Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and the World’s highest free standing structure at an altitude of 5896 meters (19,336 feet) above the sea level. Hiking on the rooftop of Africa is the adventure of a lifetime, and anyone who is physically fit can scale this snow capped mountain. It is only 200 miles from the equator.
Kilimanjaro is located inside the Kilimanjaro National Park outside of Moshi town in a beautiful accessible village of Marangu where the head quarter of the park is located. To accomplish your dream of reaching the roof of Africa, there are different routes to follow. These routes includes Marangu route, Machame route, Rongai route, Lemosho route, Umbwe route, Shira route and Mweka route which is used for descent only.
The vegetation of Mount Kilimanjaro varies accordingly ranging from tropics to the Arctic. At the level of 2700 m the cultivated foot slopes give way to lush montane forest, inhabited by leopard, buffalo, elephant, antelope and other primates. As you ascend the moorland zone show up where a cover of giant heather is studded with other worldly giant lobelias. Above 3900m, the zone changes to alpine desert which support little life to the fauna and flora. The final vegetation is of winter wonderland of ice and snow and the magnificent beauty of the roof of the Africa.
There are seven (7) main Kilimanjaroroutes – Machame Route, Marangu Route, and Rongai Route, Lemosho route,Shira Route, The Northern Circuit and Umbwe route. There is also the WesternBreach, an advanced and technically challenging route meant for experiencedtrekkers only. Not all companies offer this route to climb Mt Kilimanjaro. Theeighth Kilimanjaro route, Mweka, is used for decent only. There are two keythings to consider when selecting a route on Kilimanjaro:
Here are some briefing for the routes
Machame Route: –Popular and well profiled
Difficulty: – Relatively difficult but shorter.
Success Rate: – High
Distance: – ~49 kms
Days: – 6 to 7 days. Both options include a climb high, sleep low acclimatization day.
Popularity: – Most popular Kilimanjaro route with 40-50% of the total traffic
Landscape:-The route is very scenic, providing climbers with incredible views and varying landscapes.
Price: – Relative cheap
Marangu Route:-Coca-ColaRoute; Only route with hut accommodation:
Success Rate: – Low because of less acclimatization opportunities
Days:-5 to 6 days. Recommended that climbers take an extra day to acclimatize at Horombo Hut
Popularity :-Oldest and 2nd most popular route because of hut accommodation available instead of camping :-There are 60 bunk beds each at Mandara and Kibo Huts, and 120 bunk beds at Horombo Hut.
Landscape:-Only route with the same ascend and descent trail – thus can become crowded and there is not much variety in settings comparatively.
Rongai Route:-The only northern starting point:
Difficulty: – Relatively easy
Days:-6 to 8 days. Does not offer trekkers good options to climb high and sleep low.
Popularity:-Least traffic due to its remote setting
Landscape: – Because this is the only trail starting from the Northern, Kenyan side of Kilimanjaro it offers trekkers a relatively unspoilt wilderness experience. Possibility of encountering wildlife like antelope, elephant and buffalo are high, it is less likely to rain and climbers get clear, unclouded views of the mountain.
Lemosho Route:- Remote Western side route to Mount Kilimanjaro:
Days:-6 to 8 days. Good for acclimatization, especially on the longer itineraries.
Popularity:-Very less traffic until it merges with Machame route on Day 4
Landscape:-The Lemosho Route is relatively new. It starts on the Western side of Mount Kilimanjaro at the Londorossi Gate, is still very wild and you may get lucky and spot large antelope, buffalo and even elephants
You do not need to be super fit for climbing Mt Kilimanjaro. However, for the Kilimanjaro trek, you do need a decent level of training and preparation. You will be trekking ~5-7 hours a day (summit day being a lot longer at 12-14 hours). Preparing for these treks through practice hikes, aerobic exercises like running, swimming and cycling, and leg and core exercises help you to strengthen the muscles so that you are prepared to climb in thin air.