Mount Kenya is Africa’s second highest mountain at 5,199m (17,058 feet) and the highest of all Kenya Mountains. Mount Kenya is roughly circular, about 60km across at the 200mm contour, where the steep font hills rise out of the gentler slopes of the centered highlands. At the centre of the massif, the main peaks rise sharply from around 4,500m to the main summit of Batian 5,199m, Nelion 5,188m and point Lenana 4,985m. Other major summits on the mountain include Point Piggott 4,957m, Point Dutton 4,885 and Point John 4,883m. Of the three main peaks (Batian, Lenana and Nelion), only point Lenana can be reached by trekkers and the other two being only for technical climbers.
Mount Kenya is the second highest peak in Africa and stands somewhat unjustly in the shadow of it's taller neighbour Kilimanjaro, which lies some 320km away in the south and is visible on a clear day. Kili may see much more traffic - due to the possibility of summitting via several non-technical trekking routes and due to the sometimes dubious honour of being one of the Seven Summits - but Mount Kenya offers a wealth of excellent and diverse climbing possibilities on rock, snow and ice.
The rock on Mount Kenya can be of variable quality but is at it's best high on the mountain where the syenite rock is similar to granite - rough, hard and well endowed with features.
Apart from the superb climbing potential on Mount Kenya, its tarns and alpine meadows; exotic, equatorial, high-altitude vegetation; sunbirds, hyrax and soaring eagles make the walk around the peaks one of the most beautiful expeditions in the East African mountains.
Full country name: Republic of Kenya
Area: 583,000 sq km
Capital city: Nairobi
People: 24% Kikuyu, 16% Luhya, 13% Luo, 12% Kalenjin, 11% Kamba, 6% Kisii, 6% Meru, 16% other
Languages: English, Swahili, indigenous.
Religion: 40% Protestant, 36% Roman Catholic, 16% Muslim, 6% Animist
Government: Republic (multiparty state)
President: Emilio Mwai Kibaki
GDP: US$42.4 billion
GDP per head: US$1525
Annual growth: 1.6%
Major industries: small-scale consumer goods (plastic, furniture, batteries, textiles, soap, cigarettes, flour), agricultural processing, oil refining, cement, tourism
Major trading partners: Uganda, Tanzania, UK, Germany, UAE, South Africa
Visas: All visitors require a visa except citizens of some Commonwealth countries and citizens of selected countries such as Denmark, Germany, the Republic of Ireland, Italy, Norway, Spain, South Africa and Sweden. Apply well in advance for your visa - especially if doing it by mail.
Health risks: Malaria (except in Nairobi and high-altitude areas), cholera, hepatitis, meningitis, mugging, typhoid, schistosomisis, HIV, Rift Valley fever and yellow fever.
Time: GMT/UTC plus three hours
Weights & measures: Metric
Tourism: About 700,000 visitors per year
The main tourist season is in January and February, since the hot, dry weather at this time of year is generally considered to be the most pleasant. It's also when Kenya's birdlife flocks to the Rift Valley lakes in the greatest numbers. June to September could be called the 'shoulder season' as the weather is still dry. The rains hit from March to May (and to a lesser extent from October to December). During these months things are much quieter - places tend to have rooms available and prices drop. The rains generally don't affect travellers' ability to get around.
Kenya's most spectacular annual event is organised by an unlikely group - wildebeests. Literally millions of these ungainly antelopes move en masse in July and August from the Serengeti in search of lush grass. They head south again around October. The best place to see this phenomenon is at the Masai Mara National Reserve. Kenya's more orthodox annual events include public holidays such as Kenyatta Day (20 October) and Independence Day (12 December).