Mount Kilimanjaro

Mount Kilimanjaro

Tanzania

Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa, and is actually a volcano reaching almost 20,000 feet above sea level. Located in what is now Tanzania, Mount Kilimanjaro is a beautiful sight, rising up out of the flat plains of the rolling countryside of Tanzania. The highest summit of the mountain is Uhuru.

For less experienced climbers, Mount Kilimanjaro is a relatively easy climb, with easy routes reaching the summit from the Marangu and Rongai routes. Nevertheless, it is important that those seeking to climb the mountain take the necessary precautions, including bringing the correct equipment and getting acclimatised to the high altitudes. It is also very important to monitor the weather as the winds can be high, making many of the routes dangerous in bad weather.

Significant dangers include rock slides, hypothermia, and falls on the way to the summit, all of which mean that a significant amount of preparation must be undertaken prior to the ascent. Some have been criticised for taking a far too casual approach to the climb, and a number of deaths do occur annually. Acute Mountain Sickness is the major culprit, and a slow and steady approach, accompanied with acclimatization walks in the after noon to a point higher than the camp is necessary.

The mountain contains a number of different native plant species, cacti, and flowers, as well as forested areas containing native trees. The peak has, throughout Kilimanjaro’s history, been covered in ice, which is retreating at a significant rate every year. As a result of global warming, scientists reckon that Mount Kilimanjaro will see the rest of its ice coverage disappear forever during the next few decades. Litter and destruction of the vast site is also a problem, with rubbish a real danger to the beauty of the mountain and the wildlife that inhabit its lower slopes. Promotion of the conservation of the busy routes is becoming more frequent, but is far from sophisticated.

It is possible to complete some of the climbs and treks to the summit in less than a week, although authorities have been criticised in the past for charging hikers for the amount of time spent on the mountain. This has resulted in many charging ahead in a bid to complete the climb as soon as possible, in order to reduce costs. Of course, climbing any mountain requires a certain amount of time to acclimatise to high altitudes, and authorities have now realised the dangers of this phenomenon and have published guides recommending the length of time each trek should take.

From Mount Kilimanjaro’s higher slopes, hikers are rewarded with some beautiful views over the remaining ice fields and volcanic peaks and across the plains of Kenya in the distance. Many will then descend and finish their week long trek up to the summit on one of the many official routes with a relaxing recovery trip to Zanzibar or perhaps an African Safari.

(Image by mattk1979 on Flickr)

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