About Mount Kilimanjaro
Looming over the town of Moshi in northern Tanzania, Mount Kilimanjaro rises from the dry plains, through a wide belt of forest and high alpine heath to an almost bare desert and finally the snow-capped summit, Uhuru Peak. At just 3 degrees south of the Equator it is one of the world’s highest free standing mountains. Mt. Kilimanjaro is composed of three extinct volcanoes: Kibo 5895 m (19340 ft.), Mawenzi 5149 m (16896 ft.), and Shira 3962 m (13000 ft.). Almost every kind of ecological system is found on the mountain: cultivated land, rain forest, heath, moorland, alpine desert and an arctic summit.
“As wide as all the world, great, high and unbelievably white in the sun was the square top of Mount Kilimanjaro”, wrote Ernest Hemingway of this highest mountain in Africa rising to 5,895 metres above sea level.
A climb on Africa’s highest mountain leads you through magnificent forest terrain. The ascent of Kilimanjaro can be done from six routes: Mweka, Umbwe, Shira, Rongai, Machame, and the Marangu Route which is the easier and the most popular. Depending on which route one wants to use, the climb of Kilimanjaro can take between four nights to six nights on the mountain. The two most popular routes are Marangu and Machame. On the Marangu Route, accommodation is in alpine huts while on Machame Route it is camping throughout. While expert guides and porters will accompany you on your climb, no technical equipment is required.
Snowfall can occur at any time of year but is mostly associated with northern Tanzania’s two rainy seasons. Precipitation in the summit area occurs principally as snow and graupel of 250 to 500 mm (9.8 to 19.7 in) per year and ablates within days or years.
The two rainy seasons last from March to May and another around the month of November. The northern slopes receive much less rainfall than the southern ones. The lower southern slope receives 800 to 900 mm (31 to 35 in) annually, rising to 1,500 to 2,000 mm (59 to 79 in) at 1,500 metres (4,900 ft) altitude and peaking “partly over” 3,000 mm (120 in) in the forest belt at 2,000 to 2,300 metres (6,600 to 7,500 ft). In the alpine zone, annual precipitation decreases to 200 mm (7.9 in).
The average temperature in the summit area is approximately −7 °C (19 °F). Nighttime surface temperatures on the Northern Ice Field (NIF) fall on average to −9 °C (16 °F) with an average daytime high of −4 °C (25 °F). It is possible for the NIF to cool to as low as −15 to −27 °C (5 to −17 °F).
Large animals are rare on Kilimanjaro and are more frequent in the forests and lower parts of the mountain. Elephants and Cape buffaloes are among the animals that can be potentially hazardous to trekkers. Bushbucks, chameleons, dik-diks, duikers, mongooses, sunbirds, and warthogs have also been reported. Zebras, leopards and hyenas have been observed sporadically on the Shira plateau. Specific species associated with the mountain include the Kilimanjaro shrew and the chameleon Kinyongia tavetana. There are several stupendous game parks in Tanzania and nearby Kenya.
Amboseli National Park
Amboseli, one of the oldest national parks across the border in Kenya. It is located at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro. The park is famous for its tranquil beauty and easily approachable animals, where the snows of Mount Kilimanjaro form a majestic backdrop to one of Kenya’s most spectacular displays of wildlife.
Due to the open nature of the park, lions are easily spotted, and can occasionally be watched stalking their prey. Zebra, giraffe and gazelles abound. The elephant population of 1500 is one of the longest studied and best researched. Buffalo, leopard, cheetah, wildebeests, hyenas, jackals, warthogs, and baboons are all present here.