Mount Kilimanjaro

Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa’s tallest mountain and the world’s largest free-standing mountain. Located in Tanzania, Mount Kilimanjaro is the African continent’s highest peak at 5,895 meters. The majestic mountain is a snow-capped volcano. Kilimanjaro has three volcanic cones, Mawenzi, Shira and Kibo. Mawenzi and Shira are extinct but Kibo, the highest peak, is dormant. The highest point on Kibo’s crater rim is called Uhuru, the Swahili word for “freedom.”

Mount Kilimanjaro is a famous tourist attraction bringing thousands of participants from all over the world. Standing vigil over Tanzania’s untamed landscapes, Mount Kilimanjaro boasts an array of beautiful and vastly diverse habitats and ecosystems. On the lowland slopes, much of the mountain has been converted to farmland. Once you make your way inside the park, you will encounter thick, lush lowland forest areas as well as rainforests covering the lower slopes, giving way to alpine meadows.

The slopes of rainforest are home to several incredible wildlife species including, Elephants, Leopards, Monkeys, Buffaloes and Elands. The alpine meadow region on the other hand is a birding enthusiast’s dream destination as it is where avid bird watchers will find and enjoy spectacular sightings of an astounding array of birds of prey.

The climate of Kilimanjaro is influenced by the height of the mountain, which allows the simultaneous influence of the equatorial trade winds and the high altitude anti-trades, and by the isolated position of the mountain. Kilimanjaro has daily upslope and nightly downslope winds, a regimen stronger on the southern than the northern side of the mountain. The flatter southern flanks are more extended and affect the atmosphere more strongly.

Kilimanjaro is also an award winning mountain climbing destination. There are seven established Mount Kilimanjaro routes which lead to the summit. They include: Lemosho, Machame, Marangu, Rongai, Northern Circuit, Shira and Umbwe.

Lemosho Route

Lemosho route is considered the most scenic trail on Kilimanjaro, granting panoramic vistas on various sides of the mountain. The route approaches Mount Kilimanjaro from the west. Lemosho is designed for physically fit people with some hiking experience. The Lemosho route can be done in as little as six days on the mountain. However, it is ideally tackled over eight days for a better altitude acclimatization schedule.

Machame Route

The Machame route, also known as the “Whiskey” route, is the most popular route on Kilimanjaro. The Route is considered relatively tough. Approaching legendary Kilimanjaro from the south-west, the popular Machame Route taken over six or seven days will give you good acclimatization time and every chance of reaching the summit.

Marangu Route

The Marangu route, also known as the “Coca-Cola” route, is the oldest, most well established route on Kilimanjaro. The route approaches Mount Kilimanjaro from the southeast. This is the only route which offers sleeping huts in dormitory style accommodations. The Marangu route can be completed in 5 days; however, it is recommended that climbers take an extra day to acclimatize at Horombo Hut.

Northern Circuit

The Northern Circuit route is one of the best routes on Kilimanjaro offering beautiful sceneries including the quiet rarely visited northern slopes. The route approaches Mount Kilimanjaro from the west. As the longest route on Kilimanjaro, the Northern Circuit also has the most acclimatization time and the highest summit success rate. Thus, the Northern Circuit route is highly recommended.

Shira Route

The Shira route is unusual for having a high starting point. It is one of the older Kilimanjaro routes, and is very similar to the Lemosho route. The Shira route approaches the summit of Kilimanjaro from the west. In fact, Shira was the original route and Lemosho is the improved variation. Although Shira is a varied and beautiful route, it is less favorable than its successor due to the relatively high altitude of Shira’s starting point, which is accessed quickly by vehicle.

Umbwe Route

The Umbwe route has a well-deserved reputation of being the most challenging route on Mount Kilimanjaro. Due to the fast ascent to high altitude, this route does not provide the necessary stages for acclimatization. For this reason its summit success rate is low and its one of the least used trails on the mountain. The Umbwe approaches the summit from the south and camping is the only available accommodation option.

There are five ecological zones on Mount Kilimanjaro, each with its own climate and weather characteristics. Climbers are required to have the right gear to stay warm, dry and comfortable in a wide range of weather conditions. The temperature mostly depends on the ecological zone, elevation, time of day and the season. Generally speaking, it will probably be warm at the trailhead when you begin your climb and very chilly at the top when you reach the summit.