Mount Kilimanjaro is situated in Tanzania East Africa, it’s the highest mountain in Africa 5895m(19,340ft) and the World’s tallest freestanding mountain, simply called ”the roof of Africa”. With unbelievably white snow, the mountain consist its three outstanding volcanic peaks, Shira in the West, Mawenzi in the East and the highest snowcapped Kibo in the centre. The three volcanic peaks are massive and complex which covers an area of 60miles (100km) long and 40miles (65km) wide. Kilimanjaro is located at 3, 04’ South Latitude and 37, 21’ East Longitude and it’s the most of the beautifully summits on earth. Due to its height, the mountain influences its own weather, with the winds comes from Eastern Indian Ocean, are deflected upward by the slopes and drop their moisture as rain and snow. This moisture results a variety of vegetation as from the bottom Savannah grasses, tropical rain forest, moorlands, semi desert scrub on the surrounding plains and at the highest zone ice, snow.
As this is the really heritage area, the local governments in 1921, decided to preserve this area in a serious way and termed this area a “Forest Reserve” and later on called a “Game reserve”. After Tanzania independency, the Government by then, in 1973 established the area to be a National park and official opened in 1977. So, the mountain is within Kilimanjaro National park and not only the mountain but also includes the plantations zones under the slopes like coffee, banana, potatoes farms and catchment forest for water reserve.
These are different routes to the Summit and all passing through Savannah grasslands, tropical rain forest, moorlands, semi-desert, glacier zones and Snow up there.
1. Machame route:
Machame route is on South west of the mountain and its one of the most popular routes to Marangu oldest one. The route is a bit steeper, strenuous and more demanding; normally is selected by climbers who are more determined and fit. Due to this the route is nicknamed as” Whiskey route”. The route has a great success rate and beautiful. With 6-7days of trek, you have enough acclimatization time as you will be hiking high and sleep low for many times of your trek. Machame climbers always have a privilege of meeting with other routes climbers from West, South, North and they do split at Barranco camp on the way to Summit. The trek starts at Machame gate (1800m), Machame camp (3,000m), Shira camp (3,800m), Barranco camp (3,950), Barafu camp (4600) then descend through another route, Mweka (1,640m).
2. Marangu route:
Marangu route is the well established oldest route at Kilimanjaro and is found in the Eastern part of the mountain. Marangu route (1,860m) is considered to be the easiest ascent of the mountain as per its gradual slope and direct path as simply called “Coca Cola route” as it is compared to this Soft drink but this just a psychological aspect and it’s a tough one and has lowest success rate of all. The trekkers on this route stays in Huts instead of tents as other all routes and the ascent starts at Marangu gate(1,860m), Mandara huts(2,715m), Horombo huts(3,705m), Kibo huts (4,730m) then back on the same route. Marangu is a short route and you can climb for 5days with less time to acclimatize and this is one of the biggest reasons of the lowest success rate and normally the route is selected by unprepared and inexperienced climbers because of the publications that the route is easy. Many climbers like to take 6days with more time to acclimatize and this increases the chance to Summit.
3. Lemosho Glades route:
Lemosho glades route is on the western part of the Kilimanjaro and is the most scenic route in terms of vegetation and landscapes. It’s a remote route as passes through Wilderness trails, pristine and rainforest with good chances of viewing wildlife along Shira plateau. The animals found here are buffalo, elephant, monkey and different kinds of birds. Treks are long as takes 7-9days and because of this, the route have a great success rate as you will have extremely enough time for acclimatization and its beauty is very encouraging and brings energy. The route starts at Londorosi gate (2,100m) where you will do all the registration and have a short eastern drive to Lemosho route starting point (2,360m).The route heads passing Shira camps (3,850m), Lava Tower Camp (4640m), Barranco camp (3,950m), Karanga valley camp (4,200m), Barafu camp (4,600m), Summit, then descending through another route, Mweka via Millennium camp to Mweka gate (1,640m).
4. Rongai route:
Rongai route is found on the North east of the mountain nearby Kenya-Tanzania border. Rongai trek profile is very similar to that of Marangu as its one of the easier routes. Many climbers prefer this route during rainy season as this side of the mountain has less precipitation and the climb is gradual and steady. Climbers does a trek registration at Marangu gate and drive eastwards to Rongai village, on the way viewing beautiful wild flora, local people farms and wildlife like buffalo, elephant and wilderness birds. On the way up, you will experience some caves as the route approaches the Summiting path from Kibo hut to Gilman’s point and descend via another route, Marangu. The route turns up from Rongai gate (1,996m), Simba camp (2,626m), Kikelewa Cave camp (3,679m), Mawenzi Tarn Camp (4,303m), Kibo hut (4,730m), Summit, Uhuru peak (5895m), Horombo hut (3,705m), Marangu gate (1,860m). The route normally takes 6days but 7 days is highly recommended.
5. Shira Plateau route:
The name of the route describes itself that you will be passing the beautifully Shira plateau. Through this plateau you will be experiencing local people farms, coffee, potatoes, and beans. Shira route is sharing the Registration gate with Lemosho climbers (Londorosi gate 2225m). After registration at this gate, you will be taking your way up North up to Shira gate by a vehicle (3,600m) where you will start your physical trekking. Lemosho route climbers, after registration they will be taking their way to Eastern side to the starting point Lemosho gate(2,360 m).On the 1st day, Shira route trekkers will be camping at Simba camp(3,450m) before joining with Lemosho climbers on the 2nd night camp at Shira 2 Camp(3,850 m).This route has been created special for the climbers interested with Lemosho route but with less days around 6days, instead of Lemosho route which takes 8-9days.The disadvantages of this route is missing enough days to acclimatize but with Professional guides, you will definitely Summit and make your dream. Further ahead, the route joins Machame climbers, then descends Southwards through Barranco camp to another different route called Mweka (1,640m), where you will be picked by car to your lodge in town.
6. Umbwe Caves route:
Umbwe route is on the Southern part of the mountain and is known for its caves as the 1st night you actually sleep at Umbwe Caves Camp. It’s the toughest, steepest and shortest route of Kilimanjaro, technical but very scenic as you will be viewing all the mountain 3 highest peaks on the way up through this route. Umbwe covers 53km for 5- 6 days climb with poor acclimatization profile. The route is normally selected by physically fit climbers, simply experienced climbers. You will approach this route from South through Umbwe village where you will experience banana, coffee farms and a lot of moisture when the path narrows into the tropical rain forest. You can attempt the Summit via Arrow Glacier route or the normal Southern circuit route via Barafu camp. Arrow Glacier way is the tougher but it has more days to acclimatize between Lava Tower and Crater camp. Climber’s registration is done at Machame gate(1,800m), then have a short drive to east to starting point Umbwe gate(1,614m), Umbwe Cave camp(2,850m), Barranco camp(3,985m),Lava Tower camp(4,600m), Arrow Glacier camp(4,850m) OR Karanga valley camp(4,200m), Barafu camp(4,600m),Summit – Kibo (5,895m), Mweka camp(3,090m), Mweka gate(1,640m).
7. Northern Circuit route:
The Northern Circuit is the newest and longest route on Kilimanjaro Mountain. Climbers are being picked from Arusha town hotels and drive for 2.30hrs to the Western part at Londorosi gate (2100m), where you will do registration and follows the path to Lemosho route gate (2360m), where you will start you’re trekking. After crossing Shira Plateau, the path pointing North near Lava Tower, following the longer Northern Circuit instead of the more famous Southern Circuit via Barranco hut. The route circles around the wonder Northern Slopes to the Eastern side of the mountain, Gilman’s Point, Uhuru peak, Millennium camp then descend through Mweka route. The longer route on the mountain means more acclimatization time and Success rates are accordingly becomes higher.
8. Western Breach route:
A Kilimanjaro climb through Western Breach is the most challenging and dangerous way to summit Kibo/Uhuru peak. Its danger lies mainly on the melting glaciers above the route as the glaciers retreat they release bound up rocks. The route was closed some years ago for investigation and the results were to create a diversion route to minimize risks and time spent in the highest risk area. Apart from other routes that take you over the Crater rim, this route leads through the breach inside the Crater wall. You can reach the Western Breach route through other routes like Lemosho, Shira, Machame and Umbwe.
Climbing Kilimanjaro – Trekking Kilimanjaro:
Kilimanjaro is a non technical mountain and can be climbed by anyone with a fair Condition and determined person. The main method used to climb the mountain is derived from Swahili language, “Pole Pole” means “Slowly Slowly” on the way up. This kind of pace will make you acclimatizing very well as you will be entering into a THIN air world. The best time to climb is ALL year long but avoids the long rainy season (April – May). Also we have a beautifully short rainy season in late October – November and Charismas time but this time is recommendable.
Short Course before Climbing:
Kilimanjaro climbing is for everyone with good level of health and fitness. It’s a challenge and there should be preparations physically and psychologically, before undertaking this strenuous activity. For those questioning their health, we advice them to start preparations 2 months before the trek and for those who are fit, can start preparation 1 month before the trek. We advise you to exercise by jogging, 2 times a week, biking or swimming. This is to stabilize the Pumping rate of your lungs, ready for the THIN AIR on the mountain. Also we advise you to hike higher to any nearby hill or mountain around your home at least 1 day per week and by this you should put on all the gears that will be used for Kilimanjaro. This will enable you to experience higher altitude and the climbing gears.
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