Mount Kenya is the highest mountain in Kenya and the second highest in Africa after Mount Kilimanjaro. It is an extinct volcanic mountain lying astride the equator. The highest peaks are Batian(5199 metres), Nelion(5188metres) and Lenana (4985metres). I hiked Lenana peak as you need to be a registered mountaineer to attempt the other two.
We entered through the Mount Kenya National Park which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The area has a large array of forests,wildlife and vegetation.
The first few kilometres were awesome, we were so energetic, practically running and the stories were abound. And then we froze, in sheer silence-when we saw a buffalo before us. Now, all the stories, movies, National Geographic does not prepare you for the actuality. My heart was beating hard, I could feel my adrenaline charging, I was sure, if it so much as snorted in our direction, I would outrun it. The stories we had heard of lone buffalos being on a killing mission immediately come to the fore of the brain. The only weapon we had among us was maybe one pen knife-not that it would help. We then started hoping and praying that there were more buffalos-that would be so much better. As we stretched our necks, we saw that there were more, many more, many more grazing.
We had two options, go back to the gate or move forward. The mountain was so near yet so far and being adventurous we chose to go forth. We thus replayed all the information we had ever heard about wild animals. They do not like noise; they move away from noise, we chose to put this to test. We opened our bags, and noisily beat anything and everything that could produce noise. Thus, our Sufurais “cooking pans” became our weapons. We beat at them with our mwikos” cooking spoons”, we clapped our hands, we shouted and we marched forth toward the herd of wild buffalos. And sure enough, slowly but surely, the buffalos raised their heads, eyed us suspiciously and moved away toward the bamboo forest near the grassland they were eating. It was scary but also exciting, we all eyed each other suspiciously, us walking as a pack-all huddled together, them entering the forest and peeking at us from the trees. Soon we had passed the area and as we looked back, they had returned to continue grazing. Apologies for the lack of pictures of the Buffalos-My adrenaline didnt allow me to think of taking pics then.
Soon we were near the Mountain, we could see it ahead. Then altitude sickness took over. Your head throbs, your muscles ache, you feel nausea, you want to give up, but no-keep going. Drink lots of water, lots and lots of water, it actually helps. There are various springs along the way, enjoy the refreshing drink.
We finally made the last ascent; I cannot explain the feeling-Awesome, amazing, exhilarating, beautiful, well worth it. This was my first time to see snow, touch snow and taste snow. We had reached Point Lenana which stands at 4985 metres.