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Adventure Guide: Mount Kenya
Text by Keridwen Cornelius   Map by Dave Stevenson

Illustration: Kenya map


Africa's "other Kilimanjaro," 17,058-foot (5,199-meter) Mount Kenya, boasts all the virtues of its slightly loftier cousin—glaciers, surreal landscapes, and cloud-carpeted vistas—but with about half the hikers. Plus, it sits at the heart of the Kenyan Highlands, a patchwork of jungle and savanna where visitors can mingle with local tribes and track Africa's Big Five on their own two feet.

Read the feature article Escape to Mount Kenya >>

See Bobby Model's Mount Kenya photos >>

Climbing:
While scaling the twin peaks of Batian and Nelion requires technical mountaineering skills and equipment, Point Lenana (16,354 feet or 4,985 meters), Mount Kenya's third highest summit, can be reached with no specialized skills. The most popular trek is the 23-mile (37-kilometer) Naro Moru Route, which begins above Mount Kenya National Park headquarters. Plan to spend at least five days on the mountain. Porters are not required but are customary; they can be hired through Mount Kenya Guides & Porters ($10 a day; +011 254 062 62015).

To climb Batian and Nelion, most mountaineers choose the (Grade IV) Normal Route. Nairobi-based Tropical Ice Safaris can arrange six-day trips ($350 a day; www.tropical-ice.com). For the bold souls who would like to ascend via the Burguret Route, the author's course, a guide is strongly recommended.

Visitors to Mount Kenya National Park must obtain a permit ($170 a week, including camping) at the national park headquarters before setting out. 
 
Accommodations:
The two bunkhouses on the Naro Moru Route must be reserved through Naro Moru River Lodge or their agents in Nairobi, Let's Go Travel ($10;
www.lets-go-travel.net). Mountaineers summitting Batian and Nelion can pay for the Austrian Hut ($21) at the park headquarters. Bring a tent, as it can fill up fast. The Naro Moru River Lodge ($132; mt.kenya@africaonline.co.ke) offers well-kept rooms and cottages situated among the foothills of Mount Kenya.
 
Farther Afield:
To delve into the culture of the Kenyan Highlands, visit the Laikipia Plateau, northwest of Mount Kenya. The Loisaba Lodge ($410 per person, including activities and transfers; www.loisaba.com), offers camel safaris, trips to Maasai and Samburu villages, and nocturnal game drives to spot lions and elephants.

After years of poaching and banditry, Meru National Park has experienced a rebirth. Rhinos, elephants, ostriches, and gazelles emerge from the rolling jungle, which you'll have practically to yourself. Retire to the earthy, semi-alfresco rooms at Elsa's Kopje ($395 per person for full-board, safaris, and transfers; www.elsaskopje.com).
 
Getting There:
The ideal trekking seasons are Christmas through mid-March and July through October. Flights from New York City to Nairobi on KLM start at $1,099 (www.klm.com). Visas are required for U.S. citizens. Most lodges, including the Naro Moru, will arrange transfers from Nairobi ($240 round-trip). If you prefer to go DIY, rent a 4WD vehicle from Central Rent A Car ($104 a day; www.carhirekenya.com).
 
Resources:
The Mountain Club of Kenya (www.mck.or.ke), publishes the very thorough Guide to Mount Kenya and Kilimanjaro. In addition, the Kenya Wildlife Service maintains a comprehensive Web site with full details on Mount Kenya National Park (www.kws.org/mt-kenya.html).

Read the feature article Escape to Mount Kenya >>

See Bobby Model's Mount Kenya photos >>

Cover: Adventure magazine





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