"Travelling with friends, instead of strangers jammed in bus, was absolutely the best of the best!” Carole Morse
A new classic, this family-friendly adventure was featured by Peter Greenberg & Lonely Planet.
It might not exactly be the top of the world, but Mount Kilimanjaro is certainly a sight to see. Nestled in the rolling plains of Tanzania, Kilimanjaro is a gem for adventurous tourists. The view from the mountain's summit is life-changing, and the country's tourist industry has made reaching the peak safe and affordable for adults of all ages.
And it is not all about climbing. Actually, reaching the tip of the mountain can be done just by hiking, depending on which mountain route travelers take. Many hikers actually reach the summit using only a walking stick. There's much more to experience during the hike, too, as the travel leads hikers from humid rainforests at the base of the mountain to icy glaciers at its peak.
Journey through the jungle belt
The expedition begins in the tropic rainforest jungle belt that circles the mountain. Here, thick vegetation, colorful insects, majestic mammals like monkeys and jaguars, and bright flowers constitute most of the environment. Hikers can enjoy watching the unique wildlife in Tanzania undisturbed by modern life. Rainfall is plentiful in this region, which means high levels of humidity, but the thick jungle canopy keeps travelers out of the sun. The jungle belt can be a perfect starting point for nature lovers looking to see for some beautiful sights.
Midway up the mountain
Continuing towards the summit brings hikers through the heath zone, which is less humid and contains far less vegetation than the rainforests at the mountain's base. Here, wildflowers, grayish trees, waist-high shrubs and a gravel-like soil make up the environment. The thick canopy from the rainforest is replaced by stunning open skies and warm sun rays, but only a fraction of the humidity is present here compared to the jungle belt.
Further along, the temperature begins to drop and plant life noticeably changes. Replacing the high trees and vines are short, leafy bushes that can withstand the subzero night temperatures. Many larger mammals can be seen in this environment including buffalo, leopards, antelopes and elephants. More exotic wildlife like yellow-crowned canaries can also be found soaring in the cool mountain air.
Mountain hiking routes have seen many improvements in recent years, according to CNN Travel writer Andrea Oschetti. Littering, poorly constructed latrines and other environmental problems linked to high tourist traffic used to cause havoc in the once pristine mountain surroundings. Now, the hiking trails feature toilets at each tour camp along the route. Additionally, the Tanzania National Parks helps keep the mountain clean and free of litter.
The summit and the view
The view is spectacular for many people lucky enough to see its beauty and wonder. Although litter is collected frequently, it is common to see a few champagne corks at the mountain's tip. Often, groups of people will hike before sunrise in order to see the sun crest over the horizon from the top of the peak. Some tour guides suggest going to the summit later in the morning for a more secluded, introspective moment. The feelings travelers undergo are various, but extremely few people will say the view from Kilimanjaro is not worth the trek.
Climbing for the bold
Kilimanjaro is largely hailed as an accessible mountain summit considering its high altitude. Many hikers well past their 60's are able to reach the peak every year. However, actually climbing the cliff face of the mountain is realistic, too, thanks to various more difficult hiking routes. Although, more passionate hikers may also think about heading to Mount Everest for the ultimate climbing experience. Sometimes nothing beats climbing the world's tallest mountain.
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