Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is an impressive feat. Whether you plan on reaching the top or just traveling around the base, read below for some pertinent information regarding the world’s tallest freestanding mountain!
Where is Mount Kilimanjaro and how tall is it?
Located in Tanzania just three degrees below the equator, Mount Kilimanjaro stands at 5,891 meters (19,330 ft). Mount Kilimanjaro is an inactive stratovolcano and was formed approximately one million years ago. On a clear day, Mount Kilimanjaro can be seen from more than 100 miles away.
What is the temperature?
Temperatures range from steamy hot to frigidly cold. The mountain is located close to the equator, so the temperature doesn’t really vary from season to season but it does change according to altitude. There are five different ecological zones on the mountain. Each is unique and beautiful:
- The Bushland was originally just grasslands but is now home to many as they settle the lower slopes. Temperatures are rather hot during the day but the nights are cold and clear.
- The Rain forest accumulates six feet of rain each year and is considered the most fertile of all the zones. Temperatures tend to be steamy and humid. Thick vegetation covers the area along with wildlife, such as the Blue Monkey, Black-and-White Colobus Monkey, pigs and leopards.
- The Heath zone has a mountain-like cool climate and is above the tree line. Incredible flora can be found here as well as mole rats and and grass mice.
- The Alpine Desert’s temperature, due to high elevation, varies greatly ranging from below freezing to over 100˚ F and is arid with very low vegetation.
- The Arctic zone is bitter cold and the oxygen level reaches only half of the amount of oxygen at sea level. The region is comprised of mainly snow and ice.
When should you go?
The best time to climb Mount Kilimanjaro is during the warmer and drier months. Temperatures and rainfall fluctuate dramatically month-to-month so here is a breakdown:
- January, February and September are the best months to climb because it is warmer and drier.
- March through April are also warmer but visibility is poor due to rain and snow.
- May through August is when the mountain is least crowded but has icy temperatures and tends to have lesser visibility than some other months.
- October warms up again so climbers get last licks before November and December, which tend to be rainy and less ideal for climbers.
How do you get up there?
Climbers have a choice of six different routes to take up the mountain. Choosing the right route for you is based upon what you’d like to see, how many days you’d like spend climbing and your physical ability:
- Marangu - considered the “classic” route. It is the oldest, most traveled and easy with a minimum of five days spent climbing. There are permanent tents on this route.
- Machame – a bit steeper and lengthier. The recommended hike lasts eight days and is the most scenic route, providing wondrous views. Tents are brought by guides on this route.
- Rongai - easiest and longest climb. Lasts seven to nine days. It is the most northern route and is therefore closest to Kenya.
- Lemosho – low traffic at first and gorgeous views. Once it joins Machame and follows the same path, it gets a bit more crowded. Lemosho’s appeal is a combination of its quiescent start and prolific beauty later on.
- Shira - low traffic and beauty at every step. This climb is similar to Lemosho but starts at a much higher altitude. Only experienced climbers should hike Shira.
- Umbew – shorter and more difficult. This climb is a minimum of five days and a maximum of seven. It is extremely difficult due to its rapid ascent to higher altitudes.
Where will you stay?
Huts and campsites are set up along each of the routes. Hotels can be found on the Marangu route!