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Born Free Climb for Conservation 2022: Mount Kenya Expedition

1st - 10th October 2022

9 days/Kenya /Challenging to Extreme

Overview

Take on the challenge of a lifetime for Born Free. Climb Africa’s second highest peak, Mt Kenya, and visit the inspiring conservation projects you are raising money for.

Situated in the centre of Kenya in a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mount Kenya rises to a lofty 5199m. Mount Kenya is actually an extinct volcano although the crater has eroded over the centuries to leave numerous valleys and jagged rocky pinnacles radiating from the centre. It is the second highest mountain in Africa, just 696m shorter than its neighbour Kilimanjaro. There are three main peaks on Mt Kenya; two are technical climbing peaks: Batian (5199m) and Nelion (5188m), and the third is the trekking peak, Point Lenana (4985m), which you will summit.

You will ascend via the Sirimon route on the north west of the mountain to Point Lenana, and descend via the Naro Moru route on the south west side of the mountain. The Sirimon route is considered one of the best for acclimatisation, due to its relatively gradual altitude gain and therefore your chance of success in reaching the summit is good. Subject to weather conditions you will be treated to stunning views of glaciers, rugged volcanic boulders, sparkling lakes, indigenous flora and the jagged, icy summit of Mount Kenya.

As the mountain is surrounded by a National Park, the mountain has a wide variety of flora and fauna including birds, deer, buffalo and even elephants. Although there is no guarantee of animal sightings, trekking quietly on this beautiful mountain gives you a great chance to see some of the native wildlife.

During the trip we will be visiting the conservation projects you are raising funds for, including a visit to Mount Kenya Trust’s (MKT) elephant corridor and tree planting sites.

The Mount Kenya elephant corridor which is a 14km protected channel that provides safe passage for elephants migrating between Mount Kenya and the Ngare Ndare Forest to the Samburu country to the north. The route reflects a traditional elephant migratory pathway, but due to increased human settlements and infrastructure, human-elephant conflict had become a significant issue. Following the installation of the corridor, this has since been reduced, and countless other species have benefitted from its protection, including spotted hyenas, wild dog, leopards, porcupines and warthogs.

Mount Kenya’s forests suffered considerably in the past decades, when large areas were cleared to provide timber and land for rapid population growth and urbanisation. MKT works with the Kenya Forest Service and the Community Forest Associations to recover indigenous forest on areas that have been degraded in the past. Over the past decade, MKT have successfully planted over a million trees at several tree planting sites with new sites opening up each year!

A challenging to extreme trip. This is a very tough trek. You will be trekking on challenging terrain which is often steep; you will be exposed to altitudes up to 4985m and will stay in basic mountain huts or tents. Each day you will trek up to 8 hours per day.

This trek is accompanied by English-speaking local guides, and a Different Travel Company UK tour manager. They are first aid trained and will support you throughout your journey. You will also be supported by a team of assistant guides, cooks and porters who together make your journey possible.

The terrain will vary each day but in general you will experience undulating terrain with an uphill gradient as you approach the summit and a downhill gradient on the way down from the summit. It is essential that your training includes hill walking to include trekking up and down gradients; training on flat terrain will not adequately prepare you. Underfoot the terrain will vary from muddy forests, rocky and dry trails, barren gravelly tracks, scree and possibly even snow. No technical climbing skills are required.

 

There are five main ecological zones on Mount Kenya:
Lowlands and cultivated zone (up to 2000m): Grassland, scrub, grazing land, cultivation, farming settlements; generally fertile and lush.
Montane forest (1800-2500m): The forest belt encircles the mountain and supports a variety of wildlife including antelope, elephant, buffalo, Colobus monkeys and hyrax. It is generally damp and cloudy with cool nights.
Timberline and heathland zone (2500-3800m): This is a semi-alpine area with heath-like vegetation and wild flowers. Mice, voles, and their predators, eagles, buzzards and kites live in this zone.
Alpine zone (3500m-4500m): A semi desert zone with sub-zero temperatures at night. Giant groundsels, giant thistles and giant lobelias are common in this region. Small mammals such as mice and hyrax live in this area.
Nival zone (4500-5199m): This zone has very little vegetation, with freezing cold nights and lower levels of oxygen. Mt Kenya was completely covered by an ice cap for thousands of years but at present only a small fraction of the glacier remains.

Temperatures will depend on the altitude, the weather and wind chill. For the days between 1800-3000m you can expect day time temperatures to range between 5-25°C, and night time temperatures to drop to-10°C. From 3500-4500m day time temperatures will range from 0-10°C during the day and sub-zero night time temperatures (down to -15°C on average); wind chill may make these temperatures feel colder. The summit trek to Point Lenana (4985m) maybe extremely cold, with cold high winds having an enormous impact on the temperature. Temperatures can range from a relatively balmy -5°C to an Arctic -30°C with wind chill. Weather conditions will vary as the mountain has its own unpredictable weather system. Conditions include bright sunny days with clear skies, overcast days with high humidity, cold dry windy days, rain, snow etc. It’s important to be prepared for all weather conditions and temperatures by packing technical non-cotton layers and waterproofs.

This is a very tough trek which we grade challenging to extreme. You will be trekking on challenging terrain which is often steep; you will be exposed to altitudes up to 4985m and will stay in basic mountain huts or tents. Each day you will trek up to 8 hours per day.

Summit night is the most challenging part of the trek because it starts in the very early hours of the morning and is a very long day of walking. You trek through the cold and dark of the night up to the summit on a loose scree path with some minor scrambling until you reach Point Lenana around 5-6 hours later. It is an arduous night. You need to stay positive, remember your goal, and keep a very slow, steady pace. The hard work pays off after you reach the summit and enjoy magnificent views. After celebrating your achievement you descend 6-7 hours to Met Station Camp where you will have a well-deserved rest. It could be an 11-13 hour trek day.

Meals are provided as specified in the itinerary and during the trek are cooked by your own chef who will prepare hearty Kenyan and Western meals. A dining tent with plates, mugs and cutlery is provided. Typical meals during the trek include:
Breakfast: porridge, fresh fruit, toast, sausages, eggs, omelette ,pancakes etc.
Lunch: Sandwiches, salad, cake, a carton of juice, fresh fruit.
Snacks: Popcorn, biscuits and nuts
Dinner: Soup and bread, salad, coleslaw, potatoes, vegetables, pasta, rice, meat or vegetable stew, fish, eggs etc.

You will stay in a hotel in Nairobi before the trek and at a basic lodge in Nanyuki after the trek. During the trek you will stay in basic mountain huts or camp in tents. All accommodation is on a shared basis (mountain huts are mixed dormitory style rooms). You will need to bring your own sleeping bag and sleeping mat.

At the hotels there will be showers and flushing toilets. During the trek there are no showers so please bring a pack of biodegradable baby wipes to maintain your personal hygiene. At the campsites during the trek the toilets will be African ‘long drop’ style (a hole in the ground covered by a wooden hut for privacy), and will vary in regards to cleanliness and quality. Toilet paper is not provided so you will need to bring your own (2 rolls should suffice). If you need to use the toilet during the trek day, you will need to find a bush/rock as there are virtually no toilet facilities along the trails (you usually only find toilets at the camps). Never leave toilet paper on the ground; you must put it in a biodegradable bag (plastic bags are banned in Kenya) and dispose of it at camp. NEVER leave toilet paper or other litter on the trail.

The minimum age is 18 (or 16-17 if accompanied by an adult) and there is no upper age limit. Each participant should arrive in Kenya with a good level of fitness having engaged in suitable fitness training; they should be healthy, have a determined attitude and be willing to be pushed out of their comfort zone.

Commitment to physical preparation is fundamental for this challenge, to ensure your best chance of success, and enjoyment, during the trek. Your training should replicate the trek as closely as possible so engaging in many multi-day hill walks of 7+ hours per day is the optimal training ground. Hill walks should be supplemented with strength training and cardiovascular exercises such as gym workouts, running, swimming, cycling, boot camps etc. You can download a number of free apps which help you train and track your progress. E.g. MyFitnessPal, MapMyWalk, C25K (couch to 5k run) etc. Attempting to complete the trek without training will make each day more challenging than necessary, being inadequately prepared may prevent you from reaching the summit, and it may hinder the experience of your teammates. The ascent does not require technical climbing skills but it is a huge mountain at high altitude so you must take your training seriously and not underestimate the scale of the challenge.

We require a medical form to be completed by everyone upon registering, and any pre-existing conditions, medications used and other medical issues must be specified. All your medical details are treated in the strictest confidence.

The information will be securely screened by a qualified medical professional, and details provided to your tour manager and local guides so our staff are adequately informed and prepared to support you during the trip. By completing this booking form you are giving consent for us to contact you confidentially with any follow up questions regarding your health.

If you declare any medical conditions you may be asked to provide more information, or we may request to contact your GP. We must be informed if any conditions or medication change, or if new conditions develop. If necessary confirmation of fitness to travel from your GP or specialist may be required.

In the event that your medical issues represent a concern for your safety and wellbeing, or the safety and wellbeing of others in the group, you may be recommended not to take part. If this happens your deposit will be refunded. Please note that we will never unreasonably deny participation on a trip nor contravene the Equality Act 2010.

Essentials

E-tickets + pre-departure info
Passport + copy
Visa approval documents
Cash / ATM card(s)
Insurance policy details
Pen for immigration forms
LED head torch + spare batteries
Sunglasses (preferably polarized)
Mobile phone + charger
Camera + spare batteries

Clothing & Footwear

Casual shoes for Nanyuki
Trekking boots*
Trainers for camp (optional)
Trek trousers
Trek socks + underwear
Breathable waterproof jacket
Breathable waterproof trousers
Non-cotton t-shirt
Non-cotton long-sleeved base layer
Non-cotton warm fleece/mid layer
Thermal long sleeve top
Thermal bottoms
Warm insulated jacket (e.g. down)
Warm hat which covers ears
Sun hat
Warm gloves or mitts + liner gloves
Buff (www.buffwear.co.uk)
Casual clothes for Nanyuki

Hygiene

Shampoo+ conditioner*
Toothbrush + toothpaste*
Antiperspirant deodorant*
Shower gel/shave kit/loofah*
Large pack of baby wipes*
Hand sanitizer
Toilet paper* (2 rolls)
Biodegradable bags* for used toilet paper
Sun cream (SPF 30+)*
Nail brush (optional)
Feminine hygiene products*

First Aid Kit

Prescription medicine
Anti-malaria medication
50% DEET insect repellent
Ibuprofen and Paracetamol
Plasters
Blister plasters (e.g. Compeed)
Imodium (Loperamide)
Rehydration (e.g. Dioralyte)
Anti-histamine tablets/cream
Antiseptic cream (e.g. Savlon)
Indigestion remedy (e.g. Gaviscon)
Lip balm with SPF protection
Muscle rub (e.g. Deep Heat)
Zinc oxide tape (optional)
Spare glasses/contact lenses
Nail scissors/tweezers (optional)
Throat lozenges (optional)
Decongestant (optional)

Optional

Video camera + charger
Trekking poles
iPod/MP3 player
Portable battery pack / power bank
Luggage organisers/packing cubes
Washcloth/face cloth

Luggage

Trek kit bag
Suitcase for check-in luggage
Daypack/backpack (30-35 litres)
Combination padlocks
Dry bag/rucksack liner

Eating and Drinking

Energy snacks
2-litre water bottle (e.g. CamelBak) plus 1-2x 1-litre bottles OR 3-4x 1-litre bottles
Water purification (e.g. Biox Aqua)
Electrolyte tablets (e.g. NUUN)

Sleeping

Ear plugs (essential)
Sleeping bag (comfort-10°C to -15°C)
Sleeping mat (e.g. Thermarest)
Sleeping bag liner (silk or thermal)

Please note: This list is not exhaustive and does not account for your personal taste or preference. It should be used as a guideline only. If you have any questions or queries regarding this list which are not answered in the sections above please contact info@different-travel.com.

*Please ensure you pack your boots in your hand baggage in the unlikely event your luggage is delayed or goes missing.

*Please consider eco-friendly or biodegradable options. Consider shopping at Little Footprint Gifts.

Itinerary

Day 1 (Saturday 1 October 2022):

London-Nairobi
Fly from London to Nairobi. On arrival, transfer to your hotel in Nairobi where you have a light snack before your overnight stay.
Meals: Light evening snack.

Day 2 (Sunday 2 October 2022):

Nairobi
Today is at leisure for you to relax and settle in before a briefing and welcome dinner tonight.
Meals: Breakfast, dinner

Day 3 (Monday 3 October 2022):

Nairobi – Mountain Rock Bantu Campsite (2,700m)
We set off from the hotel early this morning, stopping en route for lunch. We reach our campsite early this afternoon and settle in before taking a short walk (9km / 3 hours) to the Mau Mau cave. The Mau Mau Cave was used by Kenyan freedom fighters as a hideout from British soldiers during the Mau Mau Uprising of 1952 to 1960. This pleasant walk through wild bushes and indigenous trees is located at the foothills of Mt Kenya and open out to a beautiful waterfall and Burguret River. The area is also home to baboons, Colobus monkeys and other species. After exploring the area we return to camp for dinner.
Trekking: Approx. 3 hours/ 9km/
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 4 (Tuesday 4 October 2022):

Mountain Rock Bantu Campsite – Sirimon Gate – Old Moses (3,400m)
After breakfast we take a short drive (approx. 1 hour) to Sirimon gate (2,650m) where we register and commence our trek. From the gate the trail winds uphill though a sparse forest which becomes heathland after about 3 hours. After another hour or two of trekking we arrive at Old Moses camp (3,400m) for dinner and overnight in a mountain hut.
Trekking: approx. 4-5 hours, 9km, +750m ascent
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 5 (Wednesday 5 October 2022):

Old Moses (3,400m) – Shiptons Camp (4,200m)
After breakfast we begin the trek through heathland following the trail uphill and across the Ontulili River. From here we progress into the moorland, and pass Liki North River located on the floor of a glacial valley. We continue uphill and into Mackinder’s Valley and, if the weather is clear, we enjoy spectacular views up the valley towards the main peaks right below Batian and Nelion. Today we will see the changing mountain vegetation including giant lobelia and groundsel. We arrive at Shiptons Camp where once again we stay in mountain huts. Here you are quite likely to spot a rock hyrax, a small fur-covered mammal, which is a very distant relative of the elephant!
Trekking: Approx. 8hrs, 14km, + 900m ascent
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 6 (Thursday 6 October 2022):

Shiptons Camp – Point Lenana (4,985m) – Met Station Camp
It’s a very early start this morning (approx. 2am) as we set out to reach our goal of Point Lenana, the third highest peak of Mount Kenya. The climb starts on frozen scree and continues on a rocky track with some minor scrambling. Weather permitting we will enjoy spectacular views of Mt. Kilimanjaro to the south on the horizon.The trek to Point Lenana, 4985m takes approx. 4-5 hours and as the sun rises at around 6am we enjoy the spectacular view before dropping down the ridge of Lenana on the Naro Moru route and trek to Austrian Hut which is about 1 hour below the summit. The ridge is initially quite narrow in sections and we take our time as there will be some minor scrambling but it gets broader as we approach Austrian Hut. From Austrian Hut we continue down to Mackinder’s Camp (4,160m) for brunch and a chance to relax before continuing our descent down the Teleki Valley via the infamous ‘Vertical Bog’ to reach Met Station (3,050m) where we stay in mountain huts overnight. The entire descent takes approx. 7 hours.
Trekking: Approx. 11-13hrs, 18km, +785m ascent, -1935m descent
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 7 (Friday 7 October 2022):

Station Banda – Nanyuki
After an early breakfast we descend for 2-3 hours through the rain forest to Naro Moru Park Gate (2500m), where our vehicle awaits to take us to Nanyuki for a well-deserved rest and shower. This afternoon we will transfer to the Mount Kenya Trust where we will have a briefing on the activities to come.
Trekking:  Approx. 2-3hrs, 10km, -550m descent
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 8 (Saturday 8 October 2022):

Nanyuki
We will enjoy a full day of conservation activities with Mount Kenya Trust on a range of activities, depending on the most urgent need at the Trust at the time of our visit. We celebrate our achievements with a farewell dinner this evening.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 9 (Sunday 9 – Monday 10 October 2022):

Nanyuki – Nairobi – UK
Depending on flight schedules, we will have brunch in Nanyuki before we transfer to Nairobi for an early dinner and our flight back to the UK. The flight may land on Monday 10 October.
Meals: Breakfast or brunch, dinner

N.B. This itinerary may change due to flight schedules, weather, the ability of the group, wildlife movements, local bureaucracy and so on. We will do our best to keep to the set itinerary however we cannot be held responsible for changes that might occur outside of our control. In all such circumstances your guide and tour leader will have the final say in the interest of the health and safety of the group.

Costs & How to pay

A £300 registration fee is payable at the time of booking and you are asked to fundraise a minimum of £3,400 for Born Free by Friday 8th July 2022.

SPONSORSHIP

There is a minimum sponsorship amount for the tour that you are required to raise in order to participate.

  • A registration fee is payable at the time of booking.
  • The minimum sponsorship must be paid to the charity 12 weeks prior to departure.
  • The amount the charity receives is at least 50% of the minimum sponsorship total.

What's included

  • Return flights from London (including airport taxes)
  • All transfers and transport in Kenya
  • Accommodation in a 3 star hotel in Nairobi, a basic lodge in Nanyuki, mountain huts or tents on trek
  • Meals as specified
  • Local English speaking guides, porters and cooks
  • Current Mount Kenya fees and permits
  • Flying Doctors Service for emergency evacuation cover
  • Different Travel UK tour manager

What's not included

  • Kenya e-visa (current cost US$51)
  • Lunch on day 2
  • Any necessary vaccinations
  • Malaria prophylaxis
  • Personal expenses and spending money (drinks, souvenirs etc)
  • Tips (approx. £120/US$150 per person depending on group size)
  • Transport to/from UK airports
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal trek kit
  • Any increases in Mount Kenyan National Park fees between time of publication (Jul 19) to time of departure
  • Single room supplement (subject to availability)

Got a Question?

If you’ve a question about this challenge that you can’t find the answer to within the given information then complete this quick form and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

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