Mount Kilimanjaro National Park

Members of London’s Geographical Society doubted at first that a snowy peak like Kilimanjaro (the name means “shining mountain”) could exist on Africa’s steamy equator, though reports first came to the geographer Ptolemy 18 centuries ago. They did not realize its height: 19,340 feet (5,895 m), where temperatures are freezing, tallest freestanding mountain in the world, visible 200 miles (330 km) away, centerpiece of Mount Kilimanjaro National Park.

Climbing Kilimanjaro takes five days for the physically fit and passes through five altitudinal zones, from cultivated lower slopes, through forest, then heath-moor/lower alpine, then high desert/alpine, finally the summit (where a leopard once was found frozen, a puzzle still unresolved).

The forest zone is lushest, with giant 20-foot (6-m) tree ferns and 30-foot (9-m) lobelias, and among fauna, blue monkeys, olive baboons, tree hyrax, bushbucks. On north and west slopes are elephants, elands, giraffes, tiny suni antelopes and, found only in a few mountain forests in northern Tanzania, Abbot’s (gray) duikers.

Best time is drier January–March, August, and October. Contact park office through

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