Mount Kenya is found in Central Highlands of and is the highest mountain in Kenya. At 5199m, Mt Kenya also doubles up as Africa's second highest mountain. It was formed between two-and-three-million-years-ago by a series of volcanic eruptions. It probably once had a crater not unlike Mt Kilimanjaro's, but erosion has sheared this down to a series of peaks.
When the first 19th century European missionaries reported seeing the snowy peak on the equator no one really believed it, perhaps some thought the missionaries had had a touch too much sun. The mountain above the forest line is a national park and it supports rainforests and thickets of bamboo, while higher up magical moorland of giant lobelia and heather. The forests are home to elephant, buffalo, monkeys, antelope and giant forest hog. The Central Highlands, which comprise Mt Kenya and the Aberdares, is the homeland of the Kikuyu people, who hold the mountain sacred. But its fertile soil and good climate were also a draw for European settlers, who snatched the land out from under the Kikuyu, resulting in the seething resentment which erupted as the Mau Mau Rebellion.
Since independence the land occupied by the remaining whites has been much reduced and redistributed to the Kikuyu, and the land is now intensely cultivated by them and closely related Meru and Embu people. Mount Kenya was first climbed in 1899 by Sir Halford McKinder and today is a popular peak to conquer. In post independent Kenya, Mount Kenya is known as a mountain climbing zone and draws visitors from all over the world. If you are looking for peaks to beat, Mount Kenya is your match since it has 3 major peaks. These are Lenana, Batian and Nelion, all of which are Maasai names. The highest of these Mt Kenya peaks is Batian.
Point Lenana can be reached by most relatively fit people. However, Batian and Nelion are only accessible to mountaineers or mountain climbers with technical skills. Mt Kenya is circled by a tar road which is in good condition and on this you will find the area's main towns; Naro Moru, Nanyuki, Meru and Embu.
While the 17,058 feet (5,199 meter) summit on Mount Kenya is a difficult technical climb, a fit trekker can easily reach the lesser peak of Point Lenana (at 16,350 feet, or 4,985 meters). The trek takes between 3 and 5 days and passes through a fascinating world of forests, wildlife, and unique montane vegetation, including podocarpus and grounsel. But the climax is surely the summit, where one can luxuriate in one of the world's rarest sights, equatorial snow.
For non-climbers, a visit to Mount Kenya is still worthwhile. The cool highlands that surround its base, crossed by babbling brooks, are well worth a visit. The forests around Mt Kenya are ideal for game viewing, and the crystal clear streams at the foot of the mountain abound with trout.
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