Tanzania's Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest peak in all of Africa and the tallest free-standing mountain in the world. Its summit is nearly 3.7 miles above sea level — just 10,000 feet shorter than Mount Everest — and it is much easier to climb to the top of this peak than that of Everest. Mount Kilimanjaro National Park gives travelers a chance to ascend one of the highest peaks in the world, spend time in tropical jungles and photograph snowy mountains all in one place.
Those who want to climb to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro should take their time so their bodies can adjust to the altitude changes. The trek typically takes about six days, and even going slowly, travelers will feel the effects of the change in altitude. One guide, Simon Mtuy, completed the journey in an impressive eight and a half hours, but he does not recommend this for visitors as climbing too quickly can result in altitude sickness.
There are a number of different routes that climbers can take to the top of the mountain, ranging in difficulty. One popular path, often called the "Coca Cola Route," has a number of huts along the way for climbers to rest comfortably and there are vendors selling beverages and food as well. This path is often crowded with tourists, but there are other ways to reach the summit.
International Expeditions’ Custom Travel Planner Sarah Meffert recommends the Rongai Route, which approaches the mountain from the north. Experienced guides consider the Rongai route an easier and more beautiful climb than some of the more heavily trafficked trails. Since the Rongai Route is a day longer, it assists in acclimation to the altitude, increasing your chances of successfully reaching the summit. Also be on the look-out for wildlife such as the beautiful Kilimanjaro colobus monkey and eland.
Not only can climbers reach the top of this mountain with little more than the proper attire and patience, but they can also see a wide variety of different climates, making the mountain a great destination for nature travel. The base of the mountain is surrounded by tropical forests that are home to elephants, leopards, buffalo and many other creatures.
Next, climbers will pass through the moorland zone, a region covered in heather and giant lobelias, which are wildflowers often used for herbal medicines. The moorlands give way to low-lying mosses about two-thirds of the way up the mountain, and near the top, climbers will forget they were making their way through warmer climates just a few days prior as the landscape begins to be covered in snow and ice as they explore the high-altitude dessert between the two snow-blanketed peaks.
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