Did you know that Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest ‘tourist-friendly’ mountain in the world? With little more than proper clothing, a walking stick and strong determination you can climb to the crater rim of Africa’s tallest mountain.
The Kilimanjaro National Park is largely defined by the majestic presence of the snow-capped giant massif looming at an imperial 5,895m (19,341ft) height above sea-level. Located near the town of Moshi, the park encloses Mount Kilimanjaro above the tree line and the surrounding montane forest belt above 1,820m covering a total land mass of 1,688km.
Although the biodiversity of the park is relatively poor, in comparison to other parks and reserves on the continent, it is still recognized internationally as an Important Bird Area (IBA). Among the animals that can be spotted at the park are: bushbuck, red duiker, grey duiker, elephant, blue monkey Cape buffalo, leopard and the black and white Colobus.
To climb up the mountain, there are seven routes which merge into a circular path at Kibo Crater which is where the final ascent up to the very summit starts. The busiest used to be Marangu, called ‘Coca Cola route’ which approaches from southeast and takes 5/6 days.
Considered the most beautiful path is Machame, which is a day longer than Marangu and it approaches from the south. It is now the most popular. Lemosho approaches from the west and is a quiet and less-traveled route which takes 7/8 days, giving you enough time to acclimatize. The least used is Umbwe which approaches from the south. Even though it is the shortest, it is also the steepest and most difficult.
Shira is about the same as Lemosho, and also approaches from the west. Approaching from the north is Rongai, which is remote, less frequented and the easiest route up the mountain. The longest route is the recently discovered Northern Circuit which approaches from the west.
Kilimanjaro is one of the largest free-standing mountain in the world, and camping facilities are available along the routes. Getting to the park is about an hour drive from Kilimanjaro International Airport. The park was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.
Now that you know how climb-friend the rooftop of Africa is, which route are you willing to try?
For additional information, see: