Mt. Kenya is the second highest mountain in Africa and the highest mountain in Kenya at 17,057 feet. The highest peak is the most difficult peak to hike, only a handful of people attempt it a year since it requires experienced technical climbing skills. The most common peak to hike is Point Lenana at 16,355 feet which is the one that Dennis and I attempted.
Dennis and I have hiked a couple of 14Kers in the States. The highest mountain peak in the lower 48 states is Mt. Whitney at 14,505 feet in California so we were pretty stoked about hiking something higher than 14,000 feet!
Hiking a 14Ker can be challenging since they can be very steep with loose rocks and it becomes difficult to breath after around 12,000 feet. You oftentimes have to start hiking in the wee hours (around 2-3 am) to make sure you’re off the mountain before the usual afternoon lightning/rainstorms. You also have to take into account that you’re at risk for acute mountain sickness (usually occurs at above 8,000 feet) which can lead to the more serious high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) or high altitude cerebal edema (HACE) which can be fatal so they’re not something to be taken lightly. Dennis and I usually try to adjust to a higher elevation for a couple of days before attempting a 14Ker, we make sure we take it slow, we check in with each other frequently, and we check ourselves/each other for any symptoms.
We hiked from August 21st-25th. It was pretty cool being on the mountain on my birthday!
We met up with our guide on Day #1 in Nairobi. It’s common for people to hire a guide, cook, and porters. I have always been amazed at how porters can carry all of those things up/down a mountain at that altitude. I felt almost guilty at first because I’m not used to having someone else do that kind of thing for me but I would have never made it past the first day if we didn’t have porters. It was amazing to see them do what they did.
We originally wanted to hike up the Chogoria route and down the Naro Moru route. Our guide suggested that we hike up the Naro Moru route and down the Chogoria route, we agreed. By Day #3 our guide was saying it would be better to take the Sirimon route down instead of Chogoria since it would be a shorter hike down the mountain and he wasn’t sure if we would get a ride back to town after reaching the Chogoria gate since he had heard the roads were impassable due to recent rain and we would have to hike 33 km back to town afterwards….so we agreed…..and we took the Naro Moru route up, Sirimon route down.
We took an express matatu from Nairobi to Naro Moru which was really nice because it was roomy. Everyone had their own seat on that matatu, it wasn’t your usual “let’s see how many people we can cram into this little vehicle” matatu.
We had some local nyama choma (roasted meat) and mukimo (mashed maize, beans, peas, and potatoes) for lunch. We dropped our stuff off at the hotel and realized we had a nice view of the mountain once it peeked out from behind the clouds.
Dennis got to experience the fishbowl effect in this town as well as the typical wandering animals.
We walked past some goats and chicken and he mentioned something about them. I didn’t even notice them at all which I found a bit amusing. When I first got to Kenya, I couldn’t get over all the goats/cows/chickens that I would walk past and I just had to have pictures of every single one I saw. It’s my daily life now.
One of the porters then took us for a short easy hike to help us get acclimated to the altitude. A cow actually came out of no where and followed us for a few minutes. On the hike back, the porter started jogging and told us to jog along with him. Apparently he heard some kind of animal and it was large……it worried him.
We got back to town and had a filling dinner. Our guide (Charlie) took us out for a drink before we headed to the hotel for an early evening.
Dennis gave me the birthday video, gifts, and cards a day early since we would be hiking the mountain the next day.
Sources used for this post (try to ignore the fact that they’re wiki sources).