KILEMAKYARO-the original name of this world-famous mountain –means” hard to conquer”.This name was difficult for foreigners to pronounce, so as time passed kilemakyaro became known as Kilimanjaro.
At 5896 meters, Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest mountain and the highest free-standing mountain in the world and is located in Tanzania. Its permanently snowcapped peak rises from the equator, only 290 km from a tropical coastline, defying all conventions maintaining that snow is found only in higher altitudes. The almost 6 km high top was made after a series of volcanic eruptions about 1 million years ago. Kilimanjaro is still active. As late as the 1940s, activity was registered. The base of this immense mountain has a diameter of about 40 miles. Elephants, leopards, lions and colobus monkeys are among the resident animals in this park. The encircling rain forests ensure the fertility of the lush, lower-lying shamba country, where the Chagga cultivate their coffee, maize and bananas.
While Kilimanjaro is wonderful to watch when the Uhuru peak is clear of clouds, the most fascinating experience is hiking to the summit. The preferred route is the Marangu trail through the tropical rain forest, Moorland and alpine desert to the snowcapped summits of Kibo, Uhuru and Mawenzi. The 18-mile trek takes five to six days, if you are well fit, you can complete the trek within four days.
Local people have always trekked up and down the mountain looking for medical plants and in fulfilment of traditional Chagga rituals. In 1889, the first Europeans reached the summit with help of native guides and porters.
The climb is definitely a physical challenge, however a reasonably fit person can climb the mountain, the biggest risk to climbing it is to climb it to fast, but if you are fit and aware of the conditions which may occur, trekking Kilimanjaro will be an experience of a lifetime. An 8-year-old made it to the summit, and in 1988, an 88-year-old reached the peak.
Enjoy a local beer with the team, and grilled bananas, and don’t forget your certificate! The best times to climb Kilimanjaro are January, February, July, August, November and December.
April and May are the most difficult times to climb the mountain weather-wise, when extensive cloud cover hinders visibility and snow and rainfall are common