From the Journal

Climbing Mount Kenya


Inspiration

There are many types of adventurers in the world, many different expeditions to chase and many thrills to seek. There is, however only one single thing that ties us all together – that feeling.


That feeling that every day of your life, every hour of effort and every second of muscle wrenching climbing was absolutely worth it. That feeling of standing on top of a mountain you’ve dreamt of conquering for years, and knowing that you set a goal, you put in the work and you smashed it with every bone in your body.


What a high.

Mount-Kenya

You’ll find Mount Kenya at [ 0.1521° S, 37.3084° E ], just south of the Lewa and Borana Wildlife Conservancies. Lock it into your GPS now and commit to the challenge. We’ll run you through the steps required to get you from that office chair to 5,199m above sea level in a minute, but first let’s do a quick rundown of Mount Kenya’s history.

Mount Kenya
Photo credit | Sam Rookes, Progress Film Company

Mt. Kenya’s Batian was first ascended in 1899 by Sir Halford Mackinder, a British geographer and politician, along with 2 hardcore mountaineers Joseph Brocherel and César Ollier.

Mount Kenya Point Batian
Sir Halford Mackinder, 1899

"We passed the night without disturbance, and rose with the sun. Mount Kenya's peaks glittered superbly in the sky." Sir Halford Mackinder

From 1900 – 1930 many further attempts and successful summits were made by local and international mountaineers, including the first ascent of Nelion and Point John in 1929. Famously, during World War II, 3 Italian prisoners of war escaped British imprisonment and climbed Point Lenana.


Long story short, you’re following in the footsteps of legends and mad men, which is always a great place to start.


Mount Kenya is an incredible collision of volcanic rock, glaciers and scree slopes that combine to offer summit euphoria to novice and experienced climbers alike. Unfortunately a summit here won’t put you in the boardroom with Everest veterans, but nonetheless it is an experience that you don’t want to miss.


Alright, let’s get to those steps, go ahead and pocket this because it’s going to be valuable.

Step 01 | Choose your route


If you’re not into life risking first ascents, there are 4 main established routes for you to choose from. You’re going to want to pick your route very carefully, taking into account your experience, fitness, and general badass level.

Route 1: Naro Moru

Mount Kenya Naro Moru 1
Naro Moru Route: Length: 40km / 4 days
Mount Kenya Naro Moru 3

Naro Moru is perfect for reasonably experienced climbers that are short on time. With this route you can knock Mount Kenya off your bucket list between Monday’s board meeting and Sunday’s lunch time tee off. There’s a price though, the 40Km hike can be pretty gruelling, especially when you hit the Vertical Bog section – that swing might be a little off on Sunday.

Route 2: Chogoria

Mount Kenya Chogoria
Chogoria Route: Length: 75km / 6 days

The Chogoria route is for those that appreciate the views. It’s a route that provides climbers with the opportunity to experience both the moorlands and tropical forests. If you want to have that on top of the world feeling, this route offers up GoPro worthy views of Ithanguni and the Giant’s Billiards Table.

The Chogoria route is for those that appreciate the views. 

Mount Kenya Chogoria 1

Route 3: Sirimon traverse

Mount Kenya Sirimon Traverse
Sirimon Route: Length: 75km / 6 days

The Sirimon traverse approaches from the North-West and is the drier side of the mountain – great for hiking but no stoke for ice climbers. This route is best for reasonably fit climbers with little or no mountaineering experience.

Route 4: Timau route

Mt Kenya 1
Photo credit: Sam Rookes, Progress Film Company

Timau route is a seriously off the beaten track way to experience this mountain.

This one’s for the Columbus types – Timau route is a seriously off the beaten track way to experience this mountain. There are few markings and little infrastructure to help you on your way and keep you on the path, so a guide and a well prepared route is a must.


Climbing Mount Kenya is tough, climbing Mount Kenya while having to run ahead of other climbers to get the shot is tougher. Sam Rookes, filmmaker at Progress Film Company based in the UK is a beanie wearing adventurer that recently climbed Mount Kenya with GlaxoSmithKline employees as part of their global partnership with Save The Children foundation… whilst filming the entire thing. We caught up with him to get his input on gear, preparation and general tips of the trade.

Step 02 | Get your gear


Boots: 

Sam wore heavy duty Salomon boots. Go long on quality and remember to break them in.


Clothes: 

Pack as light as you can. Make sure you have good thermals for the night time. Pack at least 3 pairs of socks to cycle throughout your ascent and descent.


Photography: 

Sam used a Sony FS7 with a Canon 24-105 lense because there’s little time to change lenses when you’re, you know, climbing a mountain.

Climbing Mount Kenya Gear

Contact us for a full list of gear required for this expedition.

Step 03 | Put in the work


While Mount Kenya doesn’t require the physical fitness of any of the 7 summits, it does require stamina and the ability to walk for hours on end for 4 – 6 days in a row. Sam’s preparation involved 8 months of training.


His preparation routine focused on a few main pillars: walking fitness, general cardio, altitude training and upper body strength.


Walking: 

Over the space of the 8 months, train your body to walk for longer and longer periods of time. Starting with a few hours and building up over the course of your preparation window. Remember, the distance is only one third of the battle, you’re going to be ascending thousands of meters while fighting altitude sickness and a lack of oxygen. Take it seriously and turn yourself into a mountaineering machine. If you live in cBrighton like Sam you can try altitude chambers for fitness, but you’re going to have to hope for the best in battling altitude sickness.


General Cardio: 

Swimming is a great exercise to build cardio while giving your joints a lower impact period to reduce the strain from your walking training.


Upper body strength: 

Stick to a well paced gym routine to build upper body and overall strength. You’re looking to develop functional fitness and a strong core to give yourself a shot. Remember, train dirty and climb easy.

Climbing Mount Kenya
Photo: Sam Rookes, Progress Film Company

Step 04 | Give it all you have


Be prepared to dig deep and overcome some serious obstacles. We could literally hear the pain in Sam’s voice when he told us of his summit – enduring parts of the those final hours where he couldn’t take more than six or seven steps without stopping to catch his breath.


If that all sounds like absolute heaven to you, let us know.


Here’s the GSK video of the climb:

Joey Cameron
Written by
Joseph Cameron

NYC based, South African transplant, Joey Cameron, is a freelance writer, travel-nerd, natural food enthusiast, personal trainer and brand owner. Characterised by an insatiable hunger for passport stamps and a somewhat strange (non)sense of humour, he can found regularly scanning the skies for ways to up, up and getaway.


Similar articles

Gear

Safari photography tips

Top photography tips to keep in mind for that once in a lifetime wildlife encounter.

Travel tips

The Mokoro safari

A mokoro safari is a quintessentially Okavango Delta experience.

Travel tips

Botswana travel guide

Your guide to everything you need to know about the famous wildlife destination, Botswana.

Travel tips

South Luangwa National Park

Everything you need to know about this amazing Zambian park.

Travel tips

Best time to visit Africa

Looking to visit Africa but not sure when? This should help.

Travel tips

Kolmanskop Namibia: A Ghost Town

Have you heard of the ghost town in the middle of Namibia's desert?

Inspiration

Exploring the highest sand dunes in Namibia

What you can expect from a day tour to the famous sand dunes of the Namib desert.

Accommodation

Top luxury Namibia lodges countdown | 06 - 04

Find out which Namibia luxury lodges made it onto our top 6 list.

Accommodation

Top luxury Namibia lodges countdown | 03 - 01

Our top 3 Namibia luxury lodges for your next trip to this incredible African destination.

Travel tips

The Okavango Delta safari uncovered

Everything you need to know about planning your Okavango Delta safari.

Travel tips

Your Southern Africa safari experience

A quick look at what your next Southern Africa safari could look like.

Inspiration

Blyde River Canyon

Here's how to do Blyde River Canyon differently.

Gear

Photography in the Kruger National Park

Everything you need to know about Photography in the Kruger National Park.

Travel tips

Hidden Gems in South Africa: Off-the-grid destinations

Our top hidden gems in South Africa to help you get off the grid.

Travel tips

Discover Kenya

Your introduction to this East African wildlife hotspot.

Travel tips

Top 10 surf spots in Cape Town

Get your boards on the roof, we're going surfing in the Mother city.

Inspiration

Okavango Delta scenic flight: A bucket list experience

An Okavango Delta scenic flight needs to be on your bucket list.

Travel tips

Etosha National Park

Find out everything you need to know about Namibia's top wildlife attraction.

Travel tips

Quad bike safari in Botswana

Everything you need to know about a quad bike safari in Botswana.

Inspiration

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro offers intrepid explorers a challenging and exhilarating adventure.

Travel tips

Hell's Gate National Park, Kenya

Five reasons to visit Hell's Gate National Park in Kenya

Wildlife

Malawi Safari: Majete Wildlfe Reserve

The Majete Wildlife Reserve is Malawi's best kept secret.

Accommodation

Giraffe Manor: An out of Africa experience

Giraffe Manor is arguably Kenya's most famous lodge. 

Accommodation

Extraordinary luxury lodges in Malawi + Mozambique

Our top picks of the luxury lodges in Malawi and Mozambique.

Travel tips

Mozambique dhow safari

Discover the incredible experience of a Mozambique dhow safari.

Inspiration

Unchartered territory

We are passionate about pioneering travel in unchartered territory.

Wildlife

A Mozambique holiday spent diving with whale sharks

Diving with whale sharks in Mozambique is a true bucket list experience.

Accommodation

Our finest Cape Winelands accommodation

Our top 3 picks for hotels in the Cape Winelands area.

Inspiration

Exotic Reunion Island

Have you heard of the exotic Reunion Island?

Travel tips

Gorilla trekking in the Congo

Find out why the Congo is the best place in the world for your Gorilla trekking adventure.

Wildlife

Eagles in the Kruger National Park

The eagles in the Kruger National Park are of the most majestic creatures of Africa. 

Travel tips

Our top picks for Braai Day

Top spots in South Africa to celebrate Braai day.

Travel log

Our African safari experience at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve

When Sanbona Wildlife Reserve invited us to spend a night at their prestigious Gondwana Lodge, we were more than thrilled.

Inspiration

Top five reasons to travel in 2017

Why you need to travel, now.

Summits

Mount Meru, Tanzania: A big "little" brother

Experience the summit of Mount Meru, an active Volcano in Tanzania

Inspiration

The Otter Trail: A South African adventure

Everything you can expect from South Africa's oldest hiking trail.

Guide

Our Cape Town guide: Experience a day in our lives

To make your time in our backyard the best that it can be, we’ve handcrafted a comprehensive, interactive Cape Town Guide.

Guide

The latest additions to our Cape Town guide

We just came across 3 spots which, you’ll agree, you need to know about. Soon to be added to our guide, but check them out now.

Ambassadors

7 Summits: Justin De Wet

Ker & Downey Africa Ambassador Justin De Wet chases entrance to the 7 summit club.

Inspiration

Safaricom marathon: Kenya

Everything you need to know about the wildest marathon in the world.

Inspiration

Cape to Rio: Clyde Barendse

A week before their departure, we met up with Clyde for a quick coffee to get a sense of where his head was at before his Cape to Rio race.

Inspiration

An African adventure for every terrain

A quick guide to choosing which African adventure type best suits your travel style, preferences and personality.

Wildlife

Walking with wild dogs in Kenya

There are few adventure options in Kenya, or the world, that offer the experience, thrill, remoteness and adventure of walking with wild dogs.

Inspiration

An adventure honeymoon: Reunion Island

There comes a time in every man’s life to settle down and tie the knot. That’s the easy part. The challenging part? Finding an adventure honeymoon destination.

Inspiration

Travel cues: Recommendations for your time off

If you are running out of ideas, have no fear, we have the travel cues you should know about.

Lifestyle

Reset your body clock under the African sky [life hack]

Dr. Wright’s recent study has shown that one week spent exposed to the Earth’s natural dusk-to-dawn cycle is enough to reset our human circadian clock.

Travel tips

Nightcaps: African drinks to pursue

In Africa, ending off our ultra-adventurous days with something a bit stronger than our 7am coffee comes with the territory.

Gear

Drone photography: Tricks of the trade

Drone Photography has skyrocketed to become the most captivating means of documenting the world from above and we have to admit, we are hooked.

Ambassador

Joe Pietersen: Rugby, rhinos + drones

We sit down with Ker & Downey Africa Ambassador, Joe Pietersen.

Travel tips

African travel tips

8 of the most important things to keep in mind on your next trip to the African continent.

Inspiration

Backtrack your trip: 5 songs to add to your playlist

You’re off to Africa. Everything has to be perfect, even your playlist.

Inspiration

You don't need a reason to visit Victoria Falls

You don't need a reason to visit Victoria Falls, but we've listed five great ones for you anyway.

Travel tips

South African national parks + game reserves

 South African national parks + game reserves should be on the bucket list of anyone with a healthy appetite for wild LuxVenture® destinations.

Travel tips

Top 5 travel apps

Book your flight, pack your bags, grab an Uber to the airport and be sure to download these 5 apps along the way.

Travel tips

City sightseeing in Cape Town

We can all agree that nobody knows a city’s sightseeing secrets better than the locals. Here's how to see Cape Town like one of them.

Ambassadors

Climbing Mount Aconcagua: debrief

When you start considering -20 degrees as good weather and you are taking out emergency evacuation insurance up to 5000m above sea-level, we think it’s safe to say that you are taking your hobby to the next level.

Travel tips

Travel like a pro

One word comes to mind when people ask me how to get ready for travel in Africa – preparation.

Travel tips

Gentleman’s guide to the safari outfit

Wearing the right safari outfit is crucial. Being in the right gear allows you the opportunity to focus on what's important - the wildlife.

Lifestyle

African Coffee + where to get your fix

If you’re visiting South Africa, Kenya or Tanzania, here are the top African coffee spots to check out.

Inspiration

Golf tournament getaways: South Africa

Here is a guide to the best African Golf tournaments, courses and getaways in South Africa. 

Ambassadors

Francois Malherbe: On his expeditions, Land Cruisers + Mike Horn

Here is a man who said no to the corporate world and followed his gut in pursuing his passion for exploration.

Accommodation

Masai Mara hotels and lodges

Accommodation

Okavango Delta lodges and camps

Accommodation

Zanzibar hotels and lodges

Accommodation

Grumeti Reserve lodges and camps

Accommodation

Makgadikgadi Salt Pans lodges and camps

Accommodation

Sossusvlei hotels and lodges

Accommodation

Moremi Game Reserve lodges and camps

Accommodation

South Luangwa lodges and camps

Accommodation

Kruger National Park lodges and hotels

Travel tips

Victoria Falls Lodges and Hotels

Which Victoria Falls lodges and hotels we recommend and why.