Although most famous for its game-rich national parks, Kenya boasts a key draw for trekkers too: Mount Kenya (5199m). This three million year old extinct volcano is the highest mountain in Kenya and second-highest (after Kilimanjaro) in Africa. It lies just south of the equator but was once completely covered by a thick ice cap which remained for thousands of years. When most of it melted at the end of the last ice age, the slopes were exposed to a large amount of erosion which helped form many classic U-shaped valleys and large areas of scree. The rough terrain and height of the mountain mean that it is one that serious trekkers just have to ‘bag’.
Descending to lower reaches once again, the mountain flora can be appreciated. In the tussock grass, tree-like giant groundsels, the smaller cabbage groundsel and giant lobelia dot the landscape. Lower still, the landscape becomes wetter and turns into wet moorland where giant heather grows, before giving way to dense bamboo forest and then rainforest. It’s partly because of this diversity of afro-alpine vegetation that Mount Kenya National Park (in which Mount Kenya sits) is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The wildlife may not be on the grand scale of the Masai Mara, but it certainly adds to the many reasons why trekking on Mount Kenya is so rewarding.The mountain has three main peaks: Batian (5199m), Nelion (5188m) and Point Lenana (4985m). To reach the summits of Batian and Nelion requires rock-climbing skills with ropes and other equipment. Most trekkers satisfy themselves with climbing to the summit of the slightly lower Point Lenana which just requires stout legs and plenty of stamina. An early start on summit day rewards trekkers with amazing views of the sun rising over the mountains. As dawn breaks, glaciated peaks and sweeping valleys are revealed, stretching as far as the eye can see.