The tallest free-standing mountain in the world, the rooftop of Africa, Kilimanjaro will be the highlight of any trip to the continent. Uhuru Peak, elevated at 5,895m above sea level, is a dormant volcano that has not erupted for over a hundred thousand years. It was first ascended by a group of German, Austrian and Tanzanian explorers in 1889, and the last member of that expedition died of old age in 1994… They say, with every hike to the top, you gain extra years of life and extra points for bragging rights!
The almost perfectly conical shape of Mt Kilimanjaro can be seen from afar, and it certainly resembles the Lonely Mountain from Tolkien’s novels, towering above the plains of Northwestern Tanzania. You won’t find dragons here, but the mountain forests are abundant in flora and fauna, and the ascent to the top will lead you through several climatic belts and landscapes: from lush green forests full of birds, antelopes, primates and leopards, to the rocky desert at the crater, covered with snow and ice. Local tribes still populate the slopes of Kilimanjaro and will share their hospitality and unique culture with foreign travelers.
Moshi town is the usual jump-off point for Kilimanjaro treks, but for best views of the mountain you might want to go to the Kenyan town Loitokitok, right on the border with Tanzania and at the foot of Kilimanjaro. Early in the morning, you can catch a glimpse of the mountain in its full glory, before the clouds crawl and wrap around it at noon.
Kilimanjaro inspired many artists and writers, including Ernest Hemingway, who travelled in Africa and wrote one of his most celebrated short stories, ‘The Snows of Kilimanjaro’, as a tribute to the mountain and native people of Africa.