Standing at 5896m, with its snowcapped peak the highest point in Africa, the climb up Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is a once in a lifetime journey. A dormant volcano, Kilimanjaro is also notable for being the largest freestanding mountain in the world, with the flat plains surrounding it making its height even more impressive.

The climb begins in the lush jungle on the lower slopes. You can spot elephants, leopards, and plenty of monkeys in the forest here, and there are also opportunities for cultural exchanges with the Maasai and Chagga tribes. This part of the trek is accessible to most people and is a great way to experience Mount Kilimanjaro if you don’t want to climb all the way to the summit. Next you’ll walk through alpine moorland, with stunning views of the peaks and the surrounding landscape. Finally, you’ll walk past glaciers and up to the snowline before hitting the summit. From here you can even see the curvature of the Earth. Most guides will schedule the walk so you arrive at the summit just before sunrise. Eating a picnic breakfast while watching the sun climb above Africa is a truly unforgettable moment.

Despite being a formidably large mountain, it’s possible to walk all the way to the summit with no previous climbing experience. However, the altitude and thin air on the upper slopes of Kilimanjaro makes even walking on the flat very challenging, and as such the Tanzanian government requires all hikers to travel with a guide. It’s also recommended to book a guide that uses porters and cooks. As well as providing employment for locals, the knowledge that your tent will be set up and a hot meal cooked for you means you can concentrate your energy on getting to the summit.

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Read more on Mount Kilimanjaro below with flight options, current weather, maps, and activities to try while you are there.

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