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Saturday, July 13, 2024

14 Interesting Facts About Mt. Kenya – Tallest Mountain in Kenya

Mount Kenya, nestled in Kenya’s former Eastern and Central provinces, is a significant part of the Meru National Park. 

Situated near the equator with two primary peaks, Batian and Nelion, mt. Kenya is unique for its pristine wilderness, glaciers, mineral springs, dense forest, and selected animals alongside alpine vegetation.

Mount Kenya is a marvelous adventure and an extinct volcano in Africa that receives a substantial snowfall each year.

According to the Kikuyu people, Mount Kenya is from the European missionaries, meaning “mountain of whiteness.” 

Before you attempt to explore the adventure, here are fourteen (14) facts you should know about Mountain Kenya.

1. Mt. Kenya is a massive 17,057 feet tall mountain

One of the apparent facts about Mt. Kenya is its high elevation, the highest mountain in Kenya, and the second-highest in Africa.

Batian peak, which is the mountain’s highest peak, makes up the highest elevation at 17,057 feet.

2. It has three peaks or summits

Mount Kenya has three peaks: Batian, Nelion, and Point Lenana, which has an ascent ranging from mid-level trekking to challenging climbs.

Batian and Nelion are twin summits in the mountain with an elevation of 5199m and 5188m, respectively.

With other peaks on the massif, Point Lenana’s altitude of 4979 meters makes it the most trekking peak.

  • Batian summit (5,199 m)

Batian peak is the highest and main summit of the mountain, popular for just mountaineering enthusiasts and advanced rock climbers. 

Trekking the highest peak demands technical hiking gear and a standard route at the north face rated IV+ from July to September.

Another easier route for walkers is the southwest ridge route, with its best time running from December to March.  

  • Nelson peak 

Nelson peak is the twin summit of Batin that is slightly lower on the massif with an altitude of 17,021 ft (5188m). 

The only route leading to the summit is the usual route rated as IV, serving as a warm-up for those trying to acme Batian later.

Climbing this summit requires experience.

  • Lenana summit

Lenana summit is the lowest and third peak on Mount Kenya, with a rising elevation of 16,354 ft (4,985m).

Since the peak requires no climbing skills, it is the most used summit for amateur and advanced hikers.  

The Lenana many route peak is an ascent that requires physical fitness before reaching the destination. 

3. Mt. Kenya is over 3 million years

According to the rough estimation, Mount Kenya is an extinct volcano that formed more than 3.1 million years ago and erupted last 2.6 million years ago.

The formation of this large fairy symmetrical volcanic cone came from successive eruptions of lava layers. 

Additionally, the coarse accumulation of central vents in the earth’s surface also contributed to the formation of mount Kenya.

4. The summits took their names after Maasai headmen.

The three summits (Nelion, Batian, and Lenana) took their names after Maasai Chieftains, created during colonization.

The three peaks of mountain Kenya commemorate three different Massai chiefs viz Mbatian the Medicine Man (a Maasai Laibon), his brother Nelieng; Sendeyo and Lenana, his sons.

The memory of the chieftains endures with names recommended by Mackinder at the suggestion of Sidney Langford Hinde.   

5. Mt. Kenya straddles the equator at central Kenya. 

Mt. Kenya lies on the equator about 480 km from the Kenyan coast and 193 km northeast of Nairobi, standing as the 2nd highest peak in Africa.

Again, it lies south of the equator and positions 150 kilometers northeast of Nairobi, the capital of Kenya.

Location: Kenya’s former eastern central province, now Meru, and from the equator, it stands 193 km northeast of Nairobi.

6. It’s the centerpiece of Mt. Kenya National Park & Reserve

About two hundred and seventy-six square miles of Mount Kenya makes up the mountain’s national park, formed in 1949.

It became a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1978 and then a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997 because of its breathtaking scenery and wildlife.

The national park is home to over 130 birds and wildlife like elephants, suni, tree hyrax, mole rat, waterbuck, white-tailed mongoose, attracting more than 16,000 visitors per annum.

7. Sun rises and sets simultaneously every day, with both the day and night lasting 12 hours.

The location of Mount Kenya on the equator makes the sunrise and set at the same time every day.

Sunrise and sunset at mt. Kenya starts and ends each day between 5:30 am – 5:30 pm, with both day and night lasting 12 hours. 

8. Mount Kenya’s peak is achievable by trekking.

The highest summit of Mount Kenya, Batian, is achievable by exploring the six-day adventurous trekking tour.

Nelion, which measures 5188 m, is 11 meters smaller than Batian at 5199m. However, both of them are technical climbing peaks of the mountain.

Point Lenana (4985m) is the most climbed summit on Mount Kenya and the second-highest trekking peak on the continent, containing all the cols, ridges, and glaciers.  

9. Different ethnic groups live around Mt. Kenya

Four different ethnic tribes inhabit Mountain Kenya, with the mountain being an aspect of their culture.

The four tribes include Kikuyu, Embu, Ameru, and Massai and all arrived in the area several hundred years ago.  

  • The Kikuyu

Kikuyu tribe is agriculturists that live on the western and southern sides of mountain Kenya. 

They use the rich volcanic soil at the lower hill and believe that God (Ngai or Mwene Nyag) once lived on the mountain. 

Another belief is that the mountain is Ngai’s throne and where Gikuyu, the father of their tribe, meets with God. 

According to the Kikuyu tribe, Mount Kenya is Kirima Kiri Nyaga meaning a mountain with Ostriches.

  • The Embu 

The Embu tribe lives in the southeast of Mount Kenya with the belief it’s home to God (Ngai or Mwene Njeru). 

Embu people have the doors to their built houses facing the mountain because they believe it is sacred. 

The Embu tribe is related to the Ameru, Mbeere people as the settlers of the southeast side of Mount Kenya are the Mbeere and Akamba.  

  • Ameru people

The Ameru people are agriculturists that inhabit the east, north, and north-western slope of Mount Kenya. 

Marangu, the Meru god, is believed to come from the skies and their name for Mt. Kenya is Kirimara meaning mountain with white features. 

  • Massai tribe 

The Maasai tribes are the roving people that used the north side of Mount Kenya for Cattle grazing. 

Maasai name for mountain Kenya is Ol Donyo Keri meaning mountain of strides as they observe dark shade around the plains. 

The Maasai believes their intimates came down from the peak at the beginning of time.  

10. Mt. Kenya is home to exclusive species of animals.

Mount Kenya houses various large animals like buffalo, leopard, elephant, sun, black rhinoceros, albino zebra, etc. 

The wildlife adventures make mountain Kenya a tourist destination as it has more than 340 species. 

11. Moss covers the trees on Mount Kenya.

The high elevation moss covers the trees on the gradient of Mount Kenya above 7,000 feet. 

The moss on the trees is usually accompanied by lichens, thereby making the tree look attractive and un-harmful.

12. Mount Kenya has several glaciers

Mountain Kenya has numerous glaciers, including Northey, Heim, Forel, Krapf, Diamond, Lewis, Darwin, Josef, Cesar, Gregory, and Tyndall.  

However, they are gradually disappearing due to changes in precipitation. 

The area enclosed by glaciers on Mount Kenya measured about 0.7 km2 (1⁄4 sq mi) in the 1980s.

In a few years to come, Mount Kenya may be free from ice as there is a steady less snow accumulating in winter.

Since 1934, the Lewis Glacier, the largest of them all, has decreased by 90% in volume.

13. The first ascent of Mount Kenya was in 1899.

Mount Kenya had its first ascent on September 13, 1899. Cesar Ollier, Josef Brocherel, and Halford Mackinder were the first people who climbed it. 

The attempt to climb Mount Kenya by a trio listed above was after Johann Krapf reported sighting the mountain in 1849. 

14. There are many ways to climb Mount Kenya. 

Mount Kenya has different routes to take and achieve successful hiking in no distant time. 

The six distinct routes to Mount Kenya are Sirimon, Chogoria, Naro Moru, Timau, Burguret, and Kamweti. 

While Naro Moru starts from the west, Timau from the north, and Kamweti begin south. 

Additionally, the Sirimon route begins from the north-northwest, and the Chogoria starts from the east.  

A Quick Look at Mt. Kenya

The mountain was formerly referred to as “Kirinyaga” by the Kikuyu people meaning a mountain of whiteness because of how snow usually caps the peak.


A European Johann Ludwig Krapf was the first to discover mountain Kenya in 1849 and was partially climbed in 1887 by a Hungarian explorer.  

Mountain Kenya, the second tallest mountain in Africa, has been considered a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its beautiful flora and views.

The best month to visit mountain Kenya.

The south side is best climbed in January and February, while August and September are best for the north side.

Attractions in Mount Kenya 

Attractions in Mount Kenya are pristine wilderness, tarns, and peaks of great beauty, lakes, geological variety, and mineral springs.

Other attractions include rare animals, glaciers, high-altitude adapted plains game, forests, and plants. 

Things to pack when visiting Mount Kenya

Equipment to bring along includes a sleeping bag, water, first aid kit, compass, food, a map, warm cloth, flashlight, and signaling mirror. 

Sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, socks, gaiters, walking boots, and training shoes are good to come with you.

How to get to Mount Kenya

When visiting Mount Kenya in the northeast of Nairobi, you will first fly into Nairobi international airport, Jomo Kenyatta.  


Mountain Kenya witnessed its last eruption 2.6 million years ago, and it has stayed for more than three million years.


Mountain Kenya is Mother Nature at her finest in Africa, an awe-inspiring giant with breathtaking scenery that repeatedly attracts adventurers from across the globe. 

Experience a thrill like no other and truly feel alive at Mount Kenya now that you know some mind-blowing facts.

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