Trekking on Mount Kenya
The central highlands region is dominated by the snow-capped peaks of Mount Kenya, which reach 5199 metres on the Batian peak, the second highest on the African continent, after Kilimanjaro. Observing its grandeur from the village of Nanyuki, which also marks the exact point where the equator crosses, one immediately understands why it is still considered the ‘home of the gods’ by the local Kikuyu people.
On these green and fertile lands, between the steep slopes that climb up to the jagged summits that disappear into the clouds, everything is magical.
The surprising natural phenomenon of the ‘Coriolis force‘ at the exact point where the equator passes could also seem magical. It can be tested with a small container of water and a floating twig and by observing that by moving a few centimetres from one side of the imaginary line to the other, the stick will turn in two different directions depending on the hemisphere.
But the magic is also and above all the variety of an unspoilt nature that changes constantly as you move up in altitude. If the valleys and surrounding fertile plains were expropriated by settlers for centuries, after Independence they were partly returned to the local population, who made them the country’s main granary, or transformed into ranches for the conservation of the numerous animal species that populate the area, such as elephants, antelopes, buffalo and leopards.
As one approaches the slopes, the base of Mount Kenya is ringed and engulfed in a veritable jungle, criss-crossed by bamboo groves and an infinite number of streams flowing down the mountainside. On the intermediate heights, a riot of conifers and cedars introduce the first glaciers and the progressive thinning of the vegetation, which becomes increasingly shrubby and steppe-like, embellished by the alpine inflorescences of the beautiful lobelias, and the characteristic Dendrosenecio keniodendron, the endemic plant symbol of Mount Kenya.
Each slope is served by accommodation facilities and has its own characteristic landscape. While the most experienced climbers will have no difficulty in reaching the volcanic peaks of Batian and Nelion, both over 5,000 metres, the easiest route for the less experienced is up Lenana (4,985 metres). The access routes that meander and climb to the summits are varied, often offering close encounters with the local fauna, and can be covered in a day’s walk through ever-changing scenery, from the surrounding savannahs to dense forests and woodlands, from alpine heathlands and highland steppes to small lakes set in rock, from streams and glaciers to snow-capped, desert and jagged peaks, from which to gaze out over Kenya, beyond the clouds.
A privileged viewpoint and magic to be experienced, on this National Park, Biosphere Heritage (UNESCO 2013).
Trekking on Mount Kenya
The magic is and above all the variety of an unspoilt nature that changes constantly as you move up in altitude.