Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro
Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest peak at 5896 metres (19,344 ft) and one of the highest volcanoes in the world, attracting trekkers and climbers from every corner of the world. What makes this mountain even more attractive is the fact that with adequate preparation, it is possible to walk all the way to the summit without technical mountaineering equipment or experience.
The Kilimanjaro massif has two main peak areas: Kibo, the flat topped dome at the centre of the massif, and Mawenzi, a group of jagged points and pinnacles on the eastern side. The top of Kibo dips inwards to form a crater which cannot be seen from below. Although Mount Kilimanjaro lies just three degrees south of the equator, both Kibo and Mawenzi have permanent caps of snow and ice.
The highest point on the Kibo and the target for most climbers is Uhuru. There is also the slightly lower peak called Gillman’s point which is also a goal for many trekkers. Mawenzi is tackled by mountaineers only.
This route is quite popular and is considered to be one of the easiest routes up Kilimanjaro. It is the only route on the north side of the mountain at Rongai, a small village close to the Kenya border. It is drier on this side of the mountain and there are spectacular sweeping views over the flat Maasai lands below. Overnights are spent camping in tents. The summit is reached via the eastern side of Kibo and the descent is on the Marangu route.
The most scenic route up Mount Kilimanjaro, the Machame route is normally done in a minimum of 6 days / 5nights on the mountain. It is a more demanding but much quieter route whose highlights are the Shira Plateau, Barranco wall and the Karanga Valley reaching the summit via Stella Point. Because this route is more taxing it is recommended that trekkers should be physically fit and with the additional day on trek to assist with acclimatisation there is a good chance of reaching the summit.
Overnights are spent camping in tents which are carried and pitched by the accompanying porters.
The most popular route up the mountain, the Marangu or coca cola route is followed by most of the climbers. It has a well defined path where obstacles have been modified to make them ‘climber friendly’. Despite the human traffic this is a very scenic route with good views of Mawenzi and excellent prospects for viewing wildlife. Accommodation on this route is in purpose built mountain huts providing adequate shelter and even bottled water, beer and soft drinks.