Kenya is located in the eastern part of Africa. It has an area of about 150,000 square kilometers. It is a very popular tourist destination and also a hotspot for climbing and hiking. In the central highlands a couple of hundred kilometers north of the equator lays Mt.Kenya. It is here, where the Kikuyu god ngai resides. It is the highest mountain in Kenya and the second highest in Africa. It is one of the few places near the equator on Africa with permanent glaciers. The name of the country has been known to have been derived from Mt.Kenya which was formerly known as Mount Kirinyaga.
The mountain is located 180 kilometers north of Nairobi and it can often be seen from high-rise buildings in Nairobi and from Thika. It is an extinct volcano, which formed a couple of million years ago. The mountain is located in the Mount Kenya National Park, which is a designated protected area around the mountain above 3200m altitude. The Kenya Wildlife Service manages the park. The national park covers an area of 700 square kilometers and was established in 1949.
Kenya enjoys an equatorial climate with average annual temperatures of about 26oC and diurnal temperatures of about 3oC. There are two rainy seasons on the mountain from April-June and October-December. The mountain is an important water catchment area and many rivers such as the Naro Moru emerge from the melting glaciers.
The first documented ascent of the mountain was by Halford Mackinders. At the moment the mountain attracts several thousand climbers both local and international annually. It is this popularity, which has contributed to the deterioration of the environment and the litter accumulation.
At the base and around this mountain are famous hotels such as the Mount Kenya Safari Club, Outspan Hotel, Naro Moru River Lodge, Treetops, Mountain Lodge, Bantu Lodge and several others. Tourists who do not wish to climb often visit the hotels for the view, luxury accommodation, fresh air and the tranquil atmosphere.
Compared to Mt. Kenya Africa's highest mountain Kilimanjaro is a relatively easy climb and the main summit of Uhuru peak (5895m) can be reached by most climbers. The mountain, though the highest is relatively a boring climb with not much scenery or change in landscape. The origin of the name Kilimanjaro still remains a mystery and is thought mean a great hill in Kiswahili. It is also thought that Mount Kilimanjaro once belonged to Kenya up until the division of the British empire in East Africa when the Queen of England altered the border of the two nations to accommodate the mountain onto Tanzania. After that local history has it that the presidents of the two nations agreed on a trade; Mount
Kilimanjaro will be part of Kenya if Kenya hand over Mombasa to Tanzania which did not happen as Kenya would loose a strategic port and its second largest city.
Though Kilimanjaro is relatively dry and can be climbed all year round the main dry climbing season begins from January-February and June-September. For climbers with limited time one can easily fly to Kilimanjaro International airport from either Nairobi or Dar es salaam and stay overnight in Moshi or Arusha town.
The Mount Kenya Clean Up Mission 1998 was formed in May 98. It was an idea based on previous attempts by the community to clean the mountain. Financial backing and funding was done entirely by local companies. Today the establishment is not active and the main aim remains to create environmental awareness and educate climbers on the necessity to conserve the environment on the mountain.