The Mountain, Facts
Mount Kilimanjaro with its picturesque summits and volcanic cones (Kibo, Mawenzi, and Shira) stands at 5,893 metres or 19,334 ft above sea level and its the highest mountain in Africa. A mountain climbing adventure of such proportion is such an exhilarating experience, reaching the peak (the Uhuru Peak / Kibo Peak) simply means you standing on the roof of Africa, on top of the world.
Indeed, Mount Kilimanjaro is the 4th largest mountain in the world. Succeeding the ascent to the roof, namely, Kibo 5,893 m (19,334 ft); Mawenzi 5,149 m (16,893 ft); and Shira 3,962 m (13,000 ft) is the dream of many world adventurers. Greatly esteemed as one of the 7 world summits, a mount Kilimanjaro expendition is a must for a complete mountaineering challenge. Uhuru Peak is the highest summit on Kibo's crater rim. Scores of young adults including African students, seniors, professionals have made to the top. Why not you?
There are several routes by which to climb Mt Kilimanjaro, namely: Marangu, Rongai, Lemosho, Shira, Umbwe and Machame. Of all the routes, Machame is by far the most scenic albeit steeper route up the mountain, which can be done in 6 or 7 days. The Rongai is the easiest camping route and the Marangu is also relatively easy, but accommodation is in huts. As a result, this route tends to be very busy, and ascent and descent routes are the same.
Marangu Route:- Marangu is by far the most popular route to the summit of Kilimanjaro. This could partly be as a result of the fact that the Marangu is the least expensive route, but more so, perhaps the fact that it is possible to do the Marangu route in 6 days, thereby getting to the summit one day earlier than on the Machame route.
Machame Route:- Sometimes called the Whisky Route. This is a popular route up steep paths through magnificent forests to gain a ridge leading through the moorland zones to the Shira Plateau. It then traverses beneath the glaciated precipices of the Southern Ice fields to join the Barafu Route to the summit.
Umbwe Route:- The Umbwe route is one of the shortest routes to the Southern Glaciers and the Western Breach. It is probably the most scenic, non-technical route on Kilimanjaro. It is quite taxing, primarily due to the relatively fast ascent to higher altitude, but the rewards are plentiful. Very steep route best suited to experienced trekkers
Lemosho Route:- This is the longest and most remote route to Kilimanjaro. After beautiful forests and moorlands it crosses the Shira Plateau to meet up with the Machame Route. Groups may be accompanied on the first day by an armed ranger as the forests around the Lemosho Glades are rich in buffalo, elephant and other game.
Rongai Route:- This remote and less frequently used route is the second easiest route to Kilimanjaro. The approach to the mountain is from the less-forested north side and the descent is by the Marangu Route. There are several variations, the one described is a longer route taking in Mawenzi Tarn.
Shira Route:- The Shira route, approaches Kilimanjaro’s summit from the west and crosses the caldera of Shira Volcano before heading beneath the southern ice fields of Kibo. The route is seldom used by other trekkers and so your initial two days on the mountain are less crowded than on most other routes.
As said, Mount Kilimanjaro as Africa's highest mountain is real most awesome sight. Your photos of snowcapped mountain and bushlands rolling around the mountain are real assets to grace your memoirs. It is surrounded by rain forest and is home to many animals such as Elephants, Buffaloes, Rhinos, Leopards, and Monkeys. Monkeys and Elands are the only animals that can be seen at the summits of Mawenzi and Kibo Peaks.
The snow-capped peak, the dream of scaling the summit, watching dawn break and gazing out over the vast African wildlife, plains and bushland is an experience not to be missed. Kilimanjaro can be trekked at any time of the year, however, there is usually a lot of rain during April, May and November which makes trekking even more challenge.
The main trekking seasons on Kilimanjaro correspond with the mountain’s two dry seasons (an imprecise term, the weather being occasionally inclement during these periods too) namely January to mid-March and June to October.The January to March season tends to be colder and there is a much greater chance of snow on the path at this time. The days, however, are often clearer, with only the occasional brief shower. It is usually an exceptionally beautiful time to climb and is often a little quieter than the other peak season of September to October, which coincides with the main academic holidays in Europe and the West. In this latter season the clouds tend to hang around the tree-line following the heavy rains of March to May. Once above this altitude, however, the skies are blue and brilliant and the chance of precipitation minimal (though still present).
Although the June to October season tends to be busier, this is not necessarily a disadvantage. For example, if you are travelling independently to Tanzania but wish, for the sake of companionship or simply to cut down on costs, to join up with other travellers for your Kilimanjaro trek, then the high visitor numbers in the June-October peak season will give you the best chance of doing this.
Of course one can trek up Kilimanjaro in the rainy season but not only is there a much higher chance of trekking in the rain, the summits of Kibo and Mawenzi are likely to be wreathed in thick cloud too. Indeed, several agencies even suspend their operations in November and December, deciding that any trek up Kilimanjaro is foolhardy at this time and the rewards for the trekkers considerably less. Curiously, however, Christmas and New Year, when the weather is far from perfect, have been the most popular times for climbing Kilimanjaro.
From Moshi to Marangu park headquarters. Then we take a long drive along the Tanzanian/Kenyan border until we reach Rongai where we head up the mountain. From the Park gate we follow an old 4wd track through the forest and heather. Lots of Elephant dung is to be found and we might spot one of the 'droppers' ourselves! We sleep at the 1st Cave, no hut.
Day 2: To Kikelewa (Second) Cave 2600m to 3600m (8500ft to 11,800ft) About 6 hours
We leave camp and cross the moorland with good views of Kibo, the Eastern Icefields and Mawenzi. we pass the 2nd Rongai Cave at 3450m where the track splits: straight ahead is possible, we go left (east) towards Mawenzi for better acclimatization. The campsite is in a sheltered valley near the Kikelewa Caves at 3600m.
Day 3: To Mawenzi Tarn 3600m to 4330m (11,800ft to 14,200ft) About 5 hours
Today is not long, but steeper than before (not technical). The campsite is at the "Mawenzi Tarn", situated in directly beneath the rugged rocks of 5149 m high Mawenzi. You can walk around if you like or just rest and acclimatize. Extra days can be spend here for a better chance of summiting or for climbing Mawenzi (technical rock/ice), which is seldom done.
Day 4: Mawenzi Tarn
Today is an acclimatization day at Mawenzi Tarn. You can hike in the area or just relax at camp, both will help for the days ahead.
Day 5: To School Camp 4330m to 4750m - About 8 hours
We cross the wide plateau aptly called "the Saddle" between Mawenzi and Kibo. We arrive at the School camp where the direct track from 1st cave also end up. Today is not a long or hard day, so you can start preparing mentally and physically (resting and eating/drinking a lot) for the summit bid which will start the next morning. Early dinner and bedtime
Day 6 To Summit and Horombo camp Hut 4600m to 5895m (and down to 3720m) - About 11 hoursEarly morning, we continue our way via zigzags to the summit of Uhuru Peak at 5,985 meters. You will have to join the crowds from the normal (Marangu or Coca-Cola) route up until Gillman's point (5735), where most of the fast up and down tourists will have had enough.
At Uhuru Peak, we have reached the highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro and the continent of Africa. Faster hikers will see the sunrise from the summit. From the summit, we now make our descent continuing straight down to the Horombo Hut camp site at 3720 meters. This part of the descent takes about 5 hours. You will want gaiters and trekking poles for the loose gravel going down. Later in the evening, we enjoy our last dinner on the mountain and a well-earned sleep.
Day 7: To Marangu & Moshi 3720m to 1800m About 4-5 hours
After breakfast, we continue the descent down to the Marangu Park Gate. At lower elevations, it can be wet and muddy. Gaiters and trekking poles will help. Shorts and t-shirts will probably be plenty to wear (keep raingear and warmer clothing handy). A vehicle will meet you at Marangu to drive you back to the hotel in Moshi. Don't forget to tip your guides and porters. It is time for celebration! Hotel in Moshi is included in our trips.
Mount Kilimanjaro Checklist