MOUNT KILIMANJARO

MOUNT KILIMANJARO

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Trekking Mount Kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro is a dormant volcanic mountain with three peaks. At 5,895 metres, it’s the highest mountain in Africa, and among the highest free- standing mountains in the world. It attracts over 20,000 visitors per year to attempt to climb its peaks. Hikes around the base are also possible.

Kilimanjaro Flora and Fauna

Situated only 325 km south of the equator, the mountain rises impressively up from agricultural plains with its enigmatic glaciated peak. Even Though most visitors come for the climb, Kilimanjaro has an enormous biodiversity. Native species include the giant groundsels in the bunchgrass tussock grasslands, and other flora adapted to living in alpine plant conditions.

Trekking to the Summit

Since Mount Kilimanjaro doesn’t require any technical skills or special equipment to climb, thousands of trekkers are attracted by the challenge of climbing to the top annually. There are 6 main trekking routes: Marangu, Machame, Mweka, Rongai, Shira, and Umbwe. Of all the routes, Machame is regarded the most scenic, albeit steeper, route. It can be done in 6 or 7 days. The Marangu is relatively easy, however this route is often busy, the ascent and descent routes are the same, and accommodation is in shared huts.

People who wish to trek to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro are strongly advised to undertake appropriate research and ensure that they are both properly equipped and physically capable. Though the climb is technically not as challenging as the high peaks of the Himalayas or Andes, the high elevation, low temperature, and occasional high winds make this a difficult and dangerous trek. Acclimatisation is very important, and even the most experienced trekkers suffer some degree of altitude sickness. All trekkers will suffer considerable discomfort, typically shortage of breath, hypothermia, and headaches.

 

The Tanzania National Parks Authority has mandated minimum climb durations for every route. These rules restrict climbs of fewer than 5 days on the Marangu Route, and ensure a minimum of six days for the other five sanctioned routes. Some experts say that these minimums are not sufficient to avoid the acute symptoms of altitude sickness. A simple guideline suggests that, it is way-safer (and far more enjoyable) to avoid altitude sickness by planning a sensible itinerary that allows for gradual acclimatization to high elevation as one ascends. Tour operators with a high turnover usually recommend an alternative climb length around seven to eight days.

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Susan Boyle

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