The Mount Kenya Park is the perfect place to relax after a dusty safari and get a different take on Kenya, particularly as it is located between some of Kenya’s top national parks: Aberdare, Samburu and Meru.
At a giddy 5199m Mount Kenya dominates the Central Highlands. It is Africa’s second highest mountain, formed between two-and-three-million-years-ago by a series of volcanic eruptions. It probably once had a crater not unlike Mount Kilimanjaro’s, but erosion has sheared this down to a series of peaks.
The mountain above the forest line is a national park and it supports rainforest and dense thickets of bamboo, while higher up the flora changes dramatically: moorland and giant lobelia and heather. The forests are home to elephant, buffalo, monkeys, antelope and giant forest hog. The birdlife around the mountain is also prolific, ranging from huge eagles to multicoloured sunbirds.
There are three peaks, Point Lenana can be reached by most relatively fit people, but the other two are only accessible to mountaineers 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.
The mountain was first climbed in 1899 by Sir Halford McKinder and today is a popular peak to conquer. For the adventurous and outdoor types there are a variety of hiking and mountain climbing trails to choose from.
The Central Highlands, which contain Mount Kenya and the Aberdares, are the homelands of the Kikuyu people, who hold the mountain sacred. But the fertile soil and good climate also attracted 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.
For those safari enthusiasts who enjoy ‘taking it easy’ – Mount Kenya Safari Club is the place to stay. Mount Kenya Safari Club has been a mecca for the rich and famous ever since it was founded in 1959. Set in beautifully manicured grounds, this is definitely the most sophisticated and romantic way to experience the area.