Mount Kilimanjaro Trekking
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; it 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
And their memories.
But there is so much more to Kili 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 foot slopes 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
About Kilimanjaro National Park
Size: 755 sq km (292 sq miles).
Location: Northern Tanzania, near the town of Moshi.
128 km (80 miles) from Arusha. About one hour’s
drive from Kilimanjaro airport.
What to do
Six usual trekking routes to the summit and other
more-demanding mountaineering routes.
Day or overnight hikes on the Shira plateau. Nature
trails on the lower reaches.
Trout fishing. Visit the beautiful Chala crater lake
on the mountain’s southeastern slopes.
When to go
Clearest and warmest conditions from December to
February, but also dry (and colder) from
Huts and campsites on the mountain. Several
hotels and campsites outside the park in the village
of Marangu and town of Moshi.
Walks in foothills
Even if you are not inspired with ambition to
conquer Kibo, we thoroughly recommend a trek for a
day or two within the Kilimanjaro National Park. The
whole national park provides a haven for trekking in
distinct and inspiring scenic areas that range from
forests through to open moor land to the frozen
reaches of the high plateau.
A couple of days spent walking and camping on the
Shira plateau are well rewarded with views on a
clear day of the western breach of Kibo, the edge of
the Shira Ridge as well as two sides of the volcano
with ash cone rising in the middle. Mount Meru is
also visible on such days. The forests around the
lower slopes are excellent for walking, through awe
inspiring trees alive with sounds of bird song and
Even if you come to Tanzania and do not climb
Kilimanjaro, it would be a shame not experience and
feel this great mountain. Tanzania Journeys can
organise half, one day or two/three day treks (with
camping) in the national park. Please contact us to
see how we could include any number of trekking
options on this mythical mountain without your
having to scale the summit of Uhuru peak itself.
Climb slowly to increase your acclimatization time
and maximize your chances of reaching the summit.
To avoid altitude sickness, allow a minimum of five
nights, preferably even more for the climb. Take
your time and enjoy the beauty of the mountain.