanketed by forests, bamboo, scrub as well as moorland hence leaving the high central summits with ice, snow and rock.
Attractions in Mount Kenya National Park
It’s very interesting that the different flora and fauna within this Park depend on the altitude of the area. However, the common wildlife species to expect within this spectacular destination include Elephants and a small portion of the Protected Area’s borders especially closed to the heavy populations have electrified fences that are very helpful in keeping these big mammals out of the surrounding farmlands. There are also Cape buffaloes, primates especially vervet monkeys and black and white colobus monkeys at lower elevations of Mount Kenya. Other notable animals to look out for include leopards, tree hyraxes, Mole rats, Bongos, the white-tailed mongoose, Giant forest hogs, Suni, waterbucks, groove-toothed rats, black-fronted duikers, lions, elands and bushbucks among others.
Additionally, more than 130 species of birds call the Mount Kenya National Park home thus making it a small birding paradise. Some of the common bird species you will be able to sight include Verreaux’s eagles, sunbirds, Lammergeier, Alpine chats, augur buzzard, starlings and raptors among others. Majority of these birds play an important part in the ecosystem because they at as pollination agents. Besides the wildlife and bird species, tourists who visit this Park are treated to the breathtaking views of the magnificent waterfalls, salt licks that draw a number of animals, Caves and others.
On top of the remarkable wildlife and birdlife, the volcanic sediment within the soil of the surrounding area and the large volume of clean and fresh water flowing down the slopes makes the region very favorable for farming.
Therefore, some of the activities you cannot miss enjoying when you visit Mount Kenya National Park include;
This activity is conducted through a number of routes to the three Peaks of the mountain that include Themwe, Kamweti, Burguret and Marania. However, majority of the tourists prefer climbing to Point Lenana (third highest Peak at 4985 meters above sea level) but the physically fit and experienced climbers with advanced technical climbing ability can climb to the other two Peaks-Batian, the highest standing at 5199 meters (17,057 feet) above sea level and Nelion at 5188 meters (17,021 feet). The best time for climbing this mountain is the dry season from mid-January to end of February and between August and end of September.
Mount Kenya is known as the realm of Ngai, god of the Kikuyu people who are the natives of the area thus when you visit this Park, you will get a chance to interact with the locals and learn more about their cultures. Other activities to relish within Mount Kenya National Park include Helicopter trips, cave exploration, Fishing, Game/wildlife viewing, Bird watching and camping.
Best Time to visit Mount Kenya National Park
A visit to Mount Kenya Park is not limited to season because it is open all year round. However, majority of the tourists prefer visiting during the dry season from December to March. March to May are characterized by cloudy skies and there are drizzles from October to early December thus always restrict clearer views.
Where to spend a night in Mount Kenya National Park
The notable lodges for your overnight stay include; Serena Mountain Lodge, Castle Forest Lodge, Ragati Lodge, Loisaba Wilderness, Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club, Shiptons Camp Mountain Hut, Rutundu Log cabins, Sweetwaters Tented Camp, Mukima House, Timau River Lodge, Laikipa Safari Camp, Porini Rhino Camp, Mount Kenya Leisure Lodge and many others.
How to Reach Mount Kenya National Park
This Park is situated at about 175 kilometers from Nairobi City and is accessible by both air and road transport whereby with the former, it can be reached on the Nanyuki-Isiolo road through Sirimon Track or even Nyeri-Nanyuki road close to Naro Moru.
Alternatively, the Park can be accessed through Chogoria on the Embu-Meru road and is about 150 kilometers north of Nairobi City. For air transport, the nearest airstrip to use is found within Nanyuki or Laikipa much as there are a number of small airstrips close to the private Lodges within the area. However, many tourists prefer flying to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (also known as Nairobi Airport) then drive/or get driven to Mount Kenya National Park by road.