Every year almost 40,000 people climb Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest freestanding mountain. At a height of 5,895 m above sea level, climbing Kilimanjaro is a challenge that draws people from all over the world to conquer its iconic slopes. Whether you are still considering this epic climb or are ready to embark on this adventure, there are plenty of reasons to challenge yourself to conquer the "Roof of Africa."
As the highest mountain in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro by itself is pretty amazing. But it's more than just a tall pile of rocks, sand and snow. The mountain is home to five distinct ecological zones that change and become less like the wild savannah plains below the higher you ascend. Climbing Kilimanjaro is like experiencing four different climate zones in a week. From the lush forest vegetation surround by the Savannah to the snow-capped mountain at the top. These unique climate zones have spawned some of the world's rarest, weirdest and mutated fauna and flora species that change day by day. Climbing one of the world's greatest natural wonders will give you the perfect opportunity to get up close and personal with these incredible life forms. The high altitudes have created a sky island that is home to unique life forms like the famous Elephant Trunk Flower, the Giant groundsels and a species of spider that lives in the alpine zone at altitudes of up to 5000 m!
The Seven Summits are each continent's highest peaks, starting with Kilimanjaro in Africa and ending with Everest in Asia. Although Kilimanjaro is a high-altitude hike, you don't need ropes, special mountaineering gear or any previous climbing experience. To conquer "Everyman's Everest" all you need is to be reasonably fit, a good pair of hiking boots and a backpack filled with all your supplies. A 7-year old kid reached the summit in 2008 and a couple ages 85 and 84 made it to the top of Uhuru Peak in 2012. This just goes to show you don't need special training to climb this iconic mountain and at a height of 19,341 feet climbing Kilimanjaro is a serious achievement for a climber of any level.
Uhuru Peak, at the summit. Part of 10 reasons to climb Kilimanjaro. Photo by Brad
Summiting Mount Kilimanjaro is a significant event for people from all walks of life. Whether it's to mark a personal transition like graduation or for a more selfless reason like raising money for charity - the mountain presents the perfect challenge. Even execs in cushy jobs feel inspired by Africa’s tallest peak. AlienAdv’s CFO decided to quit his job after conquering Kilimanjaro and keep climbing with his wife. But the slopes of the mighty Uhuru don't just attract able-bodied climbers. Every year the mountain sees a number of climbers with various disabilities braving her slopes for the same reasons. From the visually impaired, the wheelchair bound or the incredible Kyle Maynard who climbed Kilimanjaro unassisted with no arms or legs to the top of the summit in 2012.
African tribes. Part of 10 reasons to climb Kilimanjaro. Photo by ninara
One of the best parts about travelling is the chance to experience authentic cultural immersion. Embracing another country's language, traditions, foods and beliefs enriches any experience and makes it that much more special. When you hike Mount Kilimanjaro you'll be spending the next few days on a side of a mountain with a local guide who was born and raised in the area. You'll learn about their culture, hear about local stories and beliefs, and discover a way of life so different from your own. It's an experience that will not only challenge you physically, but will also change the way you see the world and give you a deeper understanding of Tanzania and it's people that you can't get from any AlienAdv search or travel guide on Kilimanjaro.
The local government has introduced a number of rules to keep Kilimanjaro National Park clean and reduce the impact the 40,000 yearly visitors have on the natural environment. With seven trails leading up to the summit and no roads, the national park has managed to keep its wild nature and the distribution of the heavy traffic to a minimum. Park Rangers also weigh all bags coming on and off the mountain and trekking companies face hefty fines if any bags come down light. This has helped to reduce climbers dumping waste on the trail and keep the environment pristine.
In Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, the movie showed photos of the mountain's 11,700-year-old glaciers shrinking. Scientists predict that because of climate change, these glaciers could disappear as early as 2030. The mountains entire northern ice field has lost more than 140 million cubic feet of ice in the past 13 years. Trekking Kilimanjaro is more than just a personal accomplishment, it's also your last chance to see a natural wonder before it's gone forever.
How many people do you know that can claim bragging rights for summiting the tallest mountain in Africa? Life is all about creating memories and challenging our mind, body and soul. Trekking Mt Kilimanjaro is the perfect opportunity to put all three to the test and accomplish what most people only dream about doing. Reaching the peak won't be easy, you'll have to face down blizzards, acclimatize to the varying temperatures and keep pushing on even in your weakest moments - but it will worth it. It's a serious but feasible goal to accomplish, all you need to do is make it happen!
As you to prepare yourself to hike Kilimanjaro, you'll need to be ready both mentally and physically. Even though it's one of the easiest summits - it's still a challenge. You'll have to walk for 4 to 10 hours a day alongside tough terrain and come face to face with how your body will handle the altitude. Some of the many side effects of climbing the mountain include feeling exhausted, nauseated, cold and getting blisters and body aches. But when you finally make it to the top, you'll have an understanding of what your body can endure and with it an undeniable sense of accomplishment.
The local people of Tanzania call Kilimanjaro “Uhuru” Peak which is the Swahili word for "Freedom". The mountain got this name when it inspired an entire nation to fight for their freedom and become the first African nation to win independence from colonial powers. In a speech by the then soon-to-be President Julius Nyerere, he said: "We the people of Tanzania, would like to light a candle and put it on top of Mount Kilimanjaro which would shine beyond our borders giving hope where there was despair, love where there was hate and dignity where before there was only humiliation."
After a hectic 4 to 5 days climbing up Kilimanjaro, reaching the "Roof of Africa" and taking in the incredible views at the top make it all worth it. And you won't reach the summit at any time of day either. Your guide will try to time the summit with sunrise so you can witness the first rays of light hitting the glaciers in the distance as the streaks of sunlight break through the rolling banks of clouds below. Climbing Kilimanjaro is a once in a lifetime accomplishment and a view that you will remember for the rest of your life.