Mount Kilimanjaro is a dormant volcano in Tanzania. It has three volcanic cones: Kibo, Mawenzi and Shira. Kibo is dormant, and has the potential to erupt again while Mawenzi and Shira are extinct. It is the highest mountain in Africa, standing at 5,895 metres above sea level. making it one of the seven summits. It is also the largest single free-standing mountain in the world, majestically snowcapped.
Mt Kilimanjaro is a very popular mountain to hike as it is a hiking peak, and not a mountaineering/ climbing peak as it does not require any technical expertise or equipment. However, it is still a dangerous trek due to the possibility of altitude sickness, a condition that could be deadly if not treated quickly. This is why a longer number of days are recommended to hike & summit Kilimanjaro.
The mountain and its six surrounding forest corridors were named Kilimanjaro National Park in 1973, to protect its unique environment. The park was also named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987. Filled with an incredible variety of animals and plants, the mountain is also home to the blue monkey.
Mt Kilimanjaro is a fairly easy climb, but one must acclimatize well to enjoy the trek thoroughly.
The mountain can be climbed using any of the 7 routes:
- Machame Route (also known as “Whiskey” Route) – This is one of the most scenic routes and best to do over a period of 8 days.
- Marangu Route (also known as “Coca-Cola” Route) – This is a popular route, easier to hike, however, due to altitude, it is best trekked slowly over 7 days.
- Lemosho Route – This route is also considered one of the ‘easier’ climbs because of its great acclimatization profile. It has great ‘climb high, sleep low’ opportunities. The hike can be completed within 6 days, however it is always advisable to take a day or two extra.
- Shira Route – This route is almost identical to Lemosho route. However, the success summit rate is slightly lower because the starting point is at a higher altitude. However, it can be completed within 8 days.
- Rongai Route – The Rongai route is the only route that approaches Kilimanjaro from the north, close to the Kenyan border. It is recommended for those who like more remote hikes. The route is rated moderately difficult, and can be hiked within 7 days, descending through the /marangu route.
- Northern Circuit Route – The Northern Circuit route is one of the best routes on Kilimanjaro, offering nearly 360 degrees of beautiful scenery including the quiet, rarely visited northern slopes. 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.
- Western Breach/Arrow Glacier Route – This is the most technically challenging route to Mt Kilimanjaro’s summit. Due to its steep and rocky slopes, the Western Breach is considered a risky and dangerous route. Normally this route is nine days long with an optional night spent camping in the Crater.
Best time to climb Mt Kilimanjaro:
The best months for climbing are January and February, with September, October and (late) December also good. July and August offer generally clear weather conditions, but the trails are most crowded during the holidays. If climbing out of peak season, note that the north face of Kilimanjaro is marginally drier, so routes that approach from the north, such as Rongai (and to a lesser extent Northern Circuit), are best at this time of year.
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