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KWS launch world highest via Ferrata at Mt. Kenya

Date Published: 11 Jul, 2012
KWS launch world highest via Ferrata at Mt. Kenya

Corporal Evans Mwiti (Left) and Ranger Laban Wanjohi(on the via ferrata bridge) from the Mountain Rescue team demonstrate to the KWS BOT chair Hon. David Mwiraria (In suit) during the launch of the world highest Via Ferrata-Olonana in Mt. Kenya National Park.

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has commissioned the first phase of the World highest Via Ferrata named ‘Olonana’ at an altitude of 4,985 metres above sea level at Mt. Kenya

National Park. The Via Ferrata, ‘Olonana’, was officially launched by the KWS Board of Trustees Chairman Hon. David Mwiraria on Monday (July 9, 2012). It was constructed at a tune of Ksh. 3.5 million and jointly funded by KWS, Mountain Education Group of U.S.A and Rift Valley Adventures.

“Today’s event is at the heart of an ongoing branding programme at Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) that began in year 2005. Last year, we attended the colorful branding of Mt Kenya National Park with the slogan “Come Touch the Sky”, said Hon. Mwiraria in his speech. “We are here again on Africa’s second highest mountain to launch an innovative tourism product which brings us closer to that promise.

”He added that under vision 2030 development blue print, KWS had made substantial progress in the implementation of key tourism pillar’s flagship projects. These includes branding of national parks and reserves, developing niche tourist products, rehabilitation of water catchments and securing wildlife corridors and dispersal areas.

“The launch of ‘Olonana’ is being launched at a time KWS is implementing a brand new strategic plan that will move the organization from good to great and builds on the strengths of the good results from the previous strategic plans,” said Hon. Mwiraria.

KWS Director Julius Kipng’etich urged local communities in the region to invest in tourist accommodation facilities to ensure they reap the benefits that will accrue from the ongoing infrastructural development by the government. “In the next three years, road network will improve significantly in Mt. Kenya. Besides our innovative Via Ferrata will allow novice and professional climbers assent the peak. This will afford tourists a more scenic view of the park which will increase visitation and revenue generation,” added Kipng’etich.

‘Olonana’ dethroned the hitherto highest Via Ferrata at Borneo at Mt. Kinabalu in Malaysia at 3800 metres above sea level. The facility is the only of its kind in the region. It also builds on the honor bestowed to Mt. Kenya by UNESCO as World Heritage Site in 1987. Mt. Kenya was described by UNESCO as one of the most impressive landscapes in Eastern Africa with its rugged glacier-clad summits, Afro-alpine moorlands and diverse forests that illustrate outstanding ecological processes.

A Via Ferrata (Italian for "iron road") or Klettersteig (German for "climbing path") is a mountain route which is equipped with fixed cables, stemples, ladders, bridges, metal bars steps and cables that are negotiated using a harness and a tether made of webbing.

The first phase of Via Ferrata at Mt Kenya has been erected on the challenging sections of point Lenana. Climbers may approach the summit either from Shipton camp or Austrian hut on Naromoru route. ‘Olonana’ will enhance visitors’ safety and minimize risks of falling. It will also make hiking more interesting and exciting.

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