Mountain Kenya National Park is a UNESCO-designated world heritage site which was established in 1949 basically to protect Mount Kenya and the wildlife plus the surrounding environment and also to act as an area of water catchment in order to supply Kenya’s water.
The Park was before a forest reserve and was later announced as a national park by Kenya’s government of which the major reasons for forming a national park in and around Mountain Kenya were; to preserve an area for great scenery, the importance of tourism and national economies, to conserve the biodiversity within the Park, and also to preserve the water catchment for the surrounding area.
The Park covers an area of about 715 square kilometers most of which is above the 3,000-meter contour line however, the forest reserve of the Park covers an area of 705 square kilometers thus when combined, the whole area comprises of 1,420 square kilometers.
Mountain Kenya resided in the Park is the highest mountain in Kenya as well as the second highest in Africa next to Tanzania’s Mountain Kilimanjaro.
The Mountain consists of 11 small glaciers currently and the forest slopes of the mountain are an important source of water for much of Kenya. Kenya’s government has announced a project to discourage animals from straying into small holdings surrounding the Park and devastating crops.
The project will see the Park enclosed by an electric fence with five electrified strands and is expected to be completed by 2014. The fence will discharge an electric shock, but is not dangerous to humans or animals.
The main ethnic groups living around Mount Kenya are Kikuyu, Ameru, Embu and Maasai. The first three are closely related. They all see the mountain as an important aspect of their cultures.
All these cultures arrived in the Mount Kenya area in the last several hundred years. Therefore during the cultural encounters you will enjoy the amazing cultures of the above tribes especially the Masai who modify their bodies.
Mount Kenya is the main water catchment area for two large rivers in Kenya such as; River Tana which is the largest river in Kenya, and the Ewaso Ng’iro River. The Mount Kenya ecosystem provides water directly for over 2 million people.
The rivers on Mount Kenya have been named after the villages on the slopes of the mountain that they flow close to.
The Thuchi River is the district boundary between Meru and Embu. Mount Kenya is a major water tower for the Tana River which in 1988 supplied 80% of Kenya’s electricity using a series of seven hydroelectric power stations and dams.
The density of streams is very high especially on the lower slopes which have never been glaciated. The ice cap which used to cover the mountain during the Pliocene eroded large U-shaped valleys which tend to only have one large stream.
Where the original shape of the shield volcano is still preserved, there have been millions of years for streams to erode the hillside. This area is therefore characterized by frequent deep fluvial V-shaped valleys. The gradual transition from glaciated to fluvial valley can be clearly observed.
Rivers which start on Mount Kenya are the tributaries of two large Kenyan rivers; River Tana and Ewaso Ng’iro River. A lot of Mount Kenyan rivers flow into the Sagana (which itself is a tributary of River Tana) which it joins at the Masinga Reservoir.
The Rivers in the northern part of the mountain such as; Burguret, Naru Moru, Nanyuki, Liki and Sirimon Rivers flow into the Ewaso Ng’iro River well as Rivers to the south-west such as; Keringa and Nairobi Rivers flow into the Sagana and then into River Tana and the remaining rivers to the south and east such as; Mutonga, Nithi, Thuchi and Nyamindi Rivers flow directly into River Tana.
The Park provides various activities the major one being Mountain climbing/hiking, bird watching, cultural encounters, boating, and game viewing where visitors to the Park will view some elephants, cape buffaloes, black and white Colobus plus other monkeys.
The Park is also a home to lions though in 1993, a huge lion weighing 272 kilograms was shot near the mountain. Accommodations in the Park include; Serena Mountain lodge, Mount Kenya safari club, Porini Rhino camp, Ol Pejeta bush camp, Timau River lodge, and many more.