Astride the equator yet permanently snow-capped at 5895m (19340ft) high, Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is Africa's roof top and the world's highest free standing mountain which can be climbed by any physically fit person. John Rebmann, a German missionary, was one of the first westerners to explore the mountain in 1841. He announced to the world the existence of Great Mountain "capped in a glacier".
The name Kilimanjaro conjures up images in the traveler’s mind of snow-capped mountains, majestic panoramas and the thrill of summiting the highest mountain in Africa. If this is what you think of when you picture Kilimanjaro, worry not because this stunning. Located in northern Tanzania, between the Moshi River and the Kenyan border, the snow-covered peaks of Kilimanjaro surrounded by lush green plains have become an enduring image of the dramatic Tanzanian landscape. Kilimanjaro National Park takes up the area above the 2,700-meter mark on the mountain. The local Chagga people who reside around the mountain have come to see the massive landform as a powerful life force.
The terrain making up Kilimanjaro National Park is surprisingly diverse. While many imagine that the mountain will be barren and rocky, a number of different geographical features make up the mountainside. Kilimanjaro, one of the largest volcanoes to ever erupt on earth, is today made up of three adjoining volcanoes (Shira, Mawenzi, and Kibo). Hundreds of thousands of years of lava erupting and glaciers melting has worked to form what makes up the dramatic outline of Kilimanjaro today. Melting glaciers have formed streams that rush down the mountain, and green vegetation has grown in every part of the mountainside where it can survive. Tropical forests can be found between 1,850 and 2,800 meters and open moorlands from 3,200m. Beyond the 4,000m mark vegetation starts to become sparse and the geographical landscape becomes one of rocky, icy fields of alpine desert.
The primary reason that travelers come to Kilimanjaro is to summit the mountain; however, before attempting this, one should always see a doctor and get a physical. Someone in average physical condition will be able to climb the mountain, but the changes in altitude can cause headaches and dizziness and nausea. Be sure to know the symptoms of AMS before you go. There are a number of different routes that can be taken up the mountain, and it is a good idea to discuss your trip preferences with your tour operator before tackling Kilimanjaro.
The easiest and most popular route is the Marangu Route, which typically takes around five to six days. Incredible animals can be seen along the way: elephants, bushbuck, buffalos, and bird species such as ammergeier Gypaetus barbatus and hill chat Cercomela sordida. Overnight stops are made at three different wooden huts, and the final ascent of the walk is usually timed so that travelers reach the spectacular Uhuru Peak at dawn so that they can watch the sunrise. Other routes, such as Machame and Mweka, are more difficult and travelers who wish to explore them should discuss logistics with their tour operators. Mt. Kilimanjaro is only 128 km from Arusha, and can be reached by flying into the Kilimanjaro airport and then driving one hour. The best time to visit the park is from December to February when the skies are clear and the weather is warm. July to October is also a great season to visit the majestic mountain. Additionally, there are numerous excellent hotels in the area, particularly in the towns of Marangu and Moshi. The Kilimanjaro Mountain Resort and Kibo Hotel are two popular locations that allow you to sleep near the mountain and wake up in the morning to the breathtaking view of snow-capped Kilimanjaro.
1. Mandara Hut
2. Horombo Hut
Mount Kilimanjaro has several routes that offer different trekking options;
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