Mt Kenya – Grand Traverse


This is a unique way to see Mt Kenya, travelling on paths less trodden; you will see all of what Mt Kenya has to offer. The Grand traverse circumnavigates round the main peaks, looking up at the massifs of Batian and Nelion and looking down at the undulating valleys and gorges of the massive expanse of character of Mt Kenya’s lower slopes, whilst also passing by the high altitude tarns along with all the glaciers below the main peaks.

This is a very unique trip and worth the extra day. Once you are at approximately an altitude of 4200 metres the Grand traverse begins and so does an introduction to some of Mt Kenya’s fine history. You will pass the original site to the first base camp for climbing the north face and most direct route to Batian, Mt Kenya’s highest peak and extreme technical alpine summit, which was first summited by Eric Shipton. The traverse moves round to Arthur’s seat, which is where the famous Arthur Firmin died. The traverse then takes you via Two Tarn which is 2 beautiful tarns and another base camp for Batian summits. From here you will pass one of Mt Kenya’s largest glaciers, the Tindal Glacier, and to its right the largely faded Diamond Couloir. The Diamond Couloir is the only remaining technical ice climbing route that bisects the main peaks to the ‘Gates of Mist’ in between Batian and Nelion. This ice route can rarely be considered ‘in’ and is extremely dangerous, having claimed many lives in the past. The final stretch of the traverse passes the largest of Mt Kenya’s glaciers, the Lewis Glacier, a Via Ferrata moves up the side of this glacier and to the summit of Point Lenana. This journey is truly and African Ascents favourite.

Route Name- Grand Traverse

Distance to Summit – 46km

Altitude at Start- 2700m, 8,860 ft

Altitude at Summit- 4985m, 16,355 ft

Summit- Point Lenana

This is your itinerary for the Grand Traverse Route:

Transfer from the Nanyuki Airstrip, on the outskirts of Nanyuki Town, to the road head of the Timau route, north of Timau town, at 2700 meters above sea level.

This hike starts off at the start of the Moorland Zone and takes you up through patches of bamboo and heather. Lunch on the rim of the crater offers a chance to see some of the rare mountain species such as Eland, Zebra, Buffalo and even the occasional Elephant.

Arrive in camp overlooking the scenic views that northern Kenya has to offer.

Distance: 8km

Hours walking: 4 hrs

Altitude gain: 500m, 1,640 ft

Overnight at Marania Camp (3,200m, 10,500 ft)

Depart the camp after breakfast walking up through the Moorland looking back on more magnificent views of the north, and the peaks ahead that make up the Mt Kenya Massif.

Lunch is at the Marania spring which is the source of the river that runs by Marania camp. A beautiful lunch spot especially if there are some curious Zebra around.

Arrive in Majors Camp after walking through the rolling hills that make up the Moorland Zone, which some say resemble the highlands of Scotland. The camp is set up at the base of the valley near some very dramatic rock faces. Some wildlife have been known to frequent the area, previous guests have had sightings of the rare Serval cat

Distance: 14km

Hours walking: 8 hrs

Altitude gain: 600m, 1,970 ft

Overnight at Majors Camp (3,800m, 12,470 ft)

Start the long, gradual hike up towards the Hobley Valley. This walk is definitely an experience that resembles no other, with an extremely unique lunar landscape coupled with very distinctive vegetation.

Lunch is at the head of the Hobley valley amongst some of the most bizarre flora on the mountain – the Giant Lobelias.

After lunch the group continue up the scree and on to the saddle that is the day’s high point at 4450 metres, from here you drop down another beautiful scene and in to the Mackinder’s Valley. Once in the valley there is a short climb up in to Kami Hut camp at the base of Batian, Mt Kenya’s highest peak. Kami Hut was originally the base for climbing Batian and there are remnants of the old Mountain Club of Kenya hut.

Distance: 12km

Hours walking: 7hrs

Altitude gain: 630m, 2,065 ft

Overnight at Kami Hut camp (4430m, 14,535 ft)

The traverse of the main peaks begins up the scree from Kami Hut; the day is very undulated yet rarely goes over 4500 metres in attitude and is dominated by the valleys below and the main peaks above.

Generally lunch is taken at Two Tarn with a view down the Nanyuki Valley.

There are several points of interest that are passed on this traverse, including Arthur’s seat, Two Tarn, The Tindal Glacier, Point John and the Lewis Glacier, a truly spectacular way to see the mountain. A fter the final long scree climb the group will find themselves at Austrian Hut (4760m) and the end of the day. This hut was built by an Austrian rescue team following the famous rescue of Gerd Judmeier in the 1980’s.

Distance: 10km

Hours walking: 8hrs

Altitude gain: 330m, 1,080 ft

Overnight at Austrian Hut camp (4790m, 15,715 ft)

An early start will see the group summit Point Lenana (4985m), summiting just as the sun rises. Having enjoyed the views we will descend back to Austrian Hut for breakfast. From here, we have 2 options depending on how the group is feeling, we could descend all the way to MET Station (3050m), which is a long day, or, we descend in to the Teleki Valley and Camp the night near to the Mountain Club of Kenya Hut (4150m).

Distance: 14km

Hours walking: 9hrs

Altitude gain: 195m, 640 ft

Overnight at Met Station (3,050m, 10,000 ft)

The group will continue to descend the mountain and will meet the transport at the Naro Moro park gate (2600m) for transfer back to Barneys Restaurant for lunch.


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