The Climb of Mount Kilimanjaro
Every time I take my flight, and it occurs several times a year because my life is now divided between Italy and Tanzania, I find trekkers from all over the world, eager to arrive and to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.
How do I know? Because they seem ready to start: suitable clothes, trekking shoes, backpack and that unmistakable look they share only with their pairs. They know in advance they are going to live an incredible experience. They know they are going to cherish every second. They know it’s going to be unforgettable. And they are right.
Mount Kilimanjaro is a National Park since 1973 and it covers an area of approximately 750 square meters. The forest between 1.800 and 2.800m is Forest and Game Reserve since 1921.
It’s one of the highest volcanoes in the world and its most elevated point, UHURU PEAK, is 5.895m high.
What makes this mountain so fascinating? Why does it enchant so many people? First of all, it’s attractive from both geologic and natural points of view, but the main reason is that the summit can be reached by trekkers without ropes or any other kind of technical assistance.
What is needed is just the right physical preparation.
The problem isn’t the equipment, it’s the high altitude. Trekkers need to be in perfect shape to face risks and challenges, in order to complete the climb and enjoy it. Determination and self-control also help a lot.
One of the risks, maybe the most dangerous, is dehydration. Drinking a lot is basic.
To start the ascent, it’s compulsory to register at one of the GATES and obtain a permit: MARANGU, MACHAME or LONDOROSSI. Remember that only at the PARK HEADQUARTERS at MARANGU GATE a certificate is given to those who reach UHURU PEAK. What a gratification!
The guides must have their licenses and also appointed porters are needed.
This is part of the set of regulations established by KINAPA, the Agency that manages Kilimanjaro National Park. My personal piece of advice is to start with the right foot. Contact a serious tour operator: it’s the best way of facing this adventure and of having the guarantee of following the rules. Commonsense is also essential. Just a couple of examples: it’s forbidden to light wood fires or litter in any point, but everybody knows, right?
There are several routes trekkers can choose and only the official ones can be followed. The Southern and Northern Circuits which circle the Kibo Dome can be reached by all the routes, but only three of them end at the summit in 5 up to 8 days.
MARANGU or COCA-COLA ROUTE is the most popular for being the ‘easiest’, so to say.
RONGAI ROUTE starts in the northeast side of the mountain and intersects Marangu Route.
MACHAME ROUTE, LEMOSHO ROUTE and SHIRA ROUTE are more irregular and challenging.
UMBWE ROUTE is steep and unusual.
The last day, from BARAFU CAMP, most of the trekkers start the ascent to the summit at midnight.
They try to reach UHURU PEAK at dawn.
MWEKA ROUTE is only a descending route.
Considering that temperature falls of 1°C every 200m increase in altitude, choosing the right equipment seems a smart idea. Tour operators give all the instructions, but keep in mind that rain, snow and storms can arrive at any time of the year, so covers must be added, including those for backpacks.
What’s missing? Probably a lot: it’s very difficult to squeeze all the necessary info. Nonetheless, I hope I’ve interested you. You want something you will remember for the rest of your life? Mount Kilimanjaro is there waiting for you!!