Visiting Mount Kilimanjaro
Visiting Mount Kilimanjaro : Mount Kilimanjaro is found in the northern part of Tanzania and is the highest mountain in Africa at an altitude of about 5895 meters. The mountain is a dormant volcano with 3 volcanic cones which include Kibo, Mawenzi and Shira. The summit of Mount Kilimanjaro is Uhuru peak.
Mount Kilimanjaro is part of Kilimanjaro national park where various wildlife and bird species can be seen during a safari. Wildlife species in the national park include grey duikers, bush bucks, forest elephants, and cape buffalos among others.
Hiking is a popular activity which is carried out during safaris on Mount Kilimanjaro. This activity starts from Moshi town which is the closest town to the mountain where hikers can also enjoy interacting with the locals.
Tanzania National Parks Authority (TANAPA) manages Kilimanjaro national park which is a destination for wildlife viewing in Tanzania. The national park is made up of montane forests, grassland, moorland where various wildlife species live.
The different hiking routes or climbing routes used on Mount Kilimanjaro include Marangu route, Lemosho route, Machame route, Rongai route, Umbwe route and Shira route. The number of days it takes to get to the summit varies depending on the different routes used for hiking on Mount Kilimanjaro.
It takes about 5 to 6 days or more to hike on Mount Kilimanjaro during a safari around Tanzania depending on the hiking route which is used by the tourists. The different climatic zones which hikers go through during their climbing experiences on Mount Kilimanjaro include the following;
- Bush land zone or cultivated zone
- Rainforest zone
- Moorland zone
- Alpine desert zone
- Arctic zone
Best time to visit Mount Kilimanjaro
The times of the year which are recommended for hiking experiences on Mount Kilimanjaro include the months of December to March as well as June to October which is the dry season and also a good time for wildlife viewing around Tanzania.
Many tourists also go on safaris to Mount Kilimanjaro during these months which are always busy due to the clear skies and weather which favors hiking experiences on the highest mountain in Africa.
Hiking equipment which is recommended for safaris on Mount Kilimanjaro include hiking shoes, sleeping bags, gloves among others. Porters and guides are available to assist the hikers during their hiking adventures on Mount Kilimanjaro and around Tanzania.
Activities which are carried out during safaris on Mount Kilimanjaro include the following;
Hiking on Mount Kilimanjaro is the major activity which is carried out on the mountain across the different hiking trails.
- Marangu route is among the routes which are used for hiking on Mount Kilimanjaro. Using this trail it takes about 5 to 6 days to ascend to the summit and descend to the starting point of the hike. Marangu route is the only route which offers hut accommodation for hikers and it starts from Marangu gate to Mandara hut, the next day hikes begin from Mandara hut to Horombo hut, from Horombo hut to Kibo hut and from kibo hut to the peak. After getting to the peak, descend starts and the night is spent at Horombo hut before continuing the hike back to Marangu gate.
- Machame route is another hiking route on visiting Mount Kilimanjaro which takes about 7 days of hiking along this scenic route. This route starts from southern part of the mountain at Machame gate and the hikes continue to Machame camp. From Machame camp, the hike continues to Shira 2 camp, from Shira 2 camp to Barranco camp, from Barranco camp to Karanga camp, from Karanga camp to Barafu camp and then to Uhuru peak which is followed by descend to Mweka camp and ending at Mweka gate.
- Lemosho route hikes start from the western side of Mount Kilimanjaro and it takes about 7 to 8 day to hike on the mountain using this route. Hikes on Lemosho route begin from Londrossi gate to Mti Mkubwa and then to Shira 1 camp, from here the hikers trek to Moir hut and to Barranco camp, from Barranco camp to Karanga camp. From Karanga camp to Barafu hut to Uhuru peak. From the peak descend to Mweka camp and then end at Mweka gate.
- Rongai route on Mount Kilimanjaro is on the north eastern side of the mountain between Kenya and Tanzania. It can take up to about 7 to 8 days to hike on the mountain using this route which starts from Rongai gate to Rongai cave, from Rongai cave to the second cave and then to Kikelewa cave. From Kikelewa cave to Mawenzi tarn and then to the Kibo hut, from Kibo hut to Uhuru peak and descend to Horombo hut and ending at Marangu gate.
- Shira route is also a hiking route which starts on the western side of Mount Kilimanjaro from Shira gate. The hike continues to Shira 2 camp and to Barranco camp, from Barranco camp to Karanga camp, from Karanga camp to Barafu camp to Uhuru peak and descend to Mweka camp and ends at Mweka gate. This route is almost similar to the Lemosho route.
Other routes which are used for hiking on Mount Kilimanjaro include the Umbwe route and Mweka route.
There are various bird species which can be seen around Kilimanjaro national park and these include over 700 bird species. This activity is combined with the hiking activities carried out during a safari on the mountain.
From the nearby town of Moshi, tourists on hiking experiences on Mount Kilimanjaro can interact with the locals such as the Chagga people who live at the foothills of the mountain. The Chagga practice agriculture and grow crops such as coffee, maize, cassava and other food crops along the slopes on Mount Kilimanjaro.
A number of wildlife species can be seen during safaris to Kilimanjaro national park where Mount Kilimanjaro is located and they include blue monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, forest elephants, giraffes among others.
Visits to Mount Kilimanjaro are part of a memorable experience while exploring the northern parts of Tanzania and its unique attractions.