A fascinating aspect of climbing Kilimanjaro is that it takes you through several distinct climate zones, which is one of the journey’s highlights. Kilimanjaro’s ascent starts at 800 meters above sea level, and around every 1000 meters, you ascend into a different climatic zone. At the foot of the mountain, the bushland quickly gives place to rainforest, and a further 1000 meters above is the heather/moorland zone. Savor your final moments among living creatures before you head back down since this is the last climatic zone with any vegetation! You pass through the alpine desert above the heather/moorland and, on summit day, enter the aptly termed arctic zone. As the name would imply, it’s rather cold at the top of Kilimanjaro, made much more so by the fact that climbers start their ascent early in the morning to make the most of the sunshine. Getting up early not only allows you to enjoy the most daylight but also allows you to witness one of Kilimanjaro’s renowned sunrises. The mountain is surrounded by vast, apparently unending plains, which are incredibly magnificent to behold as they gradually fill with an orange glow.
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The excellent paths on Kilimanjaro allow you to descend astonishingly swiftly and, by the end of your summit day, find yourself back in the lower climatic zones if you wake up early enough, move quickly, and reach the summit at first light. I still recall going to sleep that night amid tall trees on the desolate peak of Kilimanjaro at daybreak, with two happy monkeys hanging above my tent! There are no technical difficulties and all of Kilimanjaro’s paths are in great shape. While you’re grinding them, this isn’t much of a comfort, but when you return home, it lets you rapidly dip down to warmer temps and thicker air!
With direct flights from many European hubs right into Kilimanjaro International Airport and a small time zone difference, climbing enthusiasts from Europe may easily reach Kilimanjaro. After spending the night in the town of Moshi, travelers may drive a short distance to one of the well-known gates at the base of the mountain, where they can begin their climbing adventure!
There are other ways up Mount Kilimanjaro, but the most well-traveled one is via Machame. Whichever way you choose, give yourself at least a week to reach the top, if not more. I would advise reading our most recent article on Strava Stories on high altitude acclimation prior to deciding to travel to Kilimanjaro. To summarize the main ideas, go cautiously, give yourself plenty of time to acclimate, and pay attention to your body. A surprisingly high number of individuals pass away on Kilimanjaro’s slopes, almost completely due to the fact that so many trekkers accelerate their acclimatization and climb themselves into altitude sickness. Kilimanjaro is an objectively safe mountain with consistent weather and gentle terrain. Push yourself further up the mountain only when your body is prepared!
Take your summit certificate with you when you leave one of the gates at the base of the mountain, then descend to Moshi for hot showers and cool beverages!