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Mount Kilimanjaro

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Mount Kilimanjaro

You can’t talk about adventure tours in East Africa without Mt. Kilimanjaro coming up. It’s one of the top climbing, trekking and safari destinations in Africa. Located in Tanzania, Mount Kilimanjaro, or Kili as it’s affectionately known, is Africa’s highest mountain, standing at 5,859 m (19,341 ft). The mountain attracts over 35,000 visitors annually, with half of them being climbers. It owes its popularity as a climbing location to its easy accessibility.

Since it’s part of the Kilimanjaro National Park, the mountain offers more than trekking, climbing and hiking tours. Visitors have plenty to see, including diverse wildlife, birdlife and striking vistas. Mt. Kilimanjaro caters to all types of adventurers. Whether you want to experience the local culture, view game or take photographs, this is the perfect destination.

At Explorer Kenya, we tailor Mount Kilimanjaro tours to individual needs. Whether you are a first-time climber or a returning tourist, trust us to put together a suitable itinerary. Before looking at Mt Kilimanjaro packages, though, find out what this world-class safari destination has in store.

A Captivating Wonder

What draws people to Kili? The uniqueness of the mountain is the most obvious answer. Mt. Kilimanjaro is one of the seven summits, the 7 tallest mountains from each continent. It’s considered the least challenging from the list to climb. Kili is the world’s highest freestanding mountain. A majority of the tallest mountains are part of ranges. Everest, for example, is part of the Himalayas Range in Nepal. Such mountains are the result of plate tectonics. However, Kilimanjaro was created from volcanic activity. It’s a stratovolcano with three volcanic cones. Kibo is the highest, followed by Mawenzi at 5,149 m and Shira at 4,005 m. While Mawenzi and Shira are extinct, Kibo is a dormant volcano, meaning it could erupt. Uhuru Point, which is Kilimanjaro’s summit, sits on Kibos’ crater rim. The snow-capped tops are other aspects that add to Mt, Kilimanjaro’s appeal. Given that the mountain rests on the equator, you might expect the region to experience the hot equatorial sun. However, Kilimanjaro’s height influences its climate dramatically. Kibo features an ice cap that divides into glaciers at the edges. The glaciers and ice fields are, however, expected to disappear between 2025 and 2035. Between October 1912 and June 2011, Mt. Kilimanjaro lost approximately 85% of its ice cover.

Distinct Vegetation

Thanks to its varied climates, Mt. Kilimanjaro boasts a large selection of unique flora. The five climate zones make it feel like you are living through different seasons as you ascend the mountain. You go from nice warm weather on the ground to freezing temperatures at the summit. Of course, it depends on how far up you go. With changing climates come different plants. It creates five ecological zones. These are:

  • Bushland or cultivated zone at 800 – 1,800 m
  • Rainforest zone at 1,800 – 2,800 m
  • Heath/Moorland zone at 2800-4000 m
  • Alpine Desert zone at 4,000 – 5,000 m
  • Arctic zone at above 5000 m


So, visitors can expect to see everything from maize, beans and sunflowers at the base to acacia and montane forests as they climb. If you wish to see some unique plants, check out the Tussock Grassland on the mountain’s slopes. It offers little-known plants such as the water-holding cabbage. The mountain’s flora has changed over time, and it might continue to do so.

The Wildlife

Water supplied by the streams flowing from the summit provides rich habitats for different animals. Mt. Kilimanjaro National Park houses a broad category of wildlife, giving guests many reasons to enjoy a few days in the area. The region mostly supports small mammals. Therefore, expect to see zebra, mongoose, monkeys, jackals, hyenas and dik-diks, among others. If you are lucky, you can sight gazelles and common elands. The endangered Abbott’s duiker also comes out to play once in a while.

Although Kilimanjaro doesn’t have as many large mammals as neighbouring Amboseli in Kenya, you won’t be disappointed. The tropical forest zone is home to several herds of gigantic elephants. They will make your safari, especially if you are a wildlife photographer, worth it. Cape buffaloes and warthogs are other animals you might come across.

Birdwatchers have something to look forward to, as well. The area has over 170 recorded avian species. So, you can catch a few distinct birds for your photo collection.

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro

Over half of the people who tour Mt. Kilimanjaro and northern Tanzania do so for climbing adventures. Kilimanjaro is a favourite because, despite its towering height, it doesn’t require a lot of technical know-how. Hence, even novice climbers can try their luck. If you want to challenge yourself with one of the 7 summits but lack training, then Mount Kilimanjaro is your safest bet. Don’t be fooled, though. It’s no walk in the park. Be ready to put in some real effort.

A Kilimanjaro climb can take 6 to 8 days, depending on the route. 7 official routes are available for the ascent and descent. These are  Lemosho & Lemosho Western-Breach, Mweka, Machame, Marangu, Rongai Umbwe and Shira. Rongai and Maragi are the easiest of the camping routes, although the latter can get busy.

The Lemosho route is recommended if you hope to increase your chances of a successful summit. It approaches the mountain from the west and takes longer (around 8 days) than other routes. For this reason, you get enough time to get used to the thinning air. Alternatively, you can choose the Western-Breach option, which is more secluded than the others.

Any decent Mt. Kilimanjaro climbing tour gives trekkers sufficient time to acclimatise. Even though the mountain doesn’t require technical experience, you have to deal with irregular high winds, increased altitude and low temperatures. Thus, your body needs time to adjust. Acute mountain sickness is a popular cause of failed summits, and fast climbing schedules can exacerbate the situation.

Despite the large numbers of climbers that flock to Mount Kilimanjaro, it’s impressively maintained. It has outhouses along the trails, preventing waste from ending up around the mountain. Rangers also ensure guests don’t litter rubbish. Over the years, an excellent support infrastructure developed in the region, making climbing trips as painless as possible.

Camping at Mt. Kilimanjaro

Since a climb takes several days, camping is part of the experience when trekking Kili. Usually, porters go ahead of the rest of the group to find the right location to set up camp. Although it might only be for a few hours, camping on the mountain is a chance to take in the views when it’s dark. Listen to nature as you catch your breath and relax. Use this time to re-energise with a healthy meal. Note that not all the routes offer camping. You might have to stay in huts when using certain routes.

The Best Time to Visit Mount Kilimanjaro

January to Mid-March and July to October are the most suitable times to plan your Mt. Kilimanjaro safari climbing tour. Ideally, you want to avoid the wet months, especially if you intend to reach the peak. Additionally, the dry months provide thin foliage, making it easier to spot game.

Mt. Kilimanjaro is the perfect destination if you want to build an inspiring climbing record without too much of a hassle. Africa’s tallest summit caters to veteran and inexperienced climbers equally. Get to the top and marvel at the magnificent panoramas of Tanzania and Kenya below.

Book Mt. Kilimanjaro safari tours with us now.