Looking for a lifetime adventure? Or simply itching to scratch off yet another item from your bucket list, why not stand on top of the world’s tallest freestanding mountain? Home to 3 volcanic cones; Kibo, Mawenzi and Shira, Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro(“Kili”)is the ultimate challenge in Africa. Large enough to satisfy one’squest for a little solitude and time reconnecting with nature, Kili effortlessly attracts over 40,000 people a year, from all over the world.
As one of Tanzania’s many illustrious National Parks, Kili contributes immensely to the country’s travel and tourism sector, and GDP. According to the Tanzanian Ministry of Tourism and Natural Resources, due to the success of the country’s National Parks, Tanzania is forecasted to generate at least $11.9 billion in 2027. In 2016, the monumental attraction was recorded to have generated a whopping $78 million from entrance fees alone. Additionally, Kilihas managed to provide continuous work for more than 30,000 porters, guides, chefsand transport assistants, willing to make the challenging journey up with the climbers. While it is only compulsory to work with the local guides who are familiar with the terrain, most trekkers commonly decide to scale with a team, making their climb as smooth and comfortable as possible.
Unlike some of the world’s other summits, Kili is considered relatively easy to trek, depending on the route and amount of time taken to scale it. Climbers are advised to slowly venture up in no less than 5 to 7 days, in order to give them enough time to acclimate to the mountain’s altitude levels, which tend to be the most challenging part of the trek. Adventurous Dutchman Wim Hof along with 25 other thrill seekers defied all odds, reaching Uhuru (Kili) peak in just 48 hours back in 2014. This achievement, considered impossible by many, including the Dutch Mountaineering and Climbing Federation, was mystifying given that Hof’s group included men and women aged 29-65. To top of their incredible triumph, it was reported that about 11 of them reached the -20ºC summit in nothing but shorts. Kili presents astonishing extremes of weather. It has an equatorial climate due to its location, but arctic conditions as well, resulting from its high altitude. January to February, or August to September is the best timeto climb.
Your trek would begin in “the Cultivated Zone,” about 2,600ft – 6,000ft up, consisting mostly of farmland and small villages, and where most of the guides, porters and chefs reside. Expect frequent rainfall as you travel through this zone, crucialfor the mountain’s production of coffee, bananas, avocado and other fruits. You would then come to one of the most beautiful areas; “the Forest or Rainforest Zone.” With its mild temperatures and occasional rainfall, this second zone covers a majority of the mountain with lush beautiful flora and an assorted yet elusive amount of faunaat 6,000ft – 9,000ft. Depending on your route through this zone, you would typically come across animals such as monkeys, baboons, leopards, mongooses, rhinoceroses, giraffes and buffaloes. Moving further along your trail would bring you into “the Heather and Moorland Zone,” at approximately 9,000ft – 13,000ft. This zone is renowned for both its spectacular view and unpredictable climate.
Here, you can expect less rain, more winds and giant heathers, wild grasses that get taller as you go, rocky trails and temperatures that run up to 40ºC during the day and fall to as low as 0ºC at night. The erratic nature of this zone may be much for most travelers to deal with, but it’s beautiful blue skies, as well as breathtaking views of both the rainforest below and Kili’s summit above, make the zone more than tolerable.
Getting you closer to the glaciers on the cone of Kibo, the deep gorges and barren landscapes of “the Highland Desert Zone” come next. Finally, comes the treasured “Arctic Zone” beginning at 16,000ft and ending at Uhuru Peak; 19,340ft. So many emotions are sure to hit you here, including the awe of your unbelievable surroundings and sense of accomplishment as you stand on top of the “Roof of Africa.”
Wim Hof would agree that when it comes to trekking one the world’s fabled Seven Summits, it isall about great mental preparation and determination. The Embassy of Tanzania cordially welcomes you to join thousands travelling with KLM flight daily to explore this natural wonder and discover itsincredible wildlife, vegetation and history.
By H.E. Ms. Irene Florence Mkwawa Kasyanju, Ambassador of Tanzania. Photography Ms. Nkundwe Pamela Kasyanju .