Mount Kenya National Park: Wildlife Habitat And Water Catchment

Overview

Mount Kenya National Park is a Park in Kenya, created in 1949 to safeguard Mount Kenya, the animals and the surrounding environment which provides habitation for wildlife whilst functioning as a water catchment, supplying Kenya’s water. The 715 km2 Park is surrounded by a forest reserve which covers 705 km2, making the entire area 1 420 km2.

Path between Old Moses and Shiptons camp in Mount Kenya National Park. Joxean Koret Licence: CC

Scenery

Standing at 5 199 m, Mount Kenya, an ancient extinct volcano, is the second highest peak in Africa with twelve relic glaciers on it. With its craggy ice-clad crests and wooded middle hills, the mountain is one of the most striking sites in East Africa. Vegetation in the Park differs with elevation and precipitation, from the rich alpine to the subalpine plant life. The arid parts of the low lands have the Podocarpus and Juniperus procera species, whilst the wet lands in the north-east and south-west have the Cassipourea malosana and the high lands have the Podocarpus milanjianus and Bamboo thriving in them. In the alpine zone, a variety of ecological networks flourish and these include the moorlands, the grassy open spaces, reeds and tussock grasslands. Uninterrupted vegetation ends at about 4500 m even though solitary fern plants can been found at over 5 000 m.

Mount Kenya Guillaume Baviere Licence: CC

Wildlife

Mount Kenya National Park plays host to a lot of different animals. In the low lands, the Cape Buffalo, the Black and white Colobus  are found whilst in the Bamboo areas,  the Elephant, the Giant Forest Hog, the Black Rhinoceros, the Tree Hyrax, the Black-fronted Duiker, the White-tailed Mongoose, the leopard and the Suni are common. In the highlands, there is the Mount Kenya Mouse Shrew and the Common Duiker whilst the common Mole-rat is found throughout the northern slopes. Other animals found in the Park include the Bushbuck, the Eland, the Water buck as well as the seldom spotted Bongo and Leopard.

African Elephants Ray in Manila Licence: CC

The Park is home to an impressive birdlife, with about 130 bird species recorded. These include the Ayres Hawk Eagle, the Green Ibis, the Abyssinian long-eared Owl, the Alpine Swift, the Scaly Francolin, Rüppell’s Robin-chat and numerous sunbirds.

A Moorland Chat in Mount Kenya National Park Joxean Koret Licence: CC

Getting there

Mount Kenya National Park can be accessed by road. From Nairobi, one drives over 175 km on the 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.  One can also reach the Park by air from Nairobi with the closest commercial airstrip to the Park being  at Nanyuki.

Mount Kenya National Park Guillaume Baviere Licence: CC

Accommodation

Mount Kenya has a variety of accommodations that cater to not only your tastes but also your budget. For an exciting vacation at the periphery of Mount Kenya, Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club is an ideal place. The exclusive Club is situated just outside the Park, along the border, with views of stunning gardens flourishing in the foothills. Sitting on 100 acres, Fairmont offers 120 opulent guest rooms with each carrying snug bed, a sitting area with fireplace, a roomy bathroom and more.

For guests who would want to stay inside the Park, there is Serena Mountain Lodge set at the edge of the foothills. On offer are 41 guest accommodations divided into the cozy Double, Twin, Triple rooms, with water hole views from the rooms and private balconies. General services on offer include one large bed, free Wi-Fi, complimentary mineral water, a coffee or tea making station, bath amenities among others.

Mount Kenya National Park Guillaume Baviere Licence: CC

Other accommodation options include the self catering Sirimon Cottage and Batian Guest, House, Major, Kinondoni, Solo, Narumoru Gate, Liki North Hut 7, Met Station, Shipton, Mackinders, Judmaier, Austrian Hut, and Sirimon Gate Campsites.

Best time to visit

Mount Kenya National Park is open all year round. However, the best time to visit is from December to March, the sunniest months.  From March to May, it gets cloudy and from October to early December it rains, thereby limiting clear views.

Weather and climate

Mount Kenya enjoys a range of different climates due to the differences in altitude thereby having different zones of influence. The crests of the mountain receive precipitations as snow, feeding into the glaciers whilst the lower, south-eastern slopes are the wettest because of the Indian Ocean leading to a very dense Montane forest on these slopes. The year is divided into two different wet seasons and two different dry seasons which imitate the wet and dry seasons in the Kenyan lowlands.

Mount Kenya Guillaume Baviere Licence: CC

Safety and Things You Might Need To Know

Even though the prevalence of Malaria in this area is believed to be lower, visitors are still urged to take the necessary precautions prior to and during traveling as they could catch Malaria along the way. These precautions include the taking of Malaria prophylactics as well as covering bare skin at dusk. There are other important vaccinations that visitors need to consider and these include Yellow Fever, Cholera, Typhoid and Hepatitis A and B inoculations.

Mount Kenya Guillaume Baviere Licence: CC

To avoid sunburn, visitors are also reminded to bring with them hats, sunglasses and to apply a good sunscreen.

For safety, all visitors are to enter the Park with an experienced and licensed guide and to check in and out of the Park.

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