Kilimanjaro is the world’s highest free standing, snow-covered equatorial mountain. Located in North-East of Tanzania, this magnificent beast can be seen from far into Kenya and Amboseli National park. 75,000 people climb Kilimanjaro per year so it is not the most remote mountain, neither is it the most arduous, but it is certainly a test of one’s abilities with altitude sickness being the main reason for climbers not to summit. Although it has become a ‘must-do’ in on most traveler’s lists and the experience slightly busy with other climbers, we still highly recommend it for anyone with a vague interest in mountaineering. A Towering Life Force Kilimanjaro represents a powerful life force for the local Chagga people and all those who have made their lives around this mountain, providing rich volcanic soils for agriculture and an endless source of pure spring waters. Climbing Kilimanjaro One of the most amazing aspects of the mountain in the present day is the accessibility of its peak to climbers with no mountain climbing equipment or real previous experience of scaling such heights. Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain that regular tourists can climb, although it remains a considerable feat of human endurance! The breathable oxygen at the top is less than half the amount than is common at sea level, and climbers cover at least eighty kilometers on nothing but their own two feet over the five days it takes to reach the top and return. Preserving the Mountain The number of climbers has escalated to over a thousand a year during the last century, quite a development since Hans Meyer made history as the first European to scale the highest point of Kilimanjaro in 1889. The increasing numbers each year have made it necessary for the National Park to insist that all climbs are pre-booked, and passes are no longer issued at the last minute at the park gate. Overall Fitness Required Although it is possible to simply trek a route to the pinnacle of Kibo without relying on professional climbing equipment, it remains a hard and serious endeavor that requires a level of physical fitness, stamina and a realistic awareness of the potentially damaging effects of high altitudes. Many tour operators request that clients consult a doctor before attempting to scale the mountain, and have a physical check-up for overall fitness. Phases of the Climb; First Stage,Tropical Forest With most of the old lowland forest now cultivated and settled, the first experience of the mountain environment begins with the dense vegetation of tropical montane forest between 1850m and around 2800m. Cloud condensation mainly gathers around the forest, so this area is usually damp or drenched with rainfall, creating an intriguing mass of plant life and running rivers between endemic tree species. The area of heath just beyond the tree line also enjoys a relatively misty and damp environment as cloud clings around the density of trees. This is covered with heather and shrubs such as Erica Arborea and Stoebe Kilimandsharica, and a number of dramatic looking Proteas. Open Moorland From around 3,200m a wide expanse of moorland extends beyond the heath and the cloud line, so that here the skies are generally clear, making the sunshine intense during the days and the nights cool and clear. The climbing incline remains gentle, but thinning oxygen provides less fuel to energise the muscles and can dramatically slow the pace of walking. Hardy endemic species of Giant Groundsels (Senecio) and Lobelia (Deckenii) towering up to 4m high thrive in this moorland zone and give the landscape a strangely primeval atmosphere. Alpine Desert, Sparse Vegetation Even higher, beyond 4,000m, this sensation intensifies as the landscape develops into a more bizarre alpine desert, with sandy loose earth and intense weather conditions and temperature fluctuations so dramatic that barely any plant species survive other than everlasting flowers, mosses and lichens. Only the odd lichen survives beyond 5000m, after Kibo Huts and beyond the Saddle, where the landscape is predominantly rock and ice fields. Here, climbers experience the final steep push to the summit. Saddle to Summit The easterly routes, Marangu, Mweka, Loitokitok and Rongai all converge west of the saddle near Gillmans Point, between the peaks of Mawenzi and Kibo. Kibos crater is roughly circular with an inner cone extending to 5,800m, (100m lower than the summit at Uhuru Peak). At the center an inner crater with walls between 12 and 20 m high contains another concentric minor cone, the center of which falls away into the 360m span of the ash pit. This is the 120 meter deep central core of the volcano, and casts sulphurous boiling smoke from its depths despite the frozen, snowy outskirts. Tanzania Safaris Extensions It is rare for people to go all the way to climb Kilimanjaro and not then continue their time in Tanzania with a safari or even some beach time at Zanzibar. Please follow the following links for more information about Tanzania Safaris
Best Time To Visit
Best time to visit Kilimanjaro is from June to September
How To Reach
Book a Package Tour
Had a couple of days remaining after visiting Serengeti, so decided to visit Kilimanjaro. This is the highest free-standing mountain in the world, and is a dormant volcano. It has three peaks - Mawenzi, Shira and Kibo. While the former two are extinct, Kibo is dormant and could erupt again. It is at a 6 hours drive from Serengeti, and reachable by road on a 4 wheel drive. It is best to hire a driver instead of self driving since directions are sparse and you could end up getting lost. The panorama, once you reach there are however, worth all the effort and time!
School Hut - Gilman's Point
Before proceeding to the School Hut, stay an extra day at Mawenzi Tarn (build this into your climbing plan). This provides a key extra day for acclimatization. It may cost an extra $100 for the day but worth the investment if it takes your chances of making the summit from 50% to 90%. The climb on day 5 takes you straight toward the summit massif of Kilimanjaro across the long saddle that separates Mawenzi from Kibo summit. The saddle is a long traverse at about 14,000 feet elevation that gives the climber an additional day to acclimatization as they cross the saddle to Camp 4. There are 2 main camps used on the east side of the summit. The “Tourist route” uses Kibo Hut camp at about 15,300 feet located on the main route up to the crater rim. The lesser-used camp is where the Outward Bound School Hut is located at 15,700 feet. The route to the School Hut is a bit longer climb the next morning but provides a route with only a few climber for the majority of the climb to the summit. Make your way to the Hut and conserve our energy for the summit bid which start in the middle of the night. Eat, drink and rest.
As you rounded the rim to the southern face, you will see the massive Rebmann glacier that rests on the SE side of the summit dome. Make your way west around the crater rim and up the gradual slope in very thin air to Uhuru Peak at 19,340 feet (5875m) – the summit of Kilimanjaro and of the entire continent of Africa. If you are fortunate, the clouds will melt away and you will see spectacular views of the crater and the panorama toward the south. The south-facing glaciers were stunning walls of ice visible in the final several hundred feet to the summit.
Mawenzi Tarn - Horombo Evacuation Route
Day 3 marks a big ascent to an elevation that can make or break the climb. Climbing to over 4000m is a good test elevation for how you will do with the altitude. Climb directly toward Mawenzi Peak to the tarn located below is towering cliffs at 14,180 feet. At this elevation, if someone is going to develop acute mountain sickness, this is often when the symptoms may begin. Many climbers opt to take acetozolamide to reduce their risk of getting AMS and other high altitude related complications. Consult with your physician before you leave and bring the medication with you as it is useful in the treatment of AMS. As with any altitude related illness, descent is mandatory if symptoms worsen, especially if headache or shortness of breath become progressively severe.