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Kilimanjaro Overview

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Being High On Africa

This web site was designed with you in mind. It is intended as a guide, reference and catalyst to make the Kilimanjaro experience yours. Once you've browsed the site, please don't hesitate to give us your input. We intend providing you with the ultimate guide to Africa's highest mountain and will continuously upgrade and expand it where necessary.

005.00 south, 036.00 east , 5 895 m a.m.s.l. , highest mountain in Africa , tallest free-standing mountain on earth. Derived from Ki-Lima Njaro ~ Mountain of Greatness

Tribe Safari have since 1996, offered a professional guiding service, with a success rate of well over 97 % to the summit of Kilimanjaro. Our tours are guided by registered, Professional guides with impeccable credentials. on request, our own staff members who themselves have years of guiding experience (Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya and Aconcagua) can also join & guide your group. Please contact us with your requirements and we will prepare a tailor-made itinerary to suit you.

Imagine a place, vast and so peaceful as to render you silent, so majestic as to leave you forever inspired. Such a place is the roof of Africa, Mt. Kilimanjaro. For centuries, foreign nations have spoken of a majestic mountain in equatorial east Africa, so high that it carries an eternal snow cap. Mt. Kilimanjaro, known even to the ancient Greeks stands tall today, guarding over the vastness of the east African plains. It is the highest mountain in Africa and the tallest free-standing mountain in the world. Imagine hiking through the different climatic zones equivalent to a hike from the equator to the South Pole, but in 6 days! At 5 895 meters above sea level, it is the ultimate hiking adventure on earth.

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Originally thought to be a possible source of the Nile, its snowcap has been the subject of heated discussion for decades. The first documented sighting of its lofty peaks was on 11 May 1889 by the Reverend Johannes Rebmann. Tales abound how he was scoffed at for reporting a snow-capped peak on the equator, rather as a result of shaking up the theories of the day about the origin of the Nile than the fact that there was snow on the equator. However, later during the same year it was Hans Meyer who conquered the highest peak in Africa at 5 895 meters above sea level. The expedition consisted of many porters , guides and advisors. It took the intrepid Meyer almost 6 weeks to reach the summit, 6 times as long as it takes the average climber today.

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One should qualify the term "climber" as it is in most cases technically incorrect. The majority of routes leading to the summit of Uhuru Peak are pure hiking routes requiring no climbing skills at all. It is in fact, one of the highest peaks accessible to hikers in the world. Of course there are routes on Kilimanjaro which require advanced climbing skills, but these do not fall in the category of "commercial routes". We are more concerned with the hiking routes which are available to most reasonably fit people. Although Uhuru Peak is reachable by any reasonably fit and determined person, the trip should not be underestimated. Kilimanjaro requires effort and determination and one should prepare for the journey with this in mind.

Topography
Kilimanjaro is unique in that it is a lone standing volcano in otherwise fairly flat surroundings. From the nearby town of Moshi (900 m above sea level), one reaches the foot of Kilimanjaro at around 2 000 m which normally indicates the start of any route. From cultivated land at 1 500m, the slope rises gently through 5 different climatic zones to finally level out at the summit of Uhuru Peak at 5 895m.

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The shape of Kilimanjaro is instantly recognisable as volcanic, and were it not for scientific studies indicating the contrary, Kilimanjaro would seem to all as being extinct. Evidence of its hibernated stirrings can be found by descending into the ash pit inside the main crater. Kilimanjaro is actually the collective description of three seperate peaks, together forming Mt. Kilimanjaro. These are, from west to east, Shira, Kibo (the highest) and Mawenzi.

The lower slopes, below 1 800m are predominantly used for coffee production, a famous export product of Tanzania. Higher up, a densely forested area reflects distinct equatorial characteristics up to around the 2 700m mark. As one goes higher from 2 700m to around 3 400m, the terrain could be described as heather. Going higher again, there is a narrow band of moorland up to around 4 000m. From here, the altitude leaves its mark very clearly, and there is a stretch of almost a 1 000 meters (up to around 5 000m which is pure alpine desert. Very little apart from lichens and mosses can survive here. From the 5 000m mark, one will experience arctic conditions with extremely cold temperatures at night and scorching sun during the day. From the summit, several major glaciers decorate the mountain like a giant pudding. To mention a few, one will find the Rebmann-, Decken-, Kersten- and Heim glaciers on the southern rim with the very famous Arrow glacier directly to the west. These glaciers, although present permanently, are receding each year due to the earth's changing weather patterns.

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Climate
Its close proximity to the equator would move one to assume that a tropical climate prevails for the whole area. Nothing could be further from the truth. Kilimanjaro has its own climate, from tropical downpours, raging blizzards to gale force winds. Depending of course on the season, one can reasonably accurately predict the conditions for a particular expedition. Needless to say that ideally, one should  plan expeditions according to the seasons.

On the lower slopes, due to the elevation, the climate is mostly subtropical and mild with high rainfall. The rain seasons which affect this area can be grouped into two distinct seasons. Long rains and short rains. The long rains, associated with the monsoon generally occur from the middle of March and continue towards the beginning of June.

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Kilimanjaro's low seasons mirror that of the two rain seasons as conditions then are not conducive to enjoyable hiking. The second rain season is shorter and less intense than the first. This season is commonly referred to as the short rains. From the end of October until the end of December, rainfall can be expected, but mostly intermittent showers which clear up reasonably quickly. Conditions such as during the long rains can be experienced then also, so care should also be taken if you're planning a trip over Christmas. When planning your expedition, ensure that the members of your party have experience in the type of conditions which you expect. Temperatures range from around 25-30 degrees Celsius at the foot of the mountain to around minus 15 -20 degrees at the summit. With wind chill often forcing the temperatures even lower, the summit area of the mountain should be treated with respect and thorough preparation. During the rain season, an average rainfall of around 200mm per month can be expected on the lower slopes with heavy snowfall on the summit area.

Seasons
There are two distinct rain seasons in Tanzania. The long rains during April, May and June and the short rains during November and December are normally accompanied by heavy snowfall on the mountain. You are best advised not to climb during a rain season as conditions are sometimes very difficult. However, the possibility of climbing during a rain season is not necessarily precluded. The popular seasons are mostly directly after a rain season as more snow adds to the scenic attraction of the mountain.

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General Information
Mt. Kilimanjaro has become very popular recently as more people than ever before are reaching the summit each year. With superior information and sufficient time to prepare, you stand an extremely good chance of reaching the summit. There are seven generally accepted hiking routes, most of which can be adapted slightly. Whilst there is no easy route, choosing the Marangu route for instance, would offer you accommodation in huts. We strongly suggest that you familiarise yourself with the different routes before making your decision. The ascent of Mt. Kilimanjaro is seasonal and it is therefore essential to book your climb well in advance in order to ensure availability, especially if wanting to go during the high season. Correct training and a positive mental attitude are crucial ingredients in your planning and you should ideally allow several months between booking and embarking on the expedition. We have successfully hiked Mt. Kilimanjaro on numerous occasions and have led several large groups to the summit, giving us first hand knowledge of all the major hiking routes. Our detailed presentations are designed to give you an accurate perception of your preferred route without you actually having to climb the mountain. The choice of route should be based on your own personal preferences and whilst there is no real easy route, certain options do provide more comfort than others. If you reside at or near sea level, we would strongly suggest that you consider a 6-day route such as Machame or Marangu which would be better suited to provide sufficient acclimatisation opportunity.

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More About Health Issues
When attempting to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, you will be exposed to extreme weather conditions. Further, you will be entering a Malaria area where malaria prophylactics are recommended. Here follow some important points regarding health issues.

    Malaria
    Tanzania is considered a Malaria risk area and care should be taken when visiting the country. Malaria is caused by the parasite carried by the female Anopheles mosquito. It is a serious disease which can be fatal if not treated. We recommend that you take all the appropriate steps to avoid being bitten while simultaneously taking the prescribed medication. Please note that certain medication could be contra-indicated to your condition or other medications in general use. For specialist advice, please call your travel clinic.

    Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)
    AMS, as the name indicates is commonly encountered when climbing high mountains or visiting areas of exceptional altitude. The symptoms of AMS are mostly headaches, nausea and disorientation. The combined effects of reduced barometric pressure and lack of oxygen conspire to form one of the most formidable obstacles on Kilimanjaro, commonly referred to as altitude sickness. The illness can be very serious and has led to fatalities. Effective acclimatisation and preventative medicine is the best way to combat the onset and development of AMS. Once again, we urge you to consult your physician for specialist advice on available medication. For further reading on altitude related illnesses, please follow this link.

    Yellow Fever
    It is compulsory to receive a Yellow fever inoculation prior to your entry into Tanzania. The inoculation must be done at least 10 days prior to departure and proof must be obtained from the institution dispensing the inoculation. It is commonly in the form of an appropriate certificate, yellow or orange in color. As this inoculation is valid for a period of 10 years, it is advisable to complete the formality as soon as possible to avoid any possible side effects shortly before.

What else is necessary?

VISA - Residents from most countries require visas to enter Tanzania. Please check whether your country is exempt from any visa requirements. South African residents require visas to enter Tanzania. Visas can conveniently be arranged upon entry into Tanzania, provided that the applicant is eligible for a visa. Payment can be made directly upon application. Alternatively, you can apply for the visa in South Africa. Contact us in order to have the application form emailed to you.

Final Preparation
With all the paperwork sorted out, you need to start preparing for the actual climb. Here are some final points to work through in order to complete your preparation.

    Equipment - Tribe Safari provides a complete rental service on most of the required equipment. Please contact us well in advance with your equipment needs.

    Training - With experience and after more than 20 personal summits, we have developed a tailor made training program (for gym use and hiking) which if followed, will ensure your physical readiness for Kilimanjaro.

    Mental attitude - A positive mental attitude is probably the most crucial ingredient in any successful summit attempt. With correct training, adequate equipment and superior information, half the battle is already won. Your own personal motivation and resolve must be able to withstand the test of hardship while on the mountain and good preparation can only contribute to this.

    Travel insurance - We strongly recommend that you are covered by comprehensive travel insurance for the duration of your trip. Please contact us should you need assistance with Travel insurance.

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All expeditions are lead by certified guides, registered with the Kilimanjaro National Parks Board. We use the same guides for all our expeditions, ensuring constant high standards and client satisfaction. Our guides have been selected after years of experience and through feedback from previous clients. On selected dates throughout the year, or by special request, an experienced member of our staff can accompany your group..Next Page

[Kilimanjaro Overview] [Routes] [Nutrition] [Fitness & Training] [Altitude] [Tips for Success] [Departure Dates] [Equipment Rental]

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