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Mount Kenya National Park

Introduction

Mount Kenya National Park and Forest Reserve lies approximately 175kms northeast of Nairobi and covers an area of just over 700 sq kms, with a landscape consisting mainly of forest and bare rock. The national park and the forest reserve, combined, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.

The region is home to a variety of wildlife including some unique species, such as Black and White Colobus and Sykes monkeys, bushbuck, buffalo, elephant, Olive baboon, waterbuck, black rhino, leopard, hyena, bongo and at high altitudes zebra and eland can be found. Over 130 species of birds have been recorded.

The Central Highlands, which contain Mount Kenya and the Aberdares, are the homelands of the Kikuyu people. Mount Kenya is regarded as a holy mountain by all the communities (Kikuyu and Meru) living adjacent to it. They believe that their traditional God Ngai and his wife Mumbi live on the peak of the mountain and use it for their traditional rituals.

Mount Kenya is an extinct volcano that straddles the equator and is Africa's second highest peak. The altitude ranges from between 11,000 to 17,058ft, with the highest peaks being Batian at 17,058ft and Nelion at 17,022ft.

Both peaks are regularly ascended by experienced climbers though very few actually make it to the top. The more popular peak for climbers is the easier Lenana which reaches a height of 16,354ft and can be climbed without the use of specialist equipment. Climbers are often accompanied by a guide, with porters being available. There are climbers huts to rest up in, but plenty of food and warm clothes should be taken with you.

The scenery in the area is stunning and quite breathtaking. It is also a botanist's paradise, with a wide variation in flora as the altitude changes.

The best time of the year for climbing Mount Kenya is from mid January to late February and from late August through September.

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