About Mount Kilimanjaro
There is a lot of information about Mount Kilimanjaro in the internet. In spite of this and to help you get all the information you may require in one place, Genius Expedition Safaris has put together this information to aid in accessing quickly all the relevant material by anyone who visits our website intending to find some information about Mount Kilimanjaro. The information is not exhaustive but will give you, dear reader, some insights about Mount Kilimanjaro and guide you in making informed decision about your climb with us. We believe that this information, together with other information you may find on our website, is adequate to guide you in persuading you in making that decision about your adventure on Kilimanjaro.
Mount Kilimanjaro is situated in north-eastern Tanzania in East Africa. The mountain is near Tanzania’s border with Kenya. The mountain is located near the Equator at approximately 330 kilometres from the Equator. Because of this, Kilimanjaro experiences equatorial climate with the dominant weather patterns being either warm and wet or warm and dry seasons. The East African Region where Kilimanjaro is situated does not experience the four weather seasons of winter, summer, spring or autumn as known in the other parts of the world far north or south of the Equator. During the wet season, rain can fall steadily every day, making your time on the mountain very difficult and challenging. Therefore, the best time to climb Kilimanjaro is during the dry season. The dry season comprises the months of January, February, July, August, September and October. The rainy season months are March, April, May, June, November and December. Genius Expedition Safaris is ready to advise you on the best time to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. It is advisable to consult us before you plan your Kilimanjaro climb.
Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain in the African continent. It stands at an impressive 5,895 metres above sea level. It is one of the seven summits in the world, that is, the tallest summits in each of the seven continents. Mount Kilimanjaro is unique in that it is the tallest free standing mountain in the world. It rises above the African plains free from any mountain range(s) and does not form part of any mountain range. Kilimanjaro was formed from volcanic activity and has three volcanic cones, namely, Kibo which rises at 5,895 metres above sea level, Mawenzi rising at 5,149 metres above sea level, and Shira rising at 3,962 metres above sea level. Kibo is the tallest cone. It is the central cone and forms Kilimanjaro’s summit. Mawenzi is a rugged peak and is not easily accessible by climbers other than those using technical mountain climbing skills. Mawenzi can be viewed best on the Rongai and Northern circuit routes. Shira is no longer a peak. Over the years, it has collapsed creating Shira Plateau on the western side of the mountain. The Machame, Lemosho and Shira routes trek across this plateau. Shira and Mawenzi are extinct volcanoes but Kibo is dormant and can erupt again.
Despite being one of the seven summits standing at 5,895 metres tall, Kilimanjaro is considered an easy climb in that anyone with some degree of physical fitness can successfully climb it. It requires no technical skills or mountaineering equipment such as ice axes, harnesses and ropes, although in some routes like the Western Breach Route, ice axes may be required when there has been a heavy snow fall. Kilimanjaro is entirely a trek or a walk up the mountain. There are times however when crampons may be necessary to access the summit, again after a heavy snow fall.
The simplicity of climbing Kilimanjaro may be misleading, however, because going up this mountain is no walk in the park. In fact almost half of the people who attempt to climb Kilimanjaro fail to summit.This comes as a surprise as Kilimanjaro is not regarded as a particularly difficult peak when compared to other mountains. The reason for this failure is due to altitude sickness. People make the mistake of selecting the wrong route or less days than the recommended days on each route. Failure to get proper briefing from your guide or to strictly follow the briefing given by your guides may also contribute to altitude sickness. It is therefore crucial to follow the guidelines issued by your operator to ensure your climb progresses smoothly and successfully. The best way for a successful climb is to use a longer route with more days to aid in acclimatization. Secondly, many people climbing Kilimanjaro are first time climbers who may not have adequately prepared for their climb in terms of having the right gear, adequate training, and choosing an operator who is able to guide them in preparations for a successful climb.
Genius Expedition Safaris ensures that our clients are properly guided on the requirements of successfully climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. We do this during the planning period to allow our clients adequate time to prepare for the climb with us.
The journey up Kilimanjaro is akin to travelling from the equator to the Arctic circle. A climber experiences all the climatic zones in a single climb on whichever route one chooses up the mountain. A climb up Kilimanjaro traverses five distinct ecological zones from the bushland cultivated area at 800-1,800 metres; the rainforest zone from 1,800-2,800 metres; the heath or moorland zone at 2,800-4000 metres; the alpine desert zone at 4,000-5,000 metres and finally the arctic zone at 5,000 -5,895 metres.
The weather conditions near the base of the mountain tend to be tropical to semi-temperate and are relatively stable all year round. The lower plains are hot and dry. As one heads away from the bushland towards the rainforest, conditions become increasingly warm and humid. Each zone gets colder and drier as the elevation increases. Plant and animal life also disappear with the rise in altitude through the heath and alpine desert zones. The summit is in the arctic zone and is characterized by ice and rock. At this altitude, categorized as “extreme”, there can be no permanent human habitation as the body is in a state of deterioration.
With the continued worrying trend of climate change and to some extent deforestation, the Kilimanjaro’s ice cap may disappear sooner rather than later. Kilimanjaro’s icecap has shrunk with the passage of time and it is estimated that it may not take very long before the glaciers are completely gone.
Mount Kilimanjaro is regulated by the Tanzania National Park Authority. The Authority maintains the routes on Mount Kilimanjaro to ensure safety, cleanliness and orderliness. Also, Park Rangers monitor the activities on the mountain to ensure that every climber is accompanied by a licensed local guide. Tourists are not allowed to climb Kilimanjaro on their own. Anyone that climbs Kilimanjaro should be properly dressed for the climb. This is important because Kilimanjaro creates its own weather. It is possible to encounter a blizzard, torrential rains, or brutal winds during the climb at any season. How one is dressed can mean success or failure in summitting the Mountain. Genius Expedition Safaris ensures proper briefing to our clients on the best way to dress for each particular day.
Climbers on Kilimanjaro can use seven main routes. There is the eighth Kilimanjaro route, Mweka. But this is used mainly as a decent route only. The other routes are Machame Route and Umbwe Route. These two routes ascend the mountain from the south-west side of the mountain. Climbers on these routes use the Southern Circuit through Barafu and Stella Point to summit Uhuru Peak. Likewise, Shira Route and Lemosho Route also use the Southern Circuit to summit Uhuru Peak through Barafu Base Camp and Stella Point. However, both Shira and Lemosho Routes begin on the far western side of the mountain. Marangu Route begins in the south-east and approaches Uhuru Peak through Gilman’s Point. It is the only route that uses huts for accommodation instead of tents for the entire climb. It uses the same route to ascend and descend the mountain. Rongai Route starts from the North-east and passes through the Saddle, an area situated between Kibo and Mawenzi Peaks. This route approaches the summit through Gilman’s Point and descends through Marangu Route.
The newest and longest route is the Northern Circuit. This route, just like the Lemosho Route, starts at Lemosho Gate. It however deviates to the north before Lava Tower. It circles around the north of the mountain. It approaches Uhuru Peak through Gilman’s Point. There is also the Western Breach Route. This is a difficult trail. It was closed in 2006 following a tragic rock fall that killed three climbers. The route has subsequently re-opened but it is seldom used by most tour operators. It is steep, it offers poor acclimatization and is still unsafe for inexperienced trekkers. It requires a special permit to use the Western Breach Route. It approaches the mountain through Umbwe Route up to Lava Tower, before taking a steep ascent past Arrow’s Glacier and up the Western Breach to Crater Camp and Uhuru Peak. The Western Breach Route can also be approached using the Machame Route, Shira Route and Lemosho Route. Descent is through the Mweka Route.
To summit Kilimanjaro, there are three approaches. The first approach to the summit is through the southern slopes of Kibo, up to Stella Point and then west around the crater rim to Uhuru Peak. This approach is used by trekkers on the Lemosho Route, Shira Route, Machame Route and Umbwe Route. The descent on all these routes is through Mweka Route. The second approach to the summit is from the eastern side of Kibo, up to Gilman’s Point, to Stella Point and then west around the crater rim to Uhuru Peak. Trekkers on the Rongai and Marangu Route, and Northern Circuit use this route to the summit. Trekkers on Rongai and Marangu routes descend the mountain through Marangu Route while those on Northern Circuit descend the mountain through Mweka Gate. Thirdly, trekkers can use the more technically challenging approach to the summit via the Western Breach and descend the mountain through Mweka Route.