Mt Kilimanjaro National Park
Mt Kilimanjaro National Park, Tanzania © Charles Asik
Rising 19,341ft (5,895m) above the African plains, the magnificent solitary peak of Mt Kilimanjaro is the dominant feature of this national park, surrounded by a vast protected area. The lush rainforest on its lower slopes is home to a number of animals including elephant, buffalo, rhino, monkey and leopard. The dormant volcano is remarkable in many ways, not only for its snow-covered peaks and glaciers rising out of a humid equatorial jungle, but also because it is the highest freestanding mountain in the world, a huge cone unattached to a mountain range, and Africa's highest peak. The magnetism of its twin summits and slopes has attracted researchers, mountaineers, naturalists and adventurous travellers for years. It is the only mountain of its size that can be scaled by inexperienced hikers, although altitude sickness is common and can be fatal.
There are six different routes up Mt Kilimanjaro with varying degrees of difficulty, and a wide range of organised treks and experienced guides available, but the easiest and most popular way to reach the summit is on the Marangu Trail, which takes about five days, with nights spent in huts along the way. Views from the top are breath-taking, especially at dawn, and the sense of achievement experienced is incomparable. The best time to climb the mountain is between August and November.
Address: The Kilimanjaro National Park headquarters is situated at Marangu