Mt Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain in Africa at about 5895 meters and is located in the northern part of Tanzania. This mountain is the highest free-standing mountain in the world and is a stratovolcano.
The volcanic cones of Mount Kilimanjaro include Shira (4,005 meters), Mawenzi (5,149 meters) and Kibo which is the highest and dormant volcanic cone. Shira and Mawenzi are extinct.
Mt Kilimanjaro is a famous hiking spot for both locals and tourists from all around the world. The mountain is also described as a strato volcano which is a volcano which has ash, lava as well as rock. Mount Kilimanjaro was formed as a result of volcanic activity recorded over 2 million years ago.
The highest point at the rim of Mount Kilimanjaro is known as Uhuru. The word Uhuru after which the highest point on the mountain is named means freedom in the Swahili language. Many trips are organized by tour operator as climbers attempt to get to the Uhuru peak.
Getting to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro has its challenges which some climbers face such as altitude sickness. Climbers during their trips on the mountain take some time to acclimatize before proceeding with their experience.
In history, the first people who were recorded to make it to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro included a German geographer called Hans Meyer and an Australian mountaineer called Ludwig Purtscheller in 1889.
The mountain is part of Kilimanjaro national park and is under the management of Tanzania National Parks Authority also referred to as TANAPA. Kilimanjaro national park is also a UNESCO world heritage site which was identified as so in 1973.
Wildlife species of a variety can also be seen in Kilimanjaro national park and these include blue monkeys, colobus monkeys among others.
The Kilimanjaro Mountain which is referred to as the tallest mountain in Tanzania is neighbored by towns such as Moshi which is the closest town to the mountain and also the beginning point for most of the Kilimanjaro hikes or climbing routes. The local community in Moshi town is made up of tribes such as the Chagga and the Maasai people who have unique cultures.
The different ecological zones which climbers of Mount Kilimanjaro experience as they get to the top of the mountain are 5 and they include bush land zone, the rainforest zone, heath or moorland, alpine desert zone and the arctic zone.
- The bush land zone is the lowest on Mount Kilimanjaro and is also referred to as the cultivated zone. This zone is at an altitude of 800 meters to 1800 meters or 2600 ft to 5900 ft. The Bushland zone is at the foothills of the mountain. Crops such as coffee, bananas among others are planted in this zone by the Chagga people who live in the nearby villages as well as the Maasai people.
- Another climatic zone on Mount Kilimanjaro is the rainforest zone which is at altitude of between 1800 meters and 2800 meters or 5900 ft and 9200 ft. this zone is described as lush and green and wildlife species can also be seen in this zone such as colobus monkeys, blue monkeys as well as different bird species.
- The moorland zone is also a climate zone on Mount Kilimanjaro at an altitude of 2800 meters to 4000 meters (9200ft to 13100 ft). Vegetation which can be seen at this zone includes lobelias, shrubs. Temperatures on this zone can drop up to the freezing point especially during the night.
- Alpine zone on Mount Kilimanjaro is at an altitude of 4000 meters to 5000 meters (13100 ft to 16400 ft). From this zone, the climbers can enjoy views of Kibo and its summit however, plant life is less at this zone which is made up of rocks, sand and is also dusty.
- The arctic zone is the last of the 5 climatic zones on Mount Kilimanjaro at an altitude of 5000 meters to 5895 meters (16400 ft to 19300 ft). It is characterized by ice and rock and during hikes on the mountain, the summit route takes climbers to the Stella point and then to the crater rim and then to Uhuru peak. Attempts to get to the summit of the mountain start very early and sometimes at night.
The different routes which are used during hikes on Mount Kilimanjaro include the following;
The Marangu route is the oldest route on Mount Kilimanjaro and it offers climbers hut accommodation. Climbers use the same route to climb up the mountain and also during descent and the Marangu route is also popular among tourists or climbers. Using this route can take about 5 to 6 days during hikes on the mountain with nights spent in huts such as Kibo hut, Horombo hut and the Mandara hut.
Machame route is another popular route used by climbers on Mount Kilimanjaro. Using this route can take up to 6 or 7 days and climbers get to the mountain on the Machame route from the southern direction. This route is steeper compared to other hiking routes on the mountain and also has beautiful views. Climbers make stops at points such as Shira, Barranco, and the Lava tower during their hikes. Descent using this route is from the Mweka route.
Lemosho route is used during hikes on Mount Kilimanjaro which start in the western side of the mountain. During hikes along the Lemosho route which is also referred to as the southern circuit, climbers pass through Shira camp, the Lava tower, Barranco hut and Barafu. Hikes along this route may take up to about 8 days.
Rongai route is on the northern side of Mount Kilimanjaro and is also close to the Kenyan border. This route has fewer climbers compared to other routes used during hikes on this mountain which can take about 6 to 7 days. After ascent, climbers use the Marangu route to descend from the mountain.
Umbwe route and Shira route are the other routes which are used during hikes on Mount Kilimanjaro. Shira route is also on the western side of the mountain and it has scenic views and it takes about 7 to 8 days.
Visit Mt Kilimanjaro for unforgettable memories as you enjoy hiking adventures.