Mount Kilimanjaro’s snow-capped peak is usually veiled by clouds but on clear days the sight of the summit is one of the most arresting on the continent. Kilimanjaro is not only the highest mountain in Africa but it’s also the largest free-standing mountain in the world – rising nearly six vertical kilometres from the surrounding plains – making a Mount Kilimanjaro safari a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Made up of three peaks – Shira, Mawenzi and Uhuru – Mount Kilimanjaro, or Kili as it is affectionately known, is a relatively young mountain and was formed by volcanic activity about a million years ago. It’s an iconic, evocative destination and from an altitude of 2 700m the entire mountain falls under the protection of the Mount Kilimanjaro National Park.
Although it sits in Tanzania, the best views of the mountain are actually to be had just across the border in Kenya’s Amboseli National Park. But it is the chance to climb Kilimanjaro that has made this 5 896m mountain such a popular destination. Indeed, some 20 000 people a year make their way up Kili; the climb requires no special training or technical equipment though time must be taken to acclimatise in order to prevent altitude sickness.
The best time to climb Kilimanjaro is always said to be during the drier months of January, February and September. July and August.
There are many routes to the top, varying in terms of difficulty, climbing time and natural beauty.
Northern Circuit Route – best routes on Kilimanjaro, offering nearly 360 degrees of beautiful scenery including the quiet, rarely visited northern slopes. As the longest route on Kilimanjaro, the Northern Circuit allows for the best acclimatization time and the highest summit success rate, therefore this route is highly recommended.
Machame Trek – own as the Whisky Route, this is one of the most scenic and therefore popular routes on the mountain and offers adventurous climbers stunning scenic vistas. With paths through magnificent forests to gain a ridge leading through the moorland zones to late sunsets at Shira Plateau to the misty revelations of Kibo at the great Barranco Wall.
Marangu Route – commonly known as the Coca Cola route is more popular because it can be done in fewer days and has permanent sleep huts at the campsites. Summit night from Kibo Hut is steep and passes Gilman’s Point to Uhuru Peak. It is a shorter route with a steeper incline and less time for acclimatization it tends to have a lower summit success rate. This is the only route where the ascent and descent route is shared, thus creating more traffic.
Lemosho Trek – As a newer route, it is more remote and arguably more beautiful, but a bit longer and slightly more expensive. It starts on the Western side of the mountain at the Londorossi Gate, which is a further drive from town, and was introduced as an alternative to the Shira route. After beautiful forests and moorlands it crosses the Shira Plateau on day 3 to connect with the Machame Route at Lava Tower and down towards Barranco Valley via the Southern Circuit. You may be lucky enough to see buffalo, elephant and other game. Because this route can be done over a longer period of time for acclimatization, it has a higher success rate of summit.
Speak to us about arranging a Mount Kilimanjaro hike and we’ll suggest the best route for you and take care of all the arrangements. We can also easily build in big game viewing in nearby parks and reserves to deliver a comprehensive Kilimanjaro safari experience.