Funmi Iyanda, Media Entrepreneur on Mt. Kili
So you want to go to Kilimanjaro? Me too!
Kilimanjaro is the tallest free standing mountain in the world. It is more like the Roof of Africa, in fact that is its other name. From base to summit, the mountain is about 15,100 feet (4,600 meters).
Despite its massive size and height, climbing Kilimanjaro has been achievable by even novice hikers, so I’m thinking, why not you (or me)? Mount Kilimanjaro is a major tourist attraction bringing thousands of participants from all over the world. It has become the mountain of choice for charity climbs, first time hikers, and celebrity adventures.
It is said that climbing Kilimanjaro is to walk through four seasons in four days. It is true, of course, because of its amazing height, four seasons are covered in the height of the summit.
While you are on (800m-2800m), you are at on familiar cultivated zone and forest. Animals are more numerous down in the forest zone than anywhere else on the mountain; unfortunately, so is the cover provided by trees and bushes, so sightings remain rare
Move up a bit to 2800m – 4000m you have moved to another season, the Heath and moorland. These two zones overlap, and together occupy the area immediately above the forest from around 2800m to 4000m – known as the low alpine zone
Then in another day and different height you would find the live on the mountain to be as one in the Alpine desert (4000m-5000m). only three species of tussock grass and a few everlastings can withstand the extreme conditions.
Any height above 5000m take you into the ice cap . There is virtually no water. On the rare occasions that precipitation occurs, most of the moisture instantly disappears into the porous rock or is locked away in the glaciers.
On Kilimanjaro, you would see some of the world’s strangest fauna. From high-altitude spiders to a mutilated monkey On Kilimanjaro you would see Blue monkeys ( well it’s just a name, the monkeys aren’t blue but grey or black with white throat. Olive baboons, civets, leopards, mongooses and servals are said to live in the mountain’s forest as well, the honey badger, aardvark the ant-eater lives there too but are said to be shy and are rarely seen.
The most beautiful bird on the mountain, has been said to be the dazzling scarlet-tufted malachite sunbird.
Don’t you just want to go for the smug feeling of achievement and awesomeness?
So if you want to go to kilimanjaro, here are quick tips for ease.
First off, you’ll need to find your way to Tanzania. Kilimanjaro National Park is located in the northeastern area of Tanzania, near the Kenyan / Tanzanian border. To visit Mount Kilimanjaro, the most convenient way is to fly into Kilimanjaro International Airport, and then travel to Arusha or Moshi, Kilimanjaro’s gateway towns, by vehicle. Both cities are approximately 40 minutes away from the airport and taxi services are readily available.
Then, it is mandatory to climb with a licensed guide and have porters carry your equipment. This sustains the local economy and allows local people to reap the rewards of tourism and that’s pretty fair. So find an operator, a fair price is between $2,500-$3,000 per climber and this is for your optimum experience. You will need technical clothing, the operators would provide you the list.
The best times to climb Kilimanjaro tend to be the warmest and driest months – January, February, and September. June, July, and August are also good months. You don’t want to be on an unfamiliar territory in the rains.
Physical fitness is key. Strong legs to carry you uphill and downhill and a fit body to survive days of hiking and camping. You need to hit the gym and get your instructor to stimulate ascension for you, you can train on a stair master machine. If you have no access to hiking trails or a gym, then try to walk as much as you can, with extended walks on the weekends. You should start training for climbing Kilimanjaro at least two months prior to your departure. And you know what is also important? training in the boots you intend to climb The Roof of Africa with. This way you avoid blisters. Additionally, you should wear the day pack you intend to carry so you’re your shoulders/back/hips get used to the points of contact and weight (to minimize chafing and soreness).
It may take 7 or more days to reach the summit. Be prepared.