Few experiences can compete with summiting the iconic Mount Kilimanjaro and standing at the top of the highest point in Africa as the sun rises in the distance!
Mount Kilimanjaro, located in the captivating, elusive, and vastly diverse East African country of Tanzania, is undoubtedly one of the most phenomenal natural wonders and breathtaking mountains in all of Africa.
To help you get better acquainted with the globally-renowned, highly sought-after, tall standing natural gem that is Mount Kilimanjaro, we’ve put together a general overview as well as everything you need and want to know (yes, we know you can’t stop your curiosity – neither can we) about this literal rising peak.
About Mount Kilimanjaro
Located in the East African country of Tanzania, inside of Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro National Park, just south of the Kenyan border, the famed and wildly acclaimed Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest mountain, standing tall at a staggering +/- 5,895 meters / 19,341 feet above sea level. Mount Kilimanjaro is also the largest free-standing mountain rise in the world. This means that Kilimanjaro does not form part of a mountain range, but instead, stands entirely alone – Tall, grounded, strong, independent, fierce, free, captivating, with a commanding, yet elusive, intriguing, and all-consuming (in the best possible way) presence.
It’s safe to say that the magnificent Mount Kilimanjaro is a true natural wonder and Mother Nature masterpiece in every sense of the word.
Also called a stratovolcano (a term used to describe a very large volcano made of ash, lava, and rock), Kilimanjaro is essentially a dormant volcano made up of three cones visible from miles away: Kibo, Mawenzi, and Shira. Kibo is the summit of the mountain and the tallest of the three volcanic formations. While Mawenzi and Shira are extinct, Kibo is dormant, however, the possibility that it could potentially erupt again is there. Before your head starts spinning and you fall down a deep rabbit hole, to help set your mind at ease, scientists estimate that the last time Mount Kilimanjaro erupted was 360,000 years ago. So, while there is a possibility, the likelihood is slim.
The highest point on Kibo’s crater rim is called Uhuru, the Swahili word for “freedom.” The mountain is also known for its snow-capped peak; however, scientists warn that the snow might disappear within the next 20 years or so – which is nothing short of tragic! But, if there’s one thing that is, and will forever remain true, irrespective of everything, it’s the undeniable and breathtaking natural beauty of the one and only Mount Kilimanjaro along with its snow-capped peaks, lush forests, and sweeping views that are simply unparalleled. There truly is nothing quite like it – and we dare you to prove us otherwise!
**Interesting Fact: In 1973, the mountain and its six surrounding forest corridors were named Kilimanjaro National Park in order to protect its unique environment. The park was declared a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage site in 1987. The area surrounding the mountain is also home various wildlife, including the blue monkey, elephants, buffaloes, and leopards (to mention merely a few).
Mount Kilimanjaro Climbing Routes
One of the most crucial aspects (in fact, it may be the MOST important aspect) to a successful Mount Kilimanjaro hike / climb and triumphantly summiting one of the world’s Seven Summits (the highest mountain peaks on each continent), is choosing the perfect / right Mount Kilimanjaro route that suits your needs, requirements, fitness, skill, and experience level.
The three most popular Kilimanjaro routes are the Machame Route, the Lemosho Route, and the Rongai Route. Each of which are unique in their own right as well as have their advantages and disadvantages – Its up to you to carefully consider, weigh up the pros and cons of each route, and choose the ideal one for you:
The Machame Route
The popular Machame Route offers hikers and climbers a shorter, but more challenging, trekking duration. The bonus is that the route features the most magnificent views and stunning scenery on the ascent to Uhuru Peak.
The Lemosho Route
The Lemosho Route is a longer route, especially compared to the Machame Route, and is a far less popular route among hikers and climbers. The longer / increased length of the route is primarily due to it being more of a gradual ascend to the summit – making it less challenging and strenuous. While the Lemosho Route is deemed less popular, it certainly isn’t any less beautiful or captivating, which is why several people highly recommend this route when taking on the incredible Mount Kilimanjaro challenge, especially for hikers and climbers who have limited trekking experience.
The Rongai Route
The remote Rongai Route approaches the summit from the north, on Kenya’s side of Kilimanjaro. While it is a less popular route, it offers options of faster or gradual ascents. To top off your experience, you may be treated to amazing sightings of big game, such as antelope, elephant, and buffalo.
Mount Kilimanjaro Landscape & Habitat
Standing vigil over Tanzania’s untamed landscapes, Mount Kilimanjaro boasts an array of beautiful and vastly diverse habitats and ecosystems. On the lowland slopes, much of the mountain has been converted to farmland. Once you make your way inside the park, you will encounter thick, lush lowland forest areas as well as rainforests covering the lower slopes, giving way to alpine meadows once the air begins to thin.
The slopes of rainforest are home to several incredible wildlife species including, buffaloes, leopards, monkeys, elephants, and eland. The alpine meadow region on the other hand is any head-over-heels birding enthusiast’s dream destination as it is where avid bird watchers will find and enjoy spectacular sightings of an astounding array of birds of prey.
Near the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro, the landscape becomes harsh and barren with lunar landscapes, rocks, and sparkling vistas of ice and snow. These are the predominant features as you approach the snowy summit of Africa atop Uhuru Peak on Kibo – The highest point of Mount Kilimanjaro (as well as the highest point on the African continent), which is also regarded as one of the Seven Summits of the world.
If that isn’t enough, few mountains can claim the same grandeur and the scintillating views over the Great Rift Valley and Amboseli National Park, both of which are located in the neighbouring country of Kenya, that belongs to Mount Kilimanjaro.
Why Climb Mount Kilimanjaro
**Interesting Fact: In 1889, German geographer Hans Meyer and Austrian mountaineer Ludwig Purtscheller became the first people on record to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro.
Since then, Kilimanjaro has become a popular (if not the MOST popular) destination for local and international travelers, globe-trotters, avid hikers, die-hard climbing enthusiasts, adventure seekers, daring adrenalin junkies, and absolutely anyone and everyone who’s eager to get out there, explore, and tick something immensely thrilling off their bucket-list.
To top it off, its popularity has only continued to grow and flourish over the years. This is not only a true testament to the extraordinary Mount Kilimanjaro itself, but speaks volumes about the incredible, exhilarating, potentially life-changing, and bucket-list worthy experience climbing Kilimanjaro truly is. Not to mention the willingness and die-hard commitment of millions of people from across the world jumping at the bid to tackle and conquer the summit of this glorious free-standing mountain and African natural gem – the one and only Mount Kilimanjaro!
From the mountain’s commanding presence, irresistible allure, unique beauty, challenging nature, wild adventurous spirit, pure thrill, and spiritual significance, the reasons why people feel both inspired and compelled to hike / climb Mount Kilimanjaro is beyond endless. It’s all of this and SO much more that sets Kilimanjaro apart from every other mountain and continues to draw adventurous individuals from all around the globe eager to experience this magnificent tall-standing mountainous giant first-hand in its entirety.
Top Reasons to Climb Mount Kilimanjaro
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure experience that you will absolutely NEVER forget. Here are some of the incredible reasons why people, including YOU, should climb Mount Kilimanjaro – Or better yet, put it right at the top of their African adventure bucket-list:
- It is an incredible physical challenge: Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the greatest physical challenges. It is a long and strenuous climb that requires a lot of physical effort and some hard hiking and climbing graft. Yes, you will be tested and pushed to your limit, both mentally and physically – That’s the name of the game! But here’s the best part, well, one of MANY, you will be extremely well rewarded for your hiking and climbing efforts, tenacity, and commitment with spectacular 360 degree views that’s sure to sweep you right off your feet, however, on top of that, the incredible sense of accomplishment you’ll feel and experience the moment you reach the summit supersedes EVERTHING else!
- It is an amazing cultural experience: Mount Kilimanjaro is located in Tanzania, a country with a rich culture, vibrant and diverse heritage, and an intricate and interesting history. When traveling to Tanzania as you prepare to embark on your great Mount Kilimanjaro climbing adventure, you will get to experience the culture, heritage, and hospitality of the local people, as well as the stunning landscapes and wildlife of the area.
- Climbing and conquering Mount Kilimanjaro is a great way to challenge yourself and see what you’re truly made of: Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is a great way to challenge every aspect of yourself – physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally – and push your limits as far as you possibly can. There is absolutely no denying that you will be tested on ALL levels – but it’s up to you, and you alone, to push through every challenge, limit, obstacle, or feeling of self-doubt you may encounter on your ascend. Trust us, the second you reach the Mount Kilimanjaro summit you will experience the most incredible sense of accomplishment – And that’s something absolutely no one can take away from you.
- It is an exhilarating adventure in EVERY way possible: To say climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the most exciting and exhilarating adventures is almost selling it short – but, in the same breathe, there is absolutely nothing like it! Not only is it one of the most thrilling adventures in the world, it’s a bucket-list worthy experience through and through. Not only do you have the amazing privilege of climbing the highest peak in Africa and largest free-standing mountain rise in the world, you will also get to experience the stunning landscapes and wildlife of the area, as well as the culture and hospitality of the local people. What more could you possibly ask for?
- Mount Kilimanjaro has a special spiritual significance for many people: It is believed to be a place of great power and energy, and many people feel a deep connection to the mountain. For some, the climb is a spiritual journey, and they find great peace and solace in the experience.
- It is an UNBELIEVABLE achievement: Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is an incredible achievement to say the least. It is a long and strenuous climb – there is NO disputing that fact! However, the challenge of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is a major draw for adventurers. The mountain is not an easy climb, and it requires a great deal of physical and mental preparation. The terrain is steep and rocky, and the altitude can cause altitude sickness. Despite the difficulty, the sense of accomplishment and pride that comes with reaching the summit is well worth the effort.