Early January 2016 I travelled to Africa for the first time, to visit Kenya with Magical Kenya and World Expeditions.
To climb Mt Kenya 4985m, a 6 day hike!
Day 1; We had a small group of 4 in the tour, a couple from Australia, a lady from America and myself! We left from our hotel in Nairobi with two members from World expeditions, Eddy and Stephen and drove for 4 hours through the city and into the villages before arriving at Chogoria village for lunch and a tour around the farm with one of our guides. We then changed vehicles and continued towards Mount Kenya National Park, this road was super bumpy and steep, we all had our eyes peeled at the windows after seeing signs of elephants in the area.. unfortunately.. no luck! First walk was only a 2 hour walk to camp where we stayed at Bandas Cottages in the woodland near the Chogoria Gates, glamping in huts with… beds, toilet, SHOWER and most importantly a fireplace.. luxury I was not expecting! The evening fog rolled in and set the mystical mountain mood..
Sleeping at 3000m
Day 2; Woke up at 6:30am to clear views of the summit in the very distance.. Breakfast and warm tea awaited with a packed lunch for the road! Spotted some Colobus Monkeys around the camp, even Waterbuck and Buffalo nearby drinking from the waterhole.. We began our hiking around 8:30am and arrived at Mount Mughi for lunch, our highest elevation for the day at 3600m, I began to feel the elevation from up here, thats why the altitude hikes were essential. Arrived at camp by 2:30pm with hot tea and coffee awaiting.. Camp today was Lake Ellis which was a beautiful and quiet campsite amongst all the birds and by the lake. Brrrgh the evening got pretty cool.. but i guess thats to be expected at 3500m. The night sky was clear & filled with many bright stars, first night sleeping under the african stars..
Sleeping at 3500m
Day 3; Today we woke up at 5:30am for a beautiful sunrise over Lake Ellis, We were woken with a bowl of steaming hot water, which was perfect for those frosty mornings! We began our days hike before 8am, after a well deserved hot breakfast and packed lunch. We crossed a creek through a valley and began the long ascend, We had lunch and M’Tea along the way before reaching our highest point for the day at 4200m. We then came around the corner to the most stunning view i’d seen this far on the mountain.. overlooking Lake Michelson, camp for the night! Down in the valley, the fog would quickly roll in and out, Being up in the mountains always blows my brain out with the Marvellous beauty.. We then descended down the mountain towards our camp which was already set up, oh those porters, Made everyday a dream, rolling into camp after a days hike to camp all set up and warm tea and popcorn awaiting! oh and popcorn is my favourite snack.. how did they know?? The descend was a wet and slippery one, it began to rain & the fog had really rolled in! There was endless photo opportunities, but the rain and fog put that on hold.. We arrived at amp by 2pm. Camping by Lake Michaelson, we were the only group here also, how incredible to be in such an incredibly beautiful campsite, and to have no-one else there is unbelievable, (don’t think that would happen on Mt Kilimanjaro)
Sleeping at 3820m
Day 4; Wake up call was 6am today, I was usually awake before the came to wake us up, as you do when camping on a mountain.. bed early! Crystal clear morning, leaving camp at 7:30am we began our ascend up the valley, following the stream up until we reached the top of the valley and had the most insane views of the lake! We also seen some of our first views of the summit! Usually it was covered in clouds! At this altitude our steps became slow, thats what I was really impressed by, our guide Eddy; He would ensure we were taking it super slow in those steep altitude climbs, and always check in on how we were feeling for signs of altitude sickness, his experience was so evident! Today we arrived at camp by midday, in time for the best lunch yet- PANCAKES & oodles of noooodles, these little details make your day when your out in the wilderness! In the afternoon the rest of the group went on an altitude hike to the ‘Tooth’, I decided to spend this time capturing some images around camp instead. It began to SNOW, well frozen rain, but snow to us Aussies where its a rare sight. This was officially the ~ALPINE~ zone Brrrrgh, and it felt like it too! Bed time was extra early tonight, waking up well before the birds; SUMMIT day tomorrow
Sleeping at 4560m
DAY 5; Summit Day was finally here.. Wake up call was at 3:30am, warm cup of tea & on the road we left, luckily we didn’t have to pack up camp before leaving. Today was a sleep in for the rest of the team. The sky was bursting with stars at this early hour, 2 hours to Summit, which went so quickly. Most the time was spent staring at my feet, I was relying on the hikers infront and behind for torch light; One of my tips.. bring extra batteries for your head torch seriously how did I not think of this!! As we reached the final climb to the top the sky began to have some pre-sunrise daylight Thank Youuuu, this part is the most challenging of the hike, bit of an ice/rock scramble and then up a ladder, but don’t look down, DROP OFF.. but don’t worry, you always feel safe with the incredible guides! 🙂
We reached the summit with around 10 minutes until sunrise, we could see the couple doing the technical climb up Summit Nelion, They had a long climb ahead of them! We could even see Mt Kilimanjaro off in the distance peeping through the clouds. The sun rose, It took my breath away- literally at such altitude!! We all snapped up our summit photos before a quick descend down to camp for a hot and well well deserved breakfast! Today was going to be a long one! We set off again and reached Shiptons camp where we were greeted with some of the most picturesque views of Mount Kenya, I was literally speechless and couldn’t stop clicking that shutter button- It just looked sooo good!
We kept on hiking todays camp>camp was 7-8 hours away, But feeling that increase in oxygen as we got lower was so relieving, and gave me bursts of energy! Majority of todays hike was wet and sloppy, so I hide under my poncho and just kept walking, we arrived at camp in record time.. Camera was packed away for the day so I wasn’t holding everyone up like usual! ahhhh seeing camp today was extra special.. Wet & exhausted that tea & popcorn never tasted better!
ANOTHER TIP: When camping out in the cold temperatures sleep with your camera/spare batteries close to your body! Cold drains the battery life, luckily someone told me this before I left, and I had no problem with battery for the entire 6 days! I even brought heaps of extra camera batteries and reached the end of the hike with loads of battery, but wasn’t worth the risk of making it to the summit and not even being able to snap up a photo to remember the incredible moment any!
DAY 6; The final day! and the shortest hike too, up at 6am b’fast, packed and on the road for a 2 hour hike. Reached the park gates and waiting was Steven from the company- always a happy sight, knowing that shower is only hours away!
On the drive out of the National Park we seen… ZEBRAS! yes certainly felt like I was in Africa now, eyes filled with tears and I raced for the camera. I unfortunately didn’t have time for a day safari to the gaming park, but we will save that for next time! But for now Goodbye Kenya and thank you for the incredible memories and experiences!
P.s I tipped $5000 Kenyan shillings for the trip ( We had no idea what was an appropriate tip, but heres hoping this was respectable, they sure deserved this)
Travel Insurance; Is a MUST! I never go overseas without it! It’s just not worth the risk, even though 9/10 times I don’t use it, it’s that one time you don’t get it you may run into big trouble, in the last few months, for the first time ever, Ive had delayed baggage.. TWICE, and it sure is a pain in the butt! This trip actually had my bags delayed by days.. It was probably the one trip that it was the biggest pain, and a MASSIVE inconvenience! Leaving to hike a mountain, and be in the middle of nowhere with absolutely none of your gear and equipment, you can imagine the distress of that! But thats travelling- Not always smooth sailing as I’ve learnt numerous times, but what would the fun of no challenges bring- No good stories thats one thing!
Ive used a few travel insurances but I’ve found thatCover More suits me best, Travelling with camera gear, laptops etc It’s the best cover for me!