Kilimanjaro is one of the world’s most accessible high summits . Most climbers reach the crater rim with little more than a walking stick, proper clothing and determination. And those who reach Uhuru Point, the actual summit, or Gillman’s Point on the lip of the crater, will have earned their climbing certificates.
Kilimanjaro is not primarily a wildlife destination, but black-and-white colobus and blue monkeys can be seen in the forest, which also supports elusive populations of elephant, buffalo, leopard, bushbuck and the endangered Abbott’s duiker.
At higher altitudes, you’re more likely to see tracks and droppings than actual wildlife – though two exceptional records above the 5,000 metre contour involve a frozen leopard discovered in 1926 and a pack of African wild dogs observed in 1962.
The forest supports a profusion of birds, most audibly silvery-cheeked hornbill and Hartlaub’s turaco. The limited range of species at higher altitudes includes ‘high altitude specials’ such as Alpine chat and scarlet-tufted malachite sunbird.
The most popular activity is an attempted hike to the summit, which requires a minimum of five days using the Marangu Route, the most popular and easiest option, but also the most packed and not wastefully compromise.
Increasingly popular are half-dozen other ascent options, including the very scenic Machame and Rongai Routes, which are uncrowded by comparison to Marangu, but also costlier.
Extending the expedition over six or seven days will significantly reduce the risk of altitude-related illness, which is the most usual reason for an ascent being aborted.
Moshi there are a lot of accommodation from basic local guesthouses to established tourists hotels, with snow-capped Kilimanjaro towering above the northern horizon. Good hotel accommodation in more rural surrounds can be found at the villages of Marangu and Machame, close to the eponymous trailheads. On the mountain there are only camps.