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Mount Kilimanjaro

Mt. Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa, it is innately and inexhaustibly symbolic. Writers render it, climbers conquer it, Africans value it, and at the end of the day its magnetic singularity remains undiminished. Though speechless wonder reigns in its presence, the traveler who witnesses Kilimanjaro Mountain, will talk about it for life.
Rising 19,340 ft (5895 m) above the African plain, Kilimanjaro truly stands alone among the mountains of the world. The huge, solitary volcano is unaccompanied by any mountain chain. Though its size is immense, it also has one of the world's most accessible peaks. People who are in good shape can make the ascent to its summit, Uhuru peak, in a matter of days, passing through five distinct ecological zones along the way. The lower slopes of the mountain are defined by coffee and banana fields that rise up and end where the mountain's forest begins. An average of 80 inches of rainfall in a year make the forest home to some botanical treats. Tree ferns in this region are known to grow up to 20 feet, and giant lobellia often reach 30 feet. At an altitude of about 9,000 feet, the forest gives way to grasslands and shrubbery, and elephant can sometimes be spotted roaming the high slopes. At about 13,000 feet life begins to recede, a result of extreme weather conditions inhospitable to anything more than small mosses and lichens. Once the summit area is reached, three glaciers and three volcanic peaks sit in lofty, placid contemplation of the tremendous plains over 3.5 miles below.

It is highly advisable to take the mountain slowly. The thin air is a well-known killer of impatient weekend climbers, who misjudge their abilities and ascend too fast. Altitude sickness is common and can be fatal. No climb is permitted without a guide, and there are six routes up the mountain with varying degrees of difficulty. Huts are available at different points along the way, and the final ascent begins near midnight (so melting snow isn't a problem) and culminates with a spectacular sunrise at the peak.
Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro is the highlight of most visitors' experiences in Tanzania. Few mountains can claim the grandeur, the breathtaking views of Amboseli National Park in Kenya, the Rift Valley, and the Masaai Steppe, that belongs to Kilimanjaro. Hiking on the 'rooftop of Africa' -- the highest point on the continent at 5896 metres -- is the adventure of a lifetime, especially because, if paced well, everyone from seasoned trekkers to first-time enthusiasts can scale the snowy peak.

 
 
 
 
 
 
   
 
 

 

   
 
 
       
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