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Discovering Africa : The Ultimate Travel Guide

 

Kilimanjaro National Park

Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro National Park is one of the top tourist destinations in East Africa that you need to include in your bucket list. Interestingly, a large percentage of visitors to this park are not driven by the wildlife but a chance to get to the majestic snowcapped peak of Africa’s highest mountain, Kilimanjaro that stands at 5896m.

The best time to visit this park that is home to the volcanic mountain that has seven iconic summits is between during the dry season usually between June and October.

The park also has a rainforest that hosts a range of wildlife species that include monkeys, leopards, buffaloes, eland and elephants among others. Bird watchers can also get a treat at the Kilimanjaro National Park.
 

UNESCO World Heritage Site

 
One of the reasons why you need to visit Mount Kilimanjaro is that it is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site owing to the following attributes:

  • Its spectacular mountain scenery that comprises of the highest point in Africa, the Uhuru Peak at 5895m, a number of lakes, remnant glaciers, bog filled valleys, three main peaks, craters and waterfalls.
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  • It is a free standing mountain and Africa’s highest peak. It is also among the world’s largest volcanoes covering over 4,000km2.
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  • This mountain is home to endemic and rare species, notably, four bird species that are vulnerable as well as two nearly threatened species. There are also endemic plant species.
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    Getting There

     
    The Kilimanjaro National Park that is also most visited lies about 300 meters south of the equator within the Kilimanjaro region and is the most visited park in Tanzania. It is near the city of Moshi and covers an area of 1688 square kilometers.

    There is an international airport, JRO in Kilimanjaro so you can jet in from airlines like Turkish airlines, Ethiopian airways, Condor Air, Qatar airways, KLM and Kenya airways that have direct flights to this airport.

    Alternatively you can use domestic flights to connect to this airport from other parts of Tanzania. You can also opt to go use the buses that ply between Marangu and Moshi. The park can be accessed through a couple of gates that include Londorosi, Marangu and Machame among others.
     

    Park Fees

     
    The Kilimanjaro National Park charges an entry fee for both children and adults. This goes towards the management of the park. On average children aged between 5 and 15 years pay $ 10 while adults are charges $ 10 per day and is payable in US dollar.

    There is also a $ 50 fee per person for every night as well as a rescue fee of $ 20 if you are trekking on the mountain. Regardless of the route you take, you also need to pay a camping fee of $ 50 per night.

    The park fee is usually included in the quote given by different trekking operators. Porter and guide fee are taken care of by trekking companies.

    One of the important things to keep in mind is that you can only go up the Kilimanjaro Mountain with a guide that is licensed, usually through a tour company. The tour companies will charge you an average of between $750 and $1000 for a six day seven night trek depending on the route taken. This includes the park fees, food, porters, guides, tents as well as transport to and from the starting point of the trek.
     

    Major Attractions

     
    Unlike many national parks, the Kilimanjaro national park does not have too many attractions. This is partly due to the nature of the climatic conditions that are mostly influenced by the presence of the mountain. Among the top attractions within this park are:

    • Mount Kilimanjaro that is also the main attraction and has three peaks namely Kibo, Mawenzi and Shira
    • Kilimanjaro
    • Lush forests namely evergreen forests and tropical rain forests
    • Lovely waterfalls
    • Lake Chala, a beautiful spot that is inhabited by crocodiles

     

    Fun Things to Do

     
    There is a lot you can do in Kilimanjaro National Park and have a totally fun experience. To begin with, you will definitely be thrilled by the experience of hiking to the top of Africa. Gazing at the snow on the mountain peak makes for a truly magnificent sight.

    A visit to the park and climbing this mountain is a serious as well as expensive and takes a minimum of five days when using the Marangu route that is also ecologically compromised. During the hike, you get to learn about the tribes that reside in the area such as the Chagga and Maasai. Other activities that you can engage in at this park include the following:

    • Camping
    • Backpacking
    • Walking
    • Bird watching

     
     

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    Wildlife

     
    Although the Kilimanjaro National Park is not a wildlife destination, varied species of wildlife inhabit the surrounding ecosystem that you can see while here. Some of the noteworthy and conspicuous wildlife species that you will see here are:

    • Buffaloes
    • African elephant
    • Bushbuck
    • Leopard
    • Abbott’s Duiker that is and endangered species
    • Common eland
    • Harvey’s red duiker
    • Bush pig
    • Common duiker
    • Tree hyrax
    • Yellow baboon
    • Vervet monkey
    • Red forest squirrel
    • Black and white colobus monkey
    • Blue monkey

    There is a high possibility of seeing more wildlife at high altitudes such as wild dogs. In addition, the forest also supports a profusion of birds with the most common species include Hartlaub’s turaco and silvery cheeked hornbills. The scarlet-tufted malachite sunbird and Alpine chat can be seen as higher altitudes.

     
     


    Tourist Attractions in East Africa

     
     
     

    Accommodation

     
    Although lodging is restricted to campsites especially in the course of the trek, there are a handful of accommodation facilities nearby where you can book stay prior to climbing the mountain. There are:
    • Hostel Foot Prince that is a budget facility whose main target is trekkers. This western style hostel is based in Moshi.
    • Meru Wellness Retreat offering guest houses as well as guest houses in Arusha. The charges range between $10 and $45 that is inclusive of meals.
    • Arusha Hostel Lodge and adventures, a budget accommodation facility in Arusha whose cost varies between $10 and $40 that includes breakfast.

    Others are Kilimanjaro Backpackers and Arusha Backpackers both of which are in Moshi and are relatively cheaper than the others with charges of between $10 and $24. Generally, the accommodation facilities in Moshi are basic as they only serve a temporary need for trekkers.

    While on the trek, you can camp within the park for as many days as long as you pay the designated fee levied by the park authorities.
     

    Physical Preparedness

     
    If you are intent on conquering Mount Kilimanjaro to the Uhuru peak where you can enjoy magnificent views, then being fit is not an option to debate about. You need stamina as well as a good understanding of the effects of going into high altitudes. Where possible, consider consulting a doctor to be sure of your overall fitness status.
     

    What to Carry

     
    One of the most important things to note before setting out to the Kilimanjaro National Park is the need to have the right attire and items that you will need only. Avoid heavy luggage such as suitcases as you will not be able to get to the peak of the mountain with them if you decide to climb Kilimanjaro.

    You can consider leaving your suitcases at one of the hotels at the base of the mountain. Ensure that the hotel attendant keeps a written record of any valuables to avoid losing them. Here are some quick tips on how to pack and what to carry when going on this adventure.

    • Wear your trekking boots on your flight as this makes it easy to carry them as opposed to including them in your luggage.
    • Pack indispensable items in the hand luggage. This ways you can be sure that it will arrives on time.
    • Pack the items that you need only while avoiding some like towels as they will not dry once they are wet.
    Overall, your luggage should not be more than 15kg lest you find yourself being forced to pay for a second porter.
    • Basic toiletries that is; toothpaste, toothbrush, toilet paper, wet wipes, antiseptic hand sanitizer, soap and a mini towel.

    • Pack mosquito repellent and sunscreen
    • A flashlight or torch and rechargeable batteries.
    • Socks
    • Water bottles and purifiers
    • Camera
    • Ear plugs
    • Warm winter hat
    • Sunglasses
    • Sock liners that minimize the possibility of developing blisters
    • Running shoes
    • A three season sleeping bag and a sleeping mat
    • Hiking pole
    • Warm clothing
    • Thermal underwear
    • First aid kit
    • Insulated gloves

    These items are best carried in a waterproof case or bag to ensure that they remain intact during the entire period of the trek. Most importantly ensure that this hand luggage is light because you will carry it while the porters carry for your other luggage.

    In conclusion, Kilimanjaro National Park is more of an adventure tourist destination where you get to experience a different ecosystem as well as engage in adventurous activities that you can only take part in once in your life time. Overall, it is a rewarding and memorable experience that you will forever cherish for the rest of your life.

     
     


     
     
    Post by Angella Grey, the marketing manager at The Vacation Rentals Experts – an online and offline digital marketing strategy that creates marketing solutions for vacation rentals, holiday homes and brands.

    Joint us on twitter, follow our LinkedIn company page to learn more and get great tips on market strategy and solutions for your holiday properties.

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