Mount Mtelo, with its 3336m, is the fifth tallest mountain of Kenya. Unfortunately, it’s remote location makes it the most unknown mountain in the country. At the same time, it doesn’t belong to any national park (like Mount Kenya or Mount Elgon). And the tarmac road A1, on its way to Turkana, passes far away of its base. Actually, there is only one place for accommodation offered to the adventurous travelers that want to attempt the summit: the Mount Mtelo Eco Lodge.
The owner of this lodge is John Yoposiwa. He is the most suitable person to organize your hike to the top. In general, the climb is not difficult, but the logistics require some help. To reach the village of Mungat, where the lodge is, you need a 4×4 vehicle with high clearance. If you are traveling alone, a motorbike can do the job, but you will need to be patient. In my case, since I was traveling with my family, we left our salon car in Marich Pass and got a lift to Mungat organized by John.
The next track shows the stretch between the A1 until the Mtelo Eco Lodge: 14,50km and 1065m of climbing. Until km. 9, the road uses some cement rails that help the grip (pay attention that from km.2 until km. 9, the average incline is 15%).
From John’s lodge or from the center of Mungat, the climb to Mount Mtelo is just 7km, but it has 1400m of climb. This brings an average of 19%. The inclination is more or less constant and there is no single place of technical difficulty. So the hike is suitable for almost everyone, as long as fitness allows. The biggest challenge, a part of the high inclination, is the adaptation to the altitude. I reached the top in three hours but it’s common to spend 5 to 6 hours if stops are more often. In general, the way day will take 50 to 70% of the time up.
Around the km.3 (while still walking between human settlements), a stream is visible. The water is fresh and clean, suitable for drinking. After this point, no more water is found on the way, so it’s good to take provisions. When crossing the forests ahead, the temperature is comfortable, but in the open spaces the heat can be intense and water will be necessary.
To climb Mount Mtelo, you can use the track I am sharing, but I suggest a guide. The path is not always easy to see (many times, bushes cover it while other times the field is wide open). It might seem that this post is a publicity campaign for John Yoposiwa but the truth is that he and his family are willing to help. I used John’s first born as guide since he was on school holidays at the time.
While climbing, if the weather allows, you can see the vast extension of the A1 road towards Turkana. Also Mount Koh, with its half ball characteristic shape, showing the North end of the Cherangany Hills. From the top, the Turkwell dam and Mount Elgon become visible. In general, the views from the top are less impressive than those from the hike. Although the top seems treeless from afar, the reality shows many bushes around which limit the views. So, in general, the views are greater from the open fields during the ascent.
Finally, if you are here for the adventure, bring a sleeping tent and sleep at the top. I didn’t do it but when I was at the lodge, I meet an American couple who just came down from camping there. The sky is breathtaking because there is no light contamination at all. If you can, chose a moonless night to enjoy the sky like you never did before. But remember to carry very warm clothes and a good sleeping bag. A night at 3336m above sea level is cold.