Mount Kilimanjaro National Park

Kilimanjaro National Park is located along the northern border shared with Kenya.  It covers an area of 652 square miles (1,688 sq. km) which includes the montane forest that surrounds Mount Kilimanjaro.  Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the 7 Natural Wonders of Africa and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Kilimanjaro National Park is home to Mount Kilimanjaro, which is the tallest mountain in Africa Mountain. There are multiple summits on the mountain with Uhuru Peak serving as the highest point.  The mountain earned its wonder status from being the tallest mountain in Africa and the tallest freestanding mountain in the world.

The summit of Mount Kilimanjaro occurs at 19,341 feet (5,895 m), which is known as Uhuru Peak and part of the Mawenzi volcanic cone.  There are two other volcanic cones known as Mawenzi at 16,893 feet (5,149 m) and Shira at 13,140 feet (4,005 m).  Kibo is dormant and has the possibility of a future eruption; however, Mawenzi and Shira are both extinct.  Kibo is also the largest of the three volcanic cones stretching across 15 miles (24 km).

The climb up Mount Kilimanjaro is an amazing experience even if you are one of the climbers who does not reach the summit because of altitude sickness or possible exhaustion.  Amazing views of the surrounding plains await travelers along the way up the mountain.

A trek up to the summit allows one to experience almost every type of ecological system in one single adventure.  Ecosystems include cultivated land, rainforest, heath, moorland, alpine desert, and an arctic summit.

Mt. Kilimanjaro national park harbours quite a number of wildlife species that are eye catching to a traveller on a safari across the Kilimanjaro plains. Some of the wildlife species include the cape buffaloes, which leave in the mountain forest that surrounds the National park followed by the African Elephants, which are seen in big herds traversing the lands between Namwai and Tarankia rivers. In the montane forest, you will be able to find primate species like the blue monkeys, western black and white colobuses, bush babies, other species like leopards, giraffes, bats, antelopes among others. It is quite an amazing experience for those who are planning to hike to be able to view different kinds of wildlife species traverse Mountain Kilimanjaro National Park. 

Principally the Chagga quite heavily populates the area surrounding the mountain, and the northern and western slopes of the Forest Reserve surrounding the National Park has 18 medium to large ‘forest villages’. Although it is illegal, these people still use the forest for many household and medicinal products like fuelwood, small-scale farming, beekeeping, hunting, charcoal production and logging. The local tribe is the Chagga, Bantu who arrived about 300 years ago as nomads and settled as farmers, terracing the fertile slopes. The name Kilima Njaro means shining mountain’ in Swahili and the Chagga know it as the Home of God.

What to do in Mount Kilimanjaro National Park

Mt. Kilimanjaro National Park is a great tourist destination in Tanzania offering breath-taking and memorable experiences to tourists visiting the park for a safari, safari activities offered in the park include

 

Mountain climbing

This adventure is not just a climb but also a journey from the tropics to the Arctic. It is advised to start slowly and maximize your chances of reaching the summit. With this peak, the higher you climb, the cooler it becomes and this is due to change in vegetation zones.

For great adventures, it is advised to arrange the trek for not less than five days. Reserve more time to enjoy the beauty of this natural wonder.

 

Wildlife viewing.

Not only ideal for Mountain climbing, this park also has something to offer for wildlife lovers. There are many animals to see in this Park although it isn’t much like it is in Serengeti National Park. Some of these wild animals are elands, elephants, bush babies, baboons, Colobus monkeys, aardvark, honey badger, and vervet monkey and genet cat. These animals are mostly seen in the Shira plateau plains.

 

Cycling

If you are a fun of cycling, do not miss it while in Kilimanjaro National Park. The excursions offered rotate around the highest peak in Africa via the Kilema route that wind through farmlands of the Chagga people.

There are three main stations where this adventure start. It is rewarding and bikers are assigned tourist guides who are more knowledgeable about the trails to follow for best panoramic views of the entire park.

 

Camping.

For an exclusive bush experience, do not miss camping within numerous campsites that are scattered along the hiking routes to the top of the mountain. These sites offer comfortable accommodation, bush toilets and piquant meals.

 

Nature Guided Walks

There are several ways to take in the Park’s beauty but nature walks are exceptional. This excursion awards travelers an opportunity to get up close with the proprietors of the wild. Guided nature walks are usually conducted in the forest canopies at the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro.

This excursion rewards tourists with views of primates such as olive baboons, black and white Colobus monkey and red-tailed monkeys. Panoramic views of the Chagga farmlands add to the thrill.

 

Cultural Experience

Visit villages such as Olpopongi for a thrilling cultural experience, visit the unique Masai people and learn about their ways of lives or even get involved in their day-to-day activities like grazing cattle, milking and dancing. They also make outstanding necklaces you can buy and take home for remembrance.

WhEN TO VISIT Mount Kilimanjaro National Park

Kilimanjaro Mountain is located around the equator; there is no winter, summer and the like but wet and dry seasons. In general, animals are easier to spot when foliage is sparse and dry from July to October, especially in the vicinity of the camps, where there are often attractive waterholes. There is minimal rainfall, low humidity; mosquitoes are not generally a problem. Seasonal monthly temperatures on the plains of the national park range comfortably from the lows of 60 F (15 C) to the high of 90 F (32 C) degrees. Temperature on the mountain during your climb has an ultra-higher drop. The Amboseli Plains in western Kilimanjaro undergo a dramatic change in the rains, although these are relatively sparse beginning in November and December. It is warmest in January and February in East Africa when there is some respite from the rain and the grass begins to green, but the altitude keeps the heat from becoming oppressive on the foothills.

 

Later when the heavier rains arrive around mid-March, April and May, and when a shallow salt lake forms over the veldt, conditions are best for bird watching. Waders gather in the shallow salty water and on the wooded hillsides, lush new foliage shelters the nests of jewel-like weaverbirds. From early July to late October, the dried out saltpan is arid and bedevilled by dust spirals, but other areas in Kilimanjaro are at their best. Fortunately, not many visitors make this western Kilimanjaro tour in the wilds of Tanzania, so it is never crowded. It could be seriously damaged by a large influx of tourists, but remains a secret destination for the privileged few. For those who want to hike Kilimanjaro Mountain on a full or half day, the dry period is also the best time to consider climbing it as adverse weather conditions at increased altitudes can make mountain trek very uncomfortable and there is always a risk of rockslides during the wet period. On the lower slopes, the ground can be slippery and trekking in the wet is not the best decision as ascent terrain can be discomforting for a leisurely or serious hike. Expect fog, rain, grey clouds, wind, and muddy soil and freak lighting.

HOW TO GET To Mount Kilimanjaro National Park

The park can be accessed by road or flight via Kilimanjaro International Airport – about 45km to the west. The Park Headquarters and one of the ascending gates are at Marangu, about 41Km from Moshi town and 86km from Kilimanjaro International Airport. The other seven gates of Rongai, Machame, Londorosi, Lemosho, Kilema, Mweka and Umbwe are located around the mountain base and can be reached by road.