Exploring The Mountains Of Africa
For most people, a trip to Africa conjures up visions of exotic safaris – with lions roaring in the distance and wildebeest galloping gracefully across the vast plains. But that is not always the case! The mountains of Africa offer visitors panoramic views of the continent’s breathtaking scenery and the opportunity for once-in-a-lifetime experiences that are truly unique.
From the snow-capped peak of Kilimanjaro, through the forest-clothed slopes of Mount Kenya, to the alpine meadows of the High Atlas Mountains, the mountains that are located on the African continent offer a wide variety of trekking experiences for novice hikers as well as the more experienced ones. One of the most popular places for trekkers is Tanzania. Tanzania, located in East Africa, is home to Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa and one of the Seven Summits. Kilimanjaro's snow-capped summit is a breathtaking sight, drawing climbers and hikers from all over the world. However, there are many more mountains in Tanzania than Kilimanjaro!
To learn more about the mountains of Tanzania, keep reading.
The Best Mountains To Climb In Tanzania
Tanzania is home to some of the best mountain destinations in all of Africa. While Kilimanjaro is one of the most popular summits in Tanzania, there are so many more places to visit. Your adventure doesn’t have to end at the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro – there is so much more to see. We’ve posted a list of some of the best mountains in Tanzania and all that you need to know to plan your hike to the top. (Please note, many of these mountains are located in protected national parks, so it’s a good idea to make a note of the park fees before you go!)
Mountain Adventure #1: Mount Meru
Located in Arusha National Park, Mount Meru is Tanzania’s second-highest mountain. Often considered an acclimatization hike for Mount Kilimanjaro, it is a spectacular destination in its own right. The routes to the top generally take around four to five days, during which trekkers will travel through forests and glades before reaching the horseshoe-shaped crater of the dormant volcano with its impressive drop-offs. Although Mount Meru is considerably lower than Mount Kilimanjaro, from the summit you can see Momela Lakes and Ngurdoto Crater, as well as wildlife like monkeys, giraffes, buffalo, and elephants. The best time to hike Mount Meru is from June to March.
Mountain Adventure #2: Ol Doinyo Genai
Of all the mountains of Tanzania, Ol Doinyo Lengai is the only active volcano – as well as the only volcano in the world that ejects carbonatite lava. This lava is much cooler than regular lava and turns white when it comes in contact with humidity. Il Doinyo Lengai means “Mountain of the God” in the Maasai language, and the mountain itself has religious significance for the Maasai people. Nestled in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, this is the perfect destination for intermediate climbers looking for a shorter day hike. Visitors who summit the mountain at sunrise will be treated to views of Lake Natron, the Great Rift Valley, and Mount Kilimanjaro in the early morning light. The best time to hike Ol Doinyo Lengai is from June to September.
Mountain Adventure #3: The Usambara Mountain Range
The Usambara Mountain Range is part of the Eastern Arc Mountains in Northeast Tanzania. The Usambara Mountain Range is actually made up of two mountain ranges, the West Usambara Mountains and the smaller, rainier East Usambara Mountains. Tucked in the heart of these mountains in Tanzania is a perfectly preserved rainforest that is home to many native species. People have built villages and farms within this mountain range, and it’s the perfect place to spend a few days exploring the local culture by way of accessible hiking trails. From bird watching to mountain biking, the Usambara Mountain Range has something for everyone. The best time to hike the Usambara Mountain Range trails is from June to November.
Mountain Adventure #4: Udzungwa Mountains National Park
If it’s wildlife you’re looking for, you need not look further than Udzungwa Mountains National Park, where leopards, buffalos, elephants, lions, and wild dogs abound. This park is also home to six species of primates, as well as endangered birds and a wide variety of insects and butterflies unique to the region. While you can’t take your car into the mountains, hikers can roam the forest at their leisure, enjoying the trails of varying degrees of difficulty that take you through the park. The best time to hike at Udzungwa Mountains National Park is June through October.
Mountain Adventure #5: The Mahale Mountains
The mountains of Africa don’t get much more remote than the Mahale Mountains. Located in Mahale National Park, the mountains are famous for their huge (and protected) population of chimpanzees. Hiking in these mountains gives you a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see these primates in their natural habitat! The highest peak of this mountain chain is Mount Nkungwe, which sits 8,667 feet above sea level. Visitors who want to tackle this three-day trip will need to hire a local guide and be on the lookout for lions. The best time to hike the Mahale Mountains is from May to October.
Mountain Adventure #6: Rungwe Mountain
Mount Rungwe Nature Forest is located in southwest Tanzania, in the Mbeya region. Its namesake mountain is a dormant volcano that stands 6,758 feet above sea level. Although you don’t have to be experienced to hike to the mountain’s peak, experienced climbers can hike Rungwe Mountain in a day. Novice hikers might need to plan a multi-day trip if they wish to make the summit for views of Poroto Ridge, Mbeya Peak, and Loleza Peak. A trip to this mountain in Tanzania is unique, because you may see two of the world’s rarest primates and a rare species of antelope. The best time to hike Rungwe Mountain is from June to October.
Mountain Adventure #7: Mount Kilimanjaro
Last but not least is Mount Kilimanjaro, widely considered the most popular of all the mountains of Tanzania. It is renowned for being Africa’s tallest peak, yet it doesn’t require any special skills to summit. However, due to its height, the summit rate for this mountain hovers around only 60 percent. Your best bet for reaching the top is to take the longest and slowest route to the top, in order to acclimate and not be stopped by altitude sickness. To hike Kilimanjaro, you need to contract with a guide service. Finding a good service only improves your chances of making it to the top, so choose carefully! The best time to attempt a summit of Mount Kilimanjaro is from January to March or June to October.
Adventure Awaits On Tanzania’s Incredible Hiking Routes
Tanzania is home to the vast, sweeping plains of the Serengeti, where wildlife roams undisturbed throughout the blistering heat of the day. But it is also home to some of the most amazing mountain ranges and summits in all of Africa. Hiking trails meander up the side of many of these mountains, past villages and farms. If you want to get a true taste of local culture and see the amazing views from the top of legendary mountain peaks, grab your hiking shoes and get ready for adventure!