Mt Kenya 'Namesake of a Nation': All About the Mountain - Africa Point Blog
Mt. Kenya, the Namesake of a Nation, is one of the most magnificent mountains in Kenya. On this series of articles we will look into the facts of this spectacular mountain. Mt. Kenya is the highest mountain in Kenya and the second-highest in Africa, after
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Mt Kenya 'Namesake of a Nation': All About the Mountain

Published 21st February 2013
Modified 15th June 2015
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Travel Planning & Tips, Kenya, Trekking, Mount Kenya

Mt. Kenya, the Namesake of a Nation, is one of the most magnificent mountains in Kenya. On this series of articles we will look into the facts of this spectacular mountain. Mt. Kenya is the highest mountain in Kenya and the second-highest in Africa, after Kilimanjaro. The three highest peaks of the mountain are Batian (5,199 metres (17,057ft)), Nelion (5,188 metres (17,021ft)) and Point Lenana (4,985 metres (16,355ft)).


This towering mountain is located in the central region of Kenya, known as Central Province. The first Europeans to spot this mountain were shocked to see snow on the mountain peaks as the mountain is barely south of the Equator. The surprise will be on you also! The Republic of Kenya gets its name from the mountain easily seen as a symbol of the country.


Mt Kenya Peaks

The mountain is inviting yet mysterious from afar. Photo by : Chris 73 / Wikimedia Commons


The mountain provides a vast ecosystem appropriately known as Mt. Kenya National Park. The Park established in 1949, is 175km North-East of Nairobi and to the East of the world renown Great Rift Valley. The large park expands from the Eastern and Central provinces of Kenya.


Wildlife to be seen includes the elands. water buck, bushbuck, mole rat, black fronted duiker, suni, white tailed mongoose, tree hyrax and elephants. Also, rhino, giant forest hog, bongo and the leopard are to be rarely seen. The 130 bird species make this park an ornithologist paradise.


Black Fronted Duiker

The unique Black Fronted Duiker is among the wildlife you will spot.


70% of Kenya's hydroelectric power is traced to the mountain's water tower and 50% of the country's population depends on it for their water needs. Mt. Kenya is truly one of the country's important water towers. So beautiful and unique is the mountain complex that UNESCO designated it as a World Heritage Site and as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.


The world body denotes it as 'one of the most impressive landscapes in Eastern Africa with its rugged glacier-clad summits, Afro-alpine moorlands and diverse forests that illustrate outstanding ecological processes. Diverse forests, Afro-alpine moor lands, rugged glacier-clad summits and the supported eco-system make this one of the most impressive landscapes of Eastern Africa.


Mountain Vegetation

The mountain supports a unique, diverse and enchanting ecosystem.


Easy access to the mountains is available through the Nanyuki commercial airstrip. Nanyuki is a small tourist town famed as a popular town, a stopover for trekkers enroute to the mountain, lying northwest of Mount Kenya. Mt. Kenya National Park is also reachable through the Chogoria town on the Embu - Meru road, about 150km north of Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya. Another befitting alternative is to take Nanyuki - Isiolo road via Sirimon Track or Nyeri-Nanyuki road near Naro Moru.


Geologically, Mt. Kenya is a tall, conical volcano made up of numerous strata/layers of hardened volcanic ash and lava. Together with some collapsed craters known as calderas. Geologists assert that about 3 million years after the opening of the East African rift the mountain was 7,000 m (23,000 ft) high. Therefore, for millenia it was covered by an ice cap but with time the slopes became eroded.


The result was the formation of many valleys as the ice caps melted. As of now, 11 small glaciers are remaining. The glaciers support alot of water that is later released in hotter seasons as melt water thus supporting alot of plants, wildlife and humans that depend on this water.


Mt. Kenya Crater

A photo is worth a thousand words; the crater view is worth a thousand steps or so we think!


The usefulness of this mountain and the Mt. Kenya National Park cannot be over emphasized they preserve the water catchment crucial to the flora, fauna and human life, conserve the biodiversity within the park, preserve an area of immense scenic beauty that is a source of major tourism that uplifts the national and the local economies.


Several communities living around the mountain pay reverence to it. One of these is the Gikuyu (Kikuyu) tribe to be found on the western and southern sides of the mountain. The highly fertile mountain volcanic soil to be found on the lower slopes provides arable land for their use. The Kikuyu tribe believe that God (Mwene Nyaga or Ngaii) dwells on Mount Kenya, His throne on earth.


Mount Kenya

The mountain has captivated not only the locals but, later, the European explorers.


The Kikuyu name for Mount Kenya is Kiri Nyaga, which literally means 'Where God Lives' or 'God's Resting Place' therefore referring to Mwene Nyaga. The mountain was a traditional holy place where Kikuyu, the father of the tribe and the first person on earth to summit the mountain, used to meet with God. So revered is the mountain that the Kikuyu people used to construct their houses with the doors facing the mountain.


Kikuyu Village

Thatched huts in a Kikuyu Village.


The highest mountain peak is Batian named after Mbatian, the chief medicine man of the Maasai during the time when Europeans were first discovering Maasailand. This mountain of wonders though on the Equator like its sister Mt. Kilimanjaro, has elicited mention and awe in the popular culture.


The Italian book 'No Picnic on Mount Kenya' (Italian: Fuga sul Kenya), by Felice Benuzzi is a mountaineering classic recounting the 1943 attempt of three escaped Italian prisoners of war to reach the summit of Mt. Kenya. The bestseller was first published in 1947 in Italian and in 1952 in English. In 1994 the book was made into a thrilling film named 'The Ascent'. Now that you know all about the mountain, check the next article on PREPARING FOR YOUR CLIMB. You can book your Mt. Kenya climb at our secure portal.


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