Mount Kenya Region
Mount Kenya National Park
Namesake of a Nation
You are about to expienece on of the unique enviroments in the world an are so special that in 1997 UNESCO inscribed Mount Kenya a World Heritage Site as ” one of the most impressive landscapes in Eastern Africa with its rugges placier-clad summits, Afro-Alpine moorlands and diverse forests that Illustrate outstanding ecological processes.
Since 1978 , the area is also an inernational Biosphere Reserve. Mt. Kenya, an extinct volcano that last erupted between 2.8 to 3.2 million years ago, was gazetted a National Park in 1949 and a National Reserve in 2000 and is managed by Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).
In the 2800 sq km National Park and Reserve are over 800 recorded plant species with 81 species being endemic to Mount Kenya; there is also a wide variety of wildlife such as elephant, buffalo, eland, bushbuck, waterbuck, zebra, hyena, colobus monkey, white throated guegnon and common at higher altituedes, the ubiqutous Mt. Kenya rock hyrax. Animals rarely seen include leopard, bongo, giant forest hog and rhino.
The elevation range is approximatly 2200 meters to 5200 meters and includes several distinct vegetarian zones: Mixed broad-leaf- forest, Gallery Forest, Bamboo, Giant Health and Hagenia, Moorland tussock grasses, Giant Senedcio and Lobelia- and, at the uppermost elevation, rock and ice.
To the Embu, Meru and Kikuyu tribes that dwell around the mountain, Mt. Kenya is the home of their traditional God, Ngai, and the location of their creation mythology, hich elevation on the equator has created a unique ”island environment” that is especially sensitive to human impact.
thus, all visitors have an obligation to protect this fragile ecology. The rules and regulations established by KWS ar clearly posted at each gate and on their website.
How to minimize your impact on the mountain
Most visitors to Mt. Kenya travel on a few, heavily used routes. This makes it all the more important for you to follow these minimum-impact guidlines.
Stay on trails where they exist. This protects the surrounding vegetation and prevents soil erosion.
If you are hiking where no trail exist, spread the impact so that you don’t create new trails.
When walking breaks, chose areas that will not show much human impact such as rock or bare ground. Sitting on vegetation leads to destruction
observe the camping rules only camp on designated places, public campsites.
Most of the huts are privately owned. Mackinder’s Camp (Naro Moru Route), Shipton’s Camp (Sirimon Route) and the Minor’s Hut (Chogoria Route)
Austrian Hut, Top Hut Kami Hut and Two Tarn Campsite
Refuse left by careless hikers is not only an eyesore but can also be harmful to all forms of Wildlife.
There is no proper means of waste disposal on the mountain other than packing lotter out. Buried litter breaks downe extremly slowly in this enviroment and is liable to be dug up by the animals.Unsightly and unhealthy garbage pits result. Burning is illegal.
You will be asked to produce your litter at the gate on your return.
If you have extra supplies, give them directly to someone who will use them. Do not leave them out with the litter. Do not feed the animals, as this disrupts their normal existence, increases impact on vegitation surrounding the huts/campsites and could result in the destruction of the animal itself.
Be part of the Mt. Kenya clean up effort. Bring back more then just your own litter.
Litter: Pack it in – pack it out,
With so many individuals concentrated in limited areas on the mountain it is vital to protect water resources from contamination. Plan on purifying all drinking water, either by boiling, filteration or use of purification tablets. Do not use soap directly in water sources. Even the best biodegradeble soaps take several days under ideal conditions to break down. Where possible move at least 10 meters away form water sources before using soap.
Human faecal material is a major source of water contamination on the mountain. Where they exist, use an established toilet (choo).
Ultra-violet radiation form the sun and organisms present in the soil are the best decomposers of human waste. At high altitudes those soil organisms are not very abundant. Therefore. Sunlight provides the best form decomposition.
Select a site away from campsites, trails and at least 50 meters away from water,with lots of sunlight exposore. Leave faeces on the surface of the ground. Scattering and smearing the faeces around will maximise exposure to sunlight. At lower elevations sich as below 3500 meters where soils are rich in decomposing organisms, burying faeces in shallow holes is the most effictive method. Toilett paper and sanitary towels should be packed out with other litter.
Wild animals on Mt. Kenya do not normally come into contact with hikers and because of the dense forest most species are rarely seen. If surprised or provoked particualarly Cape buffalo and elephant, they may attack. Talking frequently clapping or making a hooting sound while hiking below the moorland warns animals you are approaching and they should move away from you. Do not approach the animal or proceed along the trail if it fails to move away. Consider backtracking away from elephant and buffalo in particular. Feeding wild animals, disrupts their natural behaviour and this includes monkeys, hyrax and birds. You may also be attacked if the animal is aggressive, so exercise caution and leave wildlife alone.
There are over 130 recorded species of birds. As you walk you may see white-headed wood hoopoes probing the cracks of the gnarled forest trees for insects, or the cinnamon-chested bee-eaters which snap up prey from exposed branches. The forest also hosts two species of francolin, the Jackson’s francolin and the scaly francolin, both of which will scurry into the under growth at your approach Mackinders eagle owl is frequently seen in the upper valleys of the mountain near the peaks, while high above the crags cruise the mighty lammergeyers (espeially around Sendeo and Terere Peaks on the Sirimon Route).
Dress right, eat right, drink right – these guidelines may save your life!
Extremes of heat, cold, wind and sun can adversely affect visitors to Mt.Kenya. Temperatures range from 30 c to – 15 C (minus). Hypothermia or exposure is a life – threatening lowering of the body temperature. It may occur in air temperatures as high as 100 c. (50 F)
Signs/symptoms are clumsiness, stumbling, apathy, lethargy, loss of enthusiasm and thinking abbility, disorientation and unconsciousness. Treatment requires early recognation and aggreeive steps to warm the hypothermic person. Find shelter, remove wet clothing. Create warm and dry enviroment for the victim. Put the victim in a sleping bag with one or two other people stripped to their undercloths. If the casualty is able, drinking warm rich caloric fluids like cocoa will help. The recovering hypothermic person will need rest and should be taken off the mountain.
The combination of strong equatorial Sun and thin air makes sunburn and snowblindness very common. Protect your skin and eyes form the sun. Dehydration predisoses hypothermia and altitude illness. Drink 4 to 6 liters of fluid per day. A diet high in carbohydrates supplemented by other foods will best prepare your body for the challenging alpine environment.
What to war
Be sure you have aproriate gear for the duration of the trip. Garments of wool and synthetic insulated materials are far preferable to cotton or down. When you are hiking with a guide or porters or companions, be sure to keep adequate gear in your rucksack so that you have what you need should you become seperated – map, compass, food, water, first-aid kit, warm and waterproof compass, clothing, a signalling mirror, matches/lighter and a flashlight are essential.
As a rember
Talk to porters, guides and fellow climbers about these guides. Together we can keep Mount Kenya a clean and minimise the impact of our visits.
How to recognise altiude related illness
At high altitudes the amount of available oxygen decreses dramatically. This can result in medical situations that must be of concern to every hiker. These range from acte mountain sickness (AMS), with various degrees of discomfort, t high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) and high altitude cerebral edema (HACE), both of which can be fatal. Because cases can progress rapidly from mild to severe, recongnition of symptoms is essential.
AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness)
Signs/symptoms: Headachem nausea, fatigue, malaise, loss of appetite and difficult in sleeping.
Treatment: slow down, stay in camp, drink plenty of fluids and rest while body adjusts to the altitude. If symptoms persist after 48 hours descend.
HAPE (high Altitude Pulmonary Edema)
Signs/Symptoms: Shortness of breath during exercise progressing to shortness of breath at rest, a dry cough deteriorating to a frothy sputum audible gurgling (rales) from the chest are heard, increased heart and breathing rate.
Treatment: Immediatly descehnd and seek medical attention. Descend is the best avilable treatment. HAPE can progress quickly to a point where the victim cannot walk. HAPE does not improve with rest at the same altitude.
HACE (high altitide Cerebal Edema)
Signs/Symptoms: Symptoms of AMS that progress to servere headache, loss of co-ordination, slurred speech, irrigational behaviour, coma and death.
Treatment: Immediate descent, HACE , as with HAPE, can quickly progress to a lethal stage.
Prevention: AMS, HAPE and HACE
Above 10.000 ft, very few visitors avoid altitude sickness completely. Visits are much more enjoyble if you allow two nights either at the higher huts at around 14.000 ft before proceeding higher. On the first day, hiking from the park gates to the road-heads is strongly recommended. Increase fluid intake to 4 to 6 liters per day, avoid extreme physical exertion and eat a light diet high in carbohydrates. Take the symptoms seriously. Rest and acclimatise if AMS is suspected. Immediatly report to the resure ranger station and descent if HAPE or HACE occurs. Some climbers find that certain drugs prevent or reduce AMS/HAPE/HACE. Consult your doctor before going to the Mountain.
In case of an emergency (a servere injury or illness where outside help is needed) contact the KWS offical immediatly. The Ranger Station the head of the Teleki Valley and Austrian Hut are permanently manned as is the Met Station and the Naro Moru, Sirimon and Chogoria Gates. All have Radios. You may be assisted at Mackinder’s Hut in the Teleki Walley and Shiptons Hut in the Mackinders Valley. Write down all the information on the victims condition and location. Mark the Victims position on the map. Be familiar with the rearest source of help while on the mountain.
If you get lost
”it can not happen to me” or ”I don’t need a survival kit”- Nearly fifty people have become lost on Mt. Kenya since 1990. People tent not to think about or anticipate emergencies. Start now. If your gear is being carried by porters (who hike separatly from clients) or you are on a day hike or summit bid, then you must have a day-pack containing at least the following essentials: instand body shelter (warm and water proof), fire making capability, signaling capacity (small mirror), food and drinks, First Aid package, map, compass and torch. it is important to be aware of your intended route. The most common cause of getting lost is when swift moving clauds envelopw and area and hikers lose the trail-often walking further away in an effort to regain the trail. Stay where you are if visibility is poor. If you become lost do not panic, take shelter under a tree, senecio or rock overhang and stay where you are. Help will come, but it is typical to be out overnight. In Sunlight, use a mirror to signal and lay out a brightly coloured article to alert the searching aircraft or hiking rescue party. consider saftely lighting a fire with dry grass, twigs, roots and branches and once burning well, generate smoke by adding small amounts of green grass and endanger yourself. Being on a ridge top will make you difficult to find and could take you several days of hard going to emerge into human settlement. There can be a fee for any rescue the park carries out.
As a reminder
KWS regulations require all visitors to register upon entrance to the mountain and sign out on departure. Hiking alone is prohibited.
Mount Kenya Safari Club
Naro Moru River Lodge
Serena Mountain Lodge
We are now preparing short videos to all destinations.
We are happy to answer all your questions concerning your trip to Africa!