There is nothing good in life than just being the highest peak in the entire African continent and the tallest free-standing mountain in the world.
For many, it represents the ultimate once-in-a-lifetime personal challenge – an arduous but highly rewarding 5 to 8 day trek up to Uhuru Point ( summit) or to Gillman’s Point (on the lip of the crater).
The famous snow-covered peak of Kilimanjaro towers an impressive 5,895 metres (19,336 feet) above the African plains below. It is situated within the Kilimanjaro National Park.
The slopes are covered with a variety of vegetation, starting with dense tropical forests at the base, which are inhabited by elephant, leopard, buffalo, the endangered Abbot’s duiker, and other small antelope and primates.
Further up, the vegetation changes to moorland, covered with heathers. When you reach 4,000 metres, the alpine desert landscape begins, whose extreme temperature fluctuations means that very little in terms of plant and wildlife can survive here, with the exception of a few hardy mosses and lichens.
And finally, the desert turns into a winter scene of snow and ice – and before you know it, you are at the summit, looking out over the world.
Lying only 3 degrees south of the Equator and at an altitude of 5895 meters above sea level. “As wide as the entire world, great, high and unbelievable white in the sun, was square top of Mt. Kilimanjaro”.
Mt. Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa, the highest free standing mountain in the world, and one of the largest volcanoes ever to burst through the earth’s crusts. The base of this immense mountain measure 50 x 80 km and the outstanding features are the three major volcanic centers, Shira in the west (4260 m), Mawenzi in the East (5260 m) and the snow capped Kibo is the middle (5895 m).
Apart from its dramatic geological features and the beautiful montane vegetation, Mount Kilimanjaro is also notable for its bird life, which is plentiful in the rich forest zone. There is also a wide array of butterflies, moths and other insects. The mountain can be climbed anytime of the year although it is often wet in the forest during the rainy season in April and May.
When is the best time of your route choice?
The best times to climb for weather avoiding the traditional rainy seasons are mid-January to early March, and mid-July to early October. Note that the weather on Kilimanjaro is unpredictable and it is possible to get a week of rain at any time of the year.
During these times, in order to stay out of the ‘crowds’, it’s best to avoid the following:
During Christmas time and the New Year is crowed too many other people, and prices are the highest
Start your climb from Monday because Saturday and Sunday the majority of groups start on these days
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro does not need professional climbing skills. It is, however, a strenuous climb and physical fitness is extremely important. There are several different routes up the mountain with varying degrees of difficulty. Before you decide on climb, you should consult with your physician and choose the best suited to your physical abilities. One good ‘’ measuring stick’ to determine your ability to reach the summit is whether you are able to jog slowly for an hour or more without experiencing shortness of breath
The Seven (7) Routes
- Marangu Route – Simple and Popular
- Machame Route – Moderate and Popular
- Lemosho Route – Difficult and Expensive
- Rongai Route – Difficult
- Umbwe Route – Difficult and Longest route
- Shira Route
- Northern Circuit Route
Climbing gear required: Anorak, fleece, pants, short and long sleeves t-shirt, gloves, Rain suit or poncho,thermal underwear, hat, balaclava/woolen hat, walking boots, woolen socks, gaiters, crampons, sun glasses / snow goggles, thermal water bottle, Headlight, Walking/hiking stick ( not a must), toiletries, chronographic wrist watch, sunscreen lotion, lip salve, Swiss army knife, hand towel, four- season sleeping bag, day pack, Camera, first aid kit and back pack cover. Walking/hiking stick ( not a must)