Kilimanjaro National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that features a stunning geological formation across more than 1,668 square kilometres. At the heart of the park is the Mt Kilimanjaro, the dream of avid climbers everywhere. This remarkable, snowcapped equatorial mountain is one of the greatest experiences of African safaris. At 5,895m, Kilimanjaro is the highest point in Africa and the highest free-standing mountain in the world (meaning it is not part of a mountain range). Kilimanjaro is also the fourth most topographically prominent peak on Earth.
Being one of the accessible tall mountains by many climbers around the world, the incline of the lower slopes is a typical climatic world tour involving climbing through the 5 distinct vegetation zones. This large stratovolcano composed of three distinct volcanic cones: Kibo, the highest; Mawenzi at 5,149 meters and Shira, the lowest at 4,005 meters. Mawenzi and Shira are extinct, while Kibo is dormant and could erupt again. The highest point on Kibo’s crater rim is called Uhuru, the Swahili word for “freedom.”
Besides being a great destination for Tanzania mountain climbing tours, Kilimanjaro turns out to be an ideal area for Tanzania wildlife safaris too and boasts several species of flora and fauna. The park hosts over 140 species of mammals and 179 bird species. Seven (7) species of primates including baboons, blue monkeys, and black-and-white colobus monkeys. Large mammals in the park include elephants, buffalos, and Elands. There are also small mammals such as forest duikers and Myosorex zinkii which is endemic to Mt. Kilimanjaro.
There seven official trekking routes by which to ascend and descend Kilimanjaro: Lemosho, Lemosho Western-Breach, Machame, Marangu, Mweka, Rongai, Shira, and Umbwe. The Machame route can be completed in six or seven days, Lemosho in six to eight, and the Northern Circuit routes in seven or more days. The Lemosho Route can also be continued via the Western-Breach, summiting via the western side of the mountain. The Western-Breach is more secluded and avoids the 6-hour midnight ascent to the summit (like other routes). The Rongai is the easiest of the camping routes. The Marangu is also relatively easy, if frequently busy; accommodation is in shared huts. The Lemosho Western-Breach Route commences on the western side of Kilimanjaro at Lemosho and continues to the summit via the Western-Breach Route.
Kilimanjaro can be visited by travellers during there tours in Tanzania northern safari circuit. The park is, located about 300 kilometres south of the equator in the Kilimanjaro region. It is situated near the city of Moshi in northern Tanzania, south of the border to Kenya. Kilimanjaro is found in the Northeast of Arusha National Park and a person is very capable of viewing the mountain clearly from the comfort of their hotels or lodges as they sip a cup of tea. Mt Kilimanjaro also lies about 100 miles (160 km) east of the East African Rift System and about 140 miles (225 km) south of Nairobi, Kenya. The massif extends approximately east-west for 50 miles (80 km).
In the early twentieth century, Mount Kilimanjaro and the adjacent forests were declared a game reserve by the German colonial government. In 1921, it was designated a forest reserve. In 1973, the mountain above the tree line (about 2,700 meters) was reclassified as a national park. The park was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1987. In 2005, the park was expanded to include the entire montane forest, which had been part of the Kilimanjaro Forest Reserve.
The origin of the name Kilimanjaro is not known, but a number of theories exist. European explorers had adopted the name by 1860 and reported that Kilimanjaro was the mountain’s Kiswahili name.
Johann Ludwig Krapf wrote in 1860 that Swahilis along the coast called the mountain Kilimanjaro. Although he did not offer any support, he claimed that Kilimanjaro meant either mountain of greatness or mountain of caravans. Under the latter meaning, kilima meant mountain and jaro meant caravans. Jim Thompson claimed in 1885, again without support, that the term Kilima-Njaro “has generally been understood to mean” the mountain (kilima) of greatness (njaro). He also suggested “though not improbably it may mean” the white mountain. Njaro is an ancient Kiswahili word for shining. Similarly, Krapf wrote that a chief of the Wakamba people, whom he visited in 1849, “had been to Jagga and had seen the Kima jajeu, mountain of whiteness, the name given by the Wakamba to Kilimanjaro. More correctly in the Kikamba language, this would be kiima kyeu, and this possible derivation has been popular with several investigators.
Others have assumed that kilima is Kiswahili for the mountain. The problem with this assumption is that kilima actually means hill and is, therefore, the diminutive of mlima, the proper Kiswahili word for mountain. However, ” it is possible that an early European visitor, whose knowledge of (Kiswahili) was not extensive, changed mlima to kilima by analogy with the two Wachagga names: Kibo and Kimawenzi.” A different approach is to assume that the kileman part of Kilimanjaro comes from the Kichagga kileme, which means that which defeats, or kilelema, which means that which has become difficult or impossible. The jaro part would “then be derived from njaare, a bird; or, according to other informants, a leopard; or, possibly from jyaro, a caravan”. Considering that the name Kilimanjaro has never been current among the Wachagga people. It is possible that the name was derived from Wachagga saying that the mountain was unclimbable, kilemanjaare or kilemajyaro, and porters misinterpreting this as being the name of the mountain.
In the 1880s, the mountain became a part of German East Africa and was called Kilima-Ndscharo in German following the Kiswahili name components. On 6 October 1889, Hans Meyer reached the highest summit on the crater ridge of Kibo. He named it Kaiser-Wilhelm-Spitze (Kaiser Wilhelm peak). That name was used until Tanzania was formed in 1964, when the summit was renamed Uhuru Peak, meaning freedom peak in Kiswahili.
In 1889, German geographer Hans Meyer and Austrian mountaineer Ludwig Purtscheller became the first people on record to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro. Since then, Kilimanjaro has become a popular hiking spot for locals and tourists. In 1973, the mountain and its six surrounding forest corridors were named Kilimanjaro National Park in order to protect its unique environment.
The oldest person to climb Mount Kilimanjaro is Anne Lorimor, who reached Uhuru Peak 3.14 p.m. local time on 18 July 2019 2019 aged 89 years and 37 days. Theodore Margaroli from London age 10 was the youngest person to reach the summit unassisted by the Western Breach, the hardest but most scenic route in 2019. Despite an age-limit of 10 years for a climbing permit, Keats Boyd from Los Angeles reached the summit on 21 January 2008 at the age of 7. This record was equalled by Montannah Kenney from Texas in March 2018.
Several climbs by disabled people have drawn attention. Wheelchair user Bernard Goosen from South Africa scaled Kilimanjaro in six days in 2007. In 2012, Kyle Maynard who has no forearms or lower legs, crawled unassisted to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.
The major tourist attractions in Kilimanjaro National Park are definitely the Mt Kilimajaro peaks including Kibo; the highest at 5895 meters, Mawenzi at 5,149 meters and Shira, the lowest at 4,005 meters. Other places of interest in the include Western Breach at Mt Kilimanjaro Tanzania, Shira Plateau on Mt Kilimanjaro Tanzania, Lake Chala in Mount Kilimanjaro National Park Tanzania, Zebra Rock on Mount Kilimanjaro, Stella Point on Mount Kilimanjaro Tanzania, Gilman’s Point Mount Kilimanjaro. Besides these stunning geological features, the park also features other safari attractions such as Wildlife in Mountain Kilimanjaro National Park Tanzania and the Tribal People of Kilimanjaro Tanzania such as the Chagga who leaves on its slopes.
Mount Kilimanjaro is the biggest Tanzania tourist attraction in the park is the main reason why travellers must visit Tanzania during their mountain climbing safari tours in Africa. This large stratovolcano is composed of three distinct cones; namely Kibo; the highest at (5,895m), Mawenzi at 5,149 meters and Shira, the lowest at 4,005 meters. Mawenzi and Shira are extinct, while Kibo is dormant and could erupt again.
Kibo, the highest peak (5,895m), is covered by snow throughout the year despite being close to the equator. Conquering this peak while on your Tanzania adventure safaris is a great lifetime experience. The highest point on Kibo’s crater rim is called Uhuru, the Swahili word for “freedom.” As you hike to the top of this peak will be gifted with the opportunity to go through five different climatic zones
Formation of Kilimanjaro’s Kibo, Shira and Mawenzi Peaks
About 2 million years ago molten lava burst through the fractured surface of the Great Rift Valley; a giant fault in the earth’s crust that runs through East Africa (actually, Kilimanjaro lies 50 miles from the East African Rift Valley along with a splinter running off it, but that need not concern us here). The huge pressures behind this eruption pushed part of the Earth’s crust skywards, creating the Shira volcano, the oldest of the volcanoes forming the Kilimanjaro massif. Shira eventually ceased erupting around 500,000 years ago, collapsing as it did so to form a huge caldera (the deep cauldron-like cavity on the summit of a volcano) many times the size of its original crater.
The remnant caldera rim has been degraded deeply by erosion. Before the caldera formed and erosion began, Shira might have been between 4,900 m and 5,200 m high. It is mostly composed of basic lavas, with some pyroclastic. The formation of the caldera was accompanied by lava emanating from ring fractures, but there was no large scale explosive activity. Two cones formed subsequently, the phonolitic one at the northwest end of the ridge and the doleritic Platzkegel in the caldera centre.
Both Mawenzi and Kibo began erupting about 1 million years ago. They are separated by the Saddle Plateau at 4,400 meters’ elevation. Mawenzi started to form following a further eruption within the Shira caldera. It forms a horseshoe-shaped ridge with pinnacles and ridges opening to the northeast, with a tower-like shape resulting from deep erosion and a mafic dyke swarm. Several large cirques cut into the ring. The largest of these sits on top of the Great Barranco gorge. Also notable are the Ost and West Barrancos on the northeastern side of the mountain. Most of the eastern side of the mountain has been removed by erosion. Mawenzi has a subsidiary peak, Neumann Tower, 4,425 meters.
An enormous eruption just west of Mawenzi caused the formation of Kibo. Kibo is the largest cone on the mountain and is more than 24 km wide at the Saddle Plateau altitude. Continual subterranean pressure forced Kibo to erupt several times more, forcing the summit ever higher until reaching a maximum height of about 5,895m. A further huge eruption from Kibo 100,000 years later led to the formation of Kilimanjaro’s characteristic shiny black stone – which in reality is just solidified black lava or obsidian. This spilt over from Kibo’s crater into the Shira caldera and around to the base of the Mawenzi peak, forming the so-called Saddle.
The last activity here, dated to 150,000–200,000 years ago, created the current Kibo summit crater. Kibo still has gas-emitting fumaroles in its crater. Kibo is capped by an almost symmetrical cone with escarpments rising 180 to 200 meters on the south side. These escarpments define a 2.5-kilometre-wide caldera caused by the collapse of the summit. Within this caldera is the Inner Cone and within the crater of the Inner Cone is the Reusch Crater, which the Tanganyika government in 1954 named after Gustav Otto Richard Reusch, upon his climbing the mountain for the 25th time (out of 65 attempts during his lifetime). The Ash Pit, 350 meters deep, lies within the Reusch Crater. About 100,000 years ago, part of Kibo’s crater rim collapsed, creating the area known as the Western Breach and the Great Barranco.
Later eruptions also created a series of distinctive mini-cones, or parasitic craters, that run in chain south-east. Kibo has more than 250 parasitic cones on its northwest and southeast flanks that were formed between 150,000 and 200,000 years ago and erupted pirobasalts, trachybasalts ankaramites and basanites. They reach as far as Lake Chala and Taventa in the southeast and the Lengurumani Plain in the northwest. Most of these cones are well preserved, with the exception of the Saddle Plateau cones that were heavily affected by glacial action. Despite their mostly small size, lava from the cones has obscured large portions of the mountain. The Saddle Plateau cones are mostly cinder cones with terminal effusion of lava, while the Upper Rombo Zone cones mostly generated lava flows. All Saddle Plateau cones predate the last glaciation.
As its name suggests, the Western Breach is a gap, formed by lava flow, on the western outer rim of Mt Kilimanjaro’s main summit, Kibo. For travellers on Tanzania tours to Kilimanjaro, the Western Breach offers one of the shortest climbing to the summit. The core of this route, stretching from Arrow Glacier Camp to Crater Camp, involves several short non-exposed simple scrambling sections (grade I on the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation (UIAA) scale, or equivalently YDS class 2). Despite its moderate inherent risks, among experienced climbers, the Western Breach is still a popular ascent route because it is very direct and more interesting than the two heavily frequented standard routes on the southeast face of Kibo.
Alternatively, it is possible for trekkers on most other routes to stay one night in the crater at the Crater Camp, allowing for an extended time to explore the peak without the added risk of an assault via the Western Breach. It may be advisable to spend an additional night at Lava Tower Camp (4600m) to aid acclimatization before positioning to Arrow Glacier Camp (4800m) the day after, in preparation for the final night-time push to the summit.
Avoid being in the breach in windy conditions, as well as daylight hours, which may both increase the probability of rockfall. Ensure sufficient acclimatization and rest before entering the breach, so as to be able to move through it swiftly, minimizing exposure time to rockfall.
After collapsing, the Shira peak formed a plateau of outstanding scenic beauty on the mountain. This plateau is a great spot for Tanzania wildlife tours in the park with open grassland, heather, and moorland that support the large concentration of endemic plants including Senecio and lobelias. While on the plateau, one can visit the Shira central cone, the Cathedral, and the Needle. Several kinds of migratory mammals such as buffaloes, elephants, and elands use this plateau for feeding or salt licking.
Visitors on a Tanzania holiday who just want to experience the thrill of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro without wishing to the summit can book a hike on the spectacular Shira Plateau. This plateau stretches out over 13 kilometres to the west of Kibo, at an elevation of 3 962 meters.
The Shira Plateau also shows the remains of an ancient caldera, a volcanic crater that expired around half a million years ago. Today, it stands as a World Heritage Site, boasting deep valleys and weather-beaten lava flows. These are wonderfully framed near the Kibo Massif, which resembles twisted, modern sculptures.
Another enchanting tourist-attraction visitor will see while on their Tanzania trips in Kilimanjaro is the beautiful lake Chala. Chala is a unique caldera lake situated east of Mount Kilimanjaro and about 8 kilometres north of Taventa, Kenya. It is surrounded by a steep crater with a maximum height of 170 meters. According to reports gathered in the 19th century from the Maasai people, Lake Chala on Kibo’s eastern flank mountain was the site of a village that was destroyed by an eruption.
Lake Chala or Challa has formed approximately 250,000 years ago. The lake surface has average annual evaporation of near 1,735 millimetres. Approximately 80 per cent of the lake’s inflow comes from groundwater, which is derived mostly from rainfall in the montane forest zone of Mount Kilimanjaro at an elevation of 1,800 to 2,800 meters. It takes about 3 months for groundwater to reach the lake.
The only native fish in this lake is the Lake Chala tilapia which is found nowhere else in the world. It is considered critically endangered by the IUCN and now greatly outnumbered by other tilapia species that have been introduced to Lake Chala. The lake also not regarded as not safe to swim at all due to the presence of some crocodiles.
Chala also has a huge variety of amazing trees, grasses, and plants; some are unique to the area. The lake attracts hundreds of species of butterflies and birds, including spectacular birds of prey. The African Fish Eagle, with its haunting techniques, Verreaux’s Eagle, Augur Buzzards and many other species of birds can be seen around the crater walls. Wild mammals do vary including Blue Monkeys, Colobus Monkeys, baboons, dik-dik, kudu and elephant. Chala is an untouched part of a truly ancient land and a must-visit place.
Zebra Rock is a popular landmark on the Marangu route. Over time, mineral-rich rainwater flowing over the black lava formed white streaks on the rock wall resembling a zebra. These striped rocks are located at 4000 meters. Visitors can have a short walk to these rocks as a part of the slogan “Go higher slip low”.
This is the second-highest point reached by climbers trying to conquer Kibo peak, 5.3km from Kibo hut (5739m). Visitors reached this point are provided with the silver certificates and recorded as a successful climber.
This is a third highest point reached by climbers trying to conquer Kibo peak, 5km from Kibo hut (5685m). Visitors reached this point are provided with the bronze certificates and recorded as a successful climber.
Besides being a geological wonder, Mt Kilimanjaro National Park boasts a variety of flora and fauna that will be encountered by tourists during their Tanzania safaris to the park. Vegetation: Mount Kilimanjaro supports a unique combination of eco-climatic zones that takes you to the equivalent of a trip from the equator to the arctic in a brief tour. As one climbs Kilimanjaro, vegetation and weather changes in response to the changing elevation. Between 1800-2800m, one goes through montane forest. From 2800-4000m, vegetation is mainly heath and moorland composed of Helichrysum (Everlastings), Lobelia and Senecio. From 4000-5000m, vegetation is alpine desert with sparse plants adapted to harsh conditions. From 5,000-5895 m is the arctic zone. This summit zone has temperatures below the freezing point throughout the year. The mountain peak is covered by snow all year-round.
Remnants of the former savannah vegetation with Acacia, Combretum, and Terminalia, and Grewia also occur. Between 1,000 meters and 1,800 meters’ coffee also appears as part of the “Chagga home gardens” agroforestry. Native vegetation at this altitude range (Strombosia, Newtonia, and Entandrophragma) is limited to inaccessible valleys and gorges and is completely different from vegetation at higher altitudes.
On the southern slope montane forests first contain Ocotea usambarensis as well as ferns and epiphytes, farther up in cloud forests Podocarpus latifolius, Hagenia abyssinica and Erica excelsa grow as well as fog-dependent mosses. On the drier northern slopes olive Croton-Calodendrum, Cassipourea, and Juniperus form forests in order of increasing altitude. Between 3,100 meters (10,200 ft) and 3,900 meters lie Erica bush and heathlands, followed by Helichrysum until 4,500 meters. Neophytes have been observed, including Poa annua.
Records from the Maundi crater at 2,780 meters (9,120 ft) indicate that the vegetation of Kilimanjaro has varied over time. Forest vegetation retreated during the Last Glacial Maximum and the ericaceous vegetation belt lowered by 1,500 meters (4,900 ft) between 42,000 and 30,000 years ago because of the drier and colder conditions. The Tussock Grassland is an area on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro that contains many unique species of vegetation such as the water holding cabbage.
Mammals: Mount Kilimanjaro inhabits 140 species of mammals including 7 primates, 25 carnivores, 25 antelopes, and 24 species of bat. Travellers on a Tanzania wildlife tour will see various animals including the Black and White Colobus Monkey, Blue monkey, Forest Duikers and small mammals like Myosorex zinkii which is endemic to Mt. Kilimanjaro. Buffaloes, Elands, and Elephants are the large mammals often seen on Shira plateau and Rongai.
Above the timberline, the Kilimanjaro tree hyrax, the grey duiker, bushbuck, and rodents are frequently encountered. Cape buffaloes are found in the montane forest and occasionally in the moorland and grassland. Elephants can be found between the Namwai and Tarakia rivers and sometimes occur at higher elevations. In the montane forests, blue monkeys, western black and white colobuses, Bushbabies, and leopards can be found. Zebras, leopards, and hyenas have been observed sporadically on the Shira plateau. Specific species associated with the mountain include the Kilimanjaro shrew and the chameleon (Kinyongia taventana).
Birds: The park is also a great spot for Tanzania bird-watching safaris with 179 species. The common sited birds in Kilimanjaro are White Necked Ravens, Hartlaub’s Turaco, Schalow’s Turaco, Violent Crested Turaco, Rose Turaco, Natrina trogon, Silvery Cheeked Hornbill, Trumpeter Hornbill, Emerald Cuckoo, Klaas Cuckoo, Lark heeled Cuckoo and White brown coucal, African Pygmy Kingfisher, Malachite Kingfisher, and African Pitta.
Since 400 years ago, the Wachagga people settled on Kilimanjaro, displacing or absorbing earlier tribes. Amongst these were said to be the aboriginal Wakonyingo: Bantu dwarf pygmies of mythical stature, credited variously with tails, large heads, magical powers and the ability to live close to heaven at the top of mountains. The Umbo tribe, driven out themselves from the Usambara Mountains, may have been responsible for the disappearance of the Wakonyingo. The Wangassa claimed to have lived forever on the mountain and to be separate from the Maasai people whom they resembled at that time. After a long history of war and treachery, the various tribes and clans became united under one chief as the Chagga people. The Chagga now forms one of Tanzania’s largest, richest, best refined and most powerful ethnic groups.
A Tanzania cultural safari to Kilimanjaro will provide an opportunity to learn about the history and traditional ways of life of the local Chagga people. There are also cultural sites along the Marangu route that is sacred by the local Chagga people. Historically, the site was used for cultural rituals. Several sites in the Western part of the mountain were also used by the Maasai tribe for ritual purposes.
Tanzania’s Mt Kilimanjaro National Park offers a variety of safari activities to visitors. A Mountain trekking safari in Kilimanjaro National Park is the main highlight of a Tanzania trip. Other safari activities include mountain cycling in Mount Kilimanjaro National Park, Animal viewing in Kilimanjaro National Park, Picnicking in Kilimanjaro National Park Tanzania, Guided Nature walks in Kilimanjaro National Park and Cultural tours in Mt Kilimanjaro National Park Tanzania.
There are a number of considerations for the successful Mountain climbing tour in Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro National Park including Park-Fee Scams & Disreputable Guides at Kilimanjaro, Climbing conditions & equipment in Kilimanjaro National Park, How much is a Kilimanjaro Mountain climbing/ hiking safari tour in Tanzania, Guides & Porters at Kilimanjaro National Park, How much is tipping at Kilimanjaro National Park? Maps for Kilimanjaro trekking tours in Tanzania, Trekking operators at Kilimanjaro National Park Tanzania, Mountain trekking routes in Kilimanjaro National Park
Mountain climbing safaris in Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro National Park can be done at any time of the year, though weather patterns are notoriously erratic and difficult to predict. The best time for trekking Kilimanjaro is in the dry season usually from late June to October, and from late December to February or early March, just after the short rains and before the long rains. During November and March/April, it’s more likely that paths through the forest will be slippery, and that routes up to the summit, especially the Western Breach, will be covered by snow. That said, you can also have a streak of beautiful sunny days during these times.
Many people have successfully reached the peak of Kilimanjaro during their mountain hiking safaris in Tanzania. For example, on 18 July 2019, Anne Lorimor aged 89 years reached Uhuru Peak. Keats Boyd from Los Angeles also reached the summit on 21st January 2008 at the age of 7 and several climbs by disabled people have drawn attention. Wheelchair user Bernard Goosen from South Africa scaled Kilimanjaro in just six days in 2007. In 2012, Kyle Maynard who has no forearms or lower legs, crawled unassisted to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro!
However, don’t be fooled by the number of people who climb Kilimanjaro. Hiking this Africa’s highest mountain is a serious undertaking and many don’t make it because they suffer altitude sickness or simply aren’t in good enough shape. And every year some trekkers and porters die on the mountain. In order to have a successful Tanzania mountain climbing tour in Kilimanjaro National Park, come well prepared. Pack enough appropriate footwear and clothing, and, most importantly, allow yourself enough time. In case you are interested in reaching the top, seriously consider adding at least one extra day on to the ‘standard’ climb itineraries. Although the extra US$150 to US$250 may seem a lot when you’re planning your Tanzania vacation, it will seem insignificant later on if you’ve gone to the expense and effort of starting a trek and then can’t reach the top. Don’t feel bad about insisting on an extra day with the trekking companies. Standard medical advice is to increase the sleeping altitude by only 300m per day once you’re above 3000m. This is about a third of the daily altitude gains above 3000m on the standard Kilimanjaro-climb routes offered by most operators.
It’s also worth remembering that it is not essential to reaching Uhuru Peak, and you haven’t ‘failed’ if you don’t. If time (or money) is limited, choose other treks, and you can then experience several different mountain areas for the price of a single Kilimanjaro climb. Consider trekking up to an area such as the Saddle, the top of the Barranco Wall or the Shira Plateau to appreciate the splendour and magnificence of the mountain without the slog of summiting.
Warning: Park-Fee Scams & Disreputable Guides at Kilimanjaro
Paying park fees: For anyone paying directly at the gate, all entry, hut, camping, and other park fees must be paid with Visa or MasterCard and your PIN. One scam involves the relevant officer billing you for less than you owe (for example Tanzania shillings 100 instead of US$100). As you exit the park after your trek, they point this out to you and ask you to pay the difference in cash. The cash, of course, goes into the pocket of whoever is collecting it. Carefully check the amount (and currency) before entering your PIN and keep all receipts at least until after you have left the park.
Disreputable guides: While most guides are dedicated, professional, properly trained and genuinely concerned to make your Tanzania tour to Kilimanjaro safe and successful, there are exceptions. Although it doesn’t happen often, some guides leave the last hut deliberately late on the summit day to avoid going all the way to the top. Going with a reputable Tanzania mountain trekking company; preferably one that hires full-time guides (most don’t), is one way to avoid a bad experience. Insist on meeting the guide before you sign up for a trip, familiarize yourself with all aspects of the route, and when on the mountain have morning and evening briefings so you know what to expect each day. The night before summiting, talk to other climbers to be sure your departure time seems realistic (though note that not everyone leaves at the same time). If it doesn’t, get an explanation from your guide. Should problems arise, be polite but firm.
Climbing conditions & equipment in Kilimanjaro National Park
Travellers on a Mountain hiking safari tour in Tanzania are advised to do not underestimate the weather conditions on Mt Kilimanjaro. Conditions on the mountain are frequently very cold and wet, and you’ll need a full range of waterproof cold-weather clothing and gear, including a good-quality sleeping bag. It’s also worth carrying some additional sturdy water bottles. No matter what the time of year, waterproof everything, especially your sleeping bag, as things rarely dry on the mountain. It’s often possible to rent sleeping bags and gear from trekking operators. For the Marangu route, you can also rent gears from the Kilimanjaro Guides Cooperative Society stand just inside Marangu gate, or from a small no-name shop just before the gate. However, especially at the budget level, quality and availability can’t be counted on, and it’s best to bring your own.
Apart from a small shop at Marangu gate selling a limited range of chocolate bars and tinned items, there are no shops inside the park. You can buy (steeply-priced) beer and soft drinks at huts on the Marangu route.
How much is a Kilimanjaro Mountain climbing/ hiking safari tour in Tanzania
A mountain hiking safari adventure in Tanzania can only be undertaken with a licensed guide, and it’s recommended that you organize your climb through a reputable safari company. No-frills four-night/five-day treks up the Marangu route start at about US$1500, including park fees and taxes, and no-frills six-day budget treks on the Machame route start at around US$1900. Prices start at about US$1500 on the Rongai route, and about US$2000 for a seven-day trek on the Shira Plateau route. For other routes, the starting points are further from Moshi and transport costs can be significant, so clarify whether they’re included in the price.
Most of the better companies provide dining tents, decent-to-good cuisine, and various other extras to make the experience more enjoyable and to maximize your chances of getting to the top. If you choose a really cheap trip, you risk inadequate meals, mediocre guides, few comforts, and problems with hut bookings and park fees. Also, remember that an environmentally responsible trek usually costs more.
Whatever you pay for your trek, remember that the following park fees are not negotiable and should be part of any quote from your operator:
Kilimanjaro National park entry fees US$ 83 per adult per day
Kilimanjaro National Park Hut/camping fees US$71/59 per person per night
Kilimanjaro National Park Rescue fee US$24 per person per trip
Other costs vary depending on the company, which should handle food, tents (if required), guides and porters, and transport to/from the trailhead; tips are additional.
Guides & Porters at Kilimanjaro National Park
Guides, and at least one porter (for the guide), are obligatory and are provided by your trekking company. You can carry your own gear on the Marangu route, although porters are generally used, one or two porters per trekker are essential on all other routes.
All guides must be registered with the national park authorities. If in doubt, check that your guide’s permit is up to date. On Kilimanjaro, the guide’s job is to show you the way and that’s it. Only the best guides, working for reputable companies, will be able to tell you about wildlife, flowers or other features on the mountain.
Porters will carry bags weighing up to 15kg (not including their own food and clothing, which they strap to the outside of your bag), and your bags will be weighed before you set off.
How much is tipping at Kilimanjaro National Park?
Most guides and porters receive only minimal wages from the trekking companies and depend on tips as their major source of income. As a guideline, plan on tipping about 10% of the total amount you’ve paid for the trek, divided up among the guides and porters. Common tips for satisfactory service are from about US$10 to US$15 per group per day for the guide, US$8 to US$10 per group per day for the cook and US$5 to US$10 per group per day for each porter.
Maps for Kilimanjaro trekking tours in Tanzania
Topographical maps include Map & Guide to Kilimanjaro by Andrew Wielochowski and Kilimanjaro Map & Guide by Mark Savage. The hand-drawn New Map of the Kilimanjaro National Park is evocative for an overview but of no real use for trekking detail.
Trekking operators at Kilimanjaro National Park Tanzania
The following companies are recommended for organizing your Mountain climbing tour in Tanzania. Most are based in Moshi or Arusha. They include African Scenic Safaris, Just Kilimanjaro, Kessy Brothers Tours & Travel, Kiliwarrior Expeditions, Marangu Hotel, Milestone Safaris, Moshi Expeditions & Mountaineering, Shah Tours, Summit Expeditions & Nomadic Experience, Summits Africa, and Tanzania Journeys. Treks can also be organized through hotels and lodges in Marangu.
Mountain trekking routes in Kilimanjaro National Park
There are seven main trekking routes to the Kilimanjaro summit. Trekkers on all but the Marangu route must use tents. Officially a limit of 60 climbers per route per day is in effect on Kilimanjaro. It’s not always enforced, except on the Marangu route, which is self-limiting because of maximum hut capacities.
Marangu route: A trek on this route is typically sold as a four-night, five-day return package, although at least one extra night is highly recommended to help you acclimatize, especially if you’ve just flown into Tanzania or arrived from the lowlands.
Machame route: This increasingly popular route has a gradual ascent, including a spectacular day contouring the southern slopes before approaching the summit via the top section of the Mweka route. Usually a six- or seven-day return.
Umbwe route: Steeper and with a more direct way to the summit than the other routes; very enjoyable if you can resist the temptation to gain altitude too quickly (aim for at least a six-day return). Although this route is direct, the top, very steep section up the Western Breach is often covered in ice or snow, which makes it impassable or extremely dangerous. Many trekkers who attempt it without proper acclimatization are forced to turn back. An indication of its seriousness is that until fairly recently the Western Breach was considered a technical mountaineering route. Only consider this route if you’re experienced, properly equipped and travelling with a reputable operator.
Rongai route: This popular route starts near the Kenyan border and goes up the northern side of the mountain.
Shira Plateau route: This route is scenic and good for avoiding crowds but can be challenging for acclimatization as it begins at 3600m at the Shira Track trailhead. To counteract this, an extra day at Shira Hut is recommended. Better – choose the Lemosho Route, which is essentially the same, but with the advantage that it starts lower at Londorosi gate and is normally done in eight days (rather than six or seven for Shira Plateau).
Lemosho Route: On the western side of the mountain, this is arguably the best all-round route for scenery and acclimatization. It starts with two days in the forest before crossing the Shira Plateau and then joining up with the Machame route.
Northern Circuit route: This route – the longest (eight to 10 days) – initially follows the same path as the Shira Plateau route before turning north near Lava Tower and then continuing around the northern (‘back’) side of Kilimanjaro before tackling the summit via Gilman’s Point.
Tourists have a chance to cycle inside the park. Mount Kilimanjaro cycling is named as a “Worlds’ most challenging mountain cycling” and also “Worlds’ longest mountain downhill ride” with a difference of 4000m within a strip of 34Kms. There are two routes, one for summit bound visitors (Kilema route) and the second one for non-summit visitors (Shira plateau). These routes are equipped with picnic sites and resting points. It takes 5 to 7 days to reach the summit.
Day 1: From Kilema gate to Kilema camp (12Kms; 2900m)
Day 2: From Kilema camp to horombo huts (7Kms; 3720m)
Day 3: Acclimatization at Horombo huts short ride to Zebra Rocks (3km)
Day 4: Departing from Horombo to Kibo hut using Kibo alternative route via Jiwe la Ukoyo (10.16Km, 4720m)
Day 5: Carry bicycle to Hans Meyer cave, lock there and back to Kibo hut to overstay
Day 6: Walk to Hans Meyer, pick the bicycle to the summit (6Km; 5895m) then back to Horombo hut to overnight
Day 7: Downhill ride to Kilema gate
Mount Kilimanjaro has a record of over 179 bird species making it a one-stop destination for Tanzania birding safaris. Visitors on a Tanzania safari tour to the park can do birding as they enjoy hiking. The common sited birds are Hartlaub’s Turaco, Schalow’s Turaco, Violent Crested Turaco, Rose Turaco, Natrina trogon, Silvery Cheeked Hornbill, Trumpeter Hornbill, Emerald Cuckoo, Klaas Cuckoo, Lark heeled Cuckoo and White brown coucal, African Pygmy Kingfisher, Malachite Kingfisher, and African Pitta.
The birders take more forested and scenic routes that take longer days to the peak to reach the peak as they enjoy more birding en route and every time they rest they do birding around the camping zone. The best time to do a Tanzania birding tour in Kilimanjaro is from November to April when migratory birds from Europe and North Africa are present.
Mount Kilimanjaro is home to over 140 animal species spread to different habitats and vegetation zoning. Animal viewing is one of the most interesting tourist activities a visitor can undertake while on Tanzania wildlife tour in the park. This park harbours both small and big games like bush babies, dik dik, duikers, bushbucks, Forest elephants, Hyenas and many more. Guests who are not sure of their fitness most times come to the park to see animals only. Escorted by the park rangers, they move around the park look for animals. On a lucky day, one can easily spot the rare leopards, hyenas, buffalos, and mongoose plus many more. Primate trekking is also one of the prime Tanzania safari activities in Kilimanjaro. The mountain is home to different primate species such as baboons, blue monkeys, and black-faced monkeys.
There are total of 13 picnic sites along the hiking routes (Rongai starting, Kisambioni, Lauwo, wona, last water, Jiwe la Ukoyo, Machame halfway, Jiwe la Mbula, Baranco junction, Morum, Uwanja wa ndege, Mgongo wa Tembo, Daraja Refu, Kilimamchele) that offer a spectacular view of the attractions found in and outside the park. They are the best places for taking packed meals on your way to the roof of Africa.
Guided nature walks can be done at the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro forest canopy and tourists can encounter a lot of primates like baboons, blue monkeys, black-faced monkeys, and red-tailed monkeys.
At the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro outside the entrance to Kilimanjaro National Park lie the beautiful towns of Mamba and Marangu. A Tanzania cultural tour to Kilimanjaro presents an opportunity for travellers to see historical sites of clan wars and ancient legends including large caves for hiding during the Chagga-Maasai wars. A morning visit to the ancient Makundi area recalls clan wars and historic legends. You can also enter the large hiding caves which were used to protect women and children during the Maasai-Chagga wars.
Also, you will visit the local blacksmiths who continue using ancestral methods to prepare Maasai spears and tools. You will be in a position to see the men at work heating the iron in a hot fire and beating it into shape to get the required items. This method has long been forgotten in most parts of the world and seeing the Chagga men do this will be like going back in time.
The Park provides a variety of accommodations near the park ranging from luxury, midrange, and budget. Inside the park, there are Mountain huts, hostel, and 32 public Campsites. Booking for huts and hostel is done through licensed local tour operators. All Kilimanjaro trekkers except on the Marangu route must use tents. These are almost always provided by trekking companies, although it’s no problem to bring your own.
Kilimanjaro Mountain Resort is a graceful luxury boutique hotel tucked deep in the lush green banana and coffee plantations of Kyalla Village in Marangu West on the slopes of the Kilimanjaro mountain. It is situated extremely close to the front gates of the Kilimanjaro National Park – it is the start climbing point to the roof of Africa; the Kibo peak. The resort is your destination for cool relaxation and Tanzania adventure safaris for all seasons. The ambient sounds and colours of nature are quite soothing. It makes perfect relaxation, situated 1400 meters above sea level. Equipped with modern conveniences like; Ensuite Bathroom and Minibar, Health centre with Exercise Gym, Sauna, Spar and Massage Parlor. Satellite Tv, Internet, and a Swimming pool.
Accommodation at Kilimanjaro Mountain Lodge comprises;
The resort 18th century colonial Africa era architecture at the front blends with a recent mix of near modern architecture at the rear offering 42 luxurious accommodation suites The resort features double, twin and honeymoon rooms.
Each room offers a large exotic room with king-size luxurious beds complemented with tropical warm wooden parquet flooring, large size washrooms assuring separate bath and showers for two with own water boiler, mini bar, 21-inch flat-screen digital television set with satellite TV, coffee maker, a telephone extension and a ready Internet access connection port.
Decorated in impeccable style, each spacious suite has a distinctive ambience and character, offering serenity and privacy. From balconies of Mawenzi, Kibo or Meru wings enjoy views of the Kilimanjaro early in the mornings.
Facilities and services at Kilimanjaro Mountain Lodge comprises;
Restaurant & Bar
The Resort has three Restaurants in Mawenzi, Kibo and Meru with the respective sitting capacity of 20, 60 and 100 each. The Kibo restaurant adjoins the swimming pool offering great grounds for evening cocktail party corners.
The Meru restaurant overflows into well-paved gardens for enjoyable evening dinners for desiring groups that overflow into the green lush tropical gardens where you will enjoy very cool weather and quiet winds.
Enjoy a wide selection of beverages, from banana wine to exotic spirits and from a variety of soft drinks to local and imported beers.
The bar is located in a large traditional Chagga pavilion hut with an outside terrace on the lush green lawns of the hotel. Enjoy the famous locally grown Kilimanjaro Arabica coffee drink at the coffee bar. You can also drop in at the “Williams” Pavillion bar, stocked with alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, including the traditional “Mbege”, a local Chagga brew made from millet and banana wine.
It is an exclusive luxury, on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. The ambient sounds and colours of nature are quite soothing. It makes perfect relaxation, situated 1400 meters above sea level.
A conference centre with a capacity of 80 to 100 pax on the 4th floor of Kibo wing offers conference facilities for board meetings, training camps, religious convocations, seminars and conferences which can be arranged as specific packages with the Resort.
The conference break hall balcony offers a fantastic view of the Kilimanjaro peaks forms its vantage high point on the fourth floor.
Other facilities and services;
Babylon Lodge is located at the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro in the Northern part of Tanzania. It is 5km from Kilimanjaro National Park Gate (Marangu route), 95km from Kilimanjaro International Airport and it is the last good hotel on your way to the Rongai route. Whether you are climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro using the Marangu route, Machame route or Rongai route, the location of Babylon Lodge makes it the ideal place for one to stay a night before or after Kilimanjaro climb.
Accommodation at Babylon Loge comprises;
Babylon Lodge has 21 well-furnished rooms with comfortable beds and private bathrooms with hot and cold water showers. The rooms are scattered in beautiful gardens that offer a unique and relaxing atmosphere. The well-manicured lawns are suitable for sitting while you enjoy the relaxing atmosphere or lying down and basking in the sun.
Single room; this is a simply beautiful room that offers accommodation for one person.
Double room; with one queen size bed. It is suitable for couples.
Twin room; this is a room with two separate beds. It is suitable for two people.
Triple room; this is a room with 3 beds. It is suitable for 3 people.
Facilities and services at Babylon Lodge include;
Restaurant; The lodge has a beautiful restaurant that offers both local and international cuisine. The well-trained chef will entertain your taste glands with the taste of Africa dishes. All foods are freshly prepared and a touch of seasonal vegetables and fruits will make your Kilimanjaro experience a trip to remember.
Bar; The lodge has a well-stocked bar with both local to international drinks. The well-trained barman/lady will be there to assist any guests who are not familiar with local drinks. You will have a chance to enjoy the famous “Kilimanjaro beer and the Serengeti beer”. For those who are not interested in alcohol, a wide range of soft drinks will be provided.
Internet; Babylon Lodge offers free Wi-Fi to its guest and upon arrival, you will be given the password that will enable you to access the internet.
Car park; There is an ample parking space with high security ensuring your car is safe.
Safekeeping services; The lodge offers safekeeping services to our clients at no extra cost. Whether you are climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro or staying for the night you can always deposit your valuables at the reception at no extra cost.
Transport Services; the lodge provides transport services to guests at an affordable rate. There are small cars, minivans, and buses for large groups.
The hotel is situated at the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro. Located just in 15-min ride from the most popular trailhead to Kilimanjaro National Park, Aishi Machame Hotel is an ideal choice for those looking for peace and calm and creature comforts away from the city bustle. The ambience here is unique – surrounded by the African wilderness. Tranquil and tastefully decorated, this oasis of comfort offers easy access to the Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO), which is only 30 km from the property.
Accommodation at Aishi Machame Hotel comprises; Single, Double, Twin, and Triple rooms.
Facilities and services at Aishi Machame Hotel
Restaurant; the restaurant is a two-level terrace. Not only may have you a good lunch but also it is a perfect place to relax enjoying a cup of Tanzania coffee. The menu features continental, Mediterranean, Chinese and Swahili cuisines.
Bar; offers an advanced range of South African, Italian, French, Chile and other wines as well as European, American and local spirits and fresh juices.
Swimming pool; The pool is a perfect place to relax after a tiresome Kilimanjaro climbing expedition. Drinking the cocktails and enjoying pristine nature is what you really culminate in your Tanzania adventure tours.
Amidst the fascinating tropical vegetation of the mountain-rainforest, with its perennial mild climate, lie the bungalows nestled between eucalyptus, banana trees, and blooming exotic plants. Numerous animal species guide to sleep underneath a starry sky, alongside the tender chirr of the crickets together with the laughing of the bush babies to wake up from the unique tunes from the hornbill and the screech of the black monkeys.
The terrace is the ideal place for events and a popular place for meetings held by yoga-groups from all over the world. Its upscale lay, above the river valley, offers a direct view to the nearby Kibo. The lodge is situated at a height of 1300m on the foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro and it is just a few minutes away from Machame Gate, the entrance to the Kilimanjaro National Park.
The small bustling town of Moshi which is roughly 20km from the lodge can be reached easily thanks to the good tarmac roads.
Accommodation at Kaliwa lodge include
Ten (10) cosy bungalows set in a verdant, flowering garden, with wonderful views at sunset up towards Kilimanjaro’s cloud-ringed summit.
The rooms themselves are constructed in Bauhaus style, with their minimalist design providing a striking contrast to the abundance of the surrounding nature while offering European standards of comfort.
The modern architectural design of the lodge’s single and double rooms provides an intriguing contrast to the surrounding nature and offers European standards of comfort with floor-to-ceiling windows and eucalyptus wood furnishings.
The single rooms are next to each other, creating a bonding atmosphere, especially for those, who are preparing to summit and experience Mt. Kilimanjaro. Just space enough to have a relaxed night to start a new adventure the next morning.
Featuring a patio, the double room offers a terrace and seating area. The room has a view of the beautiful garden, and a private bathroom fitted with a shower. Free toiletries are included in the guests’ stay. There is space enough to just relax in the room for a day.
The twin room is a light room with a friendly ambient. You can use it as an office or just a room to relax and prepare your climb or safari the next day.
Facilities and services at Kaliwa lodge include;
Set deep in traditional land at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro, Shu’Mata Camp consists of five large East African tents situated on a hill with magnificent views in all directions. In front of the camp, bush savannah melts into the slopes of towering Mount Kilimanjaro and the private veranda of each tent opens up onto this magnificent panorama. Large gauze windows let in the spectacular vistas. Elegant dressing tables, hanging cupboards and nostalgic trunks create an atmosphere of vintage safari. Ensuite bathrooms decorated with colourful Maasai art feature flushable toilets and open-air showers. Old fashioned water jugs and enamelled washbasins hark back to colonial times.
Meals are served beneath the ornate chandelier in the elegant mess tent, which has been decorated in three different themes, from vintage safari to Arabian nights and safari baroque. An open fireplace under the African skies provides a focal point for guests to gather and listen to the sounds of the night after dinner. Game drives in open vehicles and walking safaris in the company of Maasai warriors explore the breathtaking scenery.
With views of the Kilimanjaro and the endless plains of the African savannah, Kambi ya Tembo is a spectacular camp situated on the north face of the Kilimanjaro with fantastic views of Amboseli and where one can enjoy the wildlife in the front line.
Accommodation at Kambi ya Tembo include;
Fourteen (14) tents set-up on the ground each with a private bathroom with a shower and a private terrace. Spacious double rooms with a double bed, two or three beds. Some of the tents have views of the Amboseli plains and others of the National Park of Kilimanjaro. All rooms feature a balcony with views.
Facilities and services at Kambi ya Tembo tented lodge comprise;
Dining room; Meals are served in the pleasant dining room which has an indoor and outdoor area.
Electricity: The campuses solar panels for electricity and has a back-up generator.
Campfire; in the evening appetizers and drinks are served around the campfire.
Fortune Mountain Resort is located on the foot of the Kilimanjaro, on lush grounds of banana groves, coffee trees, and beautiful flower gardens, only 5km from the Kilimanjaro National Park Marangu Gate, and about 80km from Kilimanjaro International Airport.
Accommodation at Fortune Mountain Resort
Fortune Mountain has a total of 15 en suite rooms providing perfect accommodation for both Kilimanjaro climbers and those simply on holiday.
Facilities & Services
Restaurant; the restaurant with indoor & outdoor sitting provides for buffet and a varied a la carte menu,
Bar; the bar serves imported and local beers, wine, branded spirits, cocktails, and hot beverages including fine Tanzanian tea & coffee.
Cultural village tours
Ndarakwai Camp is a permanent tented lodge on the Ndarakwai Ranch. With views of both Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru, the camp is nestled in a protected forest of towering fig, and yellow-barked acacias that line the seasonal Ngare Nairobi River. The camp has comfortable and individually decorated tents set at 4,200 feet. The camp offers a high degree of personalized service, attention to detail, great food, as well as a wide variety of excellent wildlife-related activities, cultural experiences, and excursions. It was built by and is staffed by people from the local villages.
Ndarakwai takes both community and conservation issues very seriously – the main emphasis being anti-poaching, education, and employment. It pays close attention to its impact on neighbouring communities.
Accommodation at Ndarakwai Camp include;
Sixteen (16) large, comfortable and individually decorated tents set at 4,200 feet. It was built using local materials and accommodate a maximum of just 30 guests with an intimate and relaxed atmosphere, where every need is catered for
Facilities and services at Ndarakwai Camp include;
Bar; the bar in the dining area was made from nonindigenous dead Eucalyptus found on the property, and the two clay fireplaces were made by local Maasai women.
Electricity; Electricity, for lights and charging, is also entirely generated by means of solar panels. The camp and staff quarters are supplied with hot water by the use of very efficient Solar water heaters.
Vegetable garden; supplying Ndarakwai Camp with fresh produce daily. Here all sorts of fruit and vegetables are grown, including lettuce, carrots, leeks, eggplant, star fruit, avocado, and bananas, to name a few.
The distance from Arusha City to Moshi Town is 123Km and it takes two hours (2hrs), reaching to Marangu (Park Headquarter) from Moshi Town is 48 km and takes an hour (1Hour) drive. It is about 86Km from Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) to Park Headquarter (Marangu) by road and it takes one and a half hours (1Hr30Min). The park can only be reached by road.
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