KENYA MOUNTAIN CLIMBING
Kenya's mountains offer challenging climbing, and with a certain amount of planning and organization, you can enjoy the thrill of seeing Kenya from a different angle.
The principal mountains which offer worthwhile climbing possibilities are Mount Kenya, Mount Elgon, the Aberdares and the Cherengani Hills, which are also covered in their respective travel chapters.
Since Mount Kenya is the biggest and the best because it is the most challenging, its various trails are covered in detail here. The advice as to logistics, guides, equipment and supplies naturally applies to any mountain climbing expedition. A brief list of the principal mountains and their heights are given at the end of this box.
Although ordinary running shoes are adequate at lower altitudes, good walking shoes make definite sense and for higher altitudes, boots are essential. Wear layers of clothing which are not only more efficient at keeping your body warmth in, but they allow you to strip off layers should you get too hot. If you are going up to higher altitudes, you will need proper thermal underwear, hat, gloves, and jacket.
An extensive first-aid kit, a torch, a knife, (the Swiss Army knife is ideal) and a lighter are all essential. Always carry enough food and water with you, and if you are intending to camp, check with your guides and porters before setting off as to what foodstuffs and what equipment - tents, bedding, cooking utensils - are required. Always have a sunhat, sunglasses and sun lotion. Try and obtain all the maps you need in Nairobi before leaving.
Healthwise, you have to bear in mind that not only do you need medication for any potential cuts, bruises, blisters and stings but also for altitude sickness. The thin air, especially at the summit of Mount Kenya, can cause high altitude headaches and insomnia, so make sure that you include pain killers and sleeping tablets. There is no need to be alarm about climbing Mount Kenya - many people do it every season - but neither is it the same as setting off for a Sunday afternoon stroll. If the you ascend too quickly, you could (but not necessarily) be affected by altitude sickness. Climb slowly, stopping to acclimatize, and should you feel unwell, descend immediately. Remember that your body needs much more liquid the higher you climb, so always take ample supplies of water.
There are various trails that lead up to the summit of Kenya's highest mountain, some of which are difficult and will require you to hire guides, whereas the three principal trails are well marked and are briefly described below. You will have to pay to enter the National park and at the park headquarters they will be able to advise you as to the weather conditions and the desirability of taking guides and porters. Alternatively, contact the main lodges who often organize climbing expeditions. There are huts on the mountain but need to book them in advance.
The Naro Moru trail is the most popular and requires a minimum of four days climbing. For all information, contact the Naro Moru River Lodges. The final day's climbing takes you across a snow-covered glacier.
The Sirimon trail requires at least five days and it is the least frequented of the trails.
The Chogoria trail is the easiest of the three and also the most picturesque, with some superb views. You will require at least three days.
The highest peak, Wagagai 4,321 m or 14,173 ft is actually just across the border in Uganda for the mountain straddles the border between the two countries. The highest peak on the Kenyan side is Koitoboss. Mount Elgon is wet for much of the year so you needgood waterproof clothing as well as warm clothes for the cold nights.