Mount Kenya and Mount Kilimanjaro
Kenya and Tanzania are two of the most famous safari countries in the world, both having superb national parks including the Serengeti and the Masai Mara. What is less well known is that they also have the highest and the second highest mountains in Africa, that is Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya. Kili as Mount Kilimanjaro is also known is the also the highest freestanding mountain in the world. Both are suitable for trekkers and technical climbers alike but Mount Kenya has better opportunities for serious climbing. The real attraction of these mountains is that any reasonably fit person who enjoys walking and that they can be climbed or walked for most of the year can reach the summit.
For both mountains Nairobi in Kenya is ideal. Nairobi is easily accessible from Europe and America and serviced by most of the major international European airlines. The city itself is well placed for both mountains with good travel links.
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Kilimanjaro with its three volcanic cones, Kibo, Mawenzi, and Shira, is an inactive stratovolcano in north-eastern Tanzania. Depending on definition, Kilimanjaro may be considered as having anywhere from the tallest to the fourth tallest free-standing mountain rise in the world rising 4,600 m (15,100 ft) from its base, and includes the highest peak in Africa at 5,895 meters (19,340 ft), providing a dramatic view from the surrounding plains.
The highest point is Uhuru Peak on the volcano Kibo, 5,895 metres (19,341 ft). Kibo has a 1.5 mile wide crater on the top of it. As the highest point in Africa, Uhuru Peak is one of the Seven Summits. The summit was first reached by the Marangu army scout, Yohanas Kinyala Lauwo, German Hans Meyer and Austrian Ludwig Purtscheller, on October 6, 1889. Two other peaks are also extinct volcanoes: Mawenzi (5,149 m, 16,890 ft), the third highest peak in Africa (after Mount Kenya) and Shira (3,962 m, 13,000 ft). Yohanas' Notch is named after Lauwo.
Mount Kilimanjaro from the air. July 2007. An ascent of Mawenzi requires rock climbing and/or snow/ice climbing skills. The climb to Uhuru Peak is considered to be a relatively straightforward endeavour; however, ample time must still be provided for proper acclimatization to prevent altitude sickness. The three shortest routes, Marangu, Rongai and Machame can be climbed by a person of good health and limited mountaineering experience. Many who climb employ altitude-sickness medication and find this to be helpful in preventing the pounding headaches that plague many travellers. Those who travel on the Marangu route usually take four to five days to complete their climb. Huts with cooking facilities, bathrooms, and electricity are available at the end of each day's journey. The huts are Mandara, Horombo and Kibo, located at approximately 2700m.a.sl., 3700m.a.s.l. and 4,500m.a.s.l. respectively. All huts have rangers stationed at them with rescue facilities (modified wheelbarrows to transport climbers stricken with altitude sickness to lower altitudes).
The final part of the climb, from Kibo hut at 15,500 ft (4,720 m) to the summit, is generally undertaken at night, because the scree is frozen together, making the climb significantly easier. Gilman's Point, on the rim of the crater but about a 1½ hour hike from Uhuru, is attained at 5:00 - 6:00 am; those who have the strength to continue may then hike on to Uhuru in the growing sunlight and rising temperatures. Another route is the Western Breach, which is much more technical in nature. Annually, approximately 15,000 people attempt to climb the mountain, of whom 40% reach the summit.
The rapidly retreating Furtwängler Glacier is near the summit. At the summit, there is a sign posted by the Tanzanian government. The sign (printed in English only) reads "Congratulations! You are now at Uhuru Peak, Tanzania, 5,895 m. AMSL. Africa's Highest Point. World's Highest Free-Standing Mountain. One of World's Largest Volcanoes. Welcome." The sign is covered in travel stickers from past trekkers who have left their mark on the top of the peak. Near this famous sign is a box containing a log that many climbers have signed. As of January 2007 this box has either been removed or buried.
Due to the mountain's equatorial location as well as its high elevation, climbers can experience almost every climate type on earth during the journey to the top. It is also known to many for its year round snow-topped summit.
The summit of Kilimanjaro is covered by a GSM mobile phone network, provided by Vodacom. It lost its claim as the highest point in the world with mobile phone service, as China Mobile now provides coverage at the top of Mt. Everest, the highest point in the world.
Almost all nights on Kilimanjaro are clear. A pre-dawn start is very important to avoid the debilitating effects of the sun and uv radiation. To make the night ascents more pleasant and in some cases beautiful, getting up and walking up by moonlight is the optimal situation. As a rough guide a full moon rises at sunset and sets at sunrise. This combined with strength of the moonlight provide excellent conditions for walking at night. However as the moon sets about 1 hour later every day. the best conditions are probably about 2 to 3 days after the full moon as then at about 5am the moon is still big and quite high in the sky throughout the critical hours of the ascent. If you plan your ascent before the full moon you might get up by moonlight but it will set before first light.
Lemosho: Long access drive, remote, less frequented, beautiful forests, scenic traverse to Barafu, camping. Excellent for acclimatisation. 8 (-1) 56km
Machame: Second most popular route. Beautiful forest, very good for acclimatisation, scenic traverse to Barafu. 7 (-1) 49km
Marangu: Very popular. Gentle gradients and long sections up to 4700m. Beautiful forests and moorlands, comfortable but basic huts. The 6 day variant provides good time for acclimatisation. 6 (-1) 64km
Rongai: Long access drive, remote, less frequented, some fine, wild, high-altitude mountain scenery, camping. Good for acclimatisation. 6 65km
Umbwe: Shortest and steepest route, tough. Beautiful forest, spectacular ridge, bad for acclimatisation, scenic traverse to Barafu, camping. Dangerous route.
Mount Kenya is the highest mountain in Kenya, and the second highest in Africa (after Mount Kilimanjaro). The highest peaks of the mountain are Batian (5,199 m - 17,058 ft), Nelion (5,188 m - 17,022 ft) and Lenana (4,985 m - 16,355 ft). Mount Kenya is located in central Kenya, just south of the equator, around 150 km (95 miles) north-northeast of Nairobi. The area around the mountain is protected in the Mount Kenya National Park, which is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. The National Park is around 620 km² (240 square miles), and receives up to 15,000 visitors every year.
The mountain is an extinct (dead) volcano standing alone, which last erupted between 2.6 and 3.1 million years ago. Its slopes include several different biomes; the lowest parts are dry upland forest, changing to montane forest of juniper and podocarpus at about 2,000 metres (6,600 ft), with a belt of bamboo at 2,500 m (about 8,000 ft) that changes to an upper forest of smaller trees covered with moss and "goat's beard" lichen. Above a distinct timberline at about 3,500 m (11,500 ft), there is an afroalpine zone, with its characteristic giant rosette plants. Twelve small (and rapidly shrinking) glaciers may be found scattered among the complex of peaks, of which Batian and Nelion are the highest.
The missionary Johann Ludwig Krapf was the first European to report a sighting of Mount Kenya, in 1849. The first recorded ascent of Mount Kenya was made by Halford John Mackinder, Cesar Ollier and Josef Brocherel on 13 September 1899. The highest point (Batian) is a technical climb; the classic Diamond Couloir climbing route is a Grade IV of about 20 pitches, up to YDS 5.9 in difficulty. Nelion was first climbed by Eric Shipton in 1929, and Shipton and Bill Tilman completed the traverse of the ridge between the two highest peaks. Point Lenana, at 4,985 m (16,355 ft), can be reached by a hiking trail. Mount Kenya is best climbed in January or February on the south side and August or September on the north side.
This route starts 15 km (9 miles) east around the Mount Kenya Ring Road from Nanyuki. The gate is 10 km (6 miles) further along the track, which can be walked or driven by two-wheel drives.
The track climbs up through the forest. On the north side of the mountain there is no bamboo zone, so the forest gradually turns into moorland covered with giant heather. The track ends at Old Moses Hut and becomes a path. This continues up the hill before splitting into two routes. To the left, the least used path goes around the side of the Barrow, to Liki North Hut. The vegetation becomes more sparse, with giant lobelia and groundsels dotted around. The path climbs over a ridge, before rejoining the main path ascending the Mackinder Valley. Shipton's Cave can be found in the rock wall to the left of the steep path just before reaching Shipton's Camp.
From Shipton's Camp, it is possible to ascend the ridge directly in front of the camp to the site of Kami Hut, which no longer exists, or follow the river up to Lower Simba Tarn and eventually to Simba Col. These are both on the Peak Circuit Path
Naro Moru Route
This route is taken by many of the trekkers who try to reach Point Lenana. It can be ascended in only 3 days and has bunkhouses at each camp so a tent is not necessary. The terrain is usually good, although one section is called the Vertical Bog.
The track starts in Naro Moru town and heads past the Park Headquarters up the ridge between the Northern and Southern Naro Moru Rivers. At the roadhead is the Meteorological Station, to which it is possible to drive in the dry season. The route drops down into the Northern Naro Moru Valley to Mackinder's Camp on the Peak Circuit Path.
The Gorges Valley is a major feature on the Chogoria Route. This route leads from Chogoria town up to the peaks circuit. The 32 km (20 miles) from the forest gate to the park gate are often done by vehicle, but it is also possible to walk. There is much wildlife in the forest, with safari ant columns crossing the track, monkeys in the trees, and the potential for seeing elephant, buffalo and leopard. The road is not in good condition, and requires careful driving and walking. Near the park gate the bamboo zone starts, with grasses growing to 12 m high (40 ft).
Once in the park the track passes through rosewood forests, with lichens hanging from the branches. At one point the path splits, with the smaller track leading to a path up the nearby Mugi Hill and across to Lake Ellis.
Top of large overhanging buttress overlooking Lake Michaelson, close to Hall Tarns.Near the trackhead a small bridge crosses the Nithi stream. Following the stream downriver a few hundred metres (yards) leads to The Gates Waterfall. The path heads up a ridge above the Gorges Valley, with views to the peaks, Lake Michaelson, The Temple, and across the valley to Delamere and Macmillan Peaks. Hall Tarns are situated right on the path and above a 200 m (700 ft) cliff directly above Lake Michaelson.
As the path carries on it crosses the flat head of the Nithi River and then the slope steepens. The path splits, heading west to Simba Col, and south west to Square Tarn. These are both on the Peak Circuit Route.
Mount Meru is an active volcano located 70 kilometres (44 miles) west of Mount Kilimanjaro. At a height of 4,566 metres (14,980 ft), it is still visible from Mt Kilimanjaro on a clear day. Much of its bulk was lost about 8,000 years ago due to an eastward volcanic blast, similar to the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in the U.S. state of Washington. Mount Meru most recently had a minor eruption about a century ago. The several small cones and craters seen in the vicinity probably reflect numerous episodes of volcanic activity.
Mount Meru is the topographic centerpiece of Arusha National Park. Its fertile slopes rise above the surrounding savanna and support a forest that hosts diverse wildlife, including nearly 400 species of birds, and also monkeys and leopards.
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