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Mount Kilimanjaro is a currently inactive strato-volcano in northern Tanzania, near the border with Kenya. At 5,895 metres (19,340 feet) above sea level, Kilimanjaro is Africa's highest peak and the world's highest free-standing mountain. As such - and aided by its relatively easy ascent - Kilimanjaro has become a major destination for mountaineers and trekkers from around the world.
Although positioned close to the Equator (330 km south), Mount Kilimanjaro is famous as Africa's snow-capped mountain looming over the plains of the savannah. In recent years, however, the snows have been fast disappearing. Kilimanjaro National Park protects the area above 2,700 metres (8,850 ft), on the mountain and includes the moorland and highland zones, Shira Plateau, Kibo and Mawenzi peaks. The Park also has six corridors or rights of way through the Kilimanjaro Forest Reserve. The Forest Reserve, which is also a Game Reserve, was established in 1921; the Park was established in 1973 and officially opened in 1977. It is commonly perceived that Queen Victoria of England gave her grandson, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, Mount Kilimanjaro as a birthday present. However, this is not the case. In fact, Karl Peters, a German traveller in Africa and one of the founders of today's Tanzania, snuck into Tanganyika and persuaded various Chagga chieftains to sign treaties in which they agreed to cede their territories to his Society for German Colonization.The landscape on Kilimanjaro is very beautiful. The mountain can be divided into 5 climatic zones, each with its own fauna and flora. The lower reaches of the mountain are dominated by evergreen forests. At approx. 3,000m the landscape starts to change into a shrub land setting. At around 4,000m the landscape becomes very arid and rocky, similar to a lunar landscape. The fourth zone consists of a very fine glacial scree/silt dessert setting. The top of Kilimanjaro is partially snow-capped with large glaciers interspersed between the volcanic craters. The glaciers have been receding over the past 40 years, though. The mountain is rich in flora and fauna. You get to see the various climatic conditions starting from the bushland on the bottom of the mountain to the arctic ice region on top of the mountain. You have the tropical rain forests, the evergreen forests, the moorlands and the alpine desert regions in between. It is something like walking from the equator to the arctic pole in a matter of days. You get to see some unique plants and flowers on the mountain which is specific to Mt Kilimanjaro. Though there is not much of wildlife on the mountain, you can see some wild buffaloes, elephants and leopards while traversing through the Lemosho Route. You are accompanied by armed rangers in the initial day of the trek while going via the Lemosho route.
Due to Mount Kilimanjaro's proximity to the equator, this region does not experience the extremes of winter and summer weather, but rather dry and wet seasons. January and February are the warmest months, April and May are the wettest months, June and July are the coolest months, and August and September are the driest months. January, February, and September are considered to be the best months to climb Kilimanjaro in terms of weather.
The journey from the gate to the peak is like traveling from the equator to Antarctica in a matter of days. This is because the routes to the Uruhu peak cross different ecological zones. Throughout the climb, temperatures vary considerably with the altitude and time of day. Mount Kilimanjaro has five major ecological zones, each approximately 3,280 feet (1,000 m) in altitude. Each zone is subject to a corresponding decrease in rainfall, temperature and life as the altitude increases. At the beginning of the climb, at the base of the mountain, the average temperature is around 70°F to 80°F (27°C to 32°C). From there, the temperatures will decrease as you move through Mount Kilimanjaro's ecological zones. At the summit, Uruhu Peak, the night time temperatures can range between 0°F to -15F (-18°C to -26°C). Due to Mount Kilimanjaro's great height, the mountain creates its own weather. It is extremely variable and impossible to predict. Therefore, regardless of when you climb, you should always be prepared for wet days and cold nights.
Get in
The closest International Airport is Kilimanjaro (IATA: JRO), and if coming from Europe, KLM (Delta Air Lines) has a daily non-stop flight from Amsterdam to JRO. Air Viva offers connections between Kilimanjaro and several domestic airports, such as Arusha ($75).
Year 2012 several International Airlines launched direct flight to Kilimanjaro International Airport, these are Turkish Airlines and Qatar Airways. These are in addition to other International Airlines like Ethiopian Airways, Condor Air and Kenya Airways.
If you are coming from Nairobi, Kenya, you can fly with Kenya Airways, which works with Precision Air, and that would cost you about $400/person for a roundtrip ticket. Alternatively, you can schedule shuttle buses, which are at 8am and 2 pm daily, for about $35/person, one way, and its a 5-6hrs bus ride. Shuttle buses can be booked in advance by visiting BusAfrica.net.
If coming from Dar es Salaam, you can fly into JRO for $320/person roundtrip; or take a 7-8hrs bus ride for $20/person one way to Arusha or Moshi.
The costs outlined below are only indicative and exclude flights to and from Kilimanjaro International Airport. They also exclude all inclusive trips which typically include flights, hotels before and after your climb, park fees, guide team and optional extras.
Before getting to Kilimanjaro
The cost of equipment, visas, vaccinations and medications are often forgotten by prospective climbers. In general you will spend anywhere between $500-$1,500 on equipment as most climbers need to buy an extreme weather sleeping bag, a duffle bag, suitable clothing and other climbing accessories.
You will also need to get a Yellow Fever vaccination as this is a mandatory requirement to enter Tanzania. You might want to get booster injections for Hepatitis A and other related diseases. Seek medical advice from your travel clinic but budget at least $100-$200. Tanzania is a malaria zone; however mosquitoes do not occur at altitude (over 1,800 meters). You will be spending most of your trip above this altitude but will be exposed before and after the climb. If you decide to take malaria tablets budget at least $50. Finally you will be required to get a Tanzanian visa. In 2013 the cost was $50. You can get the visa before departing or on arrival in Tanzania.
Organised Tour (incl. Park Fees)
To climb Kilimanjaro you have to use a licenced guide. If you are not well-versed in the logistics of Kilimanjaro climbs then the only realistic way to trek Kilimanjaro is through a tour operator. A no-frills 5 day, 4 night trek up the Marangu will set you back between $900 -$1,200. However, if you are not accustomed to altitude it is highly recommended you take a 6 or 7 day trip which start at over $1,200, depending on the route.
Remember fees for all inclusive packages vary due to factors of route choice and length of climb, but also depend on the quality of the tour operator and service delivery. Do your research and ask as many questions as possible before you decide on a tour operator. Better operators who treat their staff more ethically and employ professional guides who are trained to look after your well-being tend to be more expensive.
Tipping for Guides and Porters
Tipping for guides and porters is standard. A single climber will have on average one guide, three porters and a cook. As a group size increases the climbing support team increase at a similar ratio. The ratio is set by the Kilimanjaro National Park (KINIPA) and tour operators are meant to comply with this standard. In general, you should budget $20-$25 a day for guides, $15-$20 a day for assistant guides, £15 a day for your cook and $10 a day for each porter. Depending on the size of the group your total tip budget should be $250-$300. It is recommended that you calculate how much you will be tipping your support team before arriving on the mountain and prepare individual envelopes for each climbing support member which you distribute at the end of the climb. The gear used by the porters is mostly substandard and is often not at all fit for the trek. If you can spare some of your gear it would be greatly received by your porters or guides.
Get around
Apart from usual known adventure Kilimanjaro climbing, there are a lot more to see in Mount Kilimanjaro. On western side of Kilimanjaro on lemosho route travelers can do 2 days or day trip for wildlife tours and game drives.
In mount Kilimanjaro there are natural waterfalls to see like Materuni waterfalls and Kinukamori waterfalls. Near or at these Kilimanjaro waterfalls, there are birds, monkeys and lots of wild animals.

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