Ever fancy looking down on Africa from the continent’s highest view point? To be exact, the highest free-standing point of view on planet earth? Visit and experience a Mount Kilimanjaro climb. If you are adventurous and brave enough, you will never regret the climb, and the memory of looking out at dawn as the sun rises over the Africa continent will last you a lifetime.
Kilimanjaro means “The Mountain of Greatness” in Swahili. Majestically towering above Arusha province, it looms over Kilimanjaro National Park which is less than two hours’ drive along the Hima Road, away from Kilimanjaro International Airport. Kilimanjaro National Park in Moshi is a UNESCO world heritage site, and once you are there, you can choose between seven official trekking routes to reach the ice-capped summit of this high mountain.
Mount Kilimanjaro steeply tapers upward into three clear-cut volcanic cones that had been dormant for centuries. Kibo is the highest at 5895 meters above sea level, and its Uhuru Peak completes the ultimate apex of your Kilimanjaro climb.
The ascent of mount Kilimanjaro takes you up through several climatic zones. At the gate of Kilimanjaro National Park, you feel as though you have entered a tropical rainforest not a Tanzanian mountain. Rainfall is abundant and temperature lingers at 32 C, which begins to drop as you summit. The dense forest gives away to a heath above 3,000 m and after 4,000 m, vegetation is no more. In its place, the mountain becomes rough and rugged. The rocky climb gradually turns to desert crossing, and then the final phase would be through icy glaciers towards the snow-capped pinnacle of Uhuru peak in Kibo.
Kilimanjaro Climb routes
For your preference, there are seven treks to select for your climb. Although steep, the Mechame Trek offers the most panoramic views, above all, the rest. Also called the Whiskey route, it would take you to the Mechame Camp, Shira Plateau, Baranco Camp, Karanga Valley, and finally to Mweka Camp on the sixth day of your hike. The sixth day would also be your summit day when you reach the top of Kibo’s Uhuru Peak. But Mechame can be only recommended for experienced trekkers who are used to climbing steep slopes. However, it is the quickest route to the top if you are arranging for a Tanzania Budget Safari.
Marangu is preferably more popular for a Tanzania Safari because it provides more facilities for climbers. The climb is gradual, and you get ample time to adjust to the altitude change. You pass through Kibo huts and glacial scree to reach the summit.
Uhuru, means “Freedom” in Swahili, is nestled on the crater rim of Kibo. If you trek along Mechame, you will access the rim at Stella point, and if you select Marangu Trek, it will be at Gillman’s. Most trekkers choose to rest a little longer than usual once they reach the rim, but a prudent decision is to hurry. Uhuru attracts a lot of Tanzanian Holiday visitors. Better to go there first and take your photo. You can’t afford to wait for your turn.
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Treat this climb as a real challenge in your life. Lots of people on a Tanzania Safari had given it up and turned their back on it. So, if you make it to the top on your Tanzanian Holiday, that means you are someone special who can accept the challenge and see it through, when others fail. And what a thing it would be to say to one’s family! “That’s my granddaddy smiling in that photo at Uhuru Peak. That’s Mount Kilimanjaro!”
Despite its preposterous height, Mount Kilimanjaro provides visitors on a Tanzania Safari, unbelievable easy access to its top. The trek takes a week of your Tanzania Budget Safari, yes, but comparing it with the Himalayas and Andes, you would see how comfortable a climb it is. No avalanches to bury you alive. No murderous cliff walls to send you spinning down to your death. If you get killed on Mount Kilimanjaro, it can be of a heart attack or acute mountain sickness! Death by falling is least unlikely, unless you are too careless. Mount Kilimanjaro also harbours risks like high winds and precipitous slopes. But with alternative routes, you can safely bypass those.
Some mountains like Mount Logan in Canada demands that you to walk miles and miles before you even reach the base of it. Kili is not that unkind. Sign in at any gate and you would be beginning the climb right there. The immediate start saves you lots of time. Getting from Kilimanjaro International Airport to the mountain is also easy. A two hours’ drive is the most it takes.
Coming down is not so difficult, unlike other mountains. Descending back to Siula Grande in Andes, climbers have described their descent as “nightmarish” and “unspeakably spine-chilling.” Not so on Mount Kilimanjaro. The slope is smooth and even refreshing. You can even enjoy the wildlife.