Solo Adventure Hiking Mount Kenya
I’m Vineet – I met Kurt in Ghana and we’ve been trekking buddies since. He didn’t join me on this trip but I I am writing a guest post for him!
I love solo travel. I think it’s the best form of travel. To go out there by yourself with just a backpack. To explore an unknown land and meet some of the most wonderful people along the way. The experience is just unparalleled.
When I was living in Ghana in 2016, I explored most parts of Ghana and also traveled to a neighboring country – Togo. I worked with entrepreneurs in Accra, Ghana. These entrepreneurs were from 4 different countries – Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa. As I was interacting with these entrepreneurs, I realized the one country that I must visit is Kenya. The country which is known for its pleasant climate, wildlife, amazing people, good food and some great beaches. It’s truly a travelers paradise. I booked tickets for two full weeks to Kenya.
I went during the Christmas/New Year break in 2016 end/2017 beginning. I landed in Nairobi on 24th December 2016. A mutual friend met me at CBD and we went to a café for breakfast (Kaldis Coffee House). Later I met another friend of mine, Isaac who was an entrepreneur-in-training at MEST in Ghana but had moved to Kenya after the program. We got ourselves some coffeeat Java Coffee House and Isaac was to drop me at the Matatu station for my trip to Nanyuki. I was planning to start my Kenyan adventure with the Mt. Kenya hike. I researched on the various routes towards Mt. Kenya and decided the Sirimon Route would be the best. It begins at the Sirimon National Park Gate which is like a 30 minutes’ drive from Nanyuki. My friend helped me get into a matatu headed to Nanyuki. It was a good 4-5 hour ride from Nairobi to Nanyuki. Upon reaching Nanyuki, the first task ahead of me was to find a guide who can take me to Mt. Kenya. I had already spoken to another friend of mine who had climbed this mountain before along the same route. He gave me the contact of a certain Mr. Sammy. I met Sammy at a small café in Nanyuki. Sammy said he would charge me 420 dollars for the trek which includes national park entrance fee of around 156 dollars, food, accommodation and other guide charges. Before meeting Sammy I had also asked around for the rates and others were charging 450 dollars onwards. So I agreed to this quote.
I found a rather small place to stay in Nanyuki for the night. It cost me 700 shillings. It was a tiny room but was good enough for one night. Next day morning, Francis the cook, met me at my hotel and took me on a walk to the equator point. I got some photos clicked here.
Nanyuki is at an altitude of around 6300 ft and the Equator runs through Nanyuki. After seeing the Equator, I went to a tiny restaurant for breakfast. I ate some beef Pilaf. Sam picked me up from my hotel and we then headed towards Sirimon Gate. We reached the gate around 1 pm and started walking towards Old Moses Camp. The route from Sirimon Gate to Old Moses is motorable. There are plenty of taxis and private vehicles which were also plying along the route. However we decided to walk. It was a good 3.5 hour walk to Old Moses camp. We reached Old Moses camp around evening. Francis made some nice fish and rice for dinner. I met a French couple at the camp. We were chatting for a while. I slept early that night, around 9 pm. Woke up at 7 am in the morning and we proceeded towards Shipton camp at 9 am.
The route towards Shipton was pretty easy. It is a gradual ascent. The landscape is almost barren. There are shrubs all around, green in color and very pretty.
It was overall a good hike. There were a few steep gradients but apart from that it was mostly a gradual ascent. I reached Shipton’s Camp around 5 pm. Took me almost 8 hours while a few others did it in 6. Shipton’s Camp is at 4200 m. Met some wonderful folks from Singapore at the camp. They were super friendly and we were chatting for almost 2 hours while we waited for dinner. I had my dinner around 7.30 pm and headed to bed around 9 pm. Unfortunately, I started having severe acidity that night as well as slight symptoms of AMS. I felt a little trouble breathing. I decided to take Daimox to be on the safer side. I woke up from my sleep around 11 pm with severe acidity. One of the trek mates suggested I drink lemon water. However as soon as I finished drinking it, I felt extremely pukish. I vomited the entire lemon juice along the food I ate for dinner. But after vomiting, most of the acid also went out of my system and it was a relief. The plan was to wake up at 3 am and head towards Point Lenana so we can reach there before sunrise. But I knew that will not happen considering I had just vomited and felt slight AMS symptoms too. So I decided to sleep a bit longer till 6 am. Woke up at 6 and we headed towards Point Lenana. Point Lenana is at 4985 meters and is the last trekkable point on the mountain. In order to go beyond this and reach the actual peak at 5199 meters, one needs mountaineering equipments. The plan for the day was to reach Point Lenana which takes roughly 2-3 hours and head back all the way to Old Moses camp along the same route. So for a good trekker, it would take about 6-7 hours from Shipton to Point Lenana, back to Shipton and back to Old Moses. However I took almost 4.5 hours to reach Point Lenana. We reached the peak around 10.30 am. The route was tougher with steeper inclines. There was a very pretty pond along the way. The last climb to the peak was the steepest and I was huffing by the time I reached the peak.
Reaching the peak felt really amazing. Inspite of all the issues I faced in the last 12 hours, I made it! Also got myself a nice mandatory picture clicked at the peak.
After reaching the peak, it was a descend all the way to Old Moses camp. It was indeed easier but since I was already super exhausted and also since my AMS had not completely gone, it was difficult for me. But I went slow and steady. I reached Shipton at around 12.30 pm and we left immediately for Old Moses. Old Moses took me about 3.5 hours from Shipton and we finally got there at 4 pm. From Old Moses, I decided to hitchhike to Sirimon Gate. I met an Indian who was living in London and was visiting Kenya. He was pleased to offer me a ride back to Sirimon Gate in his taxi. Upon reaching Sirimon, I waited for my guide Sammy and cook Francis to reach. While I waited, I reflected on the last 4 days and realized it was indeed a memorable experience. The Kenyan mountains are way different from Himalayas in terms of terrain, landscape, temperatures. These mountains are wild and have a certain characteristic that can only be found in Africa. Sammy and Francis arrived in like 30 minutes after I reached. We then headed back to Nanyuki and this time I decided to get a better hotel to stay in. I wanted a good night’s sleep and some good food after my adventure. The hotel I chose cost me about 1500 shillings. They also had good food. I opted for some grilled Tilapia and Ugali J Proper Kenyan food. It was amazing. I slept around 8 pm and had a restful sleep. (To be continued)