Lonely Planet Writer

The sky's the limit in Africa as plans develop for a cable car on Mount Kenya

There have been no shortage of plans for new cable cars this year – but in Africa, one of the most ambitious plans of all is starting to take shape.

Mount Kenya, the highest mountain in the country rises up behind a giraffe in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy.
Mount Kenya, the highest mountain in the country rises up behind a giraffe in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy. Image by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images

The local government in a Kenyan province want to build a new cable car on Mount Kenya, the continent’s second highest peak after Kilimanjaro. Instead of the by-now familiar views of snow and ice, or the cityscape below, this cable car would offer a safari with a bird’s eye view. The lower parts of the mountain are home to a vast array of wildlife, including numerous species of monkey, elephants, buffalo and occasionally leopards and lions. The mountain and its adjoining park have been a UNESCO world heritage site since 1997, and lie around 100 miles from the capital Nairobi.

Elephants walking on a path at the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy at the foot of Mount Kenya.
Elephants walking on a path at the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy at the foot of Mount Kenya. Image by Tony Karumba/Getty Images

In local newspapers, Kirinyaga Governor Joseph Ndathi said that investors had already been on a site visit to carry out a feasibility study. “Tourists would be able to view wild animals aboard these cars while above them, and this will certainly give us an upper hand in the sector as compared to other countries which apart from snow on their mountains have no wild game,” he explained. Plans for a cable car on the mountain are not entirely new and such an attraction has been discussed going back as far the 1970s. However, the feasibility plan will bring the cable car one step closer to reality and make the mountain more accessible than it has been up until now.

Around 15,000 people a year climb the peaks, some using difficult specialist routes but most use one of eight separate walking routes up the mountain. These generally take several days with accommodation in lodges and camps available around the peak so that climbers can get adjusted to the altitude as they ascend.