Mt Kil­i­man­jaro, Tan­za­nia

Australian Geographic Outdoor - - Adventure -

OF­TEN DIS­MISSED AS‘too crowded and too high’, Mt Kil­i­man­jaro is, in fact, nei­ther. What it is, though, is a mul­ti­day hike that will test both your phys­i­cal and men­tal for­ti­tude. It will pay back the strength of your men­tal and phys­i­cal self with what is one of the world’s most iconic out­door sce­nar­ios: watch­ing the sun rise over the African con­ti­nent at Gill­man’s Point (5685m) after hours of slog­ging up­ward in the dark. From this cracking lo­ca­tion, you are nearly there; the true sum­mit point of Uhuru Peak, at 5895m, is only a seem­ingly short two hours fur­ther away.

There are seven hik­ing routes (rang­ing from six to 10 days) up Mt Kil­i­man­jaro: Marangu, Ron­gai (Out­door took this route in 2014), Le­mosho, Machame, Shira and Umbwe. Each route dif­fers in terms of scenery, dif­fi­culty and time needed, but all will see you to the sum­mit. Kili is, in fact, a stra­to­vol­cano that fea­tures three vol­canic cones, with Kibo the high­est (Uhuru Peak is sit­u­ated on this cone), fol­lowed by Mawenzi and also Shira. Both Mawenzi and Shira are vis­i­ble through most of your jour­ney up the moun­tain.

Those keen on tack­ling Kili will need to be fit and healthy and used to pack-based hik­ing. You only carry a day­pack each day of your climb up Kili – there are porters to carry the camp­ing gear and ad­di­tional cloth­ing. You will also have to think about how to tackle the ef­fects of alti­tude, which are very real dur­ing this hike. Some hik­ers opt for alti­tude train­ing, usu­ally by sleep­ing in an alti­tude tent be­fore the trip. Most of us, though, have no ac­cess to this type of spe­cial­ist equip­ment so con­sult­ing your doc­tor in re­gards to med­i­ca­tion that com­bats alti­tude sick­ness is one op­tion – or you can tick the box for a por­ta­ble oxy­gen tank, but be aware that you have to carry this not in­signif­i­cant weight in your pack on sum­mit day.

It sounds scary but it’s not; most hik­ers on Kili have an en­joy­able, mem­o­rable ad­ven­ture, with the sum­mit suc­cess rate gen­er­ally high (this is also route de­pen­dent; the faster, steeper routes can have a more dra­matic ef­fect on your phys­i­ol­ogy).

The land­scape is bril­liant and ranges from jun­gle-clad low­lands, through to sub­alpine val­leys, rolling hills and wind-blasted alpine plains, be­fore you reach the glacier­topped sum­mit area. Al­though these glaciers atop Mt Kil­i­man­jaro are slowly dis­ap­pear­ing, there is still – lit­er­ally – tons of ice up on the sum­mit and see­ing that, along with the clouds way be­low you as the sun lights up your days­long route far be­low, is a life­time mem­ory.

Africa Tan­za­nia

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