Mount Kenya Traverse
Mount Kenya Traverse
This traverse of Mount Kenya combines an ascent on either the Sirimon route or the Naro Moru route on the western side to Point Lenana and a descent of the Chogoria route on the eastern side of the mountain. In total it takes five days and reaches a high point of 4985 metres over a trek of about 50 kilometres. It is not a technical climb to Lenana but there is some high altitude walking and scrambling just below the summit which is sometimes on snow and ice, and ascending the Naro Moru route allows you to tackle the worlds current highest via ferrata, which is past the Austrian Hut on the way to the summit.
The Sirimon route is considered a more gentle approach with its slightly longer path gaining altitude from the northwest of the mountain more slowly than the Naro Moru route. From the first camp at Old Moses the path then follows the line of the long classic glacial MacKinder Valley up to the high camp (Shiptons) under the summit spires of Batian and Nelion. The summit itself is reached on scree and rocky paths (leaving in the dark at about 2am), which eventually become snow covered as they edge alongside the Lewis Glacier. The final few metres requires a bit of a scramble to reach the shapely summit from where dawn shows the plains of Kenya far below and the amazing silhouette of the two main peaks of the mountain just close by.
The ascent by the Naro Moru route starts from the west side of the mountain near the market town of Naro Moru. There is a track that can be driven from the local hotel we use (Blue Line) up to the park gate which passes through farmland and small villages on the lower slopes of the mountain. At the park gate we continue on foot up to the Met Station which is just at the top of the dense bamboo forest and offers a much better chance of seeing some wildlife than the Sirimon route. The campsite here has huts and is a perfect place for even a short overnight weekend trip to Mount Kenya if you don't intend to summit. From Met Station the path continues up the notorious Vertical Bog, which is not vertical at all but can be quite boggy, particularly in the afternoon! It opens out onto open alpine heath with beautiful views of the summits from Picnic Rocks on the edge of an escarpment that drops down into Teleki valley and a few hours walk up to Mackinders Camp. The final ascent to Point Lenana requires a 1am start and a short trek to reach the start of the scree slope that leads to the Austrian Hut. From here the ascent has an exposed path on the summit ridge but they’ve recently put in fixed lines (making Mount Kenya the highest current via ferrata route in the world) to give people that confidence to reach the summit without any issues.
The descent by the Chogoria route, generally considered to have the most spectacular landscape and geological features of cliffs, cirques and lakes, is long but worth it (especially on the descent) for far reaching views of high lakes and glacial tarns, deep gorges and unusual rock formations. One particular enormous amphitheatre of cliffs called The Temple holds the beautiful Lake Michaelson. Camp is further down near Nithi Falls and past Lake Ellis from where you can climb to local high points to see back to the peaks and strange volcanic formations such as the "giant's billiard table". The next day is a glorious descent to the forest and the Meru Bandas at Chogoria gate. From there, the 4x4 takes you down the muddy track to the town of Chogoria and on to Embu, which is a market town on the east side of Mount Kenya where we have a guesthouse.
You can read more about the type of terrain you'll encounter on a Mount Kenya trek and the level of fitness required in 'Mount Kenya advice'.
The standard traverse itinerary starts in Naro Moru and finishes in Embu town but we can provide all the optional extras if needed, including private transport from Nairobi, accommodation in Nairobi, Naro Moru or Embu (for anyone using the Chogoria route for their ascent or descent), upgrades to hut accommodation on the mountain, etc. We can also help you with a tailor made safari or a visit to our Moving Mountains projects in either Naro Moru or in Embu.
"My dad and I decided to take this trip together, we chose Adventure Alternative for a multitude of reasons, firstly they were very flexible with transfers, we could change set dates and add days accordingly, it basically had all the features of a tailor made holiday at a very reasonable price.
The guides, and porters were incredible, nothing was a problem and they made the effort to make us feel very welcome. We were amazed at the level of thought that the head guides gave the porters, they were only to carry back packs and wore quality kit, this is not always the case on other trips. Team was the word and worked very well for our group of 6 that had a wide range of experience and age.
Food was great considering the conditions... they even cooked my dad a separate meal upon hearing he disliked coriander (totally blown away by that gesture).
We all made it to the summit, even when there was altitude sickness and fatigue amongst some of the group. Overall the mountain is stunning, although challenging, well worth a trip if you want to escape the crowds on other options such as Kilimanjaro.
Start to finish was top notch service and advice"
Sirimon / Chogoria route itinerary
|1||Transfer from Naro Moru to the Park gate and trek to Old Moses Camp|
|2||Trek from Old Moses Camp to Shipton's Camp|
|3||Acclimatisation day: Trek from Shiptons to Hausberg Col and back to Shiptons|
|4||Trek from Shiptons to Point Lenana and descend to Lake Ellis and Nithi Falls via Hall Tarns|
|5||Trek from Nithi Falls via Meru Banda's and transfer to Chogoria town and back to Embu|
Naro Moru / Chogoria route itinerary
|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||Acclimatisation day: Trek from MacKinder's to Hut Tarn &/or Tyndall Glacier and return to Mackinder's|
|4||Trek from MacKinders to Point Lenana and descend to Lake Ellis and Nithi Falls via Hall Tarns|
|5||Trek from Nithi Falls via Meru Banda's and transfer to Chogoria town and back to Embu|
Mount Kenya route map
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a traverse the best option on Mount Kenya?
A west to east summit traverse to Point Lenana will give you a much better opportunity to see everything that the mountain has to offer, although it is a little more expensive as we need to use 4x4 vehicles to get you off the mountain on the Chogoria side and there are some extra costs involved with transport for porters getting back to the western side of the mountain after the climb. You also need to be prepared for at least one nights camping on the descent as there are no huts between the summit and Meru Banda's on the Chogoria side, a very quick descent could get you all the way down to Meru Banda's but this is very rarely achieved due to the distance and length of the day, and it is not possible to trek in the National Park after dusk due to the abundance of wildlife, some of which you'll see on the ascent and the descent, particularly at Meru Banda's where there is an open swamp nearby where wildlife comes out of the forest to graze.
What kit is needed to climb Mount Kenya?
To successfully summit Mount Kenya you'll need kit which keeps you warm, dry, protected from the sun/rain and comfortable in the various environments that you'll find yourself in on the way to the summit. There is a detailed list via the 'More Information' menu under 'Mount Kenya trek kit list'.
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.
Mount Kenya traverse itinerary
You are welcome to adjust the itinerary and add nights in Nairobi, Naro Moru or in Embu, please do talk to us directly to discuss options. 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, both for day trips and over-nights. It is probably the only place in Kenya (aside from Masai Mara) where you have a chance of seeing the 'Big 5' in one day. It is also the only place in East Africa where you can see chimpanzee and the only place to see the remaining 'northern white rhino'. You can visit some of our Moving Mountains projects and enjoy some of the sights that both locations offer, tailor-made safari's or even the opportunity to sponsor a former street child of beneficiary of Moving Mountains to join you on the trek!
|1||Transfer from Naro Moru to the Mount Kenya National Park gate Gate. Trek to Met Station.|
|2||Trek from Met Station to Mackinders Camp|
|3||Acclimatisation day: Trek from Mackinders Camp to high mountain tarns and back to Mackinders Camp|
|4||Trek from Mackinders to Point Lenana via Austrian Hut and descend to Lake Ellis or Nithi Falls via Hall Tarns|
|5||Trek from Lake Ellis or Nithi Falls via Meru Banda's and transfer to Chogoria town and back to Embu|
|175km 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 western side of Mt Kenya. There is plenty to see and do in both 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 baboon, zebra and bushbuck wandering around the area as we sign in to the park. After lunch at the park gate we head up along the track through the forests of bamboo and hardwood trees which leads 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 6hrs||From Met Station we follow the 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 as we trek past Giant Cabbage Groundsel and Giant Lobelia Deckenii making our way up through the over-dramatically named 'Vertical Bog' to the outcrop known as picnic rocks, we'll stop for lunch here. From picnic rocks 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||4200-4500-4200m||2-5km 2-3hrs||Today we will take a day-walk from MacKinders Hut to aid our acclimatisation. There are a few possibilities and we are most likely to walk up to a pair of small lakes called Hut Tarn and Nanyuki Tarn, collectively known as two-tarn! From here we get a great view straight across at the south west face of the main summits and the glaciers that hang from it. It is also possible to walk up to the foot of two of these glaciers, the Darwin and the Tyndall, but it is a slightly more difficult route. We will be back at MacKinders for lunch and for an afternoon of R&R and final preparations for our early morning start to summit Point Lenana for sunrise.|
|4||4200-4985-3500m||8+10km 5+8hrs||Today we will be up around midnight for hot drinks before starting our ascent to Point Lenana. After a short flat section we are onto the frozen screes by torchlight (on clear nights we can use the moonlight), climbing up and up to reach Austrian Hut at 4790m. At the hut we will take a break, the duration of which will be decided by our speed so far, the idea being that we arrive at Point Lenana just before sunrise and don't have to wait in the cold. From the Austrian Hut we follow a ridge all the way to the summit. The ridge is initially quite broad but it does get narrower and we will take our time over the short sections that need hands as well as feet, there are steel cables on the upper two thirds of the route and though they are not really necessary, they can be reassuring. 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 north side 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.|
|5||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 Traverse cost - £1095.00
The advertised price is the per person cost based on a minimum group of 2 pax, contact us for the single person supplement cost, or for extra nights, safari options, etc. Using the Sirimon route for the ascent and Chogoria route for the descent is a popular option as it allows you to see the mountain from a number of angles and the Chogoria route in particular is well known for superb scenery and abundant wildlife. For the best chance of seeing wildlife we would advise adding a day on to the end of the itinerary at Meru Banda's where a variety of monkey, bushbuck, buffalo and even elephant are known to come out of the forest to graze at dusk and dawn.
The price includes the following but we can help with airport transfers, accommodation in Nairobi, transfers to Naro Moru and from Embu, an extra night on the mountain at Meru Banda's, etc. Full details of the current prices and the extra's that we can provide can be found in the More Information section 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
Choose a scheduled date or contact us to set up private dates or a bespoke itinerary. The minimum deposit is £100.00 and the balance is due six weeks before travel.
- Duration 5 days
- Numbers 2-16
- Altitude 4985m
- Distance 50km
- Challenge Moderate
- Comfort Camping