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Overview

Rising to an altitude of 19,300 feet (5,891 meters), Kilimanjaro is the highest point in Africa and the world's tallest free-standing mountain, its distinctive volcanic slopes culminating in a snow capped crater that towers a full 3 miles (5 km) above the surrounding dry plains. It's an unforgettable scenic highlight of East Africa, best seen at dawn or dusk, when its habitual cover of clouds is most likely to clear. Popular vantage points include the towns of Moshi and Marangu at the southern base, and the lovely Arusha National Park en route to the town of Arusha, or remote west Kilimanjaro Conservation Area. For the energetic, a more ...

Rising to an altitude of 19,300 feet (5,891 meters), Kilimanjaro is the highest point in Africa and the world's tallest free-standing mountain, its distinctive volcanic slopes culminating in a snow capped crater that towers a full 3 miles (5 km) above the surrounding dry plains. It's an unforgettable scenic highlight of East Africa, best seen at dawn or dusk, when its habitual cover of clouds is most likely to clear. Popular vantage points include the towns of Moshi and Marangu at the southern base, and the lovely Arusha National Park en route to the town of Arusha, or remote west Kilimanjaro Conservation Area. For the energetic, a more alluring prospect is actually standing on the Roof of Africa, protected in Mount Kilimanjaro National Park. No climbing expertise is required for the ascent to Uhuru Peak — in essence a long uphill walk through lush montane forest and moorland studded with giant lobelias to the rocky and sparsely vegetated Afro-alpine zone. But nor should the hike be underestimated: the combination of steady climbing, sub-zero temperatures and giddying altitude is sufficient to test anybody's physical and mental resources. Other attractions of the Kilimanjaro area include Lake Chala, sunk within a crater on the eastern footslopes, and the more sultry Lake Jipe and newly proclaimed Mkomazi National Park, both of which lie on the border with Kenya’s legendary Tsavo West National Park. Farther afield, the Usambara and Pare Mountains are rewarding both as a warm-up for Kilimanjaro itself or as hiking destinations in their own right.

Philip Briggs
About the Expert

Philip Briggs has written or contributed to 50-plus editions of Bradt, Insight, AA and Berlitz guidebooks to African destinations.

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Philip Briggs for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Throughout the year, though hiking conditions are toughest in the main rainy season (March-May)