Mount Kilimanjaro National Park

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Kilimanjaro the glistening diamond rising from the plateau on the northern plains of Tanzania, rising from its base at approximately 4,900 metres 16,100 feet to 5,895 metres 19,341 feet above sea level.

Kilimanjaro with its three volcanic cones, “Kibo”, “Mawenzi”, and “Shira”, is the highest mountain in Africa and the highest freestanding mountain in the world it also the world’s tallest summit that can be climbed without technical equipment. Most climbers reach the crater rim with little more than a walking stick, proper clothing and determination.

The first persons proven to have reached the summit of the mountain were Hans Meyer, and Ludwig Purtscheller in 1889. The mountain is part of the Kilimanjaro National Park established around 1910 as a game reserve and still remains a major climbing destination. The mountain remains the subject of many scientific studies because of its shrinking glaciers and disappearing ice fields.

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is on many peoples “Bucket List” and rightly so, it is the highlight of many visitors’ experiences in Tanzania. Few mountains can claim the grandeur and breath taking views of Amboseli National Park in Kenya, the Rift Valley and the Masaai Steppe, that belongs to Kilimanjaro. If paced well, everyone from seasoned trekkers to first-time enthusiasts can scale the snowy peak.

The mountain’s ecosystems are as strikingly beautiful as they are varied and diverse. On the lowland slopes, much of the mountain is farmland, with coffee, banana, cassava, and maize crops grown for subsistence and for cash sale. A few larger coffee farms still exist on the lower slopes, but much of the area outside the national park has been subdivided into small plots. Once inside the park, thick lowland forest covers the lower altitudes and breaks into alpine meadows once the air begins to thin. Near the peak, the landscape is harsh and barren, with rocks and ice the predominant features.

But there is so much more to Kili than her summit. The ascent of the slopes is a virtual climatic world tour, from the tropics to the Arctic.

Even before you cross the national park boundary (at the 2,700m contour), the cultivated foot slopes give way to lush montane forest, inhabited by elusive elephant, leopard, buffalo, the endangered Abbot’s duiker, and other small antelope and primates. Higher still lies the moorland zone, where a cover of giant heather is studded with otherworldly giant lobelias. Above 4,000m, a surreal alpine desert supports little life other than a few hardy mosses and lichen. Then, finally, the last vestigial vegetation gives way to a winter wonderland of ice and snow – and the magnificent beauty of the roof of the continent.

Kilimanjaro is located near the town of Moshi and is a protected area, carefully regulated for climbers to enjoy without leaving a trace of their presence.