An Adventure In Kilimanjaro National Park
The highest mountain in Africa is in Tanzania, on its border with Kenya. Towering at an elevation of 19,341 feet above sea level, Mr. Kilimanjaro draws thousands of adventurous visitors to Kilimanjaro National Park each year. Going on safari in Kilimanjaro National Park is a popular activity for tourists, followed by Mt. Kilimanjaro hikes and tours. To learn more about the park’s wildlife and its famous mountain, keep reading!
The Best Time To Visit Kilimanjaro National Park
Kilimanjaro National Park is located near the equator, making it an ideal location to hike year-round! Due to its location, the region is not characterized by winter and summer seasons, but by wet and dry seasons. These rainy seasons take place from October to December and from March to May. During the rainy seasons, the trail conditions on and around Mt. Kilimanjaro tend to be slippery, making Mt. Kilimanjaro tours more difficult than at other times of the year. The dry season lasts from June through September, but keep in mind that it will be extremely cold at higher elevations – even during the warmer months.
How Do I Get To Kilimanjaro?
Most visitors arrive at Kilimanjaro National Park through base towns like Moshi, Marangu, and Arusha. But how do you get to these towns? Arusha is a quick flight from Dar es Salaam (an international hub), while Moshi and Marangu are a short car ride from Arusha. Once you have set up your base camp, adventure awaits.
A Word Of Caution Before You Get Started!
Before you start planning a Mt. Kilimanjaro hike or tour, keep one thing in mind – trekking Kilimanjaro without a guide is prohibited by Tanzanian law! Although the trek is not technical, the physical endurance needed to reach the summit, altitude sickness, and below-freezing temperatures make a guide essential. Plus, guides help carry supplies for the trip, which is good because Kilimanjaro’s easiest route takes seven days to complete. The good news, however, is that there are many tour operators available to help make your experience trekking Mt. Kilimanjaro a memorable one.
How Many Kilimanjaro Routes Are There?
There are seven major routes on Mount Kilimanjaro. Each is well maintained, and each route has different pros and cons. Learn more about each route before you go, so that you can plan the ultimate experience summiting Kilimanjaro.
- Machame Route – this route is the most popular route for hikers tackling the steep slopes of Kilimanjaro. Compared to other routes, the hours of hiking per day on the Machame route are longer and the walks are steeper. The Machame route is considered a difficult route, better suited for those with some hiking or backpacking experience as well as a sense of adventure!
- Lemosho Route - this route is one of the newer routes on Mount Kilimanjaro. It is considered the most beautiful route of the seven available routes, offering panoramic vistas on various sides of the mountain. Climbers will encounter low traffic until the route joins the Machame route. This Mt. Kilimanjaro hike has a high summit success rate with trekkers.
- Marangu Route - this route is the oldest, most well-established route to Kilimanjaro’s summit. It is considered to be the easiest path on the mountain, given its gradual slope. It is also the only route that offers sleeping huts in dormitory-style accommodations. However, it is the least scenic route and is often overcrowded with trekkers on guided Kilimanjaro tours.
- Rongai Route - this route is the only route that approaches Kilimanjaro from the north, close to the Kenyan border. It also has low traffic and is the preferred route for hikers seeking an alternative to the crowded Marangu route. The Rongai Route offers thrill seekers a more remote hike and is considered safer during the rainy season, as the north side of the mountain generally sees less rain.
- Shira Route - this route approaches Kilimanjaro from the west and is almost identical to the Lemosho route. The main difference, however, is the starting point. Hikers using this route are transported by vehicle to the Shira Gate, which is 11,800 feet above sea level. Because of this, it is possible to experience altitude-related symptoms during the first day of your hike.
- Northern Circuit Route – this route is the most exciting route on Kilimanjaro. The trek approaches Kilimanjaro from the west but traverses the mountain to use trails on the rarely visited northern slopes. Visitors like this route for the varied scenery, low traffic, and high summit success rate.
- Umbwe Route – this route is the shortest, steepest, and most direct route to Kilimanjaro’s peak. It is the most difficult trek and is recommended only for hikers who are experienced and can adapt quickly to high altitudes. This route sees very little traffic and very few people are able to successfully summit Kilimanjaro from this route.
Wildlife Viewing Opportunities in Kilimanjaro National Park
Although Mount Kilimanjaro is often the reason people flock to this destination, Mt. Kilimanjaro National Park Safaris offers visitors the opportunity to see Tanzania’s wildlife in its natural habitat. The best place to see animals in the park is in the forest zone at the mountain's base. Here, visitors can spot African bush elephants, grey duikers, tree hyrax, leopards, warthogs, hippos, impalas, dik-diks, zebras, Cape buffaloes, giraffes, elands, gazelles, cheetahs, lions, leopards, jackals, hyenas, baboons, and mongooses. But if it’s primates that interest you, blue monkeys are in abundance! Unlike other monkeys, blue monkeys are not shy and are easily spotted in the treetops. Colobus monkeys also inhabit the park, but they are more elusive than blue monkeys and much more difficult to spot.
Adventure Awaits In Kilimanjaro
While this park is not the most popular one on the safari circuit, planning a safari in Kilimanjaro National Park is definitely worth your time. Especially if you are interested in booking a Mt. Kilimanjaro hike or tour during your visit to the park! Tour operators are standing by, and they are ready to lead you on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.