Budget friendly one day hike on Mount Kenya

You want to hike up Mount Kenya but don’t have hundreds of euros to spend on it? I was in the same position, so here is how I did a one day hike on Mount Kenya the most budget friendly way possible. I did it for 88 euros.

If you look up online how to hike up Mount Kenya, you’ll get plenty of tour ads for multi-day hikes that are unaffordable for budget travellers. So first things first: if you are reasonably fit with mountain experience, you can actually hike up to Point Lenana via the Naro Moru route in one day, starting at the Met Station. It’s a challenge for sure and you’ll have to get up pretty early, but it is feasible and also much cheaper than doing a multi-day hike. Personally, I did not hike up to Point Lenana, but only to the Mackinder Camp at 4200m because I had some knee problems, but from what I learned I would not have wanted to do a multi-day hike in any case. It seems that there is a lot of “acclimatising” going on during such hikes, so basically just hanging around at the huts at different points of elevation and paying loads of money for porters. I preferred my one more intense hiking day.

First you need to get to Naro Moru, which is fairly easy by public transport. There is a train from Nairobi, but also buses. You can read about it here. I did the hike with my fellow traveller and we chose to do the Naro Moru route to get as high up as possible in one day. There are several other routes that are longer, but supposedly more scenic. I found the Naro Moru route perfectly fine in terms of scenery though. You won’t start your hike at the bottom of the mountain, but at the Met Station, which is located at around 3050 metres. You’ll have to get a taxi to go there. I got hold of a number of a guy who drives you and also organises a guide for you, which I found very practical: Matthew: +254 72 416 7435. (In case you are wondering about the guide: Unfortunately they made it obligatory to have a guide with you.) We had to negotiate quite a bit. In the end, we agreed on paying 8000 Kenyan Shilling (~51€) for the drive and 25 US dollars for the guide. Taking a boda boda might be less expensive, especially if you are alone, but in the early morning I was really happy to be in a car and not freeze on a motorbike in the chilly wind. I asked him to pick us up at 6.30 in the morning.

As a non resident, you’ll have to show your passport and pay 52 US dollars entry fee to the Mount Kenya national park at the park gate and fill in a registration sheet. You can check out the fees on the Kenya Wildlife Service’s website. There is a fee to be paid for the entry of the car as well. Make sure to agree with your driver that the car entry fee is included in the price you are paying them to avoid surprises. Note that you cannot pay the park entry fee in cash. You have to pay by credit card or m-pesa. (You can find some information about how to get m-pesa here.) From the gate, you’ll then drive up to the Met Station where you’ll start the hike. We started at 7.30 in the morning.

The Naro Moru route is quite steep until you reach the plateau and this part can get very muddy when it rains or has rained the day(s) before. So if you have water proof hiking boots, take them! You should also definitely take a rain jacket (you never know), a hat/beanie and sunscreen. Otherwise, be sure to take enough water with you. I had 3 litres of water that I had pretty much emptied by the time we were near the base camp. There is a clear stream on the plateau there, so I could refill my bottles there. It’s important to drink a lot also to prevent altitude sickness. By 12.30 we were at the Mackinder Camp at 4200m where we had lunch and enjoyed the amazing view. The vegetation is incredible up there, it felt prehistoric. I would not have been surprised to see a dinosaur walk by. We saw loads of rock hyrax that were hoping to get a bit of our lunch as well.

During the descent I did feel a little altitude sick (nausea and headache). As the remedy is to descend, I did not worry too much about it. Because of my knee problems we descended quite slowly and were back at the Met Station around 17.45 from where our driver picked us up and drove us home. At the gate we had to “sign out” and as is customary, we also tipped our guide a little. My nausea and headache got better once we were back down and on the following day I felt completely fit again (except some soreness in my legs).

So in total, we paid 176,9 euros for two people: 8000 Kenyan Shilling (~51€) for the drive + 25 US dollars for the guide + 500 Kenyan Shilling (~3€) tip for the guide + 104 US dollars entry to Mount Kenya national park – way cheaper than any of the multi-day hikes. If you are not as fit, have more cash to spend and want to spend more time on the mountain – it is really beautiful after all – I think a two day trip from Met Station to Mackinder Camp, then up to Point Lenana and down to Met Station again is a good idea. I would not bother starting at the park gate on the Naro Moru route though. There is a concrete road all the way between the gate and Met Station, so I do not quite see the point in hiking up that bit myself.