Mount Kenya National Park was established in 1949 to protect Mount Kenya, the wildlife and surrounding environment, which forms a habitat for wild animals, as well as acting as an area for the catchment of water, to supply Kenya's water. The park is located about 175km (108 miles) from Nairobi. It covers around 700 square kilometres protecting the mountain between altitudes of 11,000ft and 17,058ft above sea level. The park offers a landscape of Mountain Rivers, forest, moorland rock and ice and crowned by glittering twin peaks of Batian and Nelion and for the Kikuyu people. The vegetation is mainly alpine and sub-alpine flora, bamboo forests, moorland and tundra. The vegetation changes notably as you ascend because of the variations in temperatures.
The most iconic attraction in the park is Mount Kenya, which is the second highest mountain in Africa. Due to its unique ecosystems which changes the higher you go up the mountain, Mount Kenya has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve. The other major attractions in the park are; Pristine wilderness, lakes, tarns, glaciers and peaks of great beauty and mineral springs, the unique montane and alpine vegetation and its the magnificent wildlife with over 130 species of birds. There are a number of activities that can be enjoyed within the park. Among these are; game drives, mountain climbing, camping and cave exploration.
There are a couple of gates into Mt. Kenya National Park and these include: The Narumoru Gate, Kihari Gate, Mawingu Gate, Sirimon Gate, Kamweti Gate and Chogoria Gate. The closest airport to Mount Kenya is at Nanyuki or the Laikipa Airport, though there are several small airports near the private lodges in the area.
Animals easily seen in this park include Elephants, Elands, tree hyrax, bushbucks, white tailed mongoose, water buck, suni, mole rat plus the black fronted duiker. Among the uncommon animals here are: rhinos, leopards, giant forest hogs plus bongo. The park is also an excellent destination for bird watchers with over 130 species recorded here. Click here to read more about Kenya Safari Animals and Wildlife.
Since Mount Kenya has mountain geography, the climate and weather varies with altitude. At high altitudes it is freezing cold, misty and windy. There can be vast changes in temperature between the day and night, with temperatures dropping to about 4 °C. Mount Kenya is generally very wet and is a watershed that provides water for large parts of Kenya. Like the rest of the country, as it is situated within the tropics, it receives two wet seasons and two dry seasons.
Mount Kenya National Park is open all year round and can be visited any time of the year, but the sunniest months from December to March are perhaps the best time to visit. There are some cloudy periods and rain from March to May, and drizzle from October to early December which may restrict clear views.
There are a number of good of places to stay in Mount Kenya National Park, ranging from budget camp to midrange camp/lodge to luxury options located both outside and inside of the park. Below is a simple list of some of the more outstanding accommodation options.
Typical room interior at Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club.
Typical room interior at Serena Mountain Lodge.