Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Mount Longonot, Kenya, 2785m

25th August 2014
Google map link

Route: Standard Route
Total Elevation gain: 620m
Total distance hiked: ~5.1km (3.1 km to the rim and a further 2.0 km to the summit)

Mount Longonot is located in the Kenyan Rift Valley. It is a stratovolcano that blew its top off about 20,000 years ago. Its a relatively easy hike with a wonderful view of the Rift Valley landscape, including Lake Naivasha and Hell's gate. 
Mt Longonot from the Old Naivasha Road
At the start of the trek
Cheryl and our guide Annie on their way towards the mountain
The hike starts gradually through grasslands and shrubs on the lower slopes. Giraffes and Buffaloes roam amongst the landscape. After a while, the climb gets a bit steeper before getting onto the crater rim.

At the Oloonongot crater rim. The summit peak can be seen behind the sign.
We then follow the rim trail in the counter-clockwise direction to reach the summit. The trail is well defined, but at points, there may be a bit of exposure and the grounds at some slopes are slightly loose.
In the foreground, a volcanic vent. In the background, Lake Naivasha. Views from the rim trail.

We started our hike at 8.55am and reached the summit at about 11am.
View of the crater from the summit.
At the summit.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Mount Kenya, Lenana Point, 4985m

21st August 2014
Google map link

Route: Sirimon Trail 
Total Elevation gain: 2335m
Total distance hiked: ~51km

Trek synopsis: 19th-22nd August 2014
Sirimon Trail (Gate (2650m)to Old Moses (3390m), 9km (1st Night); Old Moses to Shipton (4260m), 13.6km (2nd Night); Shipton to Lenana, 2.6km, and back to Old Moses (3rd Night). 

Sirimon Gate. Start of the trail at 2650m
Day 1
We met up with our guide Francis and cook John in Nanyuki town.
A dirt track turns off the Nanyuki-Meru main road (about 10km from Nanyuki) that finally leads to the Mount Kenya National Park Entrance (2650m). This is the start of the trek in, using the Sirimon trail. At about noon, we begun. Not too long after that, we crossed the equator.
Cheryl and Francis, at the equator marker....
...while I was busy ascertaining that we had indeed crossed the equator.
Most of the day's hike was on a 4WD trail with very gradual slopes. We reached Old Moses camp at about 4.10pm. It's a decent shack. Sitting on a small knoll, it has a grand view. Near sunset, lines of the sun stream down through the clouds, and lit up the plains below, and coloured it gold.

Old Moses Camp (3390m according to my GPS receiver). You can see the two highest summits of Mt Kenya (Batian and Nelion) peeking out from the slopes behind. 
Day 2
We started at 7.50am. Half of the trek today goes through the lovely MacKinder Valley (Named after the expedition leader who made the first sucessful Mt Kenya ascent) which the Liki river runs through. The V-shaped valley gradually became a U-shaped valley as we walk upstream. It started to rain the last few km of the hike, and we were glad to reach Shipton's camp (4250 m) at 4.15pm.

MacKinder Valley
Day 3
We started our climb at 3.50am, and reached Point Lenana at 6.50am. The weather was clear, and not very windy. The steep walls of Nelion, the second highest point of Mt Kenya, dominates our view west and seems to dwarfed Lenana point. The jagged peaks and irregular mountain features around are very different from the clean and striking profiles of younger stratovolcanoes like Killimanjaro or Fuji. Age (Mt Kenya is at least 3,000,000 years old) has worn this mighty volcano (once taller than Killimanjaro during its prime) down, and only the more hardy volcanic plugs remain.
At the very not-quite top of Mount Kenya 
Nelion, the second highest summit of Mt Kenya. Batian, the highest peak is hidden behind Nelion
View North, towards the head of the MacKinder Valley. Shipton's camp can be seen near the middle of the picture.

Northwest View. Chogoria route direction 
The view of Point Lenana, on the way down
View of Lenana Point from Shipton's camp
We returned to Shipton's camp for a rest and breakfast. We left at 11.45am for the walk back to Old Moses, where we arrived at about 5.15pm.

MacKinder Valley, on the way back to Old Moses Camp.
Day 4
Walk out to Sirimon gate. Slow and easy. Hoping to catch sight of some elephants that roam about in the forest, but never seeing any. We did find plenty of their digestive remains along the way...