Size: 1668 sq km 641 sq miles).
Location: Northern Tanzania, near the town of Moshi.
Getting there:128 km (80 miles) from Arusha. About one hour’s drive from Kilimanjaro airport
When to go: Clearest and warmest conditions from December to February, but also dry (and colder) from July-September.
Tips: Climb slowly to increase your acclimatization time and maximize your chances of reaching the summit also to avoid altitude sickness, allow a minimum of five nights, preferably even more for the climb. Take your time and enjoy the beauty of the mountain.
Kilimanjaro is not only the highest peak in Africa but also the world’s highest free standing, snow-covered equatorial mountain. It represents a towering yet 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.Kilimanjaro is alsoreferred to as a mystery wreathed in clouds. Over 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.
It is one of the world’s most accessible high summits, a beacon for visitors from around the world. Most climbers reach the crater rim with little more than a walking stick, proper clothing and determination. And those who reach Uhuru Point, the actual summit, or Gillman’s Point on the lip of the crater, will have earned their climbing certificates and their memories.
But there is so much more to Kili than her summit. The ascent of the slopes is a virtual climatic world tour, from the tropics to the Arctic. There much to do at Kili such as six usual trekking routes to the summit and other more-demanding mountaineering routes, day or overnight hikes on the Shira plateau. Nature trails on the lower reaches, trout fishing, visit the beautiful Chala Crater Lake on the mountain’s southeastern slopes.
Even before you cross the national park boundary (at the 2,700m contour), the cultivated foot slopes give way to lush montane forest, inhabited by elusive elephant, leopard, buffalo, the endangered Abbot’s duiker, and other small antelope and primates. Higher still lays the moorland zone, where a cover of giant heather is studded with otherworldly giant lobelias. Above 4,000m, a surreal alpine desert supports little life other than a few hardy mosses and lichen. Then, finally, the last vestigial vegetation gives way to a winter wonderland of ice and snow – and the magnificent beauty of the roof of the continent.
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.