Kilimanjaro National Park Tanzania
Kilimanjaro National Park is located in Tanzania which is found in the eastern region of the African continent along geographical o-ordinates of 3o04’S 37022’E. Kilimanjaro National Park is found in the north eastern direction of Tanzania, it is bordered by Kenya Tanzania in the north, other towns like Mkuu, Engare Nairobi and Machame border the park in the east west and south respectively. Kilimanjaro National Park covers an area of about 1688sqkm including Africa’s highest mountain.
Conservation in Kilimanjaro began in the early 20th century when the area around mt. Kilimanjaro was gazatted as a game reserve by the colonial government n 1921, in 1973, the mt. Kilimanjaro area that is commonly referred to as the mountain above the tree line as it lies about 2700m or 8900ft above sea level was declared as a national park. In 1987, mt. Kilimanjaro national park was declared a UNESCO world heritage site.
Kilimanjaro national park is home to Africa’s tallest mountain mt. Kilimanjaro which rises to 5896m, or 19341ft. Kilimanjaro is a strato volcano mountain that is believed to have been formed around 3million years ago. Kilimanjaro mountain has three summit peaks and these are Kibo which is the highest peak at 5896m or 19341ft, Mawenzi the 2nd highest peak at 5149m or 16893ft and shira is the lowest at 4005m or 13140ft. Kibo summit peak is still a dormant volcano which can erupt again but the Mawenzi and Shira are extinct volcanoes. Summit peak Shira erupted between 2.5-1.9million years ago and now its top is occupied by a caldera or crater that has greatly reduced by erosive forces. Before its eruption, peak Shira is believed to have had an altitude between 4900-5200m or 16000-17000ft.
Given the nature of its varying landscape, Kilimanjaro national park has got a variation in its vegetation cover and its boosts of 4 distinct vegetation types. These various vegetation types are the ultimate influencers of the climatic conditions here as each of these vegetation types experiences a different climatic pattern. The vegetation types on mountain Kilimanjaro include montane forests that are found at an altitude 1800- 3000m or 5900-6500ft above sea level, here temperatures vary between 22-25oC or 68-77oF. Moorland vegetation type, this is found between altitude 3000-4000m or 9800ft, temperatures here lie between 20oC-15oC. alpine dessert which is found at altitude 4000-5000m or 13100ft, temperatures here is -10oC – +15oC above sea level and finally permanent or eternal ice which s is found above 5000m, temperatures are between -10oC – -25oC.
Kilimanjaro national park is famous for of course being the host of the highest mountain on the African continent, but its still the a national park that has so much more to offer to you if you allow yourself to sway your eyes away from the attractive and heart’s darling, the Kilimanjaro mountain, if you achieve in convincing yourself in paying attention to other things attractions here, you will discover that this is the land that still has many of the African mammals such as the cape buffaloes, elephants, bush duikers, bush babies, leopards and primates like the black and white colobuses, , blue monkeys, 705 forest birds and highland bird species and a variety of tree species are all home to this African gem.
Attractions in Kilimanjaro national park in Tanzania
Kilimanjaro national park is endowed with many attractions and these include Kilimanjaro mountain, 705 bird species, African mammals like the African bush elephants, cape buffaloes, bush bucks, bush duikers, bush babies, leopards, primates like the black and white colobuses, blue monkeys, and various plant species
Mt Kilimanjaro; Kilimanjaro national park is home to Africa’s tallest mountain mt. Kilimanjaro which rises to 5896m, or 19341ft bove sea level. Kilimanjaro is a strato volcano mountain that is believed to have been formed around 3million years ago. Kilimanjaro mountain has three summit peaks and these are Kibo which is the highest peak at 5896m or 19341ft, Mawenzi is the 2nd highest peak at 5149m or 16893ft and Shira is the lowest at 4005m or 13140ft. Kibo summit peak is still a dormant volcano which can erupt again but the Mawenzi and Shira are extinct volcanoes. Summit peak Shira erupted between 2.5-1.9million years ago and now its top is occupied by a caldera or crater that has been greatly reduced by erosive forces. Before its eruption, peak Shira is believed to have had an altitude between 4900-5200m or 16000-17000ft. The origin of the name Kilimanjaro is not very exact as there are many scholars with varying views about the origins of the name Kilimanjaro, first European visitors to the interior of east Africa recorded it as mt Kilimanjaro and said it was the Kiswahili name for the mountain, Kraft wrote that when he visited a local wakamba chief he saw “kima jajeu” and this means mountain of whiteness, Jim Thompson in 1885 said its name stems from 2 words kilima and njaro. kilima means mountain in the local language while njaro means greatness. Other scholars believe that this name stems more from the Kiswahili culture as the Kiswahili language has a word mlima which means hill and it is believed that due to language barrier its easy that the first Europeans must have misinterpreted the word to mean kilima.
A Prussian officer baron karl Klaus von der Decken and English geologist R. Thornton are documented as the first Europeans to have attempted to climb mt Kilimanjaro in august 1861 but only managed to reach around 2600m due to the bad weather conditions on that height of the mountain. Many other Europeans attempted to summit the mountain like Charles new who was the first person to reach the snow area of the mountain at around 4000m or 13000ft, Samuel Teleki and Austrian Lt. Ludwig von Hohnel also made a go at the ascent but the first European who is widely accepted as the conqueror of mt Kilimanjaro is called Hans Meyer who reached Kibo peak from the southern rim of the crater on the Kibo peak on 6th October of 1889 after failing on 2 previous attempts. Mt Kilimanjaro has 7 official climbing routes and these are Lemosho, Lemosho western breach, Machame, Marangu, Mweka, Rongai, Shira and Umbwe. Many of these routes can be ascended and descended in about 6-10 days depending on the level of your physical fitness. The easiest route is the Rongai route with various camping units along the way up and down the mountain.
Vegetation; Mt Kilimanjaro is home to 4 distinctive vegetation types and these are home to various and adorable plant life along the Kilimanjaro mountain.
Montane forests; Montane forests are found in areas that lie between 2000-3000m above sea level. This area has fertile soils, receives rainfall ranging between 1900-2300mm annually and its temperatures range between 20-25oc hence have supported the growth of forest tree species such as other tree species here include ceiba, ebony and cecropia trees.
Moorland; This lies in the areas found at an altitude of 3000-4000m above sea level and its characterized by low temperatures between 20-10oc thin infertile soils and rainfall amounts not more than 1400mm annually and this has created conditions that have led to the growth ferns and mosses like the Kilimanjaro impatiens, habenstratia, golden diasy bush, tussock or bunck grass, helichyrum newii stoebe kilimandscharica.
Alpine dessert; This vegetation type is found above 4000m or 13100ft. Within this region, the temperatures are alternating between 10- -10oc and receives less than 1000mm of rainfall annually, this is somewhat harsh weather that will not tolerate growth of plant life but you will be amazed at some of the plant species that have defied odds and made this place their home and these include giant groundsels and giant lobelias. These groundsels and lobelias have a very slow growth rate almost adding only 2mm of growth per year and this means that the mature plants you will encounter while here can be as old as 1000 years which can be looked at as a reward to them for their perseverance.
Eternal ice; The eternal ice is found above 5000m of altitude and this place is home to some of the oldest ice glaciers that have existed here for over 1000s of years, however this are being haunted by the mortal enemy of global warming and general climate change which is threatening their existence at its very core.
African bush elephants; African elephants are the largest land mammals in the world with a male elephant weighing in at 4,700-6,048kg or 10,362-13,334Ib and a shoulder height of 3.2-4.0m or 10.5-13.1ft while their female counterparts weigh in at 2,160-3,232kg or 4,762-7,125Ib and a shoulder height of 2.2-2.6m or 7.2-8.5ft. These land giants have 24 teeth in their mouths and usually lose their teeth 4-6 times in their life time which lies between 60-70 years. What sets these land giants apart from the rest of crowd is their elongated tusks which are in fact their second set of incisors. This means that the tusks are very strong as they are used to up root trees and also as weapons they use while fighting. The tusks weigh between 23-45 kg or 55-99Ib with a length of 1.5-2.4m or 5-8 ft. elephants usually live in groups called families which comprise of 10 or more closely related females with their calves and each of these families is led by an older female called a matriarch. Elephants have the ability to distinguish and communicate with each other using low frequency infrasonic calls. With a body mass that is compared to nothing else on land, African elephants have to feed on an average of 450 kg or 992Ib of foliage to sustain their huge bodies and also drink to over 50 liters of water per day. In fact, these elephants have the ability to smell water to up to 20 km or 12miles away. Elephants have an exposed skin so in order to control over heating of their body, they flap their big ears so as to carry away the heat or bathe in water ponds. It is believed that when an elephant flaps its ears, it can lose about 10oF of heat hence always staying cool even in the hottest temperatures. They also employ their elongated trunk to carry water and pour it over their ears to try and cool themselves. These land giants have very thin hairs around body parts such as eyes and noses and these are mainly for ensuring that germs and other bacteria don’t find it easy to enter the elephants body through these parts. The elephant trunk is a master piece of creation as it is equipped with 40000 muscles which is way more than an entire human body has at only 639 muscles. This makes the trunks a very strong and agile part of the elephant that can do many things. The elephant trunk is also used for breathing, snorkeling and also as an extended arm for holding, lifting or pushing anything they want to carry. A female elephant reaches sexual maturity at the age of 10-12 years and can reproduce after every 3-6 years throughout its lifetime. All elephants have a very poor metabolism and that’s why they eat a lot of food but ¾ of it will come out of the elephants undigested as dung. Due to the poor metabolic system, elephant calves have been recorded doing something bizarre and that is eating dung that has been passed out by their mothers but this is all because elephant calves can’t process raw grass hence have they have to resort to eating pre-processed food that has been passed out as dung. They have a gestation period of up to 22 months being the longest in all land mammals. Just like humans and apes, elephants are also highly intelligent species with a brain that weighs about 5kg or 11Ib which about 4 times heavier than that of human making it the heaviest brain of any land mammal. With such a brain, these land giants are believed to exhibit character traits like grief, learning, sense of humor, compassion, self-awareness, a very strong and vivid memory, play and use of tools and possibly a language.
Cape buffalo; The cape buffalo is also referred to as the African buffalo and they are a very common sight throughout this park. It is usually mistaken to be a close relative to domesticated cattle but its rather related to actually other bigger bovines. Buffaloes have a coarse black coat unlike their close relatives the forest buffaloes which have a reddish coat. As the male buffaloes grow older, the bases of their horns grows closer and it can even unite forming a feature called a “boss” which is very had to penetrate even with a gun bullet of less 16mm. you can differentiate a male buffalo from a female one by observing the structure of their horns, the male buffalo horns grow while curving outwards while the ones of the female grow while curving inside. The African buffalo is a big animal with a shoulder height of 1.0-1.7m or 3.3-5.6ft. it has a body length of 1.7-3.4m or 5.6-11.2ft and its tail has a length of 70-110cm or 28-43in. An adult male African buffalo can weigh as much as between 500-1000kg but the females usually weigh less than this. Cape buffaloes are usually found in the great plains of African savanna like Murchison falls park. Buffaloes usually stay in large herds that consist anywhere from 5-100 individuals and this is primarily for protection purposes from their predators. Although buffaloes have a very poor eye sight, this is compensated by possessing an acute sense of smell coupled with a keen sense of hearing, in fact, the buffaloes can stop whatever they are doing and stand still for many minutes or sometimes even hours just to listen even to the tiniest of sounds that may be made by any predator that may be stalking them. when buffaloes are attacked, the male buffaloes form defensive wall by being at the flanks of the herd while the females and calves are within the inner part of the herd. the male buffaloes can even sometimes turn and chase the attacking predators They have a gestation period of 11.5 months and a life span of over 25 years in their natural habitats.
Blue monkey; Unlike what its name suggests, the blue monkey isn’t entirely blue but rather it has little hairs on its face with a bluish color and these led to naming this monkey species blue monkey. The blue monkey in actual sense is mainly grey or olive but its face is dark with a pale or yellowish patch on the forehead. Its feet, front legs and cap are blackish while its mantle may be brown, olive or grey. The blue monkey has a body length of between 50-65cm with the tail included and an adult male weigh about 8kg while an adult female weigh about 4kg hence exhibiting sexual dimorphism. These monkeys live in groups of 10-40 individuals and the females will stay in their natal groups throughout their lifetime while males live their parent group when they mature. The family is usually led by an adult female and its consists of many other females, babies and juveniles and one adult male. These monkeys practice allo-mothering with many female monkeys usually juveniles looking after the babies. Their gestation period is about 5 months while their diet consists of mainly fruits during periods of abundance but they can also feed on flowers twigs and insects, figs and leaves.
Black and white colobus monkeys; These monkeys have a black colour with a strip of white colour on the side of their body, limbs and around their face, these monkeys live in groups of 5-15 members led by a male, their weight ranges between 4-14 kg, they have a body length of up to 75 cm or 30 inches. The black and white colobus are herbivores primates and they have a gestation period of 4-6 months.
Birds in Kilimajaro National Park in Tanzania include the following
Hartlaub turaco; This bird has a body length of 43cm and the male species weighs in at 210-270g while the female is slightly smaller weighing 195-275g. an adult hartlaub’s turaco has a rounded forehead with a bushy crest and a glossy blu black nape and a prominent white patch infront of the eye. Male species have a voice call that consists of a series of c.12 loud throaty “kwa” sound and this voice call is usually made in the morning. This bird mainly feeds on fruits berries from chaetacme, elaeodendron and trema tree species.
Schalow’s turaco; This bird was named after a German ornithologist Hermann Schalow. The Schalow turaco has a body length of 15-17in and an average weight of 270g. its plumage is mainly coloured in green. It has white tipped crests on its head, the feathers near the tail are of a dark shimmering blue color. Its beak is small and red in colour as well as its eye ring. These birds are monogamous and the female usually lays 2 eggs which it incubates for about 22days. Th chicks have the ability to 2 fly within 4-5weeks.
Violet turaco; This bird is also known as the violanceous plaintain eater. It has a body length of 48cm or 19in. this bird has a red-orange bill. The bird has a yellow fore head, a chestnut crown, white ear coverts and scarlet feathers that are in sharp contrast with the mostly violet plumage. The violet turaco’s diet consist mainly insects and plants mainly figs.
Narina trogon; The Narina trogon’s was named in commemoration of the wife of a French ornithologist called Le Vaillant who derived the name Narina from a khoikhoi word as he couldn’t easily pronounce his wife’s given name. back to the bird tself, it has a body length of 32-34cm, the Narina birds exhibit sexual dimorphism with males having more colors than a female that only has soft brown and dull red colors. The males make a repeated low-pitched hoot during courtship. The diet of these birds consists of insects, rodents and reptiles.
Silvery cheeked hornbill; This bird has a body 75-80cm or 30-31in, their casquered bill is cream in colour, the head of this bird has silver grey feathers while the rest of the plumage is mainly of iridescent. The lower back rump thighs and outer tail feathers are coloured in white. These birds lay about 4 eggs on average which they incubate 40days.
Trumpeter hornbill; This is a medium sized bird with a body length of 58-65cm or 23-26in. this bird has its neck, throat, breast area and rump and back are black that makes a sharp contrast with its all white underparts. The casquered bill is colored in grey-black. This bird is believed an intelligent bird that has the ability to adopt new tricks.
Klaas’s cuckoo; This was also named by le Vaillant who named Narina trogon, klaas’s cuckoo was a bird named after le Vaillant khoikhoi servant, this makes le Vaillant as one of the few European orthnologists to name birds basing on local people in Africa. Now lets discuss moore about the bird itself, it has a body length of about 16-18cm. the bird has a white eye stripe, the fore head, and neck side and wings is green in colour, the underbelly of the klaas’s cuckoo is mainly white. The female birds have a variation in colour as they mainly a brown bronze body with greenish wing coverts. In flight, the male klaas’s cuckoo appears white while females will mainly appear brown.
White brown coucal; The white brown coucal is also referred to as the lark heeled cuckoo. It has a body length of 36-42cm or 14-17in. these birds have a blackish cape, nape and rump, their backs are of a rufous brown colour, the wings are of a chestnut colour and the underbelly is of a creamy white. Their tail is a blackish with green and a white tip with red eyes. What is quite unique is that when these birds hatch their eggs, the male bird takes thee responsibility of caring for the young hatchlings.
African Pygmy kingfisher; The African pygmy kingfisher has a blue crown, back and tail while most of its underparts are of a rufous color, the beak and legs are violet ear coverts and throat are white. This bird is differentiated from the malachite kingfisher using its small size and violet washed ear coverts. Females lay about 4-6 eggs and can lay eggs more than once in a year. These birds live in woodlands and savannah grasslands either in pairs or in solitude.
Malachite kingfisher; The malachite kingfisher has a body length of 13cm and weighs 12-19g. both males and females have a rufous supraloral spot, a white throat, their long forehead and crown feathers forming crest band of black and pale greenish blue. They have a voice call of short shrill of repeated “seek-seek” sound.
Cinnamon chested bee-eater; This bird has a body length 22cm or 8.7in with a body weght of 17-38g or 0.6-1.34oz. these birds have a bright green head, back and tail. The throat is woth a a black outline or collar and a cinnamon brown chest, when these birds perch, they exhibit a blackish inner tail orange base and white tip. They make a tseep tseep sound call. This bird habituates in a mountain region near the forest edges.
African pitta; The African pitta has a body length of 18-20cmwith males weighing between 79-92g while females weigh about 81-98g hence having reversed sexual dimorphism. The bird has a black head with its supercilium being broad and buff in color, the African pitta’s coverts are in a deep green and tipped turquoise blue or black and tipped turquoise and royal blue colors, its mantle and back are green while the rump and upper tail coverts are of pale turquoise blue. This bird makes a voice call with a short loud and sharp “ouit or wheet” sound.
Activities in Kilimanjaro National Park in Tanzania
Kilimanjaro national park has an array of activities that can be done given its numerous features such mt Kilimanjaro, wild game like cape buffaloes and about a tally of 705 bird species.
Entry fees to Kilimanjaro national park are 70$ for foreign nonresidents, 20$ for rescue I case its needed, 1.7$ or 3500TZshs for guiding and each porter used, hut/ camping at the mountain is 50-60$
Mountain trekking/ climbing; Mountain climbing on mt. Kilimanjaro is done following any of the 7 trekking routes that have been developed on the mountain. The trekking routes are Lemosho, Lemosho, western breach, Machame, Marangu, Mweka, Rongai, Shira and Umbwe. Many of these routes can be ascended and descended in about 6-10 days depending on the level of your physical fitness. The easiest route is the Longai route with various camping units along the way up and down.
Game drives; Game drives in the area that is referred to as the mountain above the tree top which is has many bush elephants and cape buffaloes that straddle within that area. Other mammals that you should look out for include the bush duikers, bush babies, leopards.
Birding; With 705 bird species roaming the skies over mt. Kilimanjaro, this is a birder’s haven, some of the birds you might come across while in Kilimanjaro national park include the African pygmy kingfisher, Malachite kingfisher, African pitta, Cinnamon chested bee-eater, Narina trogon, Trumpeter hornbill.
Horse riding; Feel like you want to visit the higher slopes of the Kilimanjaro but you don’t have the physical energy to do it? Well, this is the activity that suites you perfectly well. Makoa farm near Machame gate organizes horseback safaris around mt Kilimanjaro and this gives you an edge of reaching places that a 4×4 wheeler wouldn’t take you in case you couldn’t hike their yourself. This ride is done in the west Kilimanjaro wildlife management area and you will have a luxury to stay in permanent luxury camps, mobile camps and farmhouse accommodations.
Nature walks; Do you want to visit the Kilimanjaro but you just don’t have enough time to scale it all the way to the top? Then you don’t have to worry, mt. Kilimanjaro has got you covered as it offers you various nature trails that usually lasts from 1-hour to 3 days. These nature walks are good way to compensate for the lost high hiking experience as these will lead you through some of the mountain communities of the chagga people as you traverse a part of mt. Kilimanjaro without necessitating you to scale to the higher areas of mt. Kilimanjaro.
Some of these walks include
Materuni waterfalls in Moshi region; This walk is done amongst the chagga people that habituate on the lower slopes of mt Kilimanjaro, you will follow the paths that the local chagga people use as they go about their daily activities such as accessing farm lands, water fetching/collecting, the epitome of this nature walk is the tranquil materuni waterfall that will settle your nerves as its water slowly soothes your soul as you listen to its melodramatic fall from a cliff. If you a swimmer, you can opt to take a cold bath as you dive in this refreshingly chilled water as it has its source from the melting glaciers in the higher elevations of mt. Kilimanjaro. This walk lasts only about an hour hence leaving you with plenty of time to engage yourself in other activities. The starting point for this walk is only a 30-minute drive from Moshi town or 1.5-hour drive from Arusha town.
Maji moto hot springs nature trail; The Maji moto is a hot spring that is also locally referred to as the kikuletwa hot springs. These hot springs are formed as a result of the mountain waters pacorating down to the earth’s crust and coming into contact with the geothermal sources which force it back when it quite hot hence making various natural steamed bathing points. The main hot spring here is called the chemka hot spring and since its water is constantly on the move, its very clean almost as clean as the waters of the Dominican or Maldivian resorts or even better. this nature trail is only a 2-hour drive from Moshi which is a Kilimanjaro climbing hub.
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Accessing Kilimanjaro National Park in Tanzania
Accessing Kilimanjaro National Park is possible by both rad and air transport means
Kilimanjaro National Park lies about a 45-minute drive from Arusha town. If you are in Nairobi and you want to take a road trip to Kilimanjaro, there are various bus companies that make bus trips to moshi / Arusha in the morning and afternoon, so you can decide to make use of this option as its also mostly cheaper than the option of flying directly into Kilimanjaro airport
International flights in Tanzania are mostly received at Kilimanjaro international airport in Arusha and Julius Nyerere airport outside Dar es salaam. From Kilimanjaro airport, its only a 45-minute drive to Moshi where most climbs are commenced from.
Airlines that have flights to Tanzania airports include
Kenya airways Qatar arways
Accommodations/safari lodges/ hotels in and around Kilimanjaro National Park in Tanzania.
Springlands hotel Moshi; Moshi city just 7-minute drive to Uhuru park. 80 guestrooms that offer single double and triple occupancy. All rooms come with a private bathroom in each room hairdryers and flat screen tvs. Restaurant, Well stocked bar, Swimming pool-outdoor, Lounge area free- wi-fii, Laundry services. Prices ranges around 350-390$
Kilimanjaro mountain resort Marangu; Located in Marangu just 1-hourdrive from Materuni falls. 40 rooms that have single double and triple occupancy. All rooms come with a private shower bathroom and all its amenities. Others amenities include mini bars, flat screen tvs. Restaurant, Swimming pool, Free wi-fii, Laundry services, Well stocked bar, Sauna. Prices range around 186$
Kilimanjaro snow peak resort; Located in Himo area about 22-minute drive from lake chala. 20 guestrooms that have single double and triple occupancy. All rooms have private bathrooms, fireplaces, terraces. Restaurant, Lounge area, Well stocked bar, Free wi-fii, Spa and suna. Price range from 120-263$
Honey badger lodge; Moshi about 20-minute drive from lake chala. Numerous rooms offering single and double occupancy. All rooms are fully furnished and each of them have private bathrooms. Restaurant, Lounge area, free wi-fii, Bar, Swimming pool, Spa services. Price ranges around 75$
K’s lodge; Moshi town about 15- minute drive to lake chala. 50 rooms that have single double and triple occupancy. All rooms come with private bathrooms, flatscreen tvs and bottled water. Restaurant lounge area, Swimming pool, Free wi-fii. Well stocked bar. Price ranges from 48-98$
Osy grand hotel; Moshi city- 3minute- drive to lake chala. 30 guestrooms that are in single and double occupancy. Most of these rooms have private bathrooms flat screen tvs. Restaurant, Lounge area, Free wi-fii. Price begins from 48$
Altezza lodge; Moshi city 4-minute drive. 9 rooms which come in single double rooms. All rooms come with private bathrooms. Restaurant, Lounge area swimming pool, Free wi-fii, Laundry services, 24 hour front desk service. Prices begin from 40$
Keys hotel travel & tours; Moshi city about 15- minute to lake chala. 30 guest rooms that are in single, double, triple occupancy. All rooms come with private showers, mini bars. Restaurant, Lounge area, Swimming pool, Nightclub, Free wi-fii, Well stocked bar. Price ranges from 68-81$
Park view inn; Moshi town just a 10-minute walk to lke chala. 49 rooms that come in single double and triple occupancy. All rooms come with private bathrooms flatscreentvs and fridges. Restaurant, Swimming pool, Well stocked bar, Free wi-fii, Lounge area. Price ranges from 76-106$
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