Mount Kenya at 5,199 m high is Africa’ second highest Mountain. It is and imposing extinct volcano that dominates the landscape of the Kenyan highlands east of the Rift Valley with its northern flanks across the equator. The mountain’s sprawling slopes are cloaked in forest, bamboo, scrub and moorland, giving way on the high central peaks to rock, ice and snow. Mount Kenya is an extremely important water catchment area, supplying the Tana and Northern Ewaso Ngiro systems. The wet south-eastern slopes (with rainfall up to 2,500 mm/ year) hold luxuriant rainforest up to 2,400 m.From c.2,400 m altitude, the forest gives way to dense stands of bamboo Arundinaria alpina, with scattered trees. There is no forest on the dry northern slopes, which receive as little as 800 mm of rain/year and support only scrubby vegetation. Above about 2,850 m, the bamboo merges with open woodland of Hagenia abyssinica trees and Hypericum shrubs. This in turn grades into Erica heathland above 3,000 m, where ‘everlasting’ flowers, Helichrysum spp., are conspicuous. Above this, the Afroalpine moorlands are outstanding both scenically and floristically, with giant groundsels Senecio keniodendron and Senecio johnstonii battiscombei, giant lobelias Lobelia deckenii keniensis and L. telekii, and various tussock grasses.
Mountain Kenya National Park is located app app. 150 km from Nairobi and was opened to visitors in December 1949.
Birds of Mount Kenya National Park
Mount Kenya has a rich montane avifauna. The park has six of the eight Kenya Mountains Endemic Bird Area and 54 of the 70 Afrotropical Highlands biome species that occur in Kenya. Mountain Kenya area has records of globally and regionally threatened species, some with no recent recods. They include Abbott's Starling,Lesser Kestrel (a passage migrant on the moorland), Jackson's widowbird (at up to 3,000 m), Sharpe's Longclaw, Olive Ibis, Lammergeier, Ayres's hawk-eagle, African Crowned Eagle, African Grass Owl, Cape Eagle-Owl, Purple-throated Cuckoo-shrike, Long-tailed widowbird, Abyssinian Owl (very rare and poorly researched), Scarlet-tufted Sunbird, and Kenrick's Starling which is confined to this area in Kenya.
Other wildlife, include Black-and-white Colobus Monkey, Sykes monkey, Bushbuck, Cape Buffalo, African Elephant, Olive Baboon, Waterbuck, Black Rhino, Leopard, Giant Forest Hog, Genet Cat, Bush Pig, Spotted Hyena and many more.