Walking Trails of the World – Kilimanjaro

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Often touted as one of the top five trails in the world, the Mount Kilimanjaro trek in Tanzania is one of the world trails we are most looking forward to embarking on. Even if you have no mountaineering skills or experience, this is one mountain that should be on your bucket list of trails to conquer. As Mount Kilimanjaro is often referred to as the world’s highest walkable mountain, as long as you can walk, you can summit this 19,341 feet / 5,895 meter giant (fitness levels permitting).

Mount Kilimanjaro: Up to 12 Days – 37 to 90 km depending on the route

While Kilimanjaro was first scaled in 1889, some 15,000 people continue to attempt the same feat each year; although only 40% of them are successful. Despite no specialist rock climbing equipment being necessary for attempting this great walking trail of the world, it is definitely a serious endeavour, and of those 60% that fail each year, amongst that number include fatalities brought on by altitude sickness that occurred while on the journey to the top.

When it comes to trekking Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest free standing mountain in the world, there are six official trekking routes to consider. The routes differ in terms of their scenic offerings, technically difficulty and opportunities for acclimatisation. While some routes, such as Marangu, which is nicknamed the Coca-Cola route, are thought of as being the easiest, they often have the highest failure rates due to people not giving the trek the respect it deserves and forging ahead only for altitude sickness to claim another victim. With that mind, make sure you spend adequate time researching your chosen route to avoid being one of the majority of trekkers who go home unable to say they have scaled the highest mountain in Africa.

While the mountain can be climbed in five days on certain routes, such as the Marangu Route, it is not recommended to attempt such a rapid ascent due to the high likely hood of altitude sickness setting in. Thanks to the fee structure for trekking on the mountain, which is charged at a day rate, many people succumb to altitude sickness while trying to save money be completing the route in as few days as possible. In order to plan adequately to minimise the risk of succumbing to Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), a duration of seven to eight days should be allowed for the climb to the summit and about four to get back down again. Although the record for the quickest ascent is set at eight-and-a-half hours, and is held by Simon Mtuy!

Despite the low success rate and the high occurrence of AMS, with proper preparation the trek to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro is there for the taking. If you want an amazing walk, through many diverse climatic zones, taking in a wide range of terrains and mountain features then this trek should be at the top of your list. The views from Uhuru Peak crater rim are said to be spectacular and judging by the photos, we tend to agree.

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