Kilimanjaro is known to be the highest mountain in the entire African continent (roof of Africa), it’s also the world’s tallest freestanding mountain and among the world’s seven summits ranking number four. It’s a giant stratovolcano formed many years ago when lava spilled from Rift Valley zone.
Kilimanjaro is composed of three distinct volcanic cones: Kibo (5,895 meters) 19,340 feet; Mawenzi 16,896 feet (5,149 meters); and Shira 13,000 feet (3,962 meters). Kilimanjaro was first climbed on October 5, 1889 by German geologist Hans Meyer, Marangu scout Yoanas Kinyala Lauwo, and Austrian Ludwig Purtscheller.
Mount Kilimanjaro is located in Tanzania in east Africa, in the northern part of the country, near the border of Tanzania and Kenya. Kilimanjaro lies within the 756-square-kilometer Kilimanjaro National Park, and is one of the few places on earth that encompasses every ecological life zone including tropical jungle, savannah, and desert to mountain forests, subalpine plants, and the alpine zone.
The local tribe living in the foothills is the Chagga, varied from Rombo,Marangu,Uru,Kibosho,Machame and Siha people. The climbing routes known are Machame, Marangu, Rongai ,Lemosho Umbwe Shira Mweka(descent only)and Northern Circuit.
Kilimanjaro is not a peak you can climb on your own. It is mandatory to climb with a licensed guide and have porters carry your equipment. This sustains the local economy and allows local people to reap the rewards of tourism.
Route travel times range from five to nine days to summit and return to the base of the mountain. Huts with cooking facilities, bathrooms, and electricity are available on the Marangu route, and camps with fewer facilities are available on many other routes. All huts and many camps have rangers stationed at them with rescue facilities.
The trek to Uhuru the highest Peak is considered to be a relatively straightforward Endeavour; however, ample time must still be provided for proper acclimatization to prevent altitude sickness. The three shortest routes, Marangu, Rongai, and Machame, are less challenging and are often trekked by individuals with limited mountaineering experience. Some trekkers employ altitude-sickness medication, including acetazolamide, but taking at least seven days is the best way to avoid altitude sickness.
Trekkers on Mount Kilimanjaro typically have a support crew of guides and porters who are integral in helping climbers reach the summit. Tour operators are expected to comply with KINAPA guide and porter regulations. A typical climbing group of 2 trekkers will have one guide, one assistant guide, 6 porters (3 for each climber) and one cook. Porters are responsible for carrying a trekkers gear as well as key items like tents, water and cooking supplies. It is customary to tip guides and porters at the last meal on the mountain or at the end of the trip. The tipping value varies depending on the number of days spent on the mountain and the number of climbers in a group.
Summit attempts are generally begun at midnight so that trekkers can reach the rim of the crater to view the sunrise. Walking overnight also means the ground (loose gravel) is frozen, making the going significantly easier.
Trekkers on the Marangu route first encounter Gilman’s Point on the rim of the crater, which is roughly a 1.5 hour hike from Uhuru Peak. Trekkers who follow the Southern Circuit will reach the summit via Stella Point which is about an hour from the summit. Both these compare with the Rongai route where the trip from where you reach the rim to the summit can be over two hours making for a very long summit day.
On all the southern routes and on the Western Breach climb it is possible to sleep overnight in the crater. This has three major advantages. First, you can summit during the day, avoiding the midnight rush. Second, you have time to visit the crater and explore the glaciers. Finally, you can get back to the rim very early the next day to see the sunrise.