Mount Kilimanjaro National Park
Mount Kilimanjaro national park is a breathtaking destination that is located near Moshi town in northern Tanzania, south of Kenya border. The national park was first established as a game reserve in 1921 and designated as a forest reserve in 1973, mount Kilimanjaro national park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 due to its natural beauty and it covers a total area of 1,688 square kilometers which is comprised of Montane forests, grasslands, farmlands on the lowland slopes, harsh and barren landscape with rocks and ice, moorland among others. The park also harbors animals like buffaloes, elephants, tree hyrax, grey duikers, leopards, primates like blue monkeys, bush babies and bird species like emerald cuckoo, violet crested turaco, pygmy kingfisher, African pitta, silvery cheeked hornbill among others. Mount Kilimanjaro national park is famously known for harboring Mount Kilimanjaro which is the highest mountain in Africa and the highest free standing mountain in the world that rises from the base of 4900 meters to an elevation of 5895 meters above the sea level.
Attractions in Mount Kilimanjaro National Park
Wildlife, the national park harbors a wide range of animals including forest elephants, grey duikers, bushbucks, cape buffaloes, tree hyrax, primates like blue monkeys, bush babies, baboons, black faced monkeys among others which can be viewed during the guided nature walks or hiking mount Kilimanjaro.
Birds, Mount Kilimanjaro national park is a home of over 179 bird species which makes it one of the birders paradise in the country therefore bird lovers will be able to spot different bird species like violent crested turaco, hartlaubs turaco, silvery cheeked hornbill, malachite kingfisher, lark heeled cuckoo, narina trogon among others.
Mount Kilimanjaro peaks, Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and its composed of three distinct cones namely Kibo which is the highest peak that stands at an elevation of 5,895meters, Mawenzi which stands at 5,149 meters and Shira which is the lowest peak that stands at 4,005 meters.
Top things to do in Mount Kilimanjaro National Park
Mountain climbing, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is the most popular activity carried out in the park and visitors who want to engage in this adventurous activity are advised to first do research and also ensure that they are physically fit and prepared mentally because though the climb is not challenging trekkers usually suffer from altitude sickness. There are several trekking routes that you can follow during ascending and descending the mountain and hikers are provided with hiking poles and gaiters to support them during hiking the highest snowcapped mountain.
- Machame route, this is the longest and the most popular route to hike due to its scenic views, the route starts from the southern part of the mountain covering a distance of around 62km. Hikers who use this route take about six to seven days to reach the summit passing through Montane forest and moorland area with great views of different vegetation zones, Shira plateau, views of the sunset among others.
- Rongai route, this route is found in the northeastern side of Mount Kilimanjaro bordering Tanzania and Kenya. Rongai route starts from the remote village of Nale Morufound and passes through the lower farmland slopes. The route is a 73km trail to the Uhuru peak but with fewer challenges which makes it one of the longest but most successful routes to hike. When using Rongai route it takes about 6 days for the experienced hikers and 7 days for the not very fit hikers to reach Uhuru peak and during hiking you will be able to view different animals, birds among others.
- Marangu route, Marangu route is oldest and most established route on Mount Kilimanjaro with permanent sleeping huts. This route covers a distance of around 72km and can be enjoyed by hikers that can walk at a good speed to cover a bigger distance at a short time. Experienced hikers can take about 3.5 days to ascend and 1.5 days to descend back to the starting point. Marangu route starts from Maragu gate passing through tropical rainforest and during hiking you will have spectacular views of the sunset, wildlife habitats, different vegetation types among others.
- Lemosho route, Lemosho route starts from Londorossi gate from the western part of the mountain and covers around 70 km. during trekking you will pass through the dense forest where you will have views of the rainforest vegetation, bird species, sunset among others.
- Shira route, this route is located in the western part of the mountain a few kilometers from Lemosho route. Shira route starts from Shira gate and covers around 56 km to the summit, during hiking you will pass through different vegetation zones, Shira plateau and joins other trails at Barraco camp where you will be given one day of acclimatization as you enjoy great views of the mountain, steep ridges, lava towers, views of the sunrise among others.
- Umwe route, this is the hardest route of Mount Kilimanjaro and it’s considered for experienced and physically fit climbers. The route is less used compared to other routes because it has a dad record of altitude sickness with over 60% of the hikers. Umwe route takes about 5 to 7 days to reach the summit and during hiking you will have views of the western breach and Barranco wall.
Bird watching, Mount Kilimanjaro national park is one of the best birding destinations in Tanzania because it harbors more that 179 bird species including tropical specie, endemic species that cannot be seen anywhere in the world, near endemic species that are also found in the neighboring destinations. Bird watching in the park can be done either early in the morning, evening or during hiking and bird lovers will be able to spot birds like rose turaco, emerald cuckoo, Narina trogon, white brown coucal, African pygmy kingfisher, African pitta, trumpeter hornbill, white necked raven among others.
Animal viewing, Mount Kilimanjaro national park harbors more than 140 mammal species including elephants, buffaloes, dik dik, bushbucks, duikers, leopards, hyenas, myosorex zinkii, elands, primates like baboons, blue monkeys among others. Visitors who are not physically fit to climb Mount Kilimanjaro can engage in the fascinating animal viewing activity where they will move around the park with the company of an armed park guide to help them spot different animals.
Guided nature walks, this is an exciting and adventurous activity in the park that allows you to get close and personal with wildlife in their natural environment. Nature walks in the park are carried out
on the lower slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro and it’s done with the help of an armed park ranger to protect you from any danger. During the guided nature walk you will have great views of the beautiful landscape, farmlands, view some animals, primates, butterflies, different plant and tree species, enjoy the peaceful and quiet environment, breath fresh air, listen to sweet sounds of birds singing in trees among others. You will also visit the Chala Crater Lake where you will have spectacular views of colorful bird species, butterflies, different plant and tree species, take beautiful photos among others.
Best time to visit Mount Kilimanjaro National Park
Mount Kilimanjaro national park can be visited anytime throughout the year though the best period is during the dry season in the months of June to October because during this period there is little rainfall in the park therefore hiking trails will be passable, you will have clear views of animals and sunny skies compared to the rainy season when the trails are muddy and slippery hence making hiking difficult.
Where to stay during your safari in Mount Kilimajaro National Park
There are a number of accommodation facilities where you can stay during your safari in Mount Kilimanjaro national park. the accommodations range from luxury, midrange, budget and campsites including Kilimanjaro Mountain Resort, Babylon lodge, Aishi Machame hotel, Kaliwa lodge, Shu’mata camp, Kambi Ya Tembo camp, Fortune Mountain Resort, Ndarakwai camp, Snowcap Cottages, Mount Kilimanjaro View lodge, Kibo Slopes Cottages, Kilimanjaro Halisi Retreat, Salinero Millie lodge, Kilinopark hotel, Kilemakyaro Mountain lodge, Kilimanjaro White House hotel among others.
How to get to Mount Kilimanjaro National Park
Mount Kilimanjaro national park can be accessed by road transport means whereby you will drive from Arusha to Moshi town and then to the park headquarters which takes about 2 hours drive. Visitors coming from Moshi town will take about 1 hour to reach the park headquarters.