Mount Kilimanjaro

Mount Kilimanjaro is, at 19,340 feet above sea level, the highest peak on the continent of Africa. It consists of three peaks, Mawenzi and Shira (extinct volcanoes) and Kibo (dormant). Additionally, Mt Kilimanjaro Tanzania is the highest freestanding mountain (not part of a range) in the world. It lies wholly in Tanzania just on the southern border with Kenya. Only a couple hundred miles farther north as the crow flies is beautiful Mount Kenya. At just over 17,000 feet, this is the highest peak in Kenya and the second highest peak in Africa.

Some dedicated climbers and mountaineers will combine climbs of both mountains during one trip. This takes about two weeks, including travel time between the two mountains. Many more visitors will schedule their Mount Kilimanjaro or Mount Kenya climb before or after their Kenya or Tanzania safari. Both summiting the mountain and enjoying a wonderful wildlife safari is possible within only a two- or three-week time frame, making it popular with thousands of visitors each year.

A Kilimanjaro climb all the way to the summit is really more of a trek than a technical climb. Almost anyone in good health and good physical condition can do it. However, many people fail to reach the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro Tanzania because they succumb to altitude sickness and have to go back down before reaching the peak. This even happened to tennis great Martina Navritilova in December of 2010. Their failure is almost always due to the fact that they try to ascend in too short a time. Adding a couple days to the standard climb for acclimatization greatly increases the chance of success.

Although Mt Kilimanjaro Tanzania lies wholly in the country of Tanzania, it is right on the southern border of Kenya. At its foot on this side of the border is Kenya's Amboseli National Park, famous for its large herds of well-protected elephants and its stunning views of the mountain. This view of Kibo (the highest of its three peaks) from Kenya is the classic view you see in so many postcards - usually with a herd of elephants or giraffes striding regally across the savannah in the foreground. Those people who are enjoying wildlife safaris only in Kenya can still get the benefit of this magnificent view sitting comfortably on the verandah of their safari lodges while enjoying a cocktail.

There are also Kenya balloon safaris from this park that provide another view of the mountain. The mountain produces its own weather, and it is entirely possible to not see it at all during a safari in Amboseli. A hot air balloon can get you up above the clouds that can obscure the summit. Even if you don't visit Amboseli, you can see the mountain when you arrive or depart East Africa, as the flight path for many airlines to Kenya and Tanzania will reveal the mountain.

On the Tanzania side of the border, you still have wonderful views of Mount Kilimanjaro—just not those classic views, and without wildlife in the foreground. The area at the foot of the mountain in Tanzania is heavily populated and there are many farms here. Here is where the town of Moshi is located, with several Tanzania hotels catering primarily to the trade generated by climbers, who usually stay here for a night before and/or after their climb. These are fairly modest two- and three-star hotels that are basic but clean and comfortable.

From Moshi, it is about a two-hour drive on a fairly decent road to Arusha, the safari capital of northern Tanzania. Here, there are a couple dozen excellent hotels that range from exclusive five-star properties like the Serena Mountain Village to excellent hotels right in town. From Arusha, a standard safari itinerary from Arusha will take you to beautiful Lake Manyara (about two hours on an excellent road), the magnificent Ngorongoro Crater (another couple hours on a fairly rough road), and the fabled Serengeti National Park (another couple hours on quite rough tracks). Very rarely, on extremely clear days, you might catch a glimpse of Kilmanjaro from Ngorongoro or the Serengeti.

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