Climbing Mt Kilimanjaro
The ultimate climb, Kilimanjaro also known as the “the roof of Africa” 5895 meters high it is the highest summit of the African Continent. View the snow covered equatorial mountain, and experience a mysticism that defies all. As a result of the altitude, the climate is cooler and moisture is more abundant than the lower lands and as the elevation increases, the temperature drops gradually, Kilimanjaro highest peak can still be seen sporting a white crown of snow.
Treks are non-technical and can be undertaken by any reasonably fit person. The Kilimanjaro Airport is located in Tanzania about 30 minutes from Moshi which sits at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro; there are bus connections to the Hotels. All trekkers must be accompanied by an official guide (and eventually, by local porters): There are five main routes to the top-Marangu, Shira, Mweka, Umbwe and Machame.
The most popular route is the Marangu Route which starts at the Marangu Gate at 6000 ft. and has huts and facilities along the way. The other routes are more scenic with stunning views of the glaciers. They are also more challenging for the advanced trekker, requiring special permission and the use of tents.
The best times to go: January, February and September. These are the drier months and there are fewer hikers. Comfortable clothing will suffice for the first two days. However, many underestimate the frigid conditions of the mountain above 12,000 feet. Warm clothing is essential and should include a down-filled parka with hood, fleece shirts, warm pants, waterproof and windproof shell pants thermal underwear, mittens, wool hat. Good walking shoes and socks are appropriate to about 15,000 feet but sturdy hiking boots with warm socks and sock liners are needed to challenge the summit. At this altitude sun protection is necessary to bring snow goggles, dark glasses, suntan lotion and a hat with a brim to protect your face and neck.
A passport, visa, and yellow fever certificate are required to enter Tanzania. There are exceptions to the visa and vaccination requirements but it is advisable to check with the Tanzanian Embassy for current regulations. Try to read all you can about climbing Kilimanjaro before you plan your trip. It will make the planning process easier. Plan to use a local outfitter. It is very difficult to organize a trek without adequate transportation. Your experience will be more rewarding if you do not have to attend to the numerous details required. You will need to bring your own equipment. Accept the advice of your guides. They are trained to recognize the symptoms of altitude sickness and the mountain is no place to take chances with your health.
Challenging yourself on Mount Kilimanjaro is a once in a life time experience. Proper training and planning will create a memory that only a few in the World can share.
Enid Glasgow is a travel writer who enjoys traveling to remote destinations. She enjoys traveling with Big Five Tours, providers of luxury Tanzania tours.