Mount Kenya National Park is found in Kenya, its the second-highest mountain in Africa after Mt Kilimanjaro. Its nicknamed as “Come touch the sky” because it has a 5,199 meters high peak and was established as a protected area in 1949. The protected area covers 715 square meters that cover the mountain of Kenya and the wildlife alongside the forest reserve in the area. The different vegetation zoning acts as great habitats for the wildlife especially the animals and birds.
The mountain acts as the source of water catchment for the park that comes from the melting glaciers and the mineral springs. The park is a home of wildlife which are rare and endangered species. The high altitude which are adapted by the plain game and the vegetation like alpine vegetation. The guests enjoy hiking the mountain, camping and caving with the rugged glacier at the mountain as they do their Kenya Wildlife tours.
The park was initially the forest reserve before it was declared as a national park that covered Mt Kenya and the forest reserve. Later in 1978, the whole area was designated as UNESCO Biosphere Reserve just a year after it was declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1977. The park was gazetted by the Government of Kenya majorly because they wanted to preserve the natural scenic views of the area, Conserve the biodiversity of the park and most importantly to protect the water source which was of much value to the locals in the surrounding area.
Accessing Mount Kenya National Park
Getting to Accessing Mount Kenya National park is very easy using road transport covering only 175 kilometers from the city of Nairobi. There are many public taxi or Shuttles that head daily to the Mt Kenya area using Nanyuki-Isiolo Road. One can pass Sirimon Track or Nyeri-Nanyuki road which is passing through Naro Moru.
One can also reach the park via Chogoria on Embu-Meru which is 150 kilometers north of the capital city Nairobi. You can arrange to pick up from your hotel in Nairobi by private tour operator driver-guide. If it is arranged by the local operators, it will be easy for you though it’s costly but has many more advantages to the guest with safety and reaching in time. One has to note that there mostly three roads that are highly recommended to use if one wants to successfully reach at the park well or be dropped close to the park gates if using public means.
If using the public means it costs from 500 Kenya shillings to 800 Kenya shillings which drops you on the main road. One has to hire special hire to take you now to the park gates at the cost of 2000 to 8000 Kenya shillings depending on the distance you been left by the first taxi. There are four gates in Mount Kenya National park which include Kamweti gate, Marania gate, Burguret gate, and Themwe gate.
The park can also be accessed by domestic flights which drop you to the closest airstrip to the park called Nanyuki airstrip. Your driver-guide will wait and meet you at the airstrip and transfer you to the park gate for clearing and now start the hike of the day. It is recommended hiking for 3 to 4 days depending on your physical fitness.
Vegetation of Mount Kenya National park
The vegetation of Mount Kenya National park is diverse due to the difference in the altitude hence changes on the vegetation zoning in the park. The flora of the park is divided into different vegetation zones that keep changing as the altitude changes. Each Zone is dominated by different plants as per the adaptation capacity of the plant to the altitude. It is unique at the Mountain that most of the plant species bare the local Kikuyu and Embu names with English names.
The weather of the park is wet which comes from the Indian ocean from the east to the South-East. The slopes which receive a high amount of rainfall is covered by thick bamboo vegetation while the surrounding of the park are relatively flat are covered by open savannahs and they receive little rainfall. The open savannah land is now turned in to agricultural land by the local Kikuyu. The vegetation zoning ranks from the open savannah grassland to montane forest to Bamboo and the Afro-alpine zone.
Arrangement of the vegetation zoning in Mt Kenya
Cultivated Zone: This is covered by the open savannah grassland though turned in to agricultural land by the Kikuyu.
Montane Forest: After the grassland as one raises to 2000 meters you meet the montane forest which is dominated by Ocotea usambarensis.
Bamboo Zone: This is found in the middle of the mountain covered by Bamboo forests and is a restricted area and receives high rainfalls.
Timberline Forest: Found at around 3,000 to 3,500 meters above sea level its dominated by African rosewood.
Heathland and Chaparral: This is found in between 3,200 to 3,800 meters above sea level. It mostly occupies the wettest part of the mountain while the Chaparral is found in the drier areas of the mountain. The dominant plant in Heathland is Erica while in Chaparral its African sage.
Afro-alpine Zone: This is the second final vegetation zone at the mountain and starts from 3500 meters above to 4500 meters. Its dominated by two giant species those are Dendrosenecio Keniensis and Dendrosenecio keniodendron.
Nival zone: This is the last zone with glacier and it is above 4500 meters.
Attractions of Mount Kenya National Park
Wildlife: Mount Kenya National park is a home of more wildlife including the big African Forest Elephants, Cape buffalo, monkey, leopards, Dik-dik, forest Hog, and many others. The park has over 130 bird species with mostly forest bird species.
Mt Kenya: The second highest mountain in Africa is the key attraction at the park. Covering almost half of the park is the mountain. The mountain can be climbed in 3 to 5 days but mostly completed by the technical people to the peak.
Activities in Mount Kenya National Park
The park is a home of several interesting activities that make the guest trip to Africa more memorial. The true wilderness of Africa is experienced when one enjoys the safari to Mount Kenya National park.
The name of the park overshadows many, thinking that it is only hiking which is done at this park which is wrong. There are several activities that can be done in the park as I highlight in this article.
Hiking: This is the key activity done in Mount Kenya National park, the mountain has 7 different routes. In the 7 routes, Naro Moru is the easiest and the most popular route among all. Other routes include Sirimon, Chogoria, Batian, Nelion, Timau Route and Burguret route.
Game viewing: The park is famous for the Mountain but also the park is a home of wildlife especially Mammals like Forest Elephants, buffalo, and others. The guests enjoy game viewing on the Keny safari vans. On a lucky day, they can see the leopards and forest Hog.
Birding: The park is a home of over 130 species of birds with most of them being forest bird species and few open savannah bird species. Birding Safaris can be done throughout the year though best done during the rainy season when the birds are nesting and breeding.
Scenic views: Enjoy the sightseeing, the scenic views of the mountain especially for the trekkers, not hikers who cannot reach the summit of the mountain. The caves visiting is also done at the park which is a great experience during the Kenya Safari Tour.
Mount Kenya National park is dominated by the African second highest mountain provides the scenic with just a few meters away from the Equator. Visiting the Ngai the old god of the Kikuyu. To date, the locals keep their doors open and face the mountain as they believe they get a blessing. The Kikuyu go to the slopes of the mountain for prayers and other cultural rituals.