Introducing Mount Kilimanjaro
Since its official opening in 1977, Kilimanjaro National Park has become one of Tanzania’s most visited parks. Unlike the other northern parks, this isn’t for the wildlife – although wildlife is there. Rather, it’s to gaze in awe at a mountain on the equator capped with snow, and to take advantage of the chance to climb to the top of Africa.
At the heart of the park is the 5896m Mt Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak and one of the continent’s magnificent sights. It’s also one of the highest volcanoes and among the highest freestanding mountains in the world, rising from cultivated farmlands on the lower levels, through lush rainforest to alpine meadows, and finally across a barren lunar landscape to the twin summits of Kibo and Mawenzi. The lower rainforest is home to many animals, including buffaloes, leopards and monkeys, and elands are occasionally seen in the saddle area between Kibo and Mawenzi peaks.
A trek up Kili lures hundreds of trekkers each year, in part because it’s possible to walk to the summit without ropes or technical climbing experience. Yet, the climb is a serious (and expensive) undertaking, and only worth doing with the right preparation. There are also plenty of excellent options for exploring the mountain’s lower slopes and learning about the Maasai and the Chagga, the main tribes in the area.
There are entry gates at Machame: Marangu, which is also the site of park headquarters, Londorosi and several other points. Trekkers using the Rongai Route should pay their fees at Marangu Gate.
Last updated: Feb 17, 2009
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