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Mount Kenya National Park

Mount Kenya National Park                                               
Mt. Kenya is an imposing extinct volcano dominating the landscape of the Kenyan Highlands, East of the Rift Valley. Mt. Kenya lies about 140 km North, North-East of Nairobi with its Northern flanks across the Equator. The mountain has two main peaks - Batian ( 5,200 m) and Nelion ( 5,188 m). The mountains slopes are cloaked in forest, bamboo, scrub and moorland giving way on the high central peaks to rock, ice and snow. Mt. Kenya is an important water catchment area, supplying the Tana and Northern Ewaso Ngiro systems.


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Mount Kenya National Park                                   
"Namesake of a Nation"
The park includes a variety of habitats ranging from higher forest, bamboo, alpine moorlands, glaciers, tarns and glacial morains. The park, which was inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1997 and is also a Biosphere Reserve, covers 715 km 2, and includes the Peaks consisting of all the ground above 3,200 m with two small salients extending lower down to 2,450 m along the Sirimon and Naro Moru tracks. Surrounding the park is Mount Kenya National Reserve with an area of approximately 2,095 km 2.
Mt. Kenya National Park is located to the east of the Great Rift Valley, about 175km North-East of Nairobi.  The ecosystem lies in Central and Eastern provinces of Kenya.  At 5,199 m the mountain is the second highest peak in Africa. Mt. Kenya is an important water tower in the country. It provides water for about 50% of the country’s population and produces 70% of Kenya’s hydroelectric power.

UNESCO inscribed Mount Kenya as a World Heritage Site.  Its described 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.

Access
-  Roads: 175 Kms from Nairobi, the park can be reached on Nanyuki-Isiolo road via Sirimon Track or Nyeri-Nanyuki road near Naro Moru. The park is also reachable via Chogoria on the Embu - Meru road, about 150 km north of Nairobi.
-  Airstrips: The closest commercial airstrip to the park is at Nanyuki

Park Gates
-  Narumoru Gate
-  Sirimon Gate
-  Marania Gate
-  Chogoria Gate
-  Mawingu Gate
-  Kamweti Gate
-  Kihari Gate

Size and Location
-  2,800 km 2
-  East of the Rift Valley. Mt. Kenya lies about 140 km North, North-East of Nairobi with its Northern flanks across the Equator.

Climate
Climate, flora and fauna on Mt. Kenya varies with altitude.

Safari Card Required
At present the park does not operate the Safari Card system. Entry is by cash only.

Attractions
Pristine wilderness, lakes, tarns, glaciers and peaks of great beauty, geological variety, forest, mineral springs, rare and endangered species of animals, High altitude adapted plains game, Unique montane and alpine vegetation with 11 species of endemic plants.

Wildlife
Include Elephants, tree hyrax, white tailed mongoose, suni, black fronted duiker, mole rat, bushbucks, water buck and Elands. Animas rarely seen include leopard, bongo, giant forest hog and rhino.

Birds
Over 130 bird species have been recorded.

Vegetation
This varies with altitude and rainfall, and there is a rich alpine and sub-alpine flora.Between 1,200 m and 1,850 m, the vegetation is mainly dry upland forest comprising of Croton associations. Juniperus procera and Podocarpus spp. are predominant in the drier parts of the lower zone ( below 2,500m ), with rainfall between 875 and 1,400 mm (Naro Moru and Sirimon tracks on the western slopes). In wetter areas (over 2,200 mm/year) in the south-west and north-east, Cassipourea malosana predominates.
Higher altitudes ( 2,500-3,000 m with rainfall over 2,000 mm/year) are dominated by a dense belt of bamboo Arundinaria alpina on south-eastern slopes, and a mosaic of bamboo and Podocarpus milanjianus with bamboo at intermediate elevations ( 2,600-2,800 m), and Podocarpus at higher and lower elevations ( 2,800-3,000 m) and ( 2,500-2,600 m).
Towards the west and north of the mountain, bamboo becomes progressively smaller and less dominant. There are also areas in zones of maximum rainfall 2,000-3,500 m with up to 2,400 mm/year, where Hagenia abyssinica with Hagenia revolutum predominate.
Above 3,000 m, cold (low temperatures) become a more important factor, tree stature declines, and Podocarpus is replaced by Hypericum spp. A more open canopy here results in a more developed understorey. Many of the trees are festooned with mosses. Grassy glades are common especially on ridges. High altitude heath between 3,000 m and 3,500 m is characterised by shrubs with small leaves like African sage, Protea and Helicrysum.
The lower alpine or moorland zone ( 3,400-3,800 m) is characterized by high rainfall, a thick humus layer, low topographic diversity, and low species richness. Tussock grasses Festuca pilgeri, and sedges Carex spp. predominate. Between the tussocks there are Alchemilla cyclophylla, Alchemilla johnstonii, and Geranium vagans. Above the 3,500 m contour is the Afro-alpine zone, a moorland characterised by tussock grasses, senecios and lobelias.
The upper alpinezone ( 3,800-4,500 m) is more topographically diverse, and contains a more varied flora. Many of the species here are bizarre, especially the giant rosette plants Lobelia telekii and Lobelia keniensis, Senecio keniodendron and Carduus spp.. Senecio brassica is found in both the lower and upper alpine zone.
There are a variety of grasses on well-drained ground and along the streams and river banks such as megaphytic Senecio battescombei and Helichrysum kilimanjari.
Continuous vegetation stops at about 4,500 m although isolated vascular plants have been found at over 5,000 m. There are 13 species endemic to Mount Kenya listed in Hedberg, (1951).

Activities
-  Game viewing.
-  Camping
-  Mountain Climbing.
-  Cave Exploration.

What to take with you
Drinking water, picnic items and camping equipment if you intend to stay overnight, walking boots, warm clothing, training shoes, socks, sandals and gaiters. Also useful are: binoculars, camera, hat, sunscreen, sunglasses and guidebooks.
 
Park Contacts
Phone:       +254 (20) 3568763
Mobile:      +254 723 690482
Postal Address: Mt. Kenya  National Park, P.O. Box 753, Nyeri, Kenya.