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GENERAL   

HISTORY
The history of Kilimanjaro National Park dates back from the early 1900's.
The area had been established as a game reserve in the early 1990's and as a forest reserve in 1921. In 1957 the Tanganyika National Parks Authority with support from many local international conservation Organizations and interest groups formally proposed the establishment of a National Park  surrounding and including Mt. Kilimanjaro. The area above the 2700 masl contour was established as Kilimanjaro National Park and was officially opened for tourism in 1977. In 1989, the Park was declared a World Heritage site by the World Heritage Convention.

LOCATION 
The Kilimanjaro National Park is situated between latitudes 2o50' and 3o 10'S and between longitudes 37o 10' and 37o 40'E. It stands 330 km. south and the Equator on the northern boundary of Tanzania covering 756 km2.

The Park is located in Tanzania's popular northern tourist circuit which includes Serengeti, Lake Manyara, Arusha, Tarangire and Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The nearest largest town is Moshi.

PARK'S SIGNIFICANCE
* Mount Kilimanjaro, an awesome and magnificent mountain, is the highest mountain in Africa. It is also one of the largest single freestanding mountains in the world, composed of one extinct volcano; SHIRA (3962m) and two dormant volcanoes, MAWENZI (5149m) and KIBO (5894).

* Kilimanjaro mountain is one of the few ecosystems located near the equator that contains larger expenses of ice glaciers. It also has the greatest extent of alpine desert of all glaciated equatorial mountains in East Africa. Being close to the equator the snow-capped summit gives the mountain a unique and exceptional natural beauty.

* The montane forest on Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the most important water catchment areas in northern Tanzania.

* Mount Kilimanjaro represents the world-wide image of Africa and its towering, snow capped, symmetrical cone is synonymous with Africa, internationally. Historically as well as in the present, the challenge of learning about, exploring and climbing this mysterious mountain has captured the imagination of people throughout the world. To many, the chance to climb this mountain is an adventure of a lifetime.

* The mountain supports a unique combination of eco-climatic zones that takes you on the equivalent of a trip from the Arctic to the Equator with only a modest commitment of time and energy. Few such ecosystems exist in the world especially in unaltered state.

CLIMATE 
The climate of the mountain is influenced by the prevailing trade winds which bring the heaviest rainfall to the south east forested slopes during March and My and short rains in November to December. Rainfall and temperatures normally decrease with altitude.

CLIMBING ROUTES
There are six official climbing routes that provide a range of opportunities for experiencing this mountain. Guides are required and bookings must be made in advance of your departure from your home country. Due to increasing number of climbing, it is no longer possible for tour companies or individuals to obtain last minute bookings for these routs at Marangu Gate.

The 34km. long Marangu route on the East Side of the mountain is the busiest trail (2 way) with approximately 10800 climbers per year. The are three hut complexes along this route which provide overnight accommodations, a dining room and toilets. Climbers are encouraged to take 4 nights (2 nights at Hormone hut) prior to reaching the summit to increase acclimatisation time, and reducing the chance of serious health problems.

Non-summit climbers may choose to hike from Park Headquarters at Marangu to Mandara Hut. Nature trails at Mandara provide the non-summit hiker with the opportunity to experience both the Montane Forest and the Heath/Moorland vegetation zones.

The Umbwe, Machame, Shira and Rongai Routes are all one way ascent trails only and are located on the south west and north side of the mountain. These trails are more challenging, providing climbers with a different type of experience where solitude (less than 1500 climbers per year combined trail use) and wilderness values predominant. Only tents camping is allowed and climbers are taught to practice low impact camping techniques. Climbers using the Umbwe, Machame and Shira trails are required to descend using the Mweka Route. Those climbers on the Rongai route are required to descend using the Marangu route (tents only). Climbers are encouraged to take 5 nights prior to reaching the summit, allowing acclimatisation time to both improve their chances for reaching the summit as well as reducing serious health risks and rescue costs.

Tanzania National Park (TANAPA) has recently placed a substantial portion of Kilimanjaro National Park into one of the highest levels of protection status "Wilderness". Wilderness is defined by the TANAPA Policy as a substantive area where the evidence of man and man's activities are minimal (no development, roadless and no use of motorized vehicles). At the core of this new wilderness area is the 50,000-acre Shira Plateau located on the western side of the mountain. Today, the Shira is the flattest portion of Africa's highest (19,340) ft) mountain.

A new hiking trail system has been established within the Shira Plateau. On the northern most edge of the Shira Plateau (access from Londorossi Gate), TANAPA has provided a small parking area, trail starting points with exhibits, three picnic areas and a toilet. From this location a hiker has the option of taking a Day Use trail system (park permits required) or an overnight trail system (both park permits and reservation required).

One short Day Use trail provides access to a volcanic ridge that gives a commanding view of Kibo Peak, the Shira Plateau and more distant views of southern Kenya (including Amboseli National Park). The second Day Use trail takes the hiker into the northern most portion of the plateau. The trail winds its way through the massive lava flows before ending at Simba Gorge overlook where day Use hikers will have their first look at giant senecios and lobelias.

The overnight trail system (permits and reservations required) provides a designated loop trail to the two designated campsites (tents only) to allow those non-summit hikers a maximum of 3 days and 2 nights to enjoy the plateau. Once at the campsites, hikers may take short non-designated hikes. Guides and porters are not required, but are encouraged if hikers are unfamiliar with the plateau.


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