The world’s highest free-standing equatorial mountain is the perfect setting for a Tanzania adventure holiday. Kilimanjaro, the “Mountain of Greatness” in the Swahili tongue, sits on Tanzania’s northern border, some 322 kilometres south of the equator. The highest mountain in Africa rises to 5,895 metres at its summit, and is also one of the biggest volcanoes on earth, covering an area of around 388,500 hectares.
Kilimanjaro is one of the few mountains whose summit can be reached without the need for any special equipment or extensive climbing experience. However, the endeavour is not easy, and prospective climbers must be fit and ready to rough it out. The oxygen level thins out significantly at high altitude, and it takes around five days to complete the hike to the summit and return back down.
One of the curious things about Kilimanjaro is that it has its own weather patterns, independent of the surrounding climate, and it is possible for climbers to experience all four seasons on the way up to the summit. The foot of the mountain is covered by a dense tropical rainforest, teeming with an incredible diversity of species. This area is soaked with rainfall as clouds tend to collect here. At around 3,200 metres, the tropical forest gives way to expansive moorland. The skies are clearer in this area above the cloud line, and the sun may shine more intensely. Oxygen also starts to thin out at this altitude, making it necessary to slow down the pace of climbing. Above 4,000 metres, the landscape morphs into an alpine desert, where weather conditions and temperature fluctuate dramatically.
The Kibo summit is the lip leading to the volcano’s three concentric craters, and is the only one of Kilimanjaro’s three summits that is permanently covered in snow. The highest point on Kibo is Uhuru Peak, the goal of every Kilimanjaro climber.
Visitors can make arrangements with the hotels and lodges to join Kilimanjaro climbs, or can contact tour providers directly.