Mount Kilimanjaro National Park
Mount Kilimanjaro national park is found in Tanzania, located 300 kilometers south of the equator within the Kilimanjaro region. Mount Kilimanjaro national park is located near the Moshi and can easily be accessed by either road or flight. Mount Kilimanjaro national park extends to about 652 square miles (1,688sq km) harboring the Montane forest that surrounds mountain Kilimanjaro.
Mountain Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa, rising 4877m above surrounding plains to 5895m at its peak; it is denoted as the largest free standing volcanic mass in the world. Therefore the mountain is one of the highest volcanoes in the world and has mainly three volcanic peaks; kibo, Mawenzi, and sharia.
It is hiked by several tourists who travel to Tanzania annually and is one of those daring places that any adventurer should visit at all costs.
Mount Kilimanjaro national park was established in 1973, currently the game park harbors all of the mountain above the treeline (2700 meters), comprising the six corridors that stretch down through the Montane forest belt.
Mount Kilimanjaro and the surrounding national park area is unique compared to most national parks because almost all ecosystems are accounted for from the area between the base and summit. The summit provides for an arctic ecosystem with a trek up the mountain delivering visitors through cultivated land, rainforest, heath, moorland, and alpine desert.
Mount Kilimanjaro is the easiest climb of the Seven Summits; the “seven summits” include the tallest mountain from each of the seven continental regions. Accordingly, Mount Kilimanjaro is the most frequently climbed mountain as well.
Wildlife however is not abundant in Mount Kilimanjaro National park, despite the fact that a few animals such as elephants, leopards, and buffalos may be seen and the western black and white colobus monkey that keeps on jumping in the mountain forest.
Mount Kilimanjaro Hiking for Tanzania Safaris
For Mount Kilimanjaro hiking safaris in Tanzania, there are several routes set to hike to Kilimanjaro’s peak. These are; the Machame route, Lemosho route, Marangu route, Rongai route, Shira route, Northern circuit and Umbwe route. Of these routes, Machame and Lemosho routes are the most scenic. Marangu route is the easiest to follow to the Kilimanjaro route.
Marangu, Machame and Umbwe routes all approach Kilimanjaro peak from the south of the mountain and the mweka route is used only for descent.
Lemoshso, Shira and the Northern circuit approach the mountain from the west. In the north there is only the Rongai route.
Northern circuit route takes a minimum of 9 days with high difficulty but excellent scenery. There is also very low foot traffic on this route. The Northern circuit traverses the mountain around the quiet, rarely visited northern slopes.
Lemosho route offers a minimum of 8 days to hike and descend. Hiking this route is difficult but has excellent scenery. Foot traffic is moderate along the route. This route is considered the most beautiful and grants panoramic vistas on various sides of the mountain.
Rongai route has a 6 days minimum with difficulty in hiking rated medium and very good scenery. The traffic on the route is low. This route is close to the Kenyan border. Rongai route is preferable for trekkers who need an alternative less crowded route, more remote and for those climbing during the rainy season as the north side receives less precipitation.
Machame route also takes a minimum of 6 days with very high difficulty in hiking. The scenery is excellent and foot traffic is high. The walks on the Machame route are steeper and more suited for adventurous folks and those with hiking or backpacking experience. The route begins from the south, then heads east, traversing underneath Kilimanjaro’s southern ice field before submitting.
The Shira route to the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro takes a minimum of 6 days with high difficulty in hiking, excellent scenery and medium foot traffic. The Shira route bypasses the Londorossi Gate that Lemosho route uses by using a vehicle to transport climbers to Shira Gate near the Shira Ridge. However, climbers may experience some altitude related symptoms on the first day while camping at 11,800 feet.
Marangu route has a minimum of 5 with medium difficulty in hiking. The scenery is good and traffic is high. Marangu route is a classic trek route and the oldest well established route on Mount Kilimanjaro. The route is preferred by many because 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.
The Umbwe route has a minimum of 5 hiking days with very high difficulty. The scenery is very good and traffic is very low. This route is short, steep and direct. The route is quick and direct, however, due to the quick ascent the route does not provide the necessary stages for altitude acclimatization. This may reduce the rate of success for a complete peak hike for those who cannot adopt easily.
Generally for the Kilimanjaro hiking routes the northern circuit and Lemosho route are recommended, Rongai route is good, Machame route is okay and the Shira, Marangu and Umbwe routes are less recommended.
Choose your favorable hiking route and have a great Mount Kilimanjaro hiking experience in Tanzania.