Mount Kilimanjaro is the crown of Tanzania. Rising abruptly from the open plains, capped by snow and frequently fringed by clouds, it is one of Africa’s classic images. At an elevation of 19,344 feet, it is the highest mountain in Africa and the highest summit in the world that can be reached by walking, without hand over hand climbing. It is also a free-standing mountain in the world.
Kilimanjaro is a dormant volcano mountain but not an extinct one. Ominous rumbles can sometimes be heard – and gases emerge from fume holes in the crater. Although just three degrees south of the Equator, the peaks of the mountain have caps of snow and ice all year-round.
Kilimanjaro climbers pass from a tropical to an arctic environment in just a few days. There are several climbing trails; they pass through the lush rainforest before reaching heather and open moorland where giant lobelia and huge, cactus-like plants grow. There is an almost-lunar landscape, the saddle that stretches between the two peaks KIBO and Mawenzi.
The highest point on Kibo, and indeed the whole of Africa, is Uhuru Peak, with spectacular glaciers and stupendous views of the plains, five kilometres below.
With the help of porters and a guide is possible to walk all the way to the summit of Kibo without specialized mountaineering equipment – or experience – and Kilimanjaro can be conquered by any reasonably fit person. The whole climb normally takes five or six days and involves four or five overnight stays in mountain huts or tents. The pinnacle–shaped peaks of Mawenzi are for mountaineers only.