How long is Kilimanjaro? The question has been asked many times by many different people. The answer may depend on who you ask and what part of Kilimanjaro they are referring to. The tallest mountain in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro stands 5,895 meters (19,341 feet) tall, but the entire mountain range is much larger than the peak itself, including the mountain’s three distinct regions: the base, Uhuru Peak, and the summit. When it comes to the size of Kilimanjaro, its complexity is certainly impressive.
Mount Kilimanjaro stretches over approximately 1,746 kilometres squared in all. It’s also 2,100 metres wide, making it even larger than most people realize. Since Kilimanjaro is a glacial mountain, its size is significantly impacted by the melting and freezing of snow. In addition, the mountain has a depression in the east side, making it widest in that area.
Kilimanjaro’s base is typically considered to cover the entire foothills area and is close to 75 kilometres wide. From here, if you walk westward you’ll come across the campsite, Karanga Valley. The Valley is approximately 4,100 metres tall, and the further west you venture, the higher the slope will become.
The upper slopes of Kilimanjaro, known as Uhuru Peak, extend to an incredible 5,895 metres high (19,341 feet tall). It is on these steep slopes that you’ll climb to reach Africa’s highest point. While the Uhuru Peak is the highest, the peak itself only covers a small portion of Kilimanjaro’s surface area.
Summitting Kilimanjaro is an accomplishment worth bragging about, and it will take you between 7-9 days to complete the climb. The toughest part of the journey is when you reach the base of Uhuru Peak, because you’ll have to cross a treacherous glacier to reach the summit. The journey to the summit is a long one, and the firmness of the snow combined with the icy temperature make the journey a difficult one.
In conclusion, Kilimanjaro is an intimidating mountain due to its size and glacial nature. Its complexity means that its size and difficulty will vary depending on which section you’re referring to. The base is approximately 75 kilometres wide, while the Uhuru Peak stretches 5,895 metres high. Counting the entire mountain range, Kilimanjaro measures 1,746 kilometres squared.
The Three Regions of Kilimanjaro
Mount Kilimanjaro is divided into three main regions: the base, Uhuru Peak, and the summit. The base area stretches out over a large area of 75 kilometres and acts as the starting point for climbers. This region is less challenging than the upper slopes, but it can be just as treacherous due to its irregular terrain. Peak season for climbers on the base region is during the dry months of February and March.
The second zone is Uhuru Peak. With an impressive height of 5,895 meters, this is where the vast majority of climbers attempt to summit Kilimanjaro. However, the ascent of this region is also the most dangerous. Reaching the peak requires both physical and mental fitness, but the rewards are immense.
The summit of Kilimanjaro is the least travelled area of the mountain, but the rewards once up there are unmatched. This is the most hostile environment on the mountain, yet the views of the surrounding areas are incredible.
The Difficulty of Climb
Several factors contribute to how difficult the climb up Kilimanjaro is. The wet and cold season means that climbers often encounter heavier snow and harsher winds. This can lead to increased difficulties, such as exhilaration, exhaustion, and even hypothermia. Moreover, expending so much energy on the climb can lead to dehydration, which can be a serious problem.
The sharp incline of Kilimanjaro can also take its toll on climbers’ legs. The altitude can also cause significant problems for travelers, which is why most guides recommend acclimatizing and a gradual ascent. What’s more, the slopes of Kilimanjaro remain slippery in the sun and treacherous in the rain.
Finally, the mental challenge of climbing Kilimanjaro can be a significant hurdle. Although the hike is not technical, the distance and altitude make it a real test of strength and endurance. Experienced hikers will often speak of a wall they need to break through in order to complete the climb.
Essential Clothing and Equipment
As mentioned above, the conditions on Kilimanjaro can be unpredictable and can vary drastically. As such, it is essential to come prepared with the right clothing and equipment. It is recommended to only travel with lightweight, yet durable clothing. It should consist of layers to protect against the wind and cold and also to allow freedom of movement during climbing.
It is also important to bring along a few technical pieces of equipment, such as boots and a waterproof jacket. Not only will this protect you from the elements, but it will also ensure your feet remain warm and dry. When trekking higher up the mountain, it is strongly recommended to equip yourself with a head torch and other items, such as an ice axe and crampons, to improve your safety during the climb.
Finally, you must also bring sufficient food and water to stay hydrated and energized throughout the journey. The foods you choose should provide the body with the energy and nutrition it needs during the climb. Some hikers may also need energy-boosting snacks or supplements to keep them going.
Physical Preparation For Climbing Kilimanjaro
In order to conquer Kilimanjaro you must be physically prepared. Although the trek is not technical, it requires a lot of patience and endurance. Generally speaking, you should begin your physical preparation around 6 months before your climb. This should involve regular aerobic exercise and fitness training. Additionally, strength and balance exercises will help you become more adapted to the terrain and allow you to climb with a greater level of confidence.
It is recommended that you also practice walking with a heavy rucksack or backpack. Carrying a heavy bag down a mountain can be quite a challenge, so it is worth building up your strength and endurance in advance. Make sure you always practice with a weight of up to 10kg, as the weight you will be carrying during the climb may be considerably more.
Finally, it is important to plan your fitness routine based on the terrain you will be walking on. This means that if possible, you should try to replicate the terrain before your journey by walking on steep inclines, traversing rough ground and pushing yourself and your body to keep going.
Today, the area surrounding Kilimanjaro remains relatively unspoilt. However, it is a fragile, delicate and precious ecosystem which is threatened from farming, logging, poaching and tourism. To ensure it can remain unspoilt and positively contribute to Tanzanian economy, the government of Tanzania has declared Kilimanjaro a National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Kilimanjaro National Park is also home to over 500 species of plants, 46 mammals, 62 reptiles and 218 bird species. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to protect and conserve the natural environment and all its wonderful wildlife. To achieve this, Kilimanjaro National Park adopts a careful and strict management plan, with the objective of preserving the area’s rich biodiversity.
Moreover, the local communities are strongly engaged in conservation efforts and their efforts are crucial for the long-term success of the initiative. The local communities have also created a ‘Direct Marketing System’ to ensure that local goods and services are purchased from and provided by the people who live in the nearby conserved area of Kilimanjaro.
Inequality in Tanzania
Tanzania is a beautiful country, however, it is also one of the poorest countries in the world. Inequalities in the country have a direct impact on the number of people who can visit and climb Kilimanjaro. Unfortunately, these inequalities can also be seen in the climbing industry, where the majority of porters and guides are not provided with adequate salaries.
What’s more, local communities surrounding Kilimanjaro face a number of challenges, including food shortages, poor infrastructure and a lack of educational opportunities. To address these issues and help to reduce inequality in the region, it is imperative that responsible tourism practices are adopted by everyone.
For example, it is important to support locally owned businesses and hire porters and guides from the local area rather than bringing in people from outside. Furthermore, you should also donate to organisations such as the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project, who are fighting for the rights and well-being of the locals.
Attractions on Kilimanjaro
When you are walking up Kilimanjaro, there are a few attractions you should not miss. These include the stunning Mawenzi and Shira mountains, which are both situated at the base of Kilimanjaro. Moreover, if you have time on your hands, you can explore the fascinating caves and lava tubes on the way up.
The Altegratf Moores or the Saddle, located between Kilimanjaro and Mawenzi, is an incredible sight and experience. With sheer 2,400 metre drop offs on either side, it is the perfect place to take in the majestic views of the surrounding landscape. Lastly, the dense vegetation of exotic rainforests and the lush heaths of the upper slopes provide a stunning backdrop for your climb.
When you reach the summit of Kilimanjaro, you’ll have the chance to bring a part of the mountain with you. In particular, the alpine desert allows visitors to pick up the unique ‘silica-attuned’ stones that are found around the summit. These stones are believed to be a link between the earth and the spiritual world and make the perfect souvenir.