Mount Kenya Trekking Routes

Mount Kenya Trekking Routes cater for 90% of all trekkers visiting the mountain. The three main Mount Kenya Trekking Routes include Naro Moru to the West, Sirimon on the North West and Chogoria on the South East. Most people go up and down a combination of these three Mount Kenya Trekking Routes. You can camp or use huts on all three and the trek is normally 5 days to go up to Point Lenana and back down again.

There are a further five Mount Kenya Trekking Routes which are much less climbed – Burguret on West, Timau on the North, Meru on the North East, Ithanguni on the East, and Kamweti to the South. These are all wild camping and the National Park often requires Rangers to attend a group because of wild animals. These routes don’t have official park gates, and route finding is much harder.

Mount Kenya Trekking Routes

Mount Kenya is the second highest mountain in Africa. Long overshadowed by Kilimanjaro, trekkers are starting to take notice of this beautiful glacial peak. An ancient dormant volcano, its flanks have been shaped and moulded to dramatic affect by glaciation. Mount Kenya plays host to dense bamboo and rainforest on its lower slopes and rare Afro-Alpine moorland and plant-life at higher elevations. Alongside the climbers’ twin peaks of Batian (5199m) and Nelion (5,188m) lies the no less dramatic trekkers peak at Lenana (4,985m). The trek up Mount Kenya demands a degree of fitness and altitude smarts, but it rewards all the way to the peak.

Mount Kenya is an extinct volcano with just one central vent. The main peaks are pretty much in the middle with ridges and valleys that radiate out from the summits like the spokes of a wheel. The routes follow the valleys up to the massif and the trekker then ascends scree and rock to the glaciated summit of Lenana, seen below on the right hand side.

With three possible Mount Kenya Trekking Routes up to the summit, our Mount Kenya trekking routes and highlights compares the merits of these trails and picks out some of the best sights along the way, to help you plan your trip. Plus, our holiday company experts, who have trekked Mount Kenya, offer tips on packing, what to expect and how to stay well as you ascend.

The following list and description of different Mount Kenya Trekking Routes will help you make an informed choice on the best route to choose to reach this beautiful glacial peak, although we’ve not ranked the options as each one offers different advantages;

Mount Kenya Trekking Routes – Sirimon Route

This route provides the easiest and most scenic access to the Northern side of the central peaks, which include Batia, Nelion, and Lenana. The track is 15 km from Nanyuki town heading towards Meru. This route has a lot of advantages that make it more favorable and comfortable.

Sirimon Route – If you were to choose the easiest ascent of Mount Kenya then a 5 day/4 night climb on the Sirimon route is the best option with your first night at Old Moses (3,300m) before spending two nights at Shiptons Camp (4,250m) on what is a steady ascent before summiting early on day 4 to enjoy the sunrise over East Africa from Point Lenana (4,985m) and dropping all the way back to Old Moses Camp for your final night on the mountain.

Shiptons Camp gets you up close and personal with all the summits and makes the final summit night the shortest of any of the options. There are also no difficult exposed summit ridges to tackle, however for the more adventurous it is definitely worth considering the Naro Moru route for your descent, you don’t need any extra days although be prepared for what is the world’s highest Via Ferrata on the descent from Point Lenana to Austria Hut.

Mount Kenya Trekking Routes – Naru Moru Route;

This route to the Teleki Valley and is the shortest way to the peaks. It is the most densely populated with hikers owing to the fact that is the shortest way up, and the most obvious trail. A steep marshy section known as the Vertical bog is reached one hour from Met Station, this section is terrible and is covered in two hours. After three to four hours from Met Station, the path reaches the crest of the ridge overlooking Teleki Valley (4000m)

The path contours along the right-hand side of the Teleki Valley, keeping high and then gradually descending to pass Naro Moru stream to Mackinder’s Camp (4,200m). From Met Station to Mackinder’s camp is app 5-6 hours of hiking. The Austrian hut can be reached in a further 4 hours walk and another 45 min you see point Lenana (4985m)

Naro Moru Route, like Sirimon is a 5 day/4-night climb but much more scenic (the vegetation is most striking on the Naro Moru route) and challenging, particularly on the second day of the ascent where you have to get through the ‘Vertical Bog’ (although it’s not actually vertical and only a bog in the rainy seasons and in the afternoons when it is more likely to rain) but an early start should get you through the bog and up to Pic-nic Rocks for lunch before the rain starts. The first night is at Met Station (3,050m) before ascending to Mackinders Camp (4,200m) for two nights, summiting for sunrise early on day 4 and dropping all the way back to Met Station for the final night (alternative descent via Sirimon Route is possible without adding extra days to the itinerary).

Mount Kenya Trekking Routes – Chogoria Route

This route provides access to the peaks, from the eastern side of the mountain. The route begins from chogoria town; about 96km from Embu and 64km from Meru. It is regarded as being the most beautiful route to the mountain. Ernest Carr, who made a vehicle track to the moorland, opened it in the 1920s. It is, however, a much longer route, compared to the others. The Chogoria route approaches from the East and there is a National Forest Reserve gate near the village of Chogoria and a National Park gate further up.

The route is often described as the most attractive route on Mount Kenya. However, there is no hut for its high camp and it is quite a bit longer unless you use 4×4’s to cut out the lower part. It is normal to drive 4×4’s through the forest until close to or as far as the Meru Bandas (3000m). The next stage is following a 4×4 track a bit further up to the “Road ahead” where you can either branch left for a more direct route, or right to pass Mugi Hill and Lake Ellis. Both tracks re-converge near the head of a spectacular amphitheatre of cliffs known as The Temple, in the bottom of which is Lake Michaelson and at the West end, a large notch where the Nithi River enters. Just above the junction (4300m), is an old rickety hut that porters often sleep in, but clients have to camp. From here the path continues to rise, up to Simba Tarn, here it splits to head either North or South for Shipton’s or Austrian huts respectively.

The physical landscape on this route is its biggest attraction. Whereas the other routes above generally follow a U-Shaped glacial valley for much of the way, the Chogoria traverses around the head of the spectacular ‘Temple’ with the Hall Tarns perched on the rock ledge above it and Lake Michaelson in the base of the amphitheatre. The additional features of Lake Ellis, the Giant’s Billiard Table and the Nithi Falls further add to its interest. The Chogoria is very often used as a descent route after ascending one of the other routes.

The forest on the lower slopes of the Naro Moru route appears to have only minimal visible damage from the devastating Mt Kenya fires of 2012, unlike the Sirimon route where the forest had all but disappeared (saplings have been re-planted on the Sirimon side but it will take years before you have the same majestic trees that you find on the Naro Moru route) and as result you have much more chance of seeing wildlife, particulary on the trek to Met Station where it is not unusual to spot antelope, elephant, colobus monkey and buffalo, which are well known to enjoy grazing on the Met Station camp-site during the night.

Mount Kenya Trekking Routes – Summit Circuit

Summit Circuit – The Summit Circuit itinerary is a 6 day/5 night itinerary on Mount Kenya, similar to the Naro Moru/Chogoria traverse but with more time in and around the summit circuit where you can enjoy acclimatization treks to the numerous tarns, explore the cols, ridges, and glaciers that are found on the summit circuit around the unique peaks.

You’ll also search for ‘Icy Mike’, the elephant that defied logic and tried to climb Mt Kenya, whose remains are found on one of the day hikes from Shiptons Camp at about 4,270m above sea-level! The Summit Circuit is well worth considering if you have some extra time to spare.

Mount Kenya Trekking Routes – Batian and Nelion

Batian and Nelion (technical climbs) – Batian (5,199m) and Nelion (5,188m) are the two highest peaks on Mt Kenya, both of which are multi-pitch technical climbs, and as such experience is needed before contemplating summit attempts on either. The North Face routes on Mount Kenya are usually climbed during the northern hemisphere’s summer. As Mt Kenya is on the equator the sun will be slightly to the North of the mountain during these months, which means that there is less snow and ice, making climbing the rock easier. It also means that the rock is warmed and you have the direct sunlight on you during the climb.

The rainy seasons in Kenya are usually April, May and November. Therefore, the best times for a climb of Batian via the North Face are June to August with September and October a possibility too. If you would like to climb in the January-February season, then better to consider Nelion via the South East Face. All climbs on Batian or Nelion include a trek to Point Lenana and tend to follow a lot of the summit circuit itinerary for the trekking ascent (using the Naro Moru route before switching to the Sirimon route for the ascent of Point Lenana) and descent (via the Chogoria Route).

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