Mount Kinyeti is the highest mountain in the worlds newest country - South Sudan. It was also the highest peak in the old Sudan. Located in the Imatong Mountains, on the southern border with Uganda, the mountain has been off-limits for over 40 years due to conflict in the region.
The British colonial administration began a forestry project in the Kinyeti basin in the 1940s, clearing the natural forest and planting fast-growing softwoods, Cyprus and Pine. In 1950 the mountains above 1,500 metres (4,900 ft) were made a forest reserve with no further settlement permitted, but the ban was not enforced during the civil wars. Remnants of the forest plantation remain, with teak, pine and eucalyptus still evident on the lower slopes above the village of Katire.
According to a 1984 report, the mountains supported abundant wildlife, including healthy populations of colobus and blue monkey, bush-pig and a local sub-species of bushbuck. The south eastern Kipia and Lomwaga Uplands were least visited by hunters and had the largest populations of elephant, buffalo, duiker's, hyaena and leopard. Mammals that normally inhabit a forest environment show greatest differentiation from similar mammals elsewhere, probably due to isolation of the Imatong forests from other forests by wide areas of semi-arid savanna.
An expedition by Secret Compass
in February 2012 saw bushbuck, which is hunted by local villagers, unidentified monkey, Leopard spoor and a wide variety of bird life. Elephant no longer make the migration from the area of Nimule on the Nile to the west.
The Imatongs are best accessed via Katire, an old British forestry station. Katire is accessed by a recently graded dirt road from Torit, the capital of Eastern Equatoria state. The journey will take 1.5-2 hours in a 4x4. You can catch local minibuses infrequently from opposite the main market in Torit. Torit is accessed from Juba, the capital, via a recently graded dirt road. The journey takes 3-4 hours and you can catch minibuses to Torit from the main river bridge in Juba.
Juba is accessed overland from Uganda, or by air from Nairobi, Kampala and Addis Ababa.
The only realistic time to travel is in the dry season; Nov - Mar each year, otherwise roads can become impassable.
South Sudan Visas are available at the airport on arrival for $100.
Permits for the Imatong mountains are available from the Ministry of Wildlife, Conservation and Tourism in Torit, near to the main market.
Camping and trekking
There is an excellent camp site in Katire on the site of an old colonial house. It has a clean long drop and a stream for water close by.
On the trail to Mount Kinyeti there are streams every 2-3 hours, with excellent clean water. There are good campsites that can be cleared with machetes within 5 min walk of each stream.
You will need local guides for the trail to Kinyeti, who can be hired at Katire, where a number of people speak good English. The forest is very dense once past the old plantation forest and local paths will have to be followed.
It will take fit trekkers 3 days to summit Kinyeti and return to Katire, the majority of people will need 4 days. There is a good blog article describing the trek here
for expeditions to the region
Video of Imatongs www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oox-zO3fk5o