Tourism Secretary Mr. Najib Balala will climb to the top of Mt Kenya this weekend in efforts to market hiking and mountaineering experiences as one of the key drivers of tourism recovery.
Mr Balala climbed to the top of Mt Longonot last week where he announced government plans to build a cable car and zip line to attract more adventurers.
Local and international tourists have these days preferred to enjoy their fun outdoors with extreme activities such as ziplining, days-long hikes, rock climbing, and kayaking.
The CS embarked on a five-day expedition to Mt Kenya’s Lenana peak in 2017 when he was struggling to raise awareness of Kenya’s potential in adventure tourism. Balala also used the adventure to profile the mountain as a favorable tourist destination.
But Mt Kenya has been facing challenges of sanitation despite the increase in the number of hikers, which according to the Kenya Wildlife Service stands at 270,783 people between January 2010 and December 2021.
The available drop-toilets are old and few to serve the high number that flocks the mountain, forcing some tourists to answer the call of nature in the wilderness which in turn contaminates the water sources.
English geographer Halford John Mackinder was the first man to climb to Mt Kenya’s highest peak on September 13, 1899 but since then huts have been marked and trails built to allow adventurers summit to any of the three peaks.
Batian is the highest peak, followed by Nelion, then Point Lenana but there are also other peaks and Terere and Sendeyo.
Kenya also boasts of other popular mountaineering and hiking destinations including Ngong Hills, Menengai Crater, and Mt Elgon. Many hikers prefer Aberdare Ranges for its diverse topography that features waterfalls, rocky outcrops, canyon-like V-shaped valleys, and mountain ranges.
Mt Longonot National Park is attractive to a majority of domestic tourists as it boasts of at least half a million visits from Kenyans since 2010. Nearly 50, 000 Kenyans visited in 2020 at the heights of the pandemic that led to the closure of entertainment spots.
CS Balala said the cable car will make the park more attractive to both local and international tourists.
“To make the park even more attractive, we have laid the framework for a cable car and zip line for the benefit of adventurers. It might be of historical interest to note that we have identified and protected a historical site for a plane crash that happened back on December 24, 1968. Two passengers and a pilot died and we are in the process of locating the graveyard at which the three were buried,” Balala said.
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