The Mount Koh is an impressive mountain in West Pokot. Getting information about it is rather hard, as it is also hard to climb. Not because it is tall (it’s only 2600 meters high) but because getting there is long and hot.
The most common way to approach is by sleeping over at the Marich Pass Field Studies, a comfortable accommodation that has offered its services by the shores of the Moruny River for many years. Both, the locals and us, used the river to cool down the heat of the low altitude. And, from there, we could enjoy the view of the imponent Mount Koh.
The Marich Pass Field Studies offers grounds for camping and simple bandas, some of those being self-contained. But, in my opinion, the best-selling detail of it is the quality of its kitchen. They don’t only offer the traditional Kenyan dishes but also Ethiopian-Eritrean cuisine like injera, wot and shiro. Unfortunately, when I was there, they were using wheat to prepare the injera. Since I have coeliac disease, I couldn’t eat it. But I gave the owner a contact of a farm in Nakuru that sells locally produced teff. So, by now, maybe they can cook injera in its traditional way.
The owners of Marich Pass can help providing a guide to climb Mount Koh and we made use of it. The following day, before sunrise, we drove by car after Sigor and the new bridge crossing the Weiwei river. We parked the car at a small bush shade and stared walking as the sun awoke.
The climb is constant and the view grows till the end of the firmament. It’s possible to see the plains to the North, where the Weiwei river drains. And the Cherangani hills, to the West, with some waterfalls that I am not able to identify. Starting at the 1000 meters above see level and reaching 2600 in only 9 kilometers, the average step is 18%, with some portions getting as steep as 30% or more.
One of the most surprising things, which also happens at the neighboring Mount Mtelo, is that the hike crosses many plots, schools and family properties. In one of those, luckily, we got our water bottles filled and also received a mango. It’s good to say that the heat is usually high and it’s mandatory to carry enough water and, if possible, some food as well. It could be common to think that the hike is easy because the hill is not so tall, but this will be a mistake.
Climbing at a good pace, it will take around 4 hours to reach the summit and almost a similar amount of time to get down. If a round trip is well planned, it’s possible to climb from the West side and get down by the East, towards Lomut. But this option requires serious fitness and an extra effort of logistics. On the other hand, to reduce the climbing time, it’s possible to get a lift by motorbike until the school of Tamkal, which sits at 1300 meters above sea level. From there, it’s only possible to continue by foot.
As it is common in this area of Kenya, it’s possible to follow my track to reach the summit. But my advice is that a guide is hired. The day we climbed, for example, we had to take a longer route because the usual path was blocked by a landslide. Our guide, who knew this eventuality from a hike he did the week before, showed us the path to follow without having to walk back.
NOTE: the track of my route doesn’t reach the summit. Our families were waiting for us at the Marich Pass Field Studies and we had to go back to be there on time. The last part is stony and hilly and we calculated that one hour more was necessary (to go up and down). Unfortunately, we didn’t have that time left.
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