The opening up of roads leading to the Mt Kenya national Park by the Meru county and national governments is expected to boost tourism in Kenya’s highest peak.
More than 40 percent of the mountain sits in Meru County but the region has not been benefiting from its tourism due to lack of infrastructure.
Meru county government is building a 25 kilometer access road dubbed the Themwe route, that can be accessed from Nkubu town. The national government through funding from the European Union (EU) has also completed the construction of Kalalu Farm- Sirimon Gate- Old Moses Camp Road, that can be accessed from Timau town.
According to governor Kiraitu Murungi, the road will enable tourists access Lake Ellis, as well as the peaks of Mt Kenya. Mountain climbers have been accessing Mt Kenya through Chogoria in Tharaka-Nithi, Narumoru in Nyeri as well as Laikipia and Nairobi counties denying Meru the vital revenue.
“We want Meru residents as well as tourists from Kenya and other parts of the world to easily access the mountain from the Meru side. Locals can easily ride a motorbike on a weekend and enjoy the scenic view of the mountain and lake Ellis. It is possible to achieve one million tourists every year,” governor Kiraitu said.
Meru roads executive Titus Taitumu said the county was spending Sh20 million in upgrading the road. Speaking during the commissioning of the Kalalu Farm-Sirimon Gate-Old Moses road early this year, Roads Chief Administrative Secretary Chris Obure and European Union (EU) First Counselor Walter Tretton said the improved road would ease access, boost security and rescue operations in the mountain.
The national government has also upgraded the Naromoru Gate – Met Station Road. KWS senior warden Isaac Mugo said Mt Kenya has seen a rise in tourists with 26,000 visitors in 2018 compared to 15,000 in 2017.
Meanwhile, Meru County government intends to use Mountain running sport to boost tourism in Mt Kenya. Meru Sports Council Chairman Joseph Kinyua said the inaugural race will be held at the end of this year. The sport will see athletes run up the mountain to finish at more than 2000 meters above sea level.
According to the World Mountain Running Association (WMRA), the first mountain race took place in 1068 when a Scottish King needed to select the best messenger. Mountain race started in the United Kingdon in 1895.
According to Wikipedia, mountain running is recognized by the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) and the WMRA has been organizing world championships since 1985.