Moshi - Kilimanjaro
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Kilimanjaro Climbing, Trekking and Hiking Tours; For many visitors to Africa, climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro is a once-in-a-lifetime challenge. The climb takes in muddy rainforests, unique high-altitude plants and alpine meadows before finally arriving at the glacier-coated summit. Standing tall above the savannahs of East Africa, Mt. Kilimanjaro (5,896m/19,343ft) is an icon of Africa. But just how do you go about climbing Tanzania’s Mt. Kilimanjaro and how fit do you have to be? We answer some of these common questions here.
At 5,895m/19,341ft, Kilimanjaro is not just the highest mountain in Africa, it’s also the world’s largest freestanding mountain. Freestanding means it’s not a part of a mountain chain. More than that, Mt. Kilimanjaro is an icon of Africa. For many people, the image of elephants in front of the mass of Kilimanjaro simply is Africa. While the size of the mountain inspires a sense of awe, it’s surprisingly easy to climb. As well, a week-long mountain climbing tour is easy to slot into a standard East African safari.
There are several different routes by which Kilimanjaro can be climbed. Some of these are only suitable for those with mountaineering experience. The standard route is the Marangu Route, often sold as a four-night, five-day return climb. However, the reality is you’ll be ascending to nearly 6,000m/19,685ft. This five-day schedule doesn’t allow enough time to safely acclimatize. You should add at least a day to this schedule to allow for a safer ascent. Or, better, try one of the other longer and quieter routes which will naturally allow for better acclimatization. The Shira Plateau Route, Machame Route or the Northern Circuit Route (the longest of the lot) are all safer ascents. As well as being more rewarding, these all have a fraction of the crowds of Marangu.
Mt. Kilimanjaro is a big mountain and no attempt on its summit should be taken lightly. That said, this is one of the easiest mountains of its height to climb. For all the standard routes, no special mountaineering experience or equipment is required. It’s merely a long but steady uphill climb. Any reasonably fit and determined person should be able to climb it. You will need very warm clothing, including a thick mountain jacket, thermals, gloves and a hat. You’ll also need a very warm four-season sleeping bag. The most common reason for not making it to the summit is altitude-related. The standard five-day mountain climbing tour simply doesn’t give enough time to get fully acclimatized. It’s far better to add in an extra acclimatization day or to do a longer, more-gradual route than to try and rush up and down.
Accommodation will either be in one of the very simple trekkers’ huts found on the mountain, or you’ll be camping. The huts are just that: a hut, with beds laid out dorm-style. The only form of heating will come from the other exhausted bodies sharing the hut. If you camp, then your chosen trekking company will provide small two-man dome tents. These offer a more comfortable night than in the huts. They are also more private! Better tour operators provide a much larger dining tent. The more upmarket companies will also provide tables and camp chairs. These extras might not sound like much but the added comfort they provide can really make the difference on your trek.