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Adventure Activities in Kilimanjaro


An ice -topped mountain near the Equator? Yes! At 5895m (19341ft), Kilimanjaro is Africa’s tallest peak besides being an iconic African image. Emerging from the scrub-carpeted coastal plains, it is the world’s biggest free-standing mountain (in isolation, and not part of a range). Kilimanjaro’s once distinctive snow-coated summit is much less prominent nowadays due to the effects of climate change – it has lost 82 percent of its ice cap since 1912 (and, in addition, 55 percent of its glaciers since 1962). Forecasts point to the ice cap disappearing within another 20 years.
One of the biggest volcanos on the planet, the Kilimanjaro massif has three volcano craters – Kibo, Mawenzi, Shira. The Kibo cone is the biggest (5895m, 19341ft), followed by Mawenzi (5149m, 16,893ft) and Shira (3962m, 13000ft). Kibo is the only dormant crater among the three. The summit is called Uhuru – Gillman’s Point, on the rim of the crater, is 300m (980ft) below Uhuru, while Stella Point is 200m (660ft) short of Uhuru.
Kilimanjaro is part of Kilimanjaro National Park (est. 1973), located towards Tanzania’s north, near the town of Moshi. This national park (which includes the forest reserve area) is just one among the classic game reserves in Tanzania and Kenya, havens for the many species of wild animals, many of them endangered, that roam the plains and savannahs of east Africa.
Mount Kilimanjaro makes up one of the planet’s iconic ‘Seven Summits’ – the biggest peaks on each of the seven continents (on clear days, you can the plains of the Masai Mara, in neighbouring Kenya, from the summit). It offers one of the more straightforward climbing challenges in the world. But while it’s not a very technical ascent, the mountain is considered a physical challenge, even for those who are fit. Still, even someone without moderate experience of high-altitude trekking and mountaineering, can scale Kilimanjaro – though such a feat will certainly require the climber and trekker to have a certain level of fitness and stamina.
A visit to Tanzania presents a varied experience – for that perfect holiday, club the Kilimanjaro climb with a safari at the Serengeti and a relaxed vacation in Zanzibar.


A German, Dr Hans Meyer, was the first man to reach Uhuru. Dr Meyer, a professor of geology, conquered the peak on his third attempt, in 1889. In 1910s, the colonial (German) authorities declared Kilimanjaro and the surrounding forests a game reserve, and in 1921 it was declared a forest reserve. Mount Kilimanjaro and surrounds was declared a national park in 1973 and a World Heritage Site in 1987.


Mount Kilimanjaro is situated in the northeast of Tanzania. From its base to its summit, it encompasses several climatic zones, from tropical to sub-tropical to alpine. It has five vegetation zones – savannah/bush, rainforest, heath/moorland, alpine desert and arctic. Below 2700m – the point where the Kilimanjaro National Park starts – is a mix of cultivable area and tropical forest; the national park marks the start of the flora- and fauna-rich mountain forest. Beyond the forest is moorland, and above the treeline (c. 4000m) is alpine desert. The Chala Crater Lake, a picturesque water body, is located on the south-eastern slopes of Kilimanjaro.


Kilimanjaro falls in the equatorial climate zone (the national park is sited around 300km south of the Equator), meaning there’s not much differential between temperatures from season to season. On the mountain itself, the temperature depends on the altitude and the time of day – on average, 21C to 27C (70F to 80F) at the base, -18C to -26C (0F to -15F) at the summit.
In the alpine desert, it can get as hot as 30C (86F) during the day, and bitterly cold at night (below freezing), while up on the summit, wind chill can make it seem even colder. Do bear in mind that the weather can be very changeable, and you’ll likely encounter rain, fog and snow on your ascent – so be well prepared!
The best months for visiting are from December to February (warm and clear), and from July to September (cool and dry).

Flora and Fauna

Kilimanjaro offers plenty of nature trails, scenic views, wildlife and biodiversity. The mountain, and especially the stretch of forest, is home to many species of animals, several of them endangered. Altogether, there are 140 species of mammals (87 of them forest species), among them elephants, leopards, primates (seven species), carnivores (25) antelopes (25) and bats (24). Above the treeline, you’ll find species like the Kilimanjaro tree hyrax (endangered), antelope (eland, the grey and red duiker, bushbucks and the endangered Abbot’s duiker) and, occasionally, buffalo. Among birdlife, there are around 180 species – in the higher reaches, you’ll come across the white-necked raven – while there’s an abundance of plant life in the tropical forest in Kilimanjaro’s lower reaches.

How to reach

The nearest airport to the Kilimanjaro National Park is Kilimanjaro International Airport. An hour’s drive away, the airport serves the cities of Arusha and Moshi. Arusha is 128km (80m) from the national park.

Getting Around

Where to go


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