Mountain hiking in Kenya is one of the best ways one can connect with nature. You get to enjoy sweeping views of pine-fringed peaks and stark rock cliffs from high above the tree line. This is an activity that’s great for people of all ages as it not only is good for your health but also helps you in reconnecting with your roots.
However, a hike in the mountains takes a lot of thought and planning, even if you’re only going during the day or for just a few hours. Unlike hiking on pruned paths at low altitudes, mountain hiking requires appropriate footwear, clothes, and gear because the terrain in the mountains is rougher and the weather conditions harsher.
Furthermore, it is essential that you protect your skin and eyes appropriately against the sun because the potency of the UV rays increases with altitude.
To help you get an excellent experience when you’re on one of the best hiking trails in Kenya, here is a quick guide to help plan yourself well, before and during the expedition.
Tips for Hiking Mountains Even on Marked Trails
Decided to give it a try? Here are few important hiking tips in Kenya to keep in mind:
- First things first, you ought to get all the information regarding the hiking trail you’ll be going to from a reliable source or a local tourist information office. You need to understand precisely what awaits you, how the weather will be like, what you must carry, and if there will be any unexpected circumstances.
- When conducting your research on where to go hiking in Kenya, the chances are that someone else might have already been there and they would offer you advice on which trails to choose. Get to understand the different routes you might take and which of them are better and easier (if you’re looking for a less difficult expedition).
- Always check the local weather forecast to see if thunderstorms are predicted and avoid heading out into the mountains if severe weather is possible. If it starts thundering and lightning, seek shelter immediately and turn back as soon as you can.
- We’re all told that we should never hike alone. This is certainly true in the backcountry where the chances of getting lost or injured are much higher. On resort trails, however, it is not uncommon for visitors to hike alone. In either case, always let someone know exactly which trails you are planning on taking, when you expect to start and when you plan to return. If you hurt yourself and can’t get back to the trailhead, people will know where to start looking for you. This simple piece of advice can actually be the difference between life and death.
What to Carry on Mountain Hiking
- Always bring several layers of clothing. You can start off with light clothing during the day when it is still warm but the higher you go, the cooler it becomes. So it would be prudent to have several layers of clothing with you to tackle the elements that can come unexpectedly.
- Wear shoes with a good grip, because most trails are a mix of rock and dirt. Over the ankle hiking boots can offer extra support –– and prevent a sprained ankle –– while hiking on uneven and unsteady terrain.
- Trekking poles are highly advisable when heading out for a mountain trail as well. These walking sticks provide added support while both ascending and descending, and can offer added stability on the trail. They are especially handy when crossing streams and rivers and can definitely help lighten the impact on your legs after a long walk.
- Bring a small first aid kit, a flashlight, a compass, and a map. This may sound low-tech, but there are places in the wilderness where you can’t get a cell signal and the GPS or other apps on your smartphone won’t be available to you.
- Always bring food and water with you on any hike, even if you’re only going to be out for an hour or two. At altitude, you may find yourself dehydrating more quickly and you’ll be burning plenty of calories on the walk too. Plus, if an emergency situation should arise you’ll be glad you have some food and water to help see you through.
What about an encounter with the wild animals?
When you wander into the mountains you’re also wandering into the habitat of many wild animals. It is not uncommon to come across elk, deer, moose, buffaloes, and other wild animals while out on a hike. For the most part, those creatures are content to let you wander on by, but it is good to be cautious nonetheless.
Some hikers will tie a small bell to their packs to alert animals to their approach, others will sing or talk loudly. This alerts them to your presence and gives them time to move away. Startling a wild animal can result in a dangerous encounter, and in order to stay safe, we want to avoid that at all costs.
Summing it Up
According to NPS, here is the complete list of essentials to consider for your next expedition when going hiking in Kenya:
- First aid kit
- Navigation: map, compass, and GPS
- Sun protection: sunscreen, sunglasses, hat
- Insulation: jacket/raincoat, extra layers
- Illumination: flashlight, lantern, or headlamp
- Fire: matches, lighter, fire starters
- Repair kit: duct tape and multifunctional tool
- Nutrition: at least an extra day’s supply of no-cook, nutritious food
- Hydration: water and/or means of water purification
- Emergency shelter: tent, space blanket, tarp, bivy (as in, emergency shelter for a sleeping bag)
These are just a few of some important tips to keep in mind while mountain hiking in Kenya. Keep these things in mind and you’ll stay safer and better prepared.
Above all, have fun and enjoy the walk.