Kilimanjaro is one of the world’s most accessible high summits, a beacon forvisitors from around the world. Most climbers reach the crater rim with little morethan a walking stick, proper clothing and determination. And those who reach Uhuru Point, the actual summit, or Gillman’s Point on the lip of the crater, will haveearned their climbing certificates. And their memories.
But there is so much more to Kili than her summit. The ascent of the slopes is a virtual climatic world tour, from the tropics to the Arctic. Even before you cross the national park boundary (at about 2700m), the cultivated footslopes give way to lush montane forest, inhabited by elusive elephant, leopard, buffalo, the endangered Abbot’s duiker, and other small antelope and primates. Higher still lies the moorland zone, where a cover of giant heather is studded with otherworldly giant lobelias. Above 4,000m, a surreal alpine desert supports little life other than a few hardy mosses and lichen. Then, fi nally, the last vestigial vegetation gives way to a winter wonderland of ice and snow – and the magnificent beauty of the roof of the continent.
But is Kilimanjaro’s unassuming cousin, Mount Meru the fifth in Africa at 4,566 MASL Metres (14990 feet)-that dominates the park horizon. Its peaks and eastern foot slopes protected within the national park, Meru offers unparalleled view of its famous neighbor, while also farming a rewarding hiking destination in its own right.
Passing first through woodiest savannah where buffalos and giraffes are frequently encountered, the ascent of Meru leads int forest aflame with red –hot pokes and dripping with Spanish moss, before reaching high open heath spiked with giant lobelias. Everlasting glowers cling to the alpine desert, as delicately hoofed klip Springer mark the hike’s progress. Astride the craggy summit, Kilimanjaro stands unveiled, blushing in the sunrise.
Size:542 sq km (205.96miles)
Location: Northern Tanzania, Northeast of Arusha town
Getting there: An easy 40 minute drive from Arusha Approximately 60 km(35 miles) from Kilimanjaro International Airport. The lakes, forest and Ngurdoto Crater can all be visited in the coursed of a half –day outing at the beginning or end of an extended northern safari
To do: Game drive, canoeing, walking safaris (through different types of vegetation and habitats), Mount Meru climb (ood acclimatization for Kilimanjaro), numerous view points and some picnic sites.
BeSt time to climb Mt. Meru: June-February although it may rain November. But views of Kilimanjaro December –February
Accommodation:2 Rest House, camp sites (3 public and 2 special), 2 Lodge inside the park, 2 Mountain Accommodation Centers, 8 Lodge just outside the park and many more in Arusha.