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Kilimanjaro

Travel Guide Africa Tanzania Kilimanjaro

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Introduction

Kilimanjaro Summit

Kilimanjaro Summit

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Quoting Ernest Hemingway

As wide as all the world, great, high, and unbelievably white in the sun, was the square top of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Mount Kilimanjaro, at 5,895 metres, is the highest peak in Africa. It also has the distinction of being the tallest free-standing mountain (i.e. not in an mountain range) and the tallest "walkable" mountain in the world.

Mount Kilimanjaro lies on the border of Tanzania and Kenya, just south of the Equator. To the west lies the Great African Rift Valley, created by tremendous tectonic forces which also gave birth to a string of other volcanoes. One of these, Mount Kenya, was originally much higher than Kilimanjaro.

The three summits of Mount Kilimanjaro, Shira, Kibo and Mawenzi are all of very recent origin. Shira and Mawenzi both have suffered considerable erosion and only jagged peaks remain. Kibo, the central, youngest and highest peak has survived as an almost perfect cone.

It is unknown if any of the natives in the area had ever climbed the mountain all the way to the top. Europeans first arriving in the area heard tales of brave souls sent up the mountain to bring back the silver on it's slopes. They reached the silver slopes and gathered up the silver, but upon coming down the mount found the silver had turned to water.

Dr. Hans Meyer was the first European to summit the mount on the 5th of October 1889.

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Getting There and Away

Most people travelling to Kilimanjaro will travel to Arusha.

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Arranging Mountain Climbs

Mountain climbs can be arranged in Arusha, or through a tour company in a visitors home country. Most legitimate tour operators in Tanzania will be members of the Tanzania Association or Tour Operators (TATO).

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Routes

So close, yet so far!  Stella Point to Uhuru Peak - Mt. Kilimanjaro

So close, yet so far!  Stella Point to Uhuru Peak - Mt. Kilimanjaro

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Rongai

Rongai is the only route over on the northeastern side of the mountain, starting close to the Kenyan border. It is not as popular as other routes, probably because it was closed for many years due to border skirmishes between Kenya and Tanzania. The route has re-opened (no more skirmishes) and is gaining popularity.

There are no cabins on the Rongai route, so camping is done in tents.

On a six day climb, the itinerary would be:

  • Day one is a 3 to 4 hour climb from Rongai village up to Moorland camp at 2,600 metres, a rise of 650 metres. The climb is through a pine forest, emerging eventually into the moorland.
  • Day two is a 6 to 7 hour trek rising 1,000 metres up to 3,600 metres to the Kikelewa Caves camp.
  • Day 3 climbs from Kikelewa Cave to Mawenzi Tarn Camp, a rise of 730 metres to 4,330 metres in 3 to 4 hours, passing giant senecios trees.
  • Day 4 climbs across the saddle between the Kibo and Mawenzi peaks, rising 520 metres beforing decending 100 metres and ending at 4,750 metres. The trek takes about 4 to 5 hours. The landscape at this high altitude is alpine desert.
  • Day 5 starts very early as the drive to the summit happens at night, headed to Gillman's point at 5,735 metres above sea level. This will take 5 to 6 hours switch backing up the loose volcanic scree. Arriving at Gillman's Point the Park Rangers will award you a certificate, but the real goal is still 2 hours ahead, Uhuru Peak at 5,896 metres above sea level.
  • After a short stint at the top, the descent starts right away. From the summit, we descend 2,016 metres to Horombo Huts at 3,720 metres altitude. All told, the summit and the descent will take anywhere from 9 to 15 hours of hiking.
  • Day 6 The final day descends us back to Arusha at 1,650 metres.

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Health and Safety

Altitude Sickness

Climbers, especially in the later stages of a trek, will likely suffer some form of AMS. Altitude sickness, also known as acute mountain sickness (AMS), is a condition caused by ascending to high altitudes, usually above 8,000 feet (2,400 metres). Most people have some effects from altitude, and suffer mildly from AMS. More serious cases can progress into High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) or High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE).

For details on symptoms, prevention and cure, see the Altitude Sickness page in the general health section.

Sleep

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Happy Family Cottage HostelsP.O.BX 1170HOSTEL-

Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: -5.3833333
  • Longitude: 38.05

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