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Mount Kilimanjaro National Park 3
Mount Kilimanjaro National Park 2
Mount Kilimanjaro National Park 1

Mount Kilimanjaro National Park

Mount Kilimanjaro National Park, also known as Kilimanjaro National Park, covers 1,688 km2 of Mt. Kilimanjaro and the surrounding montane forest area. Located in Tanzania, the park lies 300 km south of the equator and is named after Mt. Kilimanjaro, a dormant volcano and the highest mountain in Africa.

The origins of the word Kilimanjaro remain unclear and have been subject to much speculation. Based on the observations of German missionary Johann Ludwig Krapf, The Wakamba people called the mountain ‘Kima jajeu’, which means ‘mountain of whiteness’. Another interpretation includes ‘Mlima’ being misrepresented as ‘Kilima’. ‘Mlima’ means ‘mountain’ in Kiswahili, while ‘Kilima’ translates to ‘hills’.

History of the Mount Kilimanjaro National Park

The Wachagga people, also known as Jagga or Chaga, have lived in the Kilimanjaro region for more than four centuries. Despite their resemblance to the Maasai people, they claim to be a separate race. The Chaga people practiced various rituals in the past including puberty rituals and circumcisions, but as westernization took root, the Chaga way of life gradually became lost.

  • 1848: Explorers Johannes Rebmann, Bwana Heri, and a group of local tribesmen set out on an expedition to Kenya to establish the first mission posts in the region. Johannes Rebmaan was the first European to come across Mt. Kilimanjaro.
  • 1849:When Johannes Rebmann published his observations, the scientific community not only rejected them but claimed that they were the result of hallucinations brought on by malaria. That same year, Krapf discovered Mt. Kenya, and his discovery was also met with skepticism. The scientific community couldn’t disregard both discoveries, however, so further investigations were made, which led them to realize they had very little knowledge of the African continent.
  • Early 20th Century: Mount Kilimanjaro and the forest adjoining the mountain were established as a Game Reserve under the German colonial rule.
  • 1961: Tanzania’s independence put Mount Kilimanjaro Game Reserve under Tanzanian Authority.
  • 1973: Mount Kilimanjaro Game Reserve became Kilimanjaro National Park and included 1,668 km2 of mountains above 800 m high.
  • 1987: Kilimanjaro National Park was included in the list of United Nations World Heritage sites.
  • 2005: The park was expanded to include the montane forest surrounding the region. Earlier, the montane forest was a part of the Kilimanjaro Forest Reserve.

Wildlife In Mount Kilimanjaro National Park

Mount Kilimanjaro National Park has around 154 species of mammals, 7 primates species, and 150 bird species.

While elephants, buffalo, giraffes, and lions are all present within the park, they are rarely seen. Blue monkeys are the most commonly sighted animals in this region. Columbus monkeys, honey badgers, Galago, and four-striped grass mouse are some other species seen around Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Kilimanjaro’s southern and western slopes are home to Abbott’s Starling, and corncrakes are often seen in the south-western section of the mountain. Hundreds of birds pass through the western slopes of Kilimanjaro, including kestrels and pallid harriers. The mountain’s eastern part is home to Taita falcons.

Olive ibis, Hartlaub’s turaco, violent-crested turaco, and trumpeter hornbill are among the birds found in the montane forest area. Gorgeous bushshrike, Kretschmer’s long bill, and the sombre greenbul inhabit the Sanya River. The park is also home to more than 30 cuckoo species, and several kingfisher species, which include Malachite and African pygmy kingfisher.

Mount Kilimanjaro National Park Climbing Routes

The climb to the snow-covered summit is tough and takes several days. There are around seven well-known routes, however, we have listed the easiest and most popular climbing routes below. Apart from the below three, Rongai, Umbwe, and the Northern Circuit are also frequently used.

  • Machame Route: Machame’s five diverse climate zones and stunning views have made it a popular, yet challenging climbing route. Machame is also known as the ‘Whiskey Route’ because although it’s easier to access, it is tough to climb. The route offers fully catered camping, and it takes 6-7 days to reach the mountain top.
  • Marangu Route: The oldest and most well-established climbing route, Marangu is known as the ‘Coca-cola Route’ or the ‘Tourist Route’. While it is the easiest route to Mt. Kilimanjaro, it is harder to acclimate to the altitude within the short time frame of around 5-6 days.
  • Lemoshos or Shira Routes: The Lemosho and Shira routes are often clubbed together as they both involve crossing the Shira plateau. These two routes provide spectacular views of the west part of Kilimanjaro. Climbers taking this route have a higher summiting success rate. The Lemosho Route is slightly better than the Shira Route as it provides more time for acclimation, and takes 5-7 days.

When To Visit Mount Kilimanjaro National Park

The best time to visit Mount Kilimanjaro National Park for trekking is from June to October, when the climate is warmer than usual, and people can still experience the mountain in all its glory. While January to March is also a decent time to visit the park, it is much colder, however, also much less crowded.

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