Mt. Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and the tallest free-standing mountain in the World. It stands at 5,895 and its highest point is called Uhuru Peak. It is actually comprised of three different volcanic cones, two of which are extinct and the last is dormant. It is part of a chain of volcanoes that runs down the Great Rift Valleys of East Africa.
After the Comic Relief climb of a few years ago it has become increasingly popular to climb Kili as either a personal challenge or as a charitable fundraiser. It is easier to do so not than it was 20 years or so ago as the glaciers have receded and there is considerably less snow. This means you can now walk to the summit with no need for ice axes and crampons. A good level of fitness is still required. You will climb from 3,500 to 5,895 metres, and the air will be getting thin on the last few days. The affect of altitude is not to be underestimated and you should be careful of altitude sickness.
There are several routes to climb Kilimanjaro. The most popular is the Maramboi Route. This can be done by staying in National Park Mountain huts, which sleep up to 80 people. Because it is the quickest and cheapest, it is also the busiest, with plenty of people following it. If you want a little more tranquillity its best to follow one of the other routes, such as the Machame (of which this video was taken) or the Rongai Route. These routes are slightly longer and involve camping, but the routes are generally agreed to be more interesting and scenic.
To organise your trip there are plenty of Tanzanian specialist companies who will organise all the necessary paperwork, permits, camping equipment if required and porters. You should ensure that the porters are correctly looked after according to the Tourism Concern guidelines, in as much as they should be well clothed, fed and paid the required wage.
There is a wide variety of terrain you climb through on the trek, from thick tropical forest on the lower slopes to the barren lava field higher up. There is little snow on the summit, and the Glaciers are receding quickly, but go within the next ten years and they should still be there.
Be prepared, be fit, be sensible and use a reputable company, and you too could be standing tall, watching the sun rise from the roof of Africa.
By Julie Bowman