"Kilimanjaro - Roof of Africa" Top 5 Page for this destination Kilimanjaro National Park by jackfruit
Kilimanjaro National Park Travel Guide: 163 reviews and 320 photos
Elevation: 19340', 5895m
Range: East African Volcano, part of the Great Rift Valley
Nearest Towns: Marangu, Moshi & Arusha
Ownership: Kilimanjaro National Park
Latitude: 3°04' S
Longitude: 37°21' E
Kilimanjaro - Tanzania, Africa - Roof of Africa - "that which cannot be conquered" in the local Chagga tongue.
The mountain consists of three volcanoes: Shira, Mawenzi and Kibo. Shira became extinct and collapsed leaving a series of rocky ridges on the Shira plateau. Mawenzi is dormant and its jagged peaks require a technical climb. Uhuru Peak, (19,340 ft.) is Kibo's highest peak but one is considered to have "conquered" the mountain by reaching Gilman's Point at 18,635 ft.
Although just three degrees south of the Equator, the peaks of both Kibo and Mawenzi have permanent caps of snow and ice.
Wet Season: March to late May is the long rainy season. Short rains in November with occasional thunderstorms in Dec
Dry Season: Jan, Feb
Weather Conditions: Equatorial to Arctic
Kilimanjaro has distinct zones of flora and fauna on its slopes. Since the temperature falls about 1°C for every 200m and rainfall decreases with an increase in altitude these zones are at intervals of 1000m and there is a distinct cross over from one zone to the next. Plant vegetation and animal life is most prolific on the lower slopes and decreases with an increase in altitude. At about 4500m there is nothing but a few extremely hardy mosses and the odd animal that strays from its normal turf in search of food.
There are seven main routes to the top -- Marangu, Shira, Mweka, Rongai, Lemosho, Umbwe and Machame.
Marangu is the most popular route, affectionately called the "Coca Cola" route. This is the least expensive and easiest way up the mountain. Usually takes 5 days, but there is an option of adding an extra day for acclimatization @12500ft. Each night, camping is in huts. All the huts on this route have radio contact with the Park Headquarters.
Approximately 5-6 days.
Total Hiking Distance about 96 kms.
Machame is considered one of the most beautiful routes up the mountain, and more strenuous and challenging than Marangu. The additional day on the mountain allows for better acclimitization than the shorter Marangu route. Accomodations are tent campsites along this route.
Approximately 6-7 days.
Total Hiking Distance about 100 kms.
(Even though everything I read and heard indicated that this route is less touristy than Marangu, far more hikers attempted the summit on Machame than Marangu when we were on Kili. I was told by locals that in the last few years more people have hiked the Machame than the Marangu route because of it's claim to be "less" touristy. Go figure! )
The Lemosho Route is an unspoilt, remote, little used and beautiful way up to the Shira Plateau. Armed rangers accompany hikers on the lower slopes because of the abundance of dangerous wildlife in this region.
The Rongai route ascends from the northeastern side of the mountain, along the border between Tanzania and Kenya. This hike is usually an option for people starting thier hike in Nairobi.
The Shira , Mweka and Umbwe are steeper, shorter, technical climbs.
We did the Marangu route, with an extra day of acclimatization on the mountain. Our route decision was affected by the fact that we were hiking in the short rainy season and huts would be less messy if the heavens opened up. Needless to say, we didnt get a single drop of rain the entire week!!
Our trek was arranged by Zara Tours based in Moshi. They come highly recommended. All services rendered, including food on the mountain and the competence of guides, was top notch. Our bookings from the US were made using a South African tour company called Destination Africa. If you want a one stop shopping place to book your airfare, safari and trek, they are great! They use Zara for the trek and safari and Leopard Tours in Arusha for air bookings, etc.
I used Lonely Planet Tanzania Guide extensively and of course, VT Tanzania Forum for all planning needs for this trip.
To avoid altitude sickness, it is highly recommended that you acclimatize by ascending slowly instead of going at your normal trekking pace. Since almost every trekking route on Kili is not very steep, it is tempting to get ahead of others and race to the finish. That's the worst thing you can do! The body needs time to acclimatize and if you over-exert yourself, you might be putting yourself in serious danger. Always remember that Everest Base Camp is at a lower elevation than Uhuru Peak and mountaineers take 2 weeks or more to get there from Kathmandu VS a week or far less to climb Uhuru.
The 6 day Marangu Route takes you from the park gate at 1700m to the top of Kili at 5895m through stunning and breathtaking scenery. You stay in A-frame wooden huts along the way at the Mandara (2700m), Horombo (3720m) and Kibo (4600m) huts. Summit night is the most physically challenging because of the thin air, steep slippery scree and wind whipped cold temperatures.
- Pros:Great scenery all around you as you challenge yourself to conquer this daunting mountain!
- Cons:A fast pace up the mountain is the worst thing you can do!
- In a nutshell:Hakuna Matata! Take your time, heed the symtoms of altitude sickness and the mountain will take care of you!
If you are starting your hike at the Marangu gate, make sure to stop by the gift store/snack shop. There is a tabletop... more travel advice
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