Mount Kenya National Park
Home to Kenya's highest mountain and Africa's second highest mountain Mount Kenya (1,600m-5,199m), Mount Kenya National Park is situated approximately 193km's (119.9 miles) North-East of Nairobi and is located in the central highlands in the districts of Nyeri and Meru. The entire area of the park is situated above 3,200m. Straddling the equator, Mount Kenya's icy peaks reach an altitude of 5,100m. Due to it's unique position astride the equator, a unique and bizarre species of Giant Rosette like plant flourish.
These plants are commonly known as 'water holding cabbage', 'ostrich plume plant' or 'giant groundsel' and are quite an astonishing sight when seen for the first time. The vegetation in general consists of rich alpine and sub-alpine flora with montane and bamboo forests, moorlands and tundra.
The giant forest hog, tree hyrax, white-tailed mongoose, elephant, black rhino, suni, duiker and leopard all occur in the lower forest and bamboo forest areas. In the moorland regions mammals such as the Mount Kenya mouse shrew, hyrax and duiker occur. At higher altitudes the endemic mole-rat is common and there have been rare sightings of the golden cat. Elephant, Buffalo, Antelope, Lion and the rare bongo can all be seen in the regions below the Park boundary. The south side of the mountain is the best place for wildlife viewing. The best times of the year to visit this region are January, February and late August through to September.
Nairobi and surrounds
Nairobi is one of Africa's major cities with a population of between one and a half million and three million, depending on how big an area you include. A century old in 1999, the city has an interesting history. Nairobi began as a settlement created to build the East African railway line from Mombasa to Kampala in Uganda. The name came from the local Maasai word for the area, enkare nyarobi, meaning 'the place of cold water'. A few years later the settlement was completely rebuilt due to the outbreak of plague and the subsequent burning of the original town.
By 1907 the area had become firmly established and colonised with the settlement of Europeans and subsequently became the capital of 'British East Africa'. In general, visitors spend no more than two nights in town before heading off on safari. The initial impression of the city is one of frenetic chaos, with the driving in general leaving a lot to be desired. However there is a considerable amount to do and see while there.