African Retreat Tours & Travels Ltd
Windsor House, 5th Flr
Muindi Mbingu St, CBD
P.O. Box 7362-00100, Nairobi - Kenya
In the centre of Kenya only 10 miles south of the equator is a snow-capped mountain. This seems so unlikely that the German missionary to report this in 1833 was laughed at. Its existence was not acknowledged for another sixteen years and it then took a further fifty years before anyone climbed to the 16,900 feet (5,199 meter) summit.
Mount Kenya is considered by the local Kikuyu people to be the home of the Supreme Being 'Ngai' - the Possessor of Brightness, and the mountain is known as Kere Nyaga - Mountain of Brightness. When Mt Kenya's peak makes an appearance between the clouds, the sun dazzling off its snowy tip and jagged peaks certainly gives it a godly glow. The Kikuyu who live on the slopes always face their homes towards this sacred peak.
This mountain is also fascinating because of its variation in flora with the change in altitude. The lower slopes are covered with dry forest followed by montane forest full of cedar trees at about 6,500ft (2,000m). Then begins a dense belt of bamboo and short trees in which numerous animals hide. Between 9,750-11,375 feet (3,000-3,500 metres) comes high altitude health dotted with giant tree heathers and open moorland grazed by a few acclimatised zebras and eland.