A Kilimanjaro climb is important to a select group of climbers and mountaineers whose aim is to reach the summit of each of the highest peaks on each of the seven continents. Unlike Everest that requires a high degree of technical expertise and training, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro Africa is accessible to even casual hikers who are in very good physical condition and well-prepared. Many people who go on a Kenya or Tanzania safari will begin or end their search for wildlife with Mt Kilimanjaro tours to the summit of Africa's highest peak.
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro Africa is done only from the Tanzania side of the mountain, as the mountain lies almost wholly in that country. People on wildlife safaris in Amboseli National Park in Kenya will find themselves at the foot of the mountain and enjoying the most classic views. Some bird watching walking safaris are offered as Mt Kilimanjaro tours on the Kenya side, but only on the lowest slopes. Only the most avid birders take advantage of this, and all other access to the upper slopes of the mountain is from Tanzania.
The climbing season corresponds with the rainy and dry seasons in the rest of the country. April, May, and November are the rainy months, and it is possible to climb even during these months. But the majority of the thousands who attempt the summit on a Kilimanjaro climb each year do so from January to mid-March and June to October. These months are also the best for wildlife safaris in Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara, Serengeti National Park, and other of the country's great wildlife reserves.
A Kilimanjaro climb can be done on one of five different routes. Two of these, the Marangu and Machame Routes, are the most popular because they are easily accessible to tourists. In fact, the Marangu Route is called the Coca Cola Route because it's the only route where climbers can buy soft drinks at each stop along the way. There are established huts at each night's stop, where there are dormitory-type sleeping accommodations with cooking facilities. These are not the kind of five-star accommodations readily available on luxury safaris, but perfectly adequate and the only accommodation available for those who want to claim they have conquered Africa's highest mountain.
The other three routes have more remote trailheads, steeper inclines, and are suitable only for those in excellent physical condition and a have a much higher degree of expertise and mountaineering skills. There are several modest Tanzania hotels at the foot of Kilimanjaro in the town of Moshi that most people use as bases for an overnight before or after their climb. You can safely leave all of your safari clothes and souvenirs with the hotel while you make your climb on the mountain.
Even though climbing Mount Kilimanjaro Africa is more of a trek than technical mountaineering, many climbers fail to reach the summit. This is not due to the difficulty of the climb, but to ascending to too high an altitude too quickly. Most climbers are recreational climbers, and they combine their Mt Kilimanjaro tours with safaris in Tanzania and Kenya. Since they only have a limited amount of time and budget for their Tanzania and Kenya holidays, they choose the quickest climb—three or four days up, and two days down. Adding only one or two days to the ascent at 10,000 and 12,000 feet for acclimatization can almost ensure success. In December of 2010, even tennis great Martina Navritilova failed to reach the summit when she suffered altitude sickness during her climb for charity.
The other highest peaks in the world include the Vinson Massif in Antarctica, Kosciuszko in Australia (Oceania), Mount Everest (Asia), Mount Elbrus in Russia (Europe), Mount McKinley in Alaska (North America), and Aconcagua in Argentina (South America). Sometimes, they will include an eighth peak, the Carstensz Pyramid in Indonesia. At 19,340 feet, Kilimanjaro is the fourth highest of these mountains, and has a permanent snow-covered peak called Kibo.