KilimanjaroMount Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain in Africa, making it one of the seven summits. Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa at 5,895 meters, but it isn't a mountain in a traditional sense.
Mt Kilimanjaro is located in North Tanzania next to some of the top safari parks in Africa, so while making an ascent its rude not to pop infor a few days to experience the Serengeti, Ngorongoro or Tarangire.
Elephants and buffaloes can be found on the lower levels and foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro. Mount Kilimanjaro is made up of five distinct climate zones, Cultivation, Heather & Moorland zone, Highland Desert and an Arctic zone. The average temperature at the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro is -7°C.
Mount Kilimanjaro's three peaks were formed after volcanic eruptions millions of years ago. One volcanic cone, Shira, is now extinct and eroded, while the other two, Mawenzi and Kibo, 'melted' together after subsequent eruptions.
March to end of May is the wet season on Mount Kilimanjaro and not a great time for trekking
With most of the old lowland forest now cultivated and settled, the first experience of the mountain environment begins with the dense vegetation of tropical montane forest between 1850m and around 2800m.
Cloud condensation mainly gathers around the forest, so this area is usually damp or drenched with rainfall, creating an intriguing mass of plant life and running rivers between endemic tree species.
The area of heath just beyond the tree line also enjoys a relatively misty and damp environment as cloud clings around the density of trees. This is covered with heather and shrubs such as Erica Arborea and Stoebe Kilimandsharica, and a number of dramatic looking Proteas.
From around 3,200m a wide expanse of moorland extends beyond the heath and the cloud line, so that here the skies are generally clear, making the sunshine intense during the days and the nights cool and clear.
The climbing incline remains gentle, but thinning oxygen provides less fuel to energise the muscles and can dramatically slow the pace of walking. Hardy endemic species of Giant Groundsels (Senecio) and Lobelia (Deckenii) towering up to 4m high thrive in this moorland zone and give the landscape a strangely primeval atmosphere.
Even higher, beyond 4,000m, oxygen levels are depleted further as the landscape develops into a more bizarre alpine desert, with sandy loose earth. Weather conditions are so intense and temperature fluctuations so dramatic that barely any plant species survive other than everlasting flowers, mosses and lichens. Only the odd lichen survives beyond 5000m, after Kibo Huts and beyond the Saddle, where the landscape is predominantly rock and ice fields. Here, climbers experience the final steep push to the summit.
The easterly routes, Marangu, Mweka, Loitokitok and Rongai all converge west of the saddle near Gillmans Point, between the peaks of Mawenzi and Kibo. Kibos crater is roughly circular with an inner cone extending to 5,800m, (100m lower than the summit at Uhuru Peak).
At the centre an inner crater with walls between 12 and 20 m high contains another concentric minor cone, the centre of which falls away into the 360m span of the ash pit. This is the 120 metre deep central core of the volcano, and casts sulphurous boiling smoke from its depths despite the frozen, snowy outskirts.