An Epic Guide To Adventure In The Tanzania Mountains

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Discovering Tanzania’s Many Mountains

In Tanzania, mountains are as common a sight as the vast, sweeping plains of the Serengeti. Tanzania’s mountains are one of the natural wonders that made this East African country so famous! If you’re interested in a vacation that includes hiking or mountain climbing, visiting Tanzania should be on your bucket list.

Tanzania has a total of 2,395 mountains that have been named, but many smaller peaks simply have not been granted a name! It’s worth learning more about the country’s mountains before you visit. Let’s take a closer look at a few so that you can plan an epic adventure in Tanzania’s hills.

Tanzania safari with mountains in the distance

What Is The Longest Mountain Range In Tanzania?

Tanzania’s Usambara Mountain Range is part of the longest mountain range in Africa. The Usambaras are 56 miles long and range from 19 – 30 miles wide, depending on where you stand. These mountains are part of the Eastern Arc Mountains, which stretch from Kenya and run through Tanzania. The Usambara mountain range is actually comprised of two mountain ranges, the West Usambara Mountains and the smaller, rainier East Usambara Mountains. The Usambara Mountains are home to a perfectly preserved rainforest that has a rich diversity of wildlife, including many native species. A vast network of trails winds through the Usambara Mountain range, making it easy for avid hikers to explore the farmland and villages that are nestled among the foothills.

A Kilimanjaro Travel Guide For Visitors

The most famous mountain in Tanzania is Mount Kilimanjaro. Standing 19,341 feet high, it is Africa’s tallest free-standing mountain. Most mountains are part of ranges, like the Usambaras. They form through a process called plate tectonics when plates below the Earth’s surface push against each other and force slabs of rock up into the air. The uplifted slabs of rock eventually become mountains. Freestanding mountains like Kilimanjaro are usually a result of volcanic activity. These mountains are formed when molten rock erupts and settles on the surface. As the pile of rock grows, it becomes a mountain!

Mount Kilimanjaro expeditions are very popular with both first-time and more experienced hikers. Each year, more than 35,000 people attempt to summit Kili’s slopes. The mountain is considered to be one of the easiest ones to summit because it requires no technical skills or special equipment. Most Kilimanjaro travel guides will explain Kilimanjaro as a hiking or “walk-up” peak, not a mountaineering or climbing peak.

However, it is reported that almost 50 percent of these summit attempts fail! Why do so many people fail at their Kilimanjaro summit attempt? Most fall prey to altitude sickness after choosing a short route that does not allow them to acclimate to Kilimanjaro’s soaring heights. Hiring a reputable and experienced guide to lead your Mount Kilimanjaro expedition is the best way to guarantee success and keep you safe during your trip.

The Land Of Many Mountains

tents camping Mount KilimanjaroWhile Kilimanjaro is the most widely known of Tanzania’s many mountains, there are so many mountains to discover in this amazing country! Here is a list of the tallest mountains in Tanzania:

  • Mount Kilimanjaro - 19,340 feet
  • Mount Mawenzi - 16,890 feet
  • Mount Meru - 14,980 feet
  • Klute Peak - 12,970 feet
  • Mount Hanang - 11,220 feet
  • Mount Luhombero - 8,450 feet
  • Mount Sisaba - 8,080 feet
  • Mount Selegu - 8,060 feet
  • Mount Sibindi - 7,780 feet

Of course, not all of the peaks mentioned above offer the same challenge to mountain climbers and mountaineers. But even if you aren’t up to climbing Kilimanjaro, Tanzania’s mountains all have something unique to offer for the avid adventurer! Here are the highlights of just a few of the taller peaks, as well as several smaller mountains.

Mount Meru – Best Acclimatization Hike For Kilimanjaro

Mount Meru is often considered an acclimatization hike for Mount Kilimanjaro, but it’s also a spectacular destination in its own right. Located in Arusha National Park, Mount Meru offers views of the Momela Lakes and Ngurdoto Crater. Visitors can see monkeys, buffalo, and elephants during a hike, too.

Mount Hanang – Best Out-of-the-Way Hiking Experience

Mount Hanang is the fifth-highest of Tanzania’s mountain peaks. It may not be the most recognizable among the mountains of Tanzania, but it’s still beautiful. There are three main hiking trails for trekkers to choose from, all leading to the summit.

Ol Doinyo Lengai – Best Out-of-this-World Experience

Ol Doinyo Lengai is Tanzania’s only active volcano and the only volcano in the world that ejects carbonatite lava. This lava, which is much cooler than regular lava, starts out black but turns white almost instantly when it comes in contact with humidity, making a hike up the slopes of this mountain a truly otherworldly experience.

The Mahale Mountains – Best For Primate Sightings

This remote mountain chain is located in Mahale National Park, which is famous for its huge protected population of chimpanzees. A hike up this mountain offers visitors a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to co-exist with the chimpanzees in their natural habitat. The highest peak in this mountain chain is Mount Nkungwe, which sits 8,077 feet above sea level. A climb up Mount Nkungwe generally takes three days.

Mount Rungwe Nature Forest Reserve – Best For Wildlife Viewing

Mount Rungwe Nature Forest Reserve is located in the Mbeya region in southwest Tanzania. Rungwe Mountain is a dormant volcano that stands at 9,711 feet above sea level. Experienced hikers who start early can hike it in a day, although novices are advised to make it a multi-day trek. Local wildlife includes two of the world’s rarest primates, as well as a rare species of antelope.

No matter which Tanzania mountain or mountain range you visit, adventure is sure to follow. From epic Mount Kilimanjaro expeditions to a trek through part of the longest mountain range in Africa, Tanzania offers plenty of opportunities for wildlife viewing, epic views, and so much more. What are you waiting for? Lace up your hiking boots and start packing!

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