Kilimanjaro, the iconic mountain in Tanzania, is one of the most visited destinations for adventure seekers and nature lovers. Rising 5,895 meters (19,341 feet) above sea level, It is the highest Mountain in Africa and one of the Seven Summits. Hiking Kilimanjaro is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that requires physical endurance, mental strength, and careful planning. Beyond the hike, Tanzania has many cultural and environmental attractions, making it a must-see for any traveler.
In this article, we’ll look closer at Kilimanjaro and everything you need to know to plan your climb and explore Tanzania’s wonder.
Hiking Kilimanjaro has a long history, dating back to the 1800s when European explorers and missionaries set their sights on the peak. However, it wasn’t until the early twentieth century that Kilimanjaro became a popular hiking destination. The first successful ascent to the top was undertaken in 1912 by the German geographer Hans Meyer and the Austrian mountaineer Ludwig Purtscheller, igniting renewed interest in the mountain.
Kilimanjaro became a popular hiking destination in the next few decades due to its towering height and rough beauty. It was not commonplace for people to attempt to reach the summit without sufficient equipment or training in the 1920s and 1930s. Despite the difficulties, many people reached the summit, and the mountain’s fame grew.
Kilimanjaro underwent significant transformation throughout the 1940s and 1950s when it was designated a national park, and severe laws were enacted to conserve its natural splendor. This contributed to the mountain’s proper care and made hiking Kilimanjaro much safer. The laws reduced the number of climbers in Kili, but they also made the experience of reaching the peak even more rewarding for those who did complete the journey.
Kilimanjaro has recently become an even more popular tourist attraction, with thousands of tourists trekking the mountain yearly. This is partly due to technological and equipment advancements, making the climb considerably easier and more accessible. It is also due to the efforts of local communities and groups working to protect the mountain and promote responsible tourism.
Despite the changes and challenges, Kilimanjaro has always been associated with an adventurous and determined mentality. Climbing the mountain is challenging and rewarding, demanding strength, resilience, and a profound love of nature. Kilimanjaro is where you may test your limitations and feel the rush of accomplishment, whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just beginning out.
Description of the Sight
Kilimanjaro is a one-of-a-kind and breathtaking sight to see. As you ascend further up the mountain, lush green trees give way to alpine meadows and bare rock formations. The ascent to the summit is a demanding but rewarding experience, with the scenery changing considerably as you go. The air becomes thinner as you reach the summit, and the views become even more stunning. On a clear day, you can see for miles, with vistas of the surrounding plains and even Mount Meru in the distance.
Ways to Get There
The most convenient choice would be to fly into Kilimanjaro airport, which is approximately 45 kilometers from Moshi, Marangu, or Arusha, as this is where most hikes commence, or your small group tour would meet. KLM, Turkish Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Emirates, and Qatar are Airlines that fly directly into Kilimanjaro
Suppose you do not wish to take one of the direct flights to Kilimanjaro Airport. In that case, the next best alternative is to fly through Dar es Salaam’s Julius Nyerere International Airport, the principal hub for domestic and international travelers. Precision Air, Fastjet, Zanair, Hanh Air, RwandAir, and Kenya Air operate domestic flights inside Tanzania.
Julius Nyerere International Airport is 12 kilometers from Dar es Salaam’s city center. Depending on your vacation or itinerary, many operators will begin excursions in Dar es Salaam and travel overland to Moshi or Arusha.
Details on hiking Kilimanjaro
When to Go: Weather and Season
Although it is technically feasible to hike Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro all year, certain months are marked by cooler temperatures, more rain, and perhaps a lot of snow on the top.
It is recommended to hike Kilimanjaro during the warmest and driest months of the year, which are December to mid-March and mid-June to the end of October.
However, while these are the most excellent months to climb the peak in terms of weather, they are also the busiest.
There are various lodging alternatives available for visitors. Here are some lodging options to consider while planning a vacation to Mount Kilimanjaro.
Camping is the most popular choice for Mount Kilimanjaro visitors. There are several campsites with their facilities along the various routes up the mountain. These campgrounds provide basic facilities such as tents, sleeping bags, and food. Camping on Kilimanjaro is a popular pastime for individuals who want to climb the mountain and see Tanzania’s spectacular natural scenery. Numerous camping alternatives are available on the mountain, ranging from simple to opulent.
The Maraugu path, commonly known as the “Cola-Cola” Route, is the most popular camping path. This route includes simple cabins with bunk beds for sleeping and campsites along the way for those who prefer to camp. Mandara, Horombo, and Kibo are the campsites along the Marangu Route, and they all have basic amenities like bathrooms and running water.
Another option for camping on Kilimanjaro is the Machame Route. This path is well-known for its spectacular grandeur and includes several campsites, including Machame Camp, Shira, Barranco Camp, Karanga Camp, and Barafu Camp. The campgrounds along this road provide basic amenities like bathrooms and running water, but some also provide dining tents and sleeping tents.
The Lemosho Route is another option for those looking for a more private and off-the-beaten-path camping experience. Along the trip are various campsites, including Big Tree Camp, Shira Camp, Barranco Camp, Karanga Camp, and Barafu Camp. The campgrounds along this route have the same basic amenities as the other campsites.
Trekkers can stay in huts along some of the routes up Mount Kilimanjaro. These huts are more comfortable than camping and have bunk beds, mattresses, and basic amenities such as restrooms and kitchens. Hikers are welcome to spend the night in these huts.
Hotels and Lodges
There are various hotels and lodges near the base of Mount Kilimanjaro if you want a more deluxe experience. These lodgings provide comfy beds, hot showers, and restaurant meals.
Numerous hotels and lodges in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, cater to trekkers who want to hike Mount Kilimanjaro or explore the surrounding regions. Kilima Moja Lodge, Kibo Palace Hotel, Marangu Hotel, and Aishi Machame Hotel are a few examples.
Homestay near Kilimanjaro
Several homestays near Mount Kilimanjaro are capable of offering trekkers interested in learning more about the region’s culture and customs an authentic and immersive experience, such as the Marangu Village Homestay, Rau Village Homestay, Mbahe Village Homestay, Machame Village Homestay, and Maternui Village Homestay.
Food and Water
Good food and lots of water are vital for a rewarding physical and psychological climb. Drinking plenty of water is vital for your health at high elevations and aids in preventing altitude sickness. Your body will require ample nutrition to compensate for the exceptional physical work involved in climbing.
Most tour companies provide meals in their hiking packages, emphasizing high-energy foods that will give you the stamina you need to finish the climb. Bring your snacks and bars of glucose to keep yourself going between meals.
Tips to know when hiking Kilimanjaro
From physical training to trekking at a steady and slow pace, here are some hiking tips to successfully climb Kilimanjaro
An ideal physical preparation is needed for stamina and leg strength. This can make your hike adventure so pleasurable and doable. It is recommended to start the training two months before the hike.
Hike slowly and steadily.
As the locals usually say, ‘Take it pole, pole,’ The lead trek guides always set a somewhat leisurely pace since they want you to acclimate to the ever-increasing climb altitude as gently as possible.
Prepare for altitude sickness.
You will likely experience altitude sickness with symptoms such as sleeplessness, interrupted sleep, nausea, dizziness, and headaches. It is recommended to take medication to alleviate some of the symptoms. It is also advised to visit your medical doctor to discuss the adventure beforehand. He is sure to advise you on the best medications for you.
Carry warm Clothing.
It is usually damp and chilly at night and even colder as you enter the heath and alpine desert zone higher up the mountain, so you must pack enough warm clothes to withstand the temperatures. In any case, you can hire a down jacket from tour operators.
Carry your hiking Boots.
Wearing your socks and hiking boots while on the plane is recommended so that you will not be without the essential item if you miss your luggage. Most other items can be borrowed, but boots can’t be replaced.
Learn a few Swahili Phrases.
Everyone enjoys it when someone else tries to speak their language, even if it’s only a few welcomes and niceties. Learning a few Swahili words before you arrive is a fantastic approach to getting started on your Kilimanjaro adventure.
Bring wet Wipes
While you can rinse your face and wash your hands with water brought by porters at camp, you won’t be able to clean any other areas of yourself while on the mountain. After a hard and sweaty day of hiking, a large pack of wet wipes will restore your sense of cleanliness and decency. Ensure to dispose of the wipes appropriately by following the leaving no trace principle.
Everyone who completes a Kilimanjaro trek acknowledges their mountain crew’s tremendous assistance and support, including guides, porters, and a cook. The lead guide guides you up the mountain and encourages, advises, and ensures your safety. It will go a long way to tip these people in foreign currencies.
Hiking Kilimanjaro is not without risks, and it is vital to know the potential dangers before attempting the hike. Here are some of the potential dangers worthy of consideration;
Altitude sickness is caused by the thinner air, which provides less oxygen with each breath. It can strike anyone at any age, regardless of how young, fit, or healthy they are.
Mount Kilimanjaro’s summit elevation is 19,341 feet, which is considered an extremely high altitude. There is no assurance that your body will adapt well to the altitude. Still, you can assist prepare by focusing on improving your cardiovascular health and altitude training, including an acclimatization walk in the area if possible.
Accident on Kilimanjaro
As with any trek in a remote place, a minor accident, such as a twisted ankle on Kilimanjaro, can quickly escalate into a major issue simply because getting to a hospital is much more difficult. This is especially dangerous in the event of an actual emergency, such as a cardiac arrest.
Most travel insurance policies do not automatically cover you at such high altitudes, so obtain Trekker’s travel insurance, which insures you up to 6000 meters above sea level. It is also crucial that insurance coverage covers helicopter rescue if you require hospitalization.
Weather on Kilimanjaro
Kilimanjaro is not as high as Everest but is nevertheless vulnerable to erratic weather, with microclimates bringing anything from fierce winds to abrupt temperature swings.
Layers are essential as always, especially when temperatures drop below freezing with no warning. Depending on the season, you may experience snow and glaciers at the peak.
Make sure you pack according to the list provided by your tour operator, and don’t be afraid to ask questions ahead of time.
Remember to bring gloves, woolen socks, and a face covering to guard against frostbite and hypothermia, but also to apply sunscreen and wear sunglasses since the sun shines brightly up here and can harm your eyes.
Rockfall on Kilimanjaro
Kilimanjaro lacks the deadly crevasses found on other tall mountains since it is mainly built of rock, and the roads do not cross glaciers or ice. It does, however, contain certain sections with unpredictable rockfall. This is especially common on the Western Breach and has claimed a few lives, so most tour operators avoid it.
There will be drop-offs on certain sections of the trail, as there always are when trekking at altitude, but note that some basic common sense – and aid from your guide – can’t protect you from them. While most paths are rather basic in terms of technical difficulty – it’s a trekking summit – you may have the opportunity to perform some rock scrambling.
Hiking Kilimanjaro is a mind-blowing experience that ought to be on the bucket list of any intrepid traveler. With its exciting scene, stunning views, and challenging climb, Kilimanjaro is a must-see Hike sight. By closely following the tips provided and being mindful of potential threats, you can guarantee a secure and pleasant hike to the roof of Africa.