TOURISM

State urges private sector to revamp Mt Kenya National Park

Construction works are expected to start immediately to improve sanitation facilities

In Summary
  • Established as national park in 1949, it is home to a variety of wildlife species, most notably the endangered mountain bongo.
  • Other hiking and adventure destinations that travellers can explore in Kenya include the trails at Karura Forest, Menengai Crater and Mt Elgon, among others.
Tourism CS Najib Balala after reaching Lenana point in Mount Kenya on May.
Tourism CS Najib Balala after reaching Lenana point in Mount Kenya on May.
Image: Kenya Tourism Board

The government on Tuesday rallied the private sector to intervene and provide funds for refurbishing and upgrading sanitary facilities in Mt Kenya National Park.

This comes even as the state identifies adventure, hiking and mountaineering experiences as key catalysts in the recovery of tourism sector.

A pristine wilderness, Mt Kenya National Park offers excellent sightseeing, game viewing, bird watching and a challenging high-altitude mountain hike.

Established as national park in 1949, it is home to a variety of wildlife species, most notably the endangered Mountain Bongo, which currently has a population of 150 individuals.

The official opening of the Mt Kenya Photography Exhibition took place at the National Museum of Kenya on Tuesday to promote and raise funds for rehabilitation of amenities and enhancement of hiker experiences.

Those who hiked the mountain with Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala in May said their experience was not only exhilarating, but was also an eye-opener.

They said they are no facilities for showering and even toilets.

The hikers who had accompanied the CS included M-Pesa managing director Sitoyo Lopokoiyit , Visa Kenya country manager Eva Sarwari and Vipingo Ridge chairman Alastair Cavenagh, among others. 

A total of Sh10 million was raised during the four-day climb that will be used to improve visitors’ experience at the mountain, which is one of Kenya’s greatest landmarks.

Construction works are expected to start immediately to improve and develop sanitation facilities, including hiking trails and other amenities. 

Kenya Wildlife Service (Strategy and Change) director Edwin Wanyonyi, Wildlife Research and Training Institute CEO Dr Patrick Omondi and Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa were also present.

Balala, in a speech read on his behalf by Wanyonyi, said mountaineering will position Kenya as a tourism destination regionally and internationally.

The CS said the country is endowed with iconic wildlife.

However, he added, there is cut-throat competition from other countries that have abundance of wildlife species.

“This challenges us to think outside the box with a view of diversifying our tourism products,” Balala said.

The CS said his ministry, the KWS and Kenya Tourism Board are exploring hiking and mountaineering as potential to boost the number of tourists coming into the country.

Balala said he has personally scaled Mount Longonot as a way to promote hiking activities in the country.

“My personal experiences were challenging with usual memories of breathtaking sceneries. The experiences are engrained in our minds,” he said. 

The CS said adventure tourism is one of the fastest growing experiences in the world today, with travellers looking for life-changing experiences that suit them.

Ndegwa, on his part, said his staff will soon hike the mountain, adding that Safaricom has over time supported several conservation initiatives for more than 22 years.

“For instance in 2002, when Safaricom was born, we were contributing to the electric fencing of the Aberdares rangers and I am sure Safaricom were not even breaking even," he said. 

"That tells you that we have been really committed to conservation from the very start.” 

Ndegwa said conservation is part of their call to transform lives, adding that the impact of climate change has affected communities.

He said that in partnership with the Kenya Forest Service, they have committed to plant five million trees by 2025.

“Last year, we planted a million trees,” Ndegwa said, adding that they have also partnered with the KWS to digitise revenue collection across all parks in the country.

“We have also made it easy for customers to pay through M-Pesa and see that KWS can better manage park fee collection.”

Ndegwa said they also support Ruma National Park to protect the endangered roan antelope. He said they also offer support to Nairobi Orphanage, where they have adopted a cheetah for three years.

The photo exhibition makes it possible for individuals and other organisations, both small and large, to participate in conservation of the Mount Kenya ecosystem.

Other hiking and adventure destinations that travellers can explore in Kenya include the trails at Karura Forest, Menengai Crater, Mt Elgon, Mt Ololokwe and Ngong hills, among others.

 

(edited by Amol Awuor)

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