Mount Kenya National Park
Mount Kenya National Park is located in central Kenya, about 16.5 kilometres south of the equator around 150 kilometres north-northeast of the capital Nairobi. Mount Kenya is the source of the name of the Republic of Kenya. Mount Kenya National Park was established in 1949 and it protects the region surrounding the Mount Kenya. Currently the national park is within the forest reserve which encircles it. In April 1978 the area was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The national park and the forest reserve, combined, became a UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1997. The park covers an area of about 715km2.
The reasons for creation of a national park on and around Mount Kenya include. Tourism which would earn the much needed foreign exchange hence improve the economy, preserve an area of great scenic beauty, conserve the biodiversity within the park and to preserve the water catchment for the surrounding area.
Mount Kenya is the highest mountain in Kenya and the 2nd highest in Africa, after Kilimanjaro. The highest peaks of the mountain are Batian 5,199 metres, Nelion 5,188 metres and Point Lenana 4,985 metres
Mount Kenya is a stratovolcano formed approximately 3 million years after the opening of the East African rift. Before glaciation, it was 7,000 m high. It was covered by an ice cap for thousands of years. This has resulted in very eroded slopes and numerous valleys radiating from the centre. There are currently 11 small glaciers. The forested slopes are an important source of water for much of Kenya.
There are several vegetation bands from the base to the summit. The lower slopes are covered by different types of forest. Many alpine species are endemic to Mount Kenya, such as the giant lobelias and senecios and a local subspecies of rock hyrax.
The park has a wide variety of wildlife which includes elephants, tree hyrax, white tailed mongoose, suni, black fronted duiker, mole rat, bushbucks, waterbucks and elands. The rare ones include the leopards and bongo. There are over 130 species of birds that have been recorded.
The main activity in this park is mountain climbing bringing so many tourists from all over the world to try and conquer this magnificent mountain.