Overview

Mount Kenya Summit Circuit

The Mount Kenya Summit Circuit offers a more adventurous trek on this stunning mountain, crowned with the jagged peaks of Point Lenana (4,985m), Nelion (5,188m) and Batian (5,199m). Our itinerary has been designed to mix adventure with superb trekking culminating with the summit of Point Lenana on Africa’s second highest mountain.

The journey will take you from the bright lights of Nairobi to the equator and the small rural farms on the lower slopes of Mount Kenya, before trekking through forest filled with wildlife and open moorland and alpine meadows dotted with flora unique to the area. Before summiting this extinct volcano we’ll acclimatise by visiting some of the numerous tarns found below the peaks and explore the cols, ridges, glaciers and points of interest that are found on the summit circuit of this impressive mountain.

 

Mt Kenya is in the Mt Kenya National Park which is simply stunning. From a distance the volcanic peak dominates the surrounding slopes and valleys. Elephant, Buffalo, Colobus monkey, antelope and Giant Forest Hog can be seen in the foothills of the 228 sq. mile national park. From the lower forests of bamboo, the landscape develops to unusual high-altitude equatorial vegetation on the shoulder of the mountain with giant heather, lobelia and groundsels giving the slopes an alpine desert appearance and a striking feel, almost as if it is from another world.

Our preferred itinerary is to start our ascent on the Naro Moru route where we will reach Mackinders camp before starting to explore the summit circuit and moving across to Shiptons camp. It will be from Shiptons Camp that we summit Point Lenana and descend along a ridge from the summit to Austrian Hut and off the mountain using the Chogoria route, where we camp on the edge of Lake Ellis and finish the climb with a night at the Meru Bandas where you can enjoy the wildlife that visits in the evening and early morning.

We offer private climbs at no extra cost and will work with groups or individuals to create the perfect tailormade holiday. We are more than happy to discuss the various routes that you can climb Mount Kenya with and will happily build itineraries to suit your preferences.

Itinerary

Mount Kenya summit circuit itinerary

The best months to climb Mount Kenya are traditionally January to March and June to October, and these are popular times to climb with temperatures in Naro Moru averaging 25 degrees C and summit temperatures around - 5 degrees C.

The rains are in April, May and November but nowadays climate change has changed this pattern greatly. December is now often warmer and drier with clear skies.

We show scheduled open dates here, but with our own staff, vehicles and equipment in Kenya we are able to cater for bespoke dates for groups, couples or individuals. We can also extend and alter the general itineraries to include extra days or visiting extra parts of the mountain. Please do get in contact with us to discuss options.

BROAD ITINERARY

Day    Summary
1 Arrive Nairobi- Drive to Naro Moru
2 Rest & preparation in Naro Moru
3 Drive Naro Moru- Naro Moru Gate- Trek to Met Station
4 Trek Met Station- MacKinders Hut
5 MacKinders Hut- Hausberg Col- Shiptons Hut
6 Shiptons Hut- Elephant Skeleton- Shiptons Hut
7 Shiptons- Point Lenana- Lake Ellis Camp
8 Lake Ellis Camp- Meru Bandas
9 Meru Bandas- Chogoria Gate- Embu
10 Drive to Nairobi for departure or onward travel

DETAILED ITINERARY

In the itinerary below, under elevation ST = Starting altitude, HP = High Point for the day and SL = Sleep Level. For a more detailed itinerary download the trip pack under 'Next Steps' at the right hand side of this page.

DayElevationTravel TimeInfo
1 SL:1680m 3 hrs Arrive in Kenya and transfer to Naro Moru town on the slopes of Mt Kenya (3hrs). Here we use the cosy and friendly Blue Line hotel. Arriving in Kenya on a late afternoon/evening flight will mean one night in Nairobi and transferring to Naro Moru on day 2.
2 SL:2035m n/a We relax today and will go on some lovely local walks to visit some of the projects undertaken by our charity Moving Mountains. You will also meet your mountains guides and have a briefing. A great day to relax after the flights and stretch out your legs.
3 ST:2400m SL:3000m 3 - 4 hrs Transfer up to the Naro Moru gate (2,400m) where we will prepare some lunch before our first days trekking. It's about a 3 - 4 hour walk along a wide trail, through dense rainforest filled with strange noises and lots of animals! We'll arrive at Met Station (3,000m) about 5pm, which during the night becomes a grazing ground for buffalo.
4 ST:3000m SL:4200m 7 - 8 hrs An early start through the remaining rainforest to avoid the late morning showers on the 'Vertical Bog' which takes us up to lunch at Pic-nic Rocks. We continue up through the moorland after lunch and along the ridge of the Teleki Valley before dropping down in to the valley to reach Mackinders Camp at 4,200m.
5 ST:4200m HP:4535m SL:4200m 4 - 5 hrs Morning to relax and after lunch from MacKinders Camp we climb up to Hut Tarn, which sits right on the edge of the upper Teleki Valley and gives a great view across to the main summits and glaciers. Continue past Nanyuki Tarn and towards the Eastern Terminal and on to a slotted pass at Arthur's Seat before dropping down to Oblong and Hausberg Tarns, past the Kami Tarn and down to Shiptons Camp (4,200m).
5 - Alternative route option ST:4200m HP:4535m SL:4200m 6 - 7 hrs MacKinders to Darwin & Tyndall Glaciers is a rewarding walk up the left hand flank of the upper Teleki Valley to the American Camp and on to a deep bowl where the diamond couloir falls to the Darwin Glacier. The rock faces of the main summits tower over us and old ropes from climbing parties hang on some of the sheer faces. Continue up to the Hut Tarn and on to Shiptons Camp.
6 ST:4200m HP:4600m SL:4200m 5 - 6 hrs An interesting day walk from Shiptons Camp to find an elephant skeleton called Icy Mike, the elephant that tried to climb Mt Kenya!. From Shiptons Camp we start to descend the MacKinder Valley before contouring around and up towards the peak of Sendeyo where we drop into a wide couloir above the Hinde Valley. From Icy Mike we can either return by the same route or complete a circuit by dropping lower into the Hinde Valley, contouring to the south and then south west for the long climb up to Simba Col and back to Shiptons Camp.
7 ST:4200m HP:4985m SL:3500m 12 - 13 hrs Early morning summit attempt, climbing up to Point Lenana (4985m) on the Sirimon route for sunrise across East Africa. We'll come off the summit on an exciting ridge walk down to the Austrian Hut before continuing our descent past Point Delamere on another large section of the summit circuit to reach either Square Tarn or Simba Tarn where we join the Chogoria route to reach Minto's Hut for brunch. We'll continue down to Lake Ellis (3,500m) to set up camp.
8 ST:3500m SL:3000m 3 - 4 hrs Lake Ellis to Meru Banda's for our final night on the mountain is an enjoyable walk off in the knowledge that you have hot showers and a relaxing night at the Meru Banda's where you can light a fire in your room and enjoy the views over a lower clearing where wildlife comes to graze at dawn and dusk.
9 SL:1350m 4 - 5 hrs Collected from Meru Banda's in 4x4 (if road is impassable we have an extra 10km trek through rainforest) and transferred to Chogoria town where we change vehicles and transfer to Embu for a night at our Guest House. There will also be the opportunity to visit some of the development projects that we are involved with in Embu in partnership with the Moving Mountains Trust. Alternatively you can continue on to Nairobi on this date.
10     Depart from Nairobi or continue with safari, coast trip, Kilimanjaro climb, volunteering with Moving Mountains or independent travel.

Cost

Mount Kenya Summit Circuit cost from £1345.00

INCLUDES

  • Full ground price for the Naro Moru/Chogoria route based on min 4 people (please ask for rates for smaller groups)
  • Accommodation in Naro Moru for 2 nights in the Blueline Hotel (twin, full board)
  • Accommodation at Meru Banda's
  • Accommodation for 1 night at either Indaba Camp (Nairobi) or the Izaak Walton Hotel (Embu)(twin, full board)
  • Airport transfers and transport to Naro Moru and from Chogoria town
  • Jeep or shuttle transport to the Naro Moru gate from the Blueline Hotel and 4x4 transport from Meru Banda's to Chogoria town
  • Park fees, camping fees and park rescue fees
  • Park certified guides (ratio of 1:4) and assistant guides/company reps
  • Porters and cooks, plus equipment for them
  • All group camping equipment including sleeping tents
  • Meals on the mountain - fresh food, 3 meals per day
  • Bottled water when not on the mountain (water on the mountain is provided at each camp)

EXCLUDES

  • International airfare to Nairobi Airport
  • Kenyan Visa, purchased on arrival
  • Vaccinations and malaria tablets
  • Personal expenses
  • Travel insurance
  • Upgrade to Mountain Hut accommodation
  • Tips ~£40 paid in local currency only to main guide for distribution at Meru Banda's

Payments

A deposit of £250 is required on booking to secure your place and we ask that the remaining balance (trip price minus the deposit) is paid in full 4 weeks prior to your departure. When you book with us you're given your own secure online account which you can access 24/7. Through this account you can edit your booking, add flight, health, insurance and dietary details and also make interim payments. We make payments as flexible as possible and you can choose, if you wish, to pay a bit off your trip fee whenever it suits you.

NOT ALL ABOUT MONEY

Our prices are competitive and good value, and we offer quality, service, security and an ethical stance on tourism in a developing country. We don’t want to be so expensive to run fewer trips and have our staff idle, but on the other hand we believe that running  cheap trips that promote the practise of skimming budgets would result in the porters getting next to nothing, which is something we cannot consider.

Additionally we will only run a minimum of 5 day climbs, since any less is dangerous for a peak just short of 5000 metres. Reducing the number of days may make the price cheaper but the chances of summiting reduce to around 50% and it is potentially dangerous.

We include one support staff to each member plus one guide for every four members. We do not operate kitties and we use a very secure hotel just outside Naro Moru with which we have built up a strong relationship for the past fifteen years.

We have our own license to operate tours in Kenya and are a fully bonded, insured and registered tour operator and a member of the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO). In addition, we have been climbing Mount Kenya for more than 20 years and have built up strong and lasting relationships with local communities, porters, guides and guesthouses. We have our own full time staff in Kenya all year round as well as our own vehicles and equipment. We don't outsource our clients and are with you from first enquiry, throughout your climb and home again. All of our UK and Kenyan team have climbed the mountain numerous times and can give you honest, professional advice.

We work closely with the charity Moving Mountains Trust and have won many awards for our stance and projects linking tourism with responsible travel. We have a number of projects close to Mt Kenya which you are welcome to visit.

INSURANCE

We advise you to take out your insurance as soon as possible to cover potential events that might cause you to cancel your trip.

You need to ensure that you have a policy which covers trekking to 4985m, but it does not need to cover technical climbing. You should bring with you a copy of your policy and ensure your tent mate knows where you keep it. It is also worth bringing a photocopy of your passport and to keep it separate to your own documents just in case you lose your passport.

Fitness

Mount Kenya summit circuit - how fit do I have to be?

To climb to Point Lenana on Mount Kenya you don't need to be a super-fit athlete nor an experienced mountaineer. The trek is accessible to anyone with good basic fitness and an enthusiasm for the outdoors. It will be an advantage to have good previous hill-walking experience and therefore be familiar with walking in the countryside for many hours at a time and of course camping.

You will enjoy the trip all the more if you do have good fitness and experience. Therefore we advise that you spend time checking and working on the kind of fitness that you need for the trek. The ideal preparation is spending a good number of hours walking on rolling terrain with a small pack of say 5kg on your back. Other forms of cardio-vascular exercise such as running, cycling and swimming will also of course help with the right kinds of fitness, though especially if they focus mainly on the legs.

How much experience do I need for the Mount Kenya summit circuit trek?

Climbing Mount Kenya is a non-technical trek but it does offer a full mountaineering experience. Experience in hill walking is a benefit but not absolutely necessary, since this is a supported climb. You will be outdoors throughout and living in tents so any sort of experience with camping will be useful.

It is not necessary to have any experience of high altitude to climb Mt Kenya. The important factor will be to go slowly and allow your metabolism to adapt to the lower air pressure and the thinner air.

Type of terrain on Mount Kenya summit circuit trek

The paths go from a vehicle track lower down, to a less defined path through tussocks and bog, to a footpath over gravel and mud and then sandy and dusty scree higher up. On summit day there are a couple of sections along the ridge where we use hands as well as feet but they are very easy and the guides will help you if you need it. There is also a steel cable along most of the final ridge which although not by any means necessary, is available for additional support. The descents from Hut Tarn and Point Lenana are over scree which can be dusty and loose. We will take our time but a trekking pole or two can be invaluable for maintaining your balance. If you have any problems with ankles, knees or hips then poles are strongly recommended as well as a well-fitted support bandage. 

Kit List

Mount Kenya summit circuit kit list

The basic idea of your kit is to keep you warm, dry, protected from the sun/rain and comfortable in the various environments that we will find ourselves in.

The main principles are:-

  • BAGS - A Big duffle type bag for general use and leaving gear in Naro Moru, A medium to large rucksack for a porter to carry your kit on the mountain and a small pack for carrying a few items on day trips
  • GENERAL CLOTHING - Clothing and footwear for travel to Kenya and prior to/after the climb
  • SHELL - Waterproof layer to keep off wind/rain. An umbrella can be very useful.
  • INSULATION - Layered system to keep you warm on the mountain- body hands & head
  • FEET - sturdy trekking boots, flip flops or sandals
  • SLEEPING - warm sleeping bag and camping mat to get a good nights sleep
  • EATING/DRINKING - water bottles and your favourite high-energy snacks
  • WASHING & MEDICAL - suncream, anti-malarials and a small 1st aid kit to allow you to wash and maybe stave off a headache or blister (leaders will have a larger group one)

 

Adventure Alternative supply tents and all group cooking equipment.

On the mountain there is no real opportunity to wash clothes at all.

Common first aid complaints are  - headaches, dehydration, stomach bugs, diarrhoea, sunburn and occasional mouth ulcers. These are mostly caused by feeling run down and can be prevented by looking after yourself at all times. A personal first aid kit is useful to cover these minor ailments.

Keep your money somewhere safe in a money bag. Do not bring large wads of notes with you. If you take sterling cash with you make sure they are Bank of England notes.

If you wear contact lenses take plenty of saline and comfort drops- it can get dusty.

For the mountain, work on a layering system which gives you versatility - Tshirt or thermals, shirt or warm top which could be polartec, a good thick fleece and good heavyduty waterproofs. Gloves and hats are vital.

Digital cameras will cope fine with the conditions if you keep them warm on summit morning, otherwise batteries can run down.

Your sleeping bag can be a normal 3 season bag unless you feel you get cold very easily in which case you can add in a fleece sleeping bag liner. Remember that sleeping bags work on trapping layers of air so wearing clothes in your bag doesn't help.

Thermals can just be long-johns, and a skintight warm top with long sleeves. It may not be cold enough to warrant these but they are always useful.

Take rain jackets but try to make sure they are breathable fabrics. A good GoreTex (or similar) jacket is more or less essential.

Why Us

  • We have been climbing Mt Kenya for more than 20 years so we know the mountain and its communities extremely well
  • We do not contract out our trips in Kenya, we employ trusted full time staff who are very experienced and knowledgeable. This arrangement offers job security and good benefits to the staff and gives them very strong loyalty to the company.
  • All the staff in our UK office have climbed Mount Kenya many times so you can chat to people who understand what its really like before you go.
  • We are a fully registered operator with AITO and have financial bonding with ABTOT. We have all the relevant company insurances.
  • We are members of Interhealth which gives you access to pre-trip health information and on-site assistance by phone in the event of an emergency.
  • We are a company founded and run by people who are passionate about trekking, climbing and exploring in the world's most beautiful wildernesses. We are equally passionate about having the opportunity to share these experiences with others.

Photos

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Staff Review

Beautiful trek lasting longer than the normal up and down journey, but circling the whole massif and seeing all different sides of the amazing central peaks of Batian and Nelion. Very much worth it if you have the time, quite a lot of the trekking days maintain the same altitude. Mount Kenya has a lot of beautiful glaciers coming off the peaks and on this trek you see them all. 

Key Information
  • Duration 10 days
  • Numbers 4 - 15
  • Altitude 4985m
  • Distance 80kms
  • Challenge Moderate/Challenging
  • Comfort Camping
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