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Guidebook containing descriptions of all the trekking routes on Kilimanjaro. It contains the mountain's six ascent routes, three summit ascents, the Circuit Path and the descent paths. Kilimanjaro towers 5km above the savannah but it is possible to reach the 5895m summit without any technical climbing ability.
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Kilimanjaro is not just a national park and a World Heritage Site; it’s Africa’s highest mountain, the world’s tallest freestanding massif and one of the world’s largest volcanoes. This snow-capped dormant volcano towers almost 5km above Tanzania’s savannah yet it is possible to reach the 5895m summit without any technical climbing ability.
This classic African trek passes through cloud forest, alpine moorland, high desert and a barren summit zone to reach Uhuru Peak. There are six official trekking routes on Kilimanjaro that provide a range of opportunities for experiencing the mountain, all of which are described in this guidebook. It also contains descriptions for the Circuit Path (which offers an alternative to ascending to the mountain’s top and circumnavigates Kibo at 4000m) and the three summit routes leading to Uhuru Peak. The descent routes are also detailed. Each of these routes will reward the visitor with stunning panoramas and an incredible variety of scenic wonders.
All walkers must follow one of these established paths. All of the ascents are quite difficult by virtue of the altitude, but some are harder than others.
The Marangu Route is a relatively easy five day trip that ascends Kilimanjaro from the southeast. The lower sections provide fine forest and moorland walking.
The Machame Route is a longer, six day climb that is harder and more spectacular. It climbs Kilimanjaro from the southwest and enjoys some of the finest forest and heath/moorland scenery on the mountain.
One of the more unusual ascent routes, the Rongai Route is the easiest. This six day climb is an excellent alternative for those who don’t feel capable of undertaking one of the more strenuous climbs. This is the only path that approaches the summit from the northeast.
Both the Shira and Lemosho Routes approach the mountain from the west. They are variations on the same trail and merge above the forest on the Shira Plateau.
For those who are fit and fully acclimatised, the Umbwe Route is the most dramatic way to climb Kilimanjaro and experience many of its finest vistas. It is the most direct and strenuous ascent route. Climbing stiffly through thick forest on the southern slopes of the mountain, it rapidly gains height and affords you little time to acclimatise properly. It must not be underestimated as it poses a very real challenge.
For those less concerned about claiming the summit’s scalp, the Circuit Path that circumnavigates Kibo at around 4000m is an outstanding way to enjoy the mountain and explore some of its least visited features. The South Circuit Path is a superb traverse that provides you with fine panoramas of the Southern Icefields, whilst the North Circuit Path is very remote and rarely used, allowing you to enjoy the mountain in peace.
Kilimanjaro attracts a great number of trekkers who have never undertaken a multi-day walk, and certainly haven’t contemplated doing so at altitude. The mountain’s environment is regularly underestimated and the result can be fatal. Although many hundreds of people reach the summit without incident, many more don’t make it because they fail to prepare and ascend too quickly and suffer from altitude sickness. Uhuru Peak is several hundred metres higher than Everest Base Camp and so needs physical preparation to achieve.
Since the latest printing of this guide the following websites have changed as follows:
www.airtanzania.com > www.airtanzania.co.tz
www.kilimanjarocranehotelsandsafaris.com > www.kilimanjarocranehotel.com
www.springlands.co.tz > www.springlandshotel.com
Kilimanjaro Mountain Club: www.geocities.com/thetropics/island/8543/kilimanjaro.html
www.tanzania.gov.tz > www.tanzania.go.tz
PART 1 – INTRODUCTION AND PRACTICALITIES
Choosing a Route
Costs and Budgeting
When to Go
Permits and Visas
On-Trek Health and Safety
Mountain Sickness (AMS
Acclimitisation Trek – Mt Meru
Selecting an Outfitter
Guides and Porters
Environmental and Cultural Considerations
Using this Guide
PART 3 – NATURAL HISTORY
Geology and Vulcanology
Animal and Plant Life
Highland Desert Zone
PART 4 – CLIMBING KILIMANJARO
A: Marangu Route
B: Umbwe Route
C: Machame Route
D: Lemosho Route
E: Shira Route
F: Rongai Route
Alternative Five-day Rongai Route
G: South Circuit Path
H: North Circuit Path
Summit Ascent Routes
I: Normal/Marangu Route
J: Barafu Route
K: Western Breach Route
L: Marangu Route
M: Mweka Route
N: Alternative Mweka Route
Appendix A – Ascent Route Comparison Chart
Appendix B – Accommodation
Appendix C – Useful Addresses
Appendix D – Bibliography and Further Reading
Appendix E – Language Glossary