Mount Kenya Summit Circuit route
Trekking the summit circuit of Mount Kenya
The Mount Kenya Summit Circuit is an adventurous trek on this stunning mountain, circling the jagged peaks of Nelion (5188m) and Batian (5199m) and the third trekking peak of Point Lenana (4985m), the summit of which is reached on this itinerary.
The summit circuit is a special route taking in all the cols, ridges and glaciers of the mountain, and it is physically more demanding than the other routes. Camping high and including some long days on rocky trails, camping all the way, it's a route where you are less likely to see many people. The two main summit spires seem to overhang parts of the trail, and they are like giant cathedrals of rock as you look up.
The itinerary is based on starting the journey in Naro Moru and finishing in Embu town but we are flexible with any travel needs or extra accommodation. We would also recommend visiting some of the Moving Mountains projects on the lower slopes of Mount Kenya which we have supported for many years.
The entire trek is within the Mount Kenya National Park, and from a distance the volcanic peak dominates the landscape. There is plenty of wildlife to hear and maybe see - elephant, Buffalo, Colobus monkey, Antelope and Giant Forest Hog are in the foothills of the 228 sq. mile 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. Higher up there is exposed rock and glaciated terrain, although climate change nowadays has reduced all of the permanent glaciers almost to nothing.
Mount Kenya also has very important cultural importance to the local tribes who traditionally viewed it as the meeting place and throne of their gods. For the country at large, it is the mountain that gave the nation of Kenya its name and it holds a significant place in Kenyan identity.
To successfully summit Mount Kenya you'll need clothing which keeps you warm, dry, protected from the sun/rain and comfortable in the various environments. There is a detailed list under 'Mount Kenya trek kit list'. You can also read more about the type of terrain you'll encounter on a Mount Kenya trek and the level of fitness required in the 'More Information' section under 'Mount Kenya advice'.
We start the ascent on the popular Naro Moru route where we will reach Mackinders camp before starting to explore the summit circuit and moving across to Shipton's 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, or Nithi Falls on a quicker descent.
You are welcome to adjust the itinerary and add extra nights in Nairobi or Naro Moru or Embu. Ol Pejeta Conservancy is very close to Naro Moru (or a reasonably short drive from Embu) and is a great location for an optional add-on safari for example. You can also visit some of our Moving Mountains projects.
|1||Transfer from Naro Moru to the Mount Kenya National Park gate Gate. Trek to Met Station Camp|
|2||Trek from Met Station Camp to MacKinder's Camp|
|3||Trek from Mackinder's Camp - Hausberg Col - Shipton's Camp|
|4||Acclimatisation Day: Trek from Shipton's Camp - Icy Mike (Elephant skeleton) - Shipton's Camp|
|5||Trek from Shiptons to Point Lenana and descend to Lake Ellis or Nithi Falls via Hall Tarns|
|6||Trek from Lake Ellis or Nithi Falls via Meru Banda's and transfer to Chogoria town and back to Embu|
Why choose us for organising your trek to Mount Kenya?
- All our staff in East Africa and the UK have been climbing Mt Kenya for more than 20 years so we know the mountain and its communities extremely well, we're happy to discuss options on the phone and offer honest advice on what to expect
- 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. Our team of Guides and Porters have all worked with us on numerous ascents using all the routes and our Head Guide, Cyrus Maina, has built up a solid team for the mountain and is a trusted upstanding member of his local community, where he sits on the Board at Tigithi Primary School, a rural school on the lower slopes of Mount Kenya that has been developed and renovated by our charity, Moving Mountains.
- On Mount Kenya our charity has developed numerous sustainable projects which anyone is more than welcome to visit, including Primary and Secondary Schools on the lower slopes of Mt Kenya near Naro Moru, the Solio Community Development for internally displaced people on the open plains of the western side of Mt Kenya, the rural Gatwe Primary on the lower slopes of the eastern side, County Primary and Urban Primary School in Embu town, which provide quality education for most of the children in Embu's slum communities, the Embu Rescue Centre for Street Children and our very own 'Black Cats' football club for the street kids of Embu town. Full details on the work of Moving Mountains in Kenya can be found here.
- We offer small scale, authentic adventures on Mount Kenya with a personal service and lots of experience to offer.
- We have our own license to operate tours in Kenya and are a fully bonded, insured and registered tour operator
- Our prices are competitive and good value, and we offer quality, service, security and an ethical stance on tourism in a developing country.
Summit Circuit Mount Kenya itinerary
|175km 3-4hrs||If you are flying in to Kenya then we can help with airport transfers to Naro Moru, evening arrivals will mean at least one night in Nairobi before transferring up to Naro Moru on the West of Mt Kenya to meet the guides and porters who all live around Naro Moru and can meet you whatever day you arrive. There is plenty to see and do in Nairobi and Naro Moru where we can also help to arrange extra nights accommodation, city tours in Nairobi or day trips and Moving Mountains project visits in Naro Moru, we're more than happy to discuss all options to ensure your time in Kenya is everything and more than you expected.|
|1||2000-2500-3050m||10km 3-4hrs||Today all the guides and porters will meet us in Naro Moru and we will load up the vehicle(s) for the short 15km drive up to the Naro Moru gate of Mount Kenya National Park. There are often baboons and bushbuck wandering around the area as we sign in and then we head off along the vehicle track through the forests of bamboo and hardwood trees. We will stop for a picnic lunch at a convenient spot before continuing on up to our first camp at Met Station, located close to the edge of the forest where buffalo often come out overnight to graze.|
|2||3050-4200m||10km 5hrs||From Met Station we follow the vehicle track a bit further before turning off on a footpath through the Hygenia forest and then out onto the more open heathland. From here you get a fantastic view back over the treetops and down to the plains beyond. The heath and moorland continues and also sports Giant Cabbage Groundsel and Giant Lobelia Deckenii as we make our way up past the over-dramatically named 'Vertical Bog' to the outcrop known as picnic rocks, for lunch. From lunch we continue on the moorland for a bit longer before joining the edge of the Teleki Valley and winding between Giant Tree Groundsel and Ostrich Plume Lobelia and then onto grasses in the valley floor as we cross a river and follow it on a gentle approach to our next camp at MacKinders Hut, on an outcrop of moraine.|
|3||4200-4535-4200m||7kms 4-5hrs||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).|
|3 - Alternative route option||4200-4535-4200m||8kms 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.|
|4||4200-4600-4200m||7kms 5-6hrs||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.|
|5||4200-4985-3500m||18kms 11-13hrs||This morning we will be up just after midnight to prepare for our night-time ascent to Point Lenana, it is an exhilarating feeling stepping out into the cold under the starlight and crunching up the frozen scree. We skirt the rocky outcrop above the camp then cross a flat area before joining the scree. We then zig zag our way up and then follow a broad ridge and a steeper slope up over the skyline. Passing the bowl of Harris Tarn we skirt above it and then cross an area of bare rock and a small scramble. If we are ahead of schedule there is a small niche/cave where we can huddle up for a rest. It is then less than half an hour up to the bare summit for sunrise. The sun will rise around 6am and we will drink in its warmth as well as the spectacular view before dropping down by either re-tracing our ascent route or alternatively traversing right over and down the South side past Austrian Hut before turning to the east and down to Hall Tarns for breakfast. After enjoying the amazing views of the cliffs of the Temple and Lake Michaelson we will set off further down the mountain to camp at Lake Ellis.|
|6||3500-1800m||8km(3-4hrs) +70km(1.5hrs)||This morning we set off again downhill. The path can be quite indistinct at first on this less-used trail but we generally follow the line of a watercourse until we hit the 4x4 track that takes us down to the forest boundary. Here we have the option of heading straight down to Meru bandas (cabins) or a diversion around to the beautiful Nithi Falls. Back at the bandas, or just a little after them we'll meet up with our 4x4's for the drive back down through the forest to Chogoria town before continuing on to the town of Embu where you'll meet up with any kit that you didn't take on the mountain with you (we'll have transferred it around the mountain and it will be in a secure room in our Embu Guest House). It is possible to get back to Nairobi on this date, however if you have time then a couple of days in Embu is well worth it. Aside from our own Moving Mountains projects, Embu offers a safe and lively nightlife, a number of outdoor swimming pools and some great walks and other activities in the surrounding hills.|
|Other options include tailor made safari's, climbs on Kilimanjaro, visits to other Moving Mountains projects and Game Reserves around Mount Kenya or transfers back to Nairobi for city tours.|
Mount Kenya Summit Circuit cost - £1295.00
The advertised price is the per person cost based on a minimum group of 2 people. Contact us for the single person supplement cost, or for extra nights or safari options.
Full details of any extras that we can provide can be found under 'Mount Kenya optional extra costs'.
- Private transport from Naro Moru to the trek start point (Mt Kenya National Park gate)
- Park fees, camping fees and park rescue fees
- Park certified guides (ratio of 1:4)
- Porters and cooks, plus equipment for them (porters carry your main bag)
- All group camping equipment including tents
- All meals on the mountain - fresh food, 3 meals per day with hot drinks
- Bottled water when not on the mountain (we use mountain water during the trek)
- 4x4 transport from Meru Banda's to Chogoria town on the descent
- Private transfer from Chogoria town to Embu town
- Kit transfer from Naro Moru to Embu (for any kit that you don't take on the mountain with you)
- Guide and porter transport from Embu back to Naro Moru after the climb
- International airfare
- Kenyan Visa
- Vaccinations and malaria tablets required
- Personal expenses and travel insurance
- Airport transfers and / or transfers to and from Embu and any accommodation needed in Nairobi or Embu
- Mountain Staff Tips paid in local currency to main guide for distribution in Chogoria after the climb
You can book your Adventure Alternative holiday for as little as £100.00 and pay the balance in as many instalments as you like. Choose a scheduled date or contact us for private dates, a bespoke itinerary or more trip details.
- Duration 6 days
- Numbers 2 - 16
- Altitude 4985m
- Distance 80kms
- Challenge Moderate/Challenging
- Comfort Camping