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Mount Kilimanjaro | Climbing Mt Kili

A free-standing, snow-covered dormant volcano, majestic Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa.  Located in northeast Tanzania, it can be seen from far into Kenya and Amboseli National Park.
75,000 people climb Kilimanjaro every year so it is not the most untouched mountain, nor is it the most arduous.  However, it is certainly a test of one’s endurance, with altitude sickness the main reason for climbers not to summit.  Although it has become a very popular challenge and the experience slightly crowded with other climbers, we still highly recommend it for anyone with even a vague interest in mountaineering.

Mt Kilimanjaro is located in North Tanzania next to some of the top safari parks in Africa, so while making an ascent its rude not to pop infor a few days to experience the Serengeti, Ngorongoro or Tarangire.

There are hundreds of operators that work on Mount Kilimanjaro but over the years we have decided to work with only 2 companies based on their safety track record, guides and cost. Climbing Kilimanjaro is potentially very dangerous so its important to be with the right company!

How high is Kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro stands 5,895m or 19,340 feet high and is the highest free-standing mountain in the world.  By comparison Everest is 8,848m.

Mount Kilimanjaro Weather

March to end of May is the wet season on Mount Kilimanjaro and not a great time for trekking

How long does it take to climb Kilimanjaro

This does depend on route, but the fastest assent can take 4 nights, though most people take 6-8 nights depending on route

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 endeavour 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, oxygen levels are depleted further as the landscape develops into a more bizarre alpine desert, with sandy loose earth.  Weather conditions are so intense 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 centre an inner crater with walls between 12 and 20 m high contains another concentric minor cone, the centre of which falls away into the 360m span of the ash pit. This is the 120 metre deep central core of the volcano, and casts sulphurous boiling smoke from its depths despite the frozen, snowy outskirts. 

Tanzania safari extensions

Having gone all the way to climb Kilimanjaro, most climbers choose to extend their trip with a Tanzanian safari or even some beach time in Zanzibar or on the mainland coast.
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Tanzania Map Tanzania - Serengeti Tanzania - Ngorongoro Crater Tanzania - Lake Manyara Tanzania - Tarangire Tanzania - Kilimanjaro Tanzania - Selous Game Reserve Tanzania - Ruaha Tanzania - Mahale Mountains Tanzania - Katavi Tanzania - Zanzibar Tanzania - Pemba Island Tanzania - Mafia Island Tanzania - Dar es Salaam Tanzania - Arusha
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