Visiting Kilimanjaro Without Climbing
Every year, approximately 35,000 people attempt to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. As Africa’s tallest mountain, Kilimanjaro is a bucket list item for many hikers – both novice and experienced. The view from the top of Kilimanjaro is spectacular and worth every second of the arduous climb to the summit.
Those who are not interested in hiking might wonder if a tour of Kilimanjaro National Park is worthwhile if they do not intend to hike up the slopes of Kilimanjaro. The short answer is yes! Visiting Kilimanjaro without climbing is a great option for those interested in experiencing this truly unique region of Africa!
Where Is Kilimanjaro National Park?
Kilimanjaro National Park is a park in Tanzania that is located 190 miles south of the equator, near the city of Moshi. The park includes Mount Kilimanjaro but also covers an area of 652 square miles. Since it was established as a national park in 1973, hundreds of thousands of people have flocked to the park to tour Kilimanjaro and the surrounding area. If climbing to the summit of a mountain doesn’t interest you, keep reading for our list of seven alternative adventures you can enjoy in the Moshi region!
Exploring Kilimanjaro National Park From the Ground
There are so many things to do and see in Kilimanjaro National Park besides seeing Mount Kilimanjaro. The Moshi region is home to spectacular coffee plantations, magical waterfalls, and relaxing hot springs. If hiking is not on your bucket list, here are a list of seven unique locations to explore on your vacation!
Tour of Kilimanjaro #1: Materuni Waterfall
Materuni Waterfall is a spectacular 492-foot-high waterfall located in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro. For those who enjoy hiking (but do not want to tackle a multi-day trek with elevation changes), this offers a pleasant hike through moderately difficult terrain that ends in a beautiful, clear pool where you can swim! During the hike you’ll pass coffee and banana farms, and see native wildlife like monkeys, duikers, birds, and other small creatures. Guided tours to the falls that include a packed lunch are available from Moshi.
Tour of Kilimanjaro #2: Kilimanjaro Coffee Plantation Tour
No tour of Kilimanjaro is complete without a tour of a coffee plantation! The lower slopes of Kilimanjaro are a fertile farming area due in large part to meltwater from the mountain’s arctic summit. Coffee farmers grow 100 percent Arabica coffee, which is flavorful and smooth! A tour of a local coffee farm includes learning how the coffee is grown and harvested, experiencing the roasting and grinding process, and finally – a tasting! If you visit between July and September, you’ll be able to participate in the harvest of the coffee beans. But if you visit between October and November, you’ll see the coffee bushes in bloom.
Tour of Kilimanjaro #3: Kikuletwa Hot Springs
Located just one hour southwest of Moshi is Kikuletwa Hot Springs. Plan on spending a full day soaking in the springs, enjoying the warm water, and watching the native birdlife hopping around in the fig trees that grow next to the water. Food stalls sell hot meals and snacks, so you can stay as long as you like relaxing in the calm surroundings of this incredible oasis.
Tour of Kilimanjaro #4: Momela Lake
Take a trip to Arusha National Park and canoe across the Momela Lakes. This natural feature is a series of seven shallow, alkaline lakes fed by underground springs. If you plan on visiting Kilimanjaro without climbing but are still looking for outdoor adventure, the Momela Lakes are for you! Take a guided canoe trip around the area and enjoy looking for giraffes, buffaloes, zebras, hippos, waterbucks, duikers, and various types of birds including flamingoes and pelicans.
Tour of Kilimanjaro #5: Olpopongi Maasai Cultural Village
Experience life in a Maasai village. Guided trips can last a full day or overnight, and explore the lifestyle of this famous East African tribe. Tours include traditional cooked meals, learning the traditional jumping dance, a guided safari walk, a tour of the village’s cultural museum (which includes beautiful artwork), and a lesson in some common Maasai phrases. Visiting the Maasai village and spending time with its people is truly a unique, enriching, and once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Tour of Kilimanjaro #6: Biking in Rau Forest Reserve
The view from the top of Kilimanjaro is nice, but a bike trip through Rau Forest Reserve is out of this world! Spend the day exploring local rice paddies and learning about the daily life of rice farmers; pass through local villages; see black and white colobus monkeys and blue monkeys up close; visit an African teak tree that is 196 years old and a sacred site for local tribes; wonder at the water birds in the catchment forest; taste delicious banana beer; and enjoy a cooked lunch that features amazing local delicacies.
Tour of Kilimanjaro #7: Ngurdoto Crater
Just 40 minutes north of Arusha lies Arusha National Park and Ngurdoto Crater. This two-and-a-half-mile-wide caldera is a beautiful and lush oasis for wildlife. To protect the wildlife, visitors are only allowed to hike along the rim of the crater and look down on the animals below. Still, the trip is definitely worthwhile, as you can experience swamp, grassland, and forested ecosystems and see the elephants, leopards, rhinos, and spotted hyenas that inhabit the crater during your walking safari around its rim.
An Adventure Of A Lifetime In Tanzania
While the main attraction of Kilimanjaro National Park is the trek to the top of the mountain, visiting Kilimanjaro without climbing is definitely a possibility! The park and its surrounding areas offer plenty of activities for visitors to enjoy, and many educational opportunities to learn about the local culture and economy. You don’t have to summit Kilimanjaro to have an amazing vacation in the park – there’s plenty to do and see on the ground.