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Climbing Mt Kilimanjaro

 

The Mount Kilimanjaro National Park is one of the sites which have been declared as world heritage site by UNESCO. It covers an area of 1,668 km2 and is situated near the town of Moshi in Tanzania. This highest peak in Africa is a sight to behold. It can be reached quite easily as it is only an hour’s drive from the Kilimanjaro airport. Not only is the mountain the highest in Africa, but is also counted as the highest free standing mountain in the world. Needless to say, that the mere sight of the mountain offers something that no other Tanzania safari or any of the African safaris could offer. The mountain rises to a height of 5,895 m above sea level. The national park of Kilimanjaro has its boundaries at the 2,700 m contour of the mountain.

 Though Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest peak in Africa, it is not the most difficult to climb. In fact it is one of the easily accessible summits. All one needs to do to go for the Kilimanjaro climb is to have proper clothing along with a walking stick and a good determination. The record speed of 5 hours to the top of the mountain and 8 hours for the round trip bears testimony to this very fact. The crater rim can be reached quite easily and with a little extra effort one can surely scale the Uhuru point which is the summit.

 The landscape on the mountain slope changes even before one reaches the boundaries of the national park. The cultivated foot slopes give way to the dense forests that acts as home to many animals like the leopard, elephants, buffalo and some of which are endangered species like the Abbot’s Duiker. Also there are many species of small antelopes and other animals. Further ahead on the slopes towards the summit lies the area called moorland zone. The striking feature of this zone is the cover of giant heather which is studded with many lobelias. Further above, after crossing the 4000 m mark there is not much that the weather supports to grow. The only exceptions are the lichen and mosses. The mountain has a huge role to play in the evolving ecosystems of the region and the climate changes that take place.

 There are six different routes to the summit and each has its own uniqueness and apart from these there are also other more demanding trekking routes of the Kilimanjaro climb. Other important additions to the ‘to do’ list include day hikes or overnight hikes to the Shira plateau and trout fishing. Also the beautiful Chala Lake which is located on the south eastern slopes of the mountain is worth paying a visit. The ideal time to visit the mountain would definitely be during the warmest and clearest conditions that prevail through the months from December to February, although many people also prefer the dry but cold weather of the months of July and September.

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