Eastern Landscapes - Mt. Kenya
Mt. Kenya
Mt. Kenya rises out of a sea of savannah grassland to straddle the equator as the second highest mountain in Africa. It is an extinct central-type volcano which last erupted 3.5 million years ago.
On the Kenya equator. Nanyuki is a popular climbing point.
It is the primary water catchment area for Kenya, supplying the major rivers of the Tana to the south and the Ewaso Ngiro to the north. The peaks are often covered with snow and 11 permanent glaciers. As a high altitude mountain on the equator, Mt. Kenya offers a unique environment for its vegetation. It is most interesting that 81 of the high altitude plants found on Mt. Kenya are endemic. They possibly are relic forms of plants which were once widely distributed during the cold climate of the Pleistocene period but as the world warmed, these plants retreated to the cooler climate that now exist on the mountain. The environment is so unique that the mountain is both an International Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage Site.

On Mt. Kenya the temperature falls by an average of 5°C per 1000 vertical metres (3,421 ft). Because of the prevailing winds from the Indian Ocean on the coast of Kenya, the eastern and south eastern slopes of the mountain are the wettest. By the time the air reaches elevations above 4000 m (13,684 ft), most of the moisture has been extracted and the highest areas are characteristically very dry.

The elevation range from the lower slopes dotted with giraffe, to the icy summit of Batian approximately 3200m to 5200m (10,947 to 17,784 ft), and demarcates 7 distinctive vegetative zones: hot, dry grasslands at its base, areas of cultivation, Gallery Forest, Bamboo, Hagenia Parkland, Giant Heath, Moorland with Tussock grasses, Giant Senecio and Lobelia and at the uppermost elevations, rock, snow and ice.

There are over 100 species of wildflowers on Mt. Kenya, so you will see some in flower whenever you visit the mountain. There are eight acknowledged routes up the mountain, three of which are used regularly. Mt. Kenya has smooth slopes on three sides with a ring of rocky peaks just below the summit. In order to reach Batian, the actual summit, specialized climbing gear is required as one must cross glaciers and steep terrain. It is possible to complete a circular walk around the peaks after a 3 - 5 day climb. The primary health hazards climbers face are altitude sickness and hypothermia. Several options exist for supplies, porterage, and climbing tours. The towns of Naro Moru and Nanyuki, popular starting points for climbers, are recommended locations for coordinating trips and lodging
The mountain built up during the great tectonic disturbance that also produced the nearby Rift Valley. It last erupted two million years ago. The steep valleys surrounding the summit were carved out by glaciers. Only seven glaciers remain today, down from the eighteen recorded in 1893. Some environmentalists predict that the existing glaciers will vanish in 25 years.

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