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The snow-capped summit of Kilimanjaro is one of the most memorable images of East Africa. It is Africa’s highest mountain and one of the highest free-standing mountains in the world. A trek up Kilimanjaro is one of the highlights of any visit to Africa, and any person of reasonable fitness can undertake the climb with very little preparation. Indeed hundreds of travelers of all ages climb the mountain each year and it becomes a “must” for visitors to the East African region.
The mountain is roughly oval in shape, approximately 40-60 kms across and rises nearly 5000m above the surrounding plateau. There are two main peak areas, Kibo and Mawenzi, and these are separated by a broad plain called The Saddle. The highest point in Kibo is Uhuru Peak (5896m), the goal for most trekkers on the mountain. Hans Meyer Point (5149m) is the highest part of Mawenzi but cannot be reached by trekkers and is seldom visited.

On the lower slopes, Kilimanjaro is surrounded by thick forest that is classified as an official reserve and the area beyond this (above 2500m) becomes Kilimanjaro National Park.

Kilimanjaro has always been revered by the Chagga tribes that inhabited the lower slopes of the mountain.In 1848, Johannes Rebmann was the first European to reach the area and report his findings. He was later followed by other explorers including Gustav Fischer, Joseph Thomson and Count Samuel Teleki. In 1889, a German geologist named Hans Meyer eventually reached the summit and immediately christened the peak Kaiser Wilhelm Spitze .When Tanzania achieved independence in 1961, the summit was renamed Uhuru Peak.
The name 'Kilimanjaro' has never really been explained and various translations or suggestions have been 'Shining Mountain', 'White Mountain' and 'Mountain of Water'.

The mountain can be climbed for most of the year except April/May when the rains make trekking conditions harder. Independent trekking is not permitted and all treks must be booked through an organised tour company. It is also compulsory to take a guide and at least one porter when trekking as dictated by Park regulations. Park fees, hut fees, rescue fees and guide fees are the main costs, and most of the money paid for trekking goes towards paying these fees. Most companies will quote a price that includes the various fees and will pay them on your behalf. It is important to check whether Park fees are included in the quoted price, or whether they have to be paid separately. Fees for the mountain (US$300-$500) are usually paid in hard currency with US dollars being preferred, either cash or travelers cheques.

There are three main routes to the summit area, all on the southern side of Kibo, and linked by the Southern Circuit Path. This allows for different route combinations and also helps acclimatisation. As with Mt Kenya, if you can allow an extra day on the mountain it will not only assist with acclimatisation but will also give you time to see other parts of the mountain. Many trekkers who try to rush up the mountain will often fail to reach the summit because of altitude sickness.

The easiest and most popular route to the summit area, and the most often used by trekking companies. There are large bunkhouses conveniently placed along the way, which increases the popularity of this route. The climb usually takes 5 days although an extra day about half-way up the mountain at Horombo Hut will greatly increase your chances of reaching the summit. The path is straightforward and goes up the south-east side of the mountain, approaching Kibo via the crater rim at Gillman’s Point. The descent is usually by the same path.

Probably the most scenic route, a gradual ascent with the approach to Uhuru Peak via the top section of Mweka Route. A day is spent contouring the southern slopes, passing through a range of landscape and vegetation types. The huts along the route are in poor condition and trekkers are accommodated in tents. The climb usually takes 6 days with most trekkers reaching Uhuru Peak. The descent is normally by the Marangu or Mweka Route.

The steepest of the routes with a more direct climb to Uhuru Peak. The trek is interesting and enjoyable but there is the temptation for trekkers to climb too quickly and those who do, generally fail to reach the summit. The top section of this route is reasonably steep and can sometimes be covered with ice, forcing climbers to turn back.
Huts on this route are also in bad condition and tents are essential. A minimum of 5 days should be allowed for the climb although an extra day for acclimatisation would be recommended. Descent is either by the Marangu or Mweka routes.

Sample Itinerary. Please note that prices and itineraries are for guidance only and are subject to change as a result of exchange rate fluctuations, park entry fee changes and fuel costs for example. Once you have chosen a safari, a firm price will be quoted before you book and will be fixed once the booking is accepted.

5 DAYS MARANGU ROUTE ( Start and finish in Moshi) (5 days on the mountain)

Day 1Moshi - Marangu - Mandara Camp
After breakfast, drive approximately 45kms to Marangu Gate (1980m) for registration. Commence the trek through semi-tropical rainforest to Mandara Hut (2745m) for your first night on the mountain. Dinner and overnight at the hut. (B,L,D)

Day 2 Mandara Hut - Horombo Hut
The route today takes you out of the rainforest and ascends through open moorlands towards Horombo (3700m). The landscape becomes more rugged and rocky and views of Mawenzi and Kibo peaks are possible. Dinner and overnight at the hut. (B,L,D)

Day 3 Horombo Hut - Kibo Hut
An early start after breakfast for a 6 hour ascent across the saddle between the peaks of Mawenzi and Kibo. The trek takes you through areas of wonderful alpine vegetation such as giant cactus, groundsel and lobelia. Overnight at Kibo Hut (4700m). (B,L,D)

Day 4 Kibo Hut - Uhuru Peak - Horombo Hut
Shortly after midnight, commence the final climb to the summit. The initial path takes you over steep scree slopes to Gilman's Point located on the crater rim at 5680m. From here you can look down into the snow-filled crater, back to The Saddle and Mawenzi, and view the spectacular cliffs of the Eastern Icefields. The route continues around the crater rim for another 2-3 hours before reaching Uhuru Peak (5896m), the highest point in Africa. After spending some time on the peak, descend via Kibo Hut to Horombo Hut for your overnight stay. (B,L,D)

Day 5 Horombo Hut - Marangu - Moshi
After breakfast, continue the descent to Marangu Gate where you can collect your well-earned certificates. Transport is arranged to take you back to Moshi for your overnight stay at a local hotel. (B)


Extra days can be arranged to improve the chances of success.

Included: 4 nights hut accommodation, return transport from Moshi to Marangu Gate, Park entry fees, Hut fees, Rescue fees, Guide/Porter fees, All meals on the mountain.

Not included: Items of a personal nature, Tips.

Note: Only qualified Guides from a reputable company are used for these climbs.