Can You Go On Safari In Kilimanjaro National Park?
Kilimanjaro National Park is a sprawling ecosystem that covers an area of 652 square miles. The park was established as a forest reserve in 1921, followed by a national park in 1973, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. These measures have allowed the animals to live in a protected environment and for their habitat to remain undeveloped.
Each year, more than 35,000 people converge on Kilimanjaro National Park to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Many want to know if they can plan a Kilimanjaro National Park safari after they tackle the mountain’s slopes to extend their adventure in Tanzania! Keep reading to learn more about Kilimanjaro travel safari options, as well as the types of animals you might see on your trek to Kilimanjaro’s summit.
The Incredible Wildlife On Mount Kilimanjaro
As you climb Mount Kilimanjaro, you will notice that the mountain encompasses a wide variety of ecological zones that include bushland, rainforest, heath, alpine desert, and arctic. As the elevation increases toward the Arctic zone, the resources to support life – plants, insects, and water sources – decrease. This means that the wildlife in each zone diminishes as you approach Kilimanjaro’s peak.
The vast majority of Kilimanjaro National Park sits in the forest region. This area is full of wildlife and the perfect place to spot Tanzania’s unique animals. There are more than 154 species of mammals living on this part of the mountain, including seven primates and hundreds of unique bird species.
Those that embark on a Kilimanjaro National Park safari have reported some rare sightings of large mammals such as elephants, giraffes, and buffalo as well as smaller mammals such as porcupines, honey badgers, and aardvarks. However, most of the time, these animals stay away from humans on their Kilimanjaro travels and hide in the thick rainforest.
What Animals Live On Kilimanjaro?
Most animals live in the tropical rainforests at the base of Kilimanjaro than reside in the highlands. This is because of access to water and food. When you begin your climb, you will see many animals, but as you climb higher, the wildlife will diminish. All animals in Kilimanjaro National Park are free to roam, meaning every animal you see is wild! Here is a list of animals you may encounter on your trek.
- Colobus Monkey - the colobus monkey is native to Tanzania and lives in family groups high in the trees. If you spot one colobus monkey, he most likely has a sister or brother in a nearby tree. Look for the distinguishing long black-and-white tail and the loud chattering noise these monkeys make.
- Serval Cat - the serval cat is a wild cat that looks somewhat like a cheetah in its coloring, but is smaller and more slender than other wild cats. The serval cat has long legs with large ears and a pattern of black stripes and spots across its body. This solitary cat is active day and night and usually is observed when it is out hunting small rodents.
- Aardvark - this unique and interesting animal is found only in Sub-Saharan Africa. While they may look a little bit like a pig, they are actually related to the elephant!
- Tree Hyrax – the small and nimble tree hyrax is also related to the elephant. Tree hyraxes live in forested areas, hence their name. You will probably hear a tree hyrax before you see one because these interesting creatures make a distinct ‘call’ in the early evening and at nighttime. The noises vary, from a cackle to a loud shriek, but don’t be alarmed; the tree hyrax is just marking its territory.
- Duiker – a duiker is a type of antelope, and the name ‘duiker’ comes from the Dutch word “to dive.” The name describes this animal’s unique leap into the bushes to avoid predators. When compared to a common grassland antelope, the duiker is smaller with differently-shaped horns and a hump on its back. Duiker’s reside in heavily wooded areas, making the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro an excellent location to see this animal in their natural habitat.
If you want your Kilimanjaro travel experience to include wildlife viewing, keep in mind that the southern and western slopes of the mountain are home to Abbott’s Starling. Corncrakes can be seen on the southwestern section of the mountain, but the western slopes of Kilimanjaro are a good place to spot kestrels and pallid harriers. The mountain’s eastern slope is home to Taita falcons, among other wildlife species.
Extending Your Kilimanjaro National Park Safari
If seeing Tanzania’s wildlife is one of the items on your trip’s bucket list, you can certainly extend your stay after summiting Mount Kilimanjaro. The best way to see Tanzania’s incredible wildlife is to go on safari to Ngorongoro Crater or a nearby national park. Arusha National Park is the nearest park to Mount Kilimanjaro and offers would-be safari enthusiasts a perfect opportunity to enjoy Tanzania’s diverse wildlife.
Located just a short drive from Arusha Town, Arusha National Park is small – covering just over 200 square miles. However, the park features a stunningly varied landscape that includes Mount Meru, Meru Crater, and the Jekukumia River. Arusha National Park is the most accessible national park of the Northern Circuit in Tanzania and the perfect place for a day trip after a trek up and down Mount Kilimanjaro! With a diversity of wildlife that includes herbivores such as elephants, hippos, buffalo, zebra, and even the occasional wildebeest, Arusha National Park is the perfect place for a walking safari or canoe safari for the adventure-minded.