Mt. Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in the African continent at about 5,895 meters and the world’s tallest free-standing mountain. It has three cones: Kibo, Mawenzi, and Shira, since Mt. Kilimanjaro is a stratovolcano, Kibo is the only dormant cone while Mawenzi and Shira are extinct.
Mt. Kilimanjaro is also known for its snow-capped peak but the snow might disappear in the next 20 years. Kilimanjaro is a popular hiking spot for locals and tourists, climbing is a challenge but because mountaineering gear and experience are not needed to reach the peak, tens of thousands of climbers ascend the mountain each year. It takes approximately six to seven days to climb the mountain on either of the routes. Six to seven days of a change in altitude and the view of beautiful sceneries.
These four main routes include:
Machame route- a seven-day program that begins on the southwest side of the mountain and cuts across the southeast side allowing climbers to sleep at the same altitude for three consecutive days which aids altitude acclimatization. This route also includes diverse scenery.
The Lemosho route- a 7 or 8 day 70km route that has a beautiful approach through the Lemosho glades on the west before joining Machame trail at the Shira plateau and contouring around the southern flank of the mountain through Barranco camp, Karanga camp, and then on to Barafu camp for the summit push.
The Rongai route- Also known as the Loitoktok route is a 7-day camping route that has lower traffic. It has an easier route in terms of terrain, excellent clear views of the mountain, and more opportunities to see wildlife. The route is quieter and flatter, it is also drier because the mountain itself stops the rain clouds coming from the south.
Kilimanjaro Northern Circuit Route-is the longest route on Mt. Kilimanjaro, a nine-day trip, is the newest and the most exciting route. The northern circuit traverses the mountain around the quiet, rarely visited northern slopes. It is great for acclimatization, resulting in the highest success rates for all routes.
Umbwe route-is a short steep and direct route and is the most challenging way up Mt. Kilimanjaro. The route is offered at a minimum of six days, although the recommended number of days is seven for this route. Due to the quick ascent, Umbwe does not provide the necessary stages for altitude acclimatization.
The best times to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro are during the warmest and driest times of the year, from December to mid-March and mid-June to the end of October when the skies are clear and the weather is less harsh.
From mid-June to the end of October conditions are generally cold but much drier than the previous months. Another advantage of this is that you will have clear and sunny skies and spectacular views. The disadvantage of trekking during these months is that it can become quite busy but this can be an opportunity to meet other hikers.
January and February are two of the best months to climb Mt.Kilimanjaro and the most popular. These two months are the warmest, therefore, expecting clear and sunny skies throughout the day, however, clouds may form in the afternoon.
The short rainy season runs into December, however, this is still a popular time to climb.
A full moon climb of Kilimanjaro, or indeed a new moon climb is also a popular time for climbers. It can be spent walking under the light of a full silvery moon: or, since Kilimanjaro is situated on the equator, under a full sky of both south and north constellations. From high up on the peak, you can see the North star and the Southern cross in the same sky.
SOME FACTS ABOUT MT. KILIMANJARO
Mt. Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain on the African continent and the highest free-standing mountain in the world.
Kilimanjaro has three volcanic cones, Mawenzi, Shira, and Kibo. Mawenzi and Shira are extinct but Kibo, the highest peak, is dormant and could erupt again.
The oldest person ever to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro was 87-year-old Frenchman Valtee Daniel.
Almost every kind of ecological system is found on the mountain.
The mountain’s snow caps are diminishing and may be completely ice-free within the next 20 years, according to scientists.
South African Bernard Goosen twice scaled Mt. Kilimanjaro in a wheelchair. His first, in 2003, took nine days; his second, four years later, took only six. Born with cerebral palsy, Goosen used a modified wheelchair, mostly without assistance, to climb the mountain.
Approximately 25,000 people attempt to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro annually. Approximately two-thirds are successful. Altitude-related problems are the most common reason climbers turn back.
Kilimanjaro translates to “mountain of springs” and its unique position just below the equator offers an opportunity to experience five different habitats from bottom to top, which makes an ascent of the mountain undeniably special.