About The Activity
There are many mountains in the dry region of Africa that are great for trekking. These mountains give a beautiful view of the land around the mountain. In a country crowned by the tallest free-standing volcano in the world and almost bisected by chains of ancient mountain ranges, hiking takes on a high profile. Stunning scenery and rugged terrain combine with a fascinating cultural backdrop to create several challenging and adventurous routes. Here are some suggestions to get you started.
Part hike, part slog and part high-altitude trek, the journey to the peak of this iconic mountain -- the world's tallest free-standing volcano -- lures thousands of trekkers each year . Beginning amid lush stands of banana on Kilimanjaro's heavily cultivated lower slopes, the climb continues up through dense, dripping rainforest to alpine meadows and crosses a barren lunar landscape to the twin summits of Kibo and Mawenzi. The final stage -- the ascent up a steep, slippery scree slope -- typically begins around midnight, culminating with sunrise views from the summit over the plains far below. Kilimanjaro's cold, wet conditions and its altitude (5896m) make trekking here a serious undertaking. To aid acclimatisation, plan on at least a seven day round trip for a summit attempt, and budget at least $1200. Treks must be organised through a licensed trekking operator; there are many based in both the towns of Arusha and Moshi.
Often lost in the shadow of nearby Mount Kilimanjaro, 4566m-high Meru -- Tanzania's second-highest peak – also offers a highly scenic trek to the top. The ascent route starts in grassland and lush forest on the mountain's lower slopes, rising up through picturesque glades and finishing with a dramatic and exhilarating walk along the knife edge of volcanic Meru's crater rim. Meru is smaller than Kilimanjaro, and a trek can be done comfortably in four days, three nights. However, do not underestimate the mountain: its steepness, sheer drop-offs on the final ascent and the effects of altitude make it an almost equally challenging climb. Mount Meru is part of Arusha National Park, and all climbers must be accompanied by a park ranger, which can be arranged at the entry gate. Budget $350 to $700 for a Meru trek, depending on whether you organise things on your own (this is straightforward to do at the entry gate), or through a trekking operator (most Arusha-based companies organise Meru treks).
Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Although most famed for its wildlife-filled centrepiece, Ngorongoro Crater, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) in Tanzania’s north is a wonderful destination in its own right, with rugged, scenic trekking and terrain varying from steep escarpments and grassy ridges to dense forests and volcanic peaks. There are no set routes, which makes for many possibilities. These include an overnight hike taking in the grassy summit and shallow crater of Olmoti peak and the breathtakingly beautiful crater lake of Empakaai; a day-hike up Makarot peak (3130m), complete with grasslands and wide views; and, a five-day walk from the northern edge of Ngorongoro Crater via lake-filled Empakaai Crater to the summit of the still-active Ol Doinyo Lengai, just outside the NCA’s boundaries. There is no infrastructure, and for overnight hikes most people use donkeys or vehicle support to carry water and supplies. This, combined with daily entry fees, makes longer treks in the NCA expensive -- from about $220 per person, per day. Day hikes are much more reasonable, involving just the $50 per person NCA daily entry fee plus $20 per group, per day for guide and transport costs. Day hikes can be organised at the NCA entry gate, while longer hikes should be arranged through an Arusha-based tour operator.