At a height of 5896 meters, Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest mountain and one of the continent’s most magnificent sights. It has three main volcanic peaks: Kibo, Mawenzi, and Shira.
Above the gently rolling hills and plateaux of Northern Tanzania rises the snowy peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro, its slopes and glaciers reaches above the pristine clouds. Kilimanjaro is located near the town of Moshi and is a protected area, carefully regulated for climbers to enjoy without marring the surrounding environment with litter of any kind.
The mountain’s ecosystems are as strikingly beautiful as they are varied and diverse. On the lowland slopes, much of the mountain is farmland, with coffee, banana, cassava, and maize crops grown to eat and sell. A few larger coffee farms still exist on the lower slopes, but much of the area outside the national park has been divided into small plots.
Once inside the perimeters of the park, the lower area is blanketed with thick lowland forest. As climbers ascend the mountain, the landscape changes into alpine meadows. As they reach the peak, the landscape becomes harsh and barren, with rocks and ice that become the key feature, above a breathtaking African landscape below.
What You’ll See
Few mountains can claim the grandeur, the breathtaking views that belong to Kilimanjaro.
Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro is the highlight of most visitors’ experiences in Tanzania. Few mountains can claim such grandeur and splendor as Mt. Kilimanjaro.
From the mountain, climbers are virtually guaranteed breathtaking views of Amboseli National Park in Kenya, the Rift Valley and the Masaai Steppe, among other sightings. Hiking on the ‘rooftop of Africa’ — the highest point on the continent at 5896 metres — is the adventure of a lifetime, especially because, if paced well, everyone from seasoned trekker to first-time enthusiast, can scale the infamous snowy peak.
Kilimanjaro. The name itself is a mystery wreathed in clouds, lost to history. It might mean Mountain of Light, Mountain of Greatness or Mountain of Caravans. Or it might not. The local people, the Wachagga, don’t even have a name for the entire mountain — only Kipoo (now known as Kibo) for the familiar snowy peak that stands imperiously, overseeing the entire continent from its perch on the tallest mountain in Africa.
Kilimanjaro, by any name, is a metaphor for the compelling beauty of East Africa. When you see it, you’ll understand why. Not only is this the highest peak on the African continent; it is also the tallest, free-standing mountain in the world, rising in breathtaking isolation from the surrounding area – elevation around 900 metres – to an impressive 5,895 metres (19,336 feet).
As mentioned before, hikers do not have to be seasoned trekkers to enjoy this mountain. Many visitors from around the world have reached the crater rim with little more than a walking stick, proper clothing, and pure, unadulterated determination. Those who reach Uhuru Point, the actual summit (or Gillman’s Point on the lip of the crater) will have earned their climbing certificates…along with unfading memories.
But the reality is that there is so much more to Kili than her summit. The venture along the slopes presents the ultimate of tours.
There is a also vast variety of wildlife for visitors to see along their way up the mountain. Even before you enter the park, the cultivated foothills give way to lush montain forest, inhabited by elusive species of elephant, leopard, buffalo, the endangered Abbot’s duiker, and other small antelopes and primates. Higher still lies the moorland zone, where a cover of giant heather is studded with otherworldly giant lobelias.
Above 4,000m, a surreal alpine desert supports little life other than a few hardy mosses and lichen. Then, finally, the last vestigial vegetation gives way to a winter wonderland of ice and snow – and the magnificent beauty of the roof of the continent.
About Kilimanjaro National Park
1668 sq km (641 sq miles).
Northern Tanzania, near the town of Moshi.
- 128 km (80 miles) from Arusha.
- About one hour’s drive from Kilimanjaro airport.
What to do
- Six usual trekking routes to the summit and other more-demanding mountaineering routes.
- Day or overnight hikes on the Shira plateau. Nature trails on the lower reaches.
- Trout fishing.
- Visit the beautiful Chala crater lake on the mountain’s southeastern slopes.
- Huts and campsites on the mountain.
- Several hotels and campsites outside the park in the village of Marangu and town of Moshi.
- Climb slowly to increase your acclimatisation time and maximise your chances of reaching the summit.
- To avoid altitude sickness, allow a minimum of five nights, preferably even more for the climb. Take your time and enjoy the beauty of the mountain.
Source: Tanzania Tourist Board