Looking like a magnificent bas relief in the Tanzanian grassland, Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in the African continent, is a remarkable sight. But the sight is even more breathtaking when you get to the snowcapped summit.
You do not have to be an elite mountaineer to climb Kilimanjaro. Here is the catch: It is the highest mountain in the world that can be reached by trekking alone. So if you are a fit and experienced trekker and want to experience a classic walking holiday, then a hike up Kilimanjaro is the best thing.
Reaching the summit of this beautiful mountain is relatively not technically challenging. However, climbing Kilimanjaro must not be taken lightly. Many hikers have turned back before reaching the summit because of poor preparation. So you should walk your dog more often, climb stairs, and hike some hills to prepare yourself for the long trek up Kilimanjaro. Stamina is what you need. Consult a doctor before the trek.
Because of the high altitude, trekkers must acclimatize fully before and during the hike to Kilimanjaro. That is why the longer treks are recommended. Pacing is the key. Every now and then, Kilimanjaro trekkers hear the Swahili phrase "pole pole", which means "slowly, slowly". Drink plenty of water, about four to five liters a day. Get some medication to avert altitude sickness.
Routes vary in terms of traffic, scenic beauty, and degree of difficulty. Marangu is the least difficult route and the most popular one. It is a great climb although it is muddy as it goes through lush rain forests and shambas growing coffee. Umbwe is one of the more difficult trails. This climb is steep and short but the scenery is just splendid. Do not attempt this route if you are an inexperienced trekker.
You can hike up Kilimanjaro at any time of the year. But it is not recommended to trek during the rainy months of March, April, May, October, and November as the weather is wetter and colder, and the views are generally less satisfactory. If you decide to go during the peak season, you have to book in advance. The trek during this time is very popular, and many tour group packages sell out fast.