5896m Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain and one of the continent’s magnificent sights, It has three main volcanic peaks, Kibo, Mawenzi, and Shira. The name itself “Kilimanjaro” is a mystery wreathed in clouds. It might mean Mountain of Light, Mountain of Greatness or Mountain of Caravans.
Above the gently rolling hills and plateaux of northern Tanzania rises the snowy peak of Mount. Kilimanjaro, it’s slopes and glaciers shimmering above the rising clouds. Kilimanjaro is located near the town of Moshi and is a protected area, carefully regulated for climbers to enjoy without leaving a trace of their presence. The mountain’s ecosystems are as strikingly beautiful as they are varied and diverse. On the lowland slopes, much of the mountain is farmland, with coffee, banana, cassava, and maize crops grown for subsistence and cash sale. A few larger coffee farms still exist on the lower slopes, but much of the area outside the national park has been subdivided into small plots. Once inside the park, thick lowland forest covers the lower altitudes and breaks into alpine meadows once the air begins to thin. Near the peak, the landscape is harsh and barren, with rocks and ice the predominant features above a breathtaking African view.
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is the highlight of most visitors’ experiences in Tanzania. Few mountains can claim the grandeur, the breathtaking views of Amboseli National Park in Kenya, the Rift Valley, and the Masaai Steppe, that belongs to Kilimanjaro. Hiking on the ‘rooftop of Africa’ — the highest point on the continent at 5896 metres — is the adventure of a lifetime, especially because, if paced well, everyone from seasoned trekkers to first-time enthusiasts can scale the snowy peak.
Kilimanjaro. The name itself is a mystery wreathed in clouds. It might mean Mountain of Light, Mountain of Greatness or Mountain of Caravans. Or it might not. The local people, the Wachagga, don’t even have a name for the whole massif, only Kipoo (now known as Kibo) for the familiar snowy peak that stands imperious, overseer of the continent, the summit of Africa.
Kilimanjaro, by any name, is a metaphor for the compelling beauty of East Africa. When you see it, you understand why. Not only is this the highest peak on the African continent; Mount Kilimanjaro is also the tallest free-standing mountain in the world, rising in breathtaking isolation from the surrounding coastal scrubland – elevation around 900 metres – to an imperious 5,895 metres (19,336 feet).
Kilimanjaro is one of the world’s most accessible high summits, a beacon for visitors from around the world. Most climbers reach the crater rim with little more than a walking stick, proper clothing and determination. And those who reach Uhuru Point, the actual summit, or Gillman’s Point on the lip of the crater, will have earned their climbing certificates.
And their memories.
But there is so much more to Mount Kilimanjaro than her summit. The ascent of the slopes is a virtual climatic world tour, from the tropics to the Arctic.
Even before you cross the national park boundary (at the 2,700m contour), the cultivated footslopes give way to lush montane forest, inhabited by elusive elephant, leopard, buffalo, the endangered Abbot’s duiker, and other small antelope and primates. Higher still lies the moorland zone, where a cover of giant heather is studded with otherworldly giant lobelias.
Above 4,000m, a surreal alpine desert supports little life other than a few hardy mosses and lichen. Then, finally, the last vestigial vegetation gives way to a winter wonderland of ice and snow – and the magnificent beauty of the roof of the continent.
Things to see and do in Tarangire
Mountain climbing: The most common activity done in Kilimanjaro is mountain climbing, Climbing africas free standing mountain will give you a thrilling experience you never imagined Kibo peak is the highest peak snow capped through out the year offering magnificent views of the surrounding towns from a far, one of the peaks and the oldest known as shira peak formed up a plateau providing spectacular grasslands and various plant species with a lot of wild life.
Wildlife viewing: A number of various animals can be seen at Mount Kilimanjaro national park though it can not be compared to other national parks in Tanzania, some of the wild lives to expect while on safari at Mount Kilimanjaro are; vervet monkey, genet cat, honey badger, aardvark, baboon, Columbus monkey, bushbaby, elands and elephants mostly seen at the Shira plateua plains.
Bird watching: Mount Kilimanjaro national park boasts with different species of birds, it is believed to be a home to over 150 bird species some of which are migratory birds and others endemic to this area, some of the birds in Mount Kilimanjaro are; white necked Raven, resident black shouldered kite, long tailed trogon, Gabar goshawk, blue napped mouse birds, grey hornbill, African fish eagles, white cheeked barbet, African pygmy kingfisher and red capped robin chat among the rest. The best time to do bird watching is in November to April when migratory birds from Europe and North Africa are present.
Cycling: Tourists can make their safari more experimental by cycling to the highest peak of Africa through the Kilema route; additional fee might be added for this activity. There are three main stations. The cycling will expose you to farmlands of the chagga people. However this activity should be done by well experienced mountain bikes accompanied by a tourist’s guide who’s knowledgeable about Kilimanjaro.
Camping: To have an exclusive bush experience, camping within the 32 camping sites along the second hiking routes will be memorable. The campsites provide comfortable accommodation and bush toilets as well as mouth watering meals to suit your hiking experience.
Nature guided walks: Guided nature walks can be done at the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro forest canopy and tourists can encounter a lot of primates like the red tailed monkey, olive baboon, white and black Columbus monkey and a lot of plant species not forgetting the panoramic views of the chagga farmlands and neighbouring towns.
Picnicking: Mount Kilimanjaro national park boasts with the 13 picking sites where tourists can enjoy this activity in the uninterrupted wilderness, the picnic sites are; Daraja refu, Kilimamchele, Wona, Last water, Machame half way and Jiwe la mbula among the rest. Tourist can enjoy their packed lunch from one of this site.
Filming: Mount Kilimanjaro being Africas free standing mountain offers panoramic views suitable for filming adventure movies, one of he famous films that scooped an award was done from Kilimanjaro this was done in 1952 and the title was the snow’s of Kilimanjaro.
Best time to visit
Mountain climbing can be done throughout the year. However, the best time is mid June-October and December-mid March.
ilimanjaro National Park can be connected by both road ways and air ways.