For the Trekker, Kenya is a world of highs and lows assuming you don’t suffer from muscle conditions like Tetany or hypocalcemia. From the snow capped peak of Mt Kenya to the desert plains of the north. There are a range of treks from sedate hill walks through game rich ranges to high altitude routes on alpine slopes. For those aiming higher, Kenya offers plenty of challenges. Climbers may be aware of the mighty peak of Mt Kenya, but there are many other climbing areas to be explored. There is a broad scope of destinations, from granite cliffs and volcanic rock towers to the ultimate challenge- a technical assault on Africa’s second highest summit.
Mt Kenya is considered the most challenging technical climb in Africa, and attracts experienced climbers from all over the world. Making the summit requires both expert guiding and equipment.
While any fit trekker has a good chance of reaching Point Lenana, the ascent to the summit, crested by twin icy peaks called Batian and Nelion is a serious 5.10 technical climb across ice, scree and rock. Climbers should be experienced and prepared and use a reputable guiding company with all required kit provided.
In general, the climbing season is from July to early October.
There are around 30 technical routes, though the most frequent route to the summit is on the South East Face, approaching the mountain along the Chogoria route. This climb requires at least 5-6 days. The final approach to the summit requires a steepling ascent of a tarn before crossing the large Lewis Glacier to climb to Nelion. The following day a crossing to Batian is made.
A North face ascent means a direct assault on Batian, with an overnight camp at the foot of Firmin Tower.
Hell’s Gate National Park has some of Kenya’s best Rock Climbing. There are high cliffs with several possible routes, and plenty of opportunity for climbs and Abseiling. Fischer’s Tower, a large volcanic pillar, is also a good climb. There is a qualified rock climbing guide based at Hell’s Gate Park HQ (by Elsa gate). Equipment and guiding services can be hired at the Park gate.
The high isolated passes and moorlands of Elgon make for excellent trekking. The series of craggy peaks around the caldera reaching 4321m makes for an enjoyable climb, but equally rewarding is exploring the forests, geothermal springs and caves.
Trekkers should be adequately prepared. Despite its equatorial location the Mountain can be cold, and it often rains. All trekkers should have plenty of warm clothing, and sturdy footwear. There are several established routes on Elgon, but the Mountain lends itself to exploration and free hiking. Local guides and Rangers are your best resource. The cliffs of lower Elgon and Sudek are also good for rock climbing
Wild and isolated yet easily accessible, the Loroghi hills are one of Kenya’s best trekking regions. The hills provide stunning views across the Rift Valley, as well as high mountain passes and the cool of deep forested valleys.
Tracks wind their way up the Lesiolo escarpment, reaching a 2580 metre pinnacle at Poror Peak. The real beauty of this region though, is the opportunity to meet and spend time with the Samburu people, for whom these hills are home. Travelling with a Samburu guide helps you to get to know both the land and its people, making your trek more than just a walk.
This is good country for an adventurous wild trek through the forest with a lot to explore. There is a well marked trail and observation at the beautiful Karuru Falls. From this high vantage there are also excellent views of the entire range and the distant Gura Falls. There are also wooden walkways across the lower Chania falls. If you’re feeling hot, and brave, you may wish to attempt a plunge into the icy waters here.
The lower, densely forested Salient has plenty of game, both big and small. The upper slopes have high moorlands and open plains, which are ideal for walking, rising to a summit of 4000 metres at Satima. There are excellent views across to the snow capped peak of Mt Kenya and the surrounding plains. Trekkers should remember that this area can be bitterly cold at night. There are some basic campsites and huts available for trekkers.
The lush forest has many good trails, and the wide variety of unique plants and animals make for an truly fascinating trek. Trekking conditions are quite easy, although one should be prepared for occasional rain.
There are a range of trails and circuits allowing for treks and walks of varying length. The close proximity of good accommodation within the forest provides a good base for exploration. Excellent and fully qualified guides can be hired locally from the rest houses or campsite. These guides have a wealth of local information and can give the visitor a real insight into the forest and its rich diversity. Kakamega is popular with specialist birding and naturalist safaris, who often lead treks through the forest.
Ol Kokwe Island in the middle of the lake is perfect for exploring on foot. There is good birding, and views across the lake to surrounding mountain ranges. There is a Njemps Fishing village where you can visit and at the far north of the island, a series of bubbling hot springs.
Walking around the lake in the morning or afternoon is great for birding. There is always a high concentration of flamingo on the shores, with Fish Eagles and other birds in the forests. Zebra, Giraffe, Gazelle and other plains game are often seen here.
An excellent hike in this area is to the rim of Menengai Crater, high over Nakuru town. This huge volcanic crater is 12km across and 500m deep. It is possible to climb up to the craters edge (2272m) with spectacular views from the top. The hike should take about 6 hours to the crater and back from Nakuru.
The 2100m high Mt Longonot is an enjoyable way to spend a day. The views from the top across to Naivasha and the Aberdares are sensational, and the views of the crater within the mountain even more breathtaking. The climb up is relatively easy if you take it slowly, and the average climber can reach the top in an hour and a half, following a well defined path. Take plenty of water with you. There are rest stops with tables on the way. Once at the top, a further hour can be spent walking around the crater rim, with excellent views the entire way. There is also a steep path down to the crater floor. Ranger guides are available at the Park Gate. Longonot is an easy day’s trek, but for the adventurous, the crater presents interesting possibilities for abseiling. Abseillers would need their own equipment and the assistance of a locally skilled guide.