Lifelist: Mount Kilimanjaro

Folks, I’m going to resurrect our lifelist feature starting with the tallest mountain in Africa: Mount Kilimanjaro. In these lifelist features we hope to provide the How, What, Why, Where, etc. for doing spectacular things that will add to the quality of your life. Lifelist adventures are life-changing experiences that you specifically set out to do to add them to your personal list of accomplishments. Yes, that list is personal, but we are here to help.

So, first the WHAT and WHERE:
Mount Kilimanjaro is smack in the middle of Kilimanjaro National Park in Tanzania. That’s in Africa, for the less geographically-inclined. Kilimanjaro rises from the African plain near the Indian Ocean and, as I mentioned, is the highest mountain in Africa (3 1/2 miles high)…actually it is one of the largest free standing mountains in the world. Yes, if you are a climber or even an avid trekker, you must climb Kilimanjaro.

One thing about Kili, as some mountaineers know it, is that it’s not THAT hard to climb. The route is a long, often painful trudge, but it’s not highly technical, and so if you are physically fit, you can generally pull it off. The altitude may get to you, so if you experience headaches or the onset of sickness, then you may want to either rest or turn around, depending on the severity.

Most people probably don’t know that the mountain is actually made up of three volcanoes. Kibo, which rises 19,340 feet, Mawenzi which is 16,896 feet, and Shira which is 13,000 feet. Kilimanjaro is also a UNESCO World Heritage site and a lot can be learned about it by checking out the site here.

You can climb the mountain throughout the year, but if you want the best time, then head there in the first three months of the year. January, February and September are the best months, with July, August, November and December also good.

HOW: There are several outfitters at Kilimanjaro, but in clicking around, I found that Kilimanjaro Adventures is one of the top dogs. According to their site, they have been leading climbs since 1990. In 2004, they led approximately 7,000 climbers up and safely down the mountain. Not a bad record.

If you want to read more about climbing Kilimanjaro, give this piece from a read. it gives a nice overview and delivers a stirring narrative of the climb. And, of course, you can always take a look at the ever-informative Wikipedia page.

WHY: Because it’s there. Duh.

Further reading:

GORP’s Look at Kili

The Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway

Some fine photos

Kili Travel Guide