Mount Kenya National Park/Natural Forest

N0 9 18 E37 18 56
Date of Inscription: 1997
Extension: 2013
Criteria: (vii)(ix)
Property : 202,334 ha
Buffer zone: 69,339 ha
Ref: 800bis
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At 5,199 m, Mount Kenya is the second highest peak in Africa. It is an ancient extinct volcano, which during its period of activity (3.1-2.6 million years ago) is thought to have risen to 6,500 m. There are 12 remnant glaciers on the mountain, all receding rapidly, and four secondary peaks that sit at the head of the U-shaped glacial valleys. With its rugged glacier-clad summits and forested middle slopes, Mount Kenya is one of the most impressive landscapes in East Africa. The evolution and ecology of its afro-alpine flora provide an outstanding example of ecological and biological processes. Through the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and Ngare Ndare Forest Reserve, the property also incorporates lower lying scenic foothills and arid habitats of high biodiversity, situated in the ecological transition zone between the mountain ecosystem and the semi-arid savanna grasslands. The area also lies within the traditional migrating route of the African elephant population.

Mount Kenya straddles the equator about 193 km north-east of Nairobi and about 480 km from the Kenyan coast. At 5,199 m, Mount Kenya is the second highest peak in Africa and is an ancient extinct volcano. There are 12 remnant glaciers on the mountain, all receding rapidly, and four secondary peaks that sit at the head of the U-shaped glacial valleys. With its rugged glacier-clad summits and forested middle slopes, Mount Kenya is one of the most impressive landscapes in East Africa. The evolution and ecology of its afro-alpine flora also provide an outstanding example of ecological processes.

The property includes the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and Ngare Ndare Forest Reserve (LWC-NNFR) to the north. The two component parts of the property are connected via a wildlife corridor which is part of the buffer zone for the property, and which provides vital connectivity for elephants moving between Mount Kenya and the larger conservation complex of the Somali/Maasai ecosystem. The LWC-NNFR extension incorporates the forested foothills and steep valleys of the lower slopes of Mount Kenya and extends northwards onto the relatively flat, arid, volcanic soils supporting grassland and open woodland communities on the Laikipia plain.

Criterion (vii): At 5,199 m, Mount Kenya is the second-highest peak in Africa. It is an ancient extinct volcano, which during its period of activity (3.1-2.6 million years ago) is thought to have risen to 6,500 m. The entire mountain is deeply dissected by valleys radiating from the peaks, which are largely attributed to glacial erosion. There are about 20 glacial tarns (small lakes) of varying sizes and numerous glacial moraine features between 3,950 m and 4,800 m asl. The highest peaks are Batian (5,199 m) and Nelion (5,188 m). There are 12 remnant glaciers on the mountain, all receding rapidly, and four secondary peaks that sit at the head of the U-shaped glacial valleys.

With its rugged glacier-clad summits and forested middle slopes, Mount Kenya is one of the most impressive landscapes in East Africa. This setting is enhanced by the visual contrast and diversity of landscapes created between the Kenyan Highlands and Mount Kenya looming over the flat, arid, grassland and sparse wooded plains of the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy extension to the north.

Mount Kenya is also regarded as a holy mountain by all the communities (Kikuyu and Meru) living adjacent to it. They use the mountain for traditional rituals based on the belief that their traditional God Ngai and his wife Mumbi live on the peak of the mountain.

Criterion (ix): The evolution and ecology of the afro-alpine flora of Mount Kenya provides an outstanding example of ecological processes in this type of environment. Vegetation varies with altitude and rainfall and the property supports a rich alpine and subalpine flora. Juniperus procera and Podocarpus species are predominant in the drier parts of the lower zone (below 2,500 m asl). Cassipourea malosana predominates in wetter areas to the south-west and north-east. Higher altitudes (2,500-3,000 m) are dominated by bamboo and Podocarpus milanjianus. Above 3,000 m, the alpine zone offers a diversity of ecosystems including grassy glades, moorlands, tussock grasslands and sedges. Continuous vegetation stops at about 4,500 m although isolated vascular plants have been found at over 5,000 m.

In the lower forest and bamboo zone mammals include giant forest hog, tree hyrax, white-tailed mongoose, elephant, black rhinoceros, suni, black-fronted duiker and leopard. Moorland mammals include the localized Mount Kenya mouse shrew, hyrax and common duiker. The endemic mole-rat is common throughout the northern slopes and the Hinder Valley at elevations up to 4,000 m. Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and Ngare Ndare Forest Reserve enhance the species diversity within the property including being home to the largest resident population of Grevys’ Zebra in the world. An impressive array of birdlife includes green ibis (local Mount Kenya race); Ayres hawk eagle; Abyssinian long-eared owl; scaly francolin; Rüppell’s robin-chat; numerous sunbirds (Nectariniidae); the locally threatened scarce swift; and near endemic alpine swift.

The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and Ngare Ndare Forest Reserve component of the property incorporates lower lying, scenic foothills and arid habitats of high biological richness and diversity. The component lies at the ecological transition zone between the Afro Tropical Mountain ecosystem and the semi-arid East African Savannah Grasslands. Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and Ngare Ndare Forest Reserve also lie within the traditional migration route of the African elephant population of the Mount Kenya – Somali/Maasai ecosystem and has always been the traditional dry season feeding area for elephants.

Suggested Bases:

Meru is in the Southern Rift Valley region of Kenya. It is located on the north-eastern slopes of Mount Kenya massif. The town consists of two main parts: central Meru, and junction town, which grew in the north, around the junction of B6 and the road to Maua. As this is a small town, you can walk to most places. Or if you prefer, there are motorbike taxis [read more].

Thika is an industrial town and a major commerce hub in Kiambu County, Kenya, lying on the A2 road 42 kilometres (26 mi), Northeast of Nairobi, near the confluence of the Thika and Chania Rivers. Although Thika town is administratively in Kiambu County, the greater Thika area comprising such residential areas such as Bendor estate, Maporomoko, Thika Greens, Thika Golden Pearl, Bahati Ridge, Thika Sports Club, among others, are within Murang’a County. Thika has a population of 279,429 (as of the 2019 National Census) which is growing rapidly, as is the entire greater Nairobi area. Its elevation is approximately 1,631 metres (5,351 ft). Thika is home to the Chania Falls, Fourteen Falls on the Athi River and the Thika Falls. Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park lies to the southeast. The town has a railway station with limited passenger service as only cargo trains operate, although there are plans to extend the proposed light rail system to Thika [read more].

Nairobi, a city of 4.4 million (2019) on the Nairobi River. It is the political, financial and media capital of Kenya, and a transit point that most travellers to Kenya will pass through. Nairobi is the largest and fastest growing city in Kenya, and one of the largest cities in Africa. It is worth taking a few days to experience this bustling metropolis. The word Nairobi is derived from a water hole known in Maasai as Enkare Nyorobi, which means “cool waters”. Nairobi, which had been a swamp area, was founded in 1899 as a railway camp for the Uganda Railway. By 1905, the city had become the capital of Kenya (then the British East Africa Protectorate), supplanting Mombasa and Machakos, the previous capitals. With the spread of plagues in the early 1900s, the town was burnt down and had to be rebuilt. Having a railway helped it to grow rapidly, becoming the second largest city in Kenya behind Mombasa [read more].

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