Monday, December 24, 2012

A Kilimanjaro Safari Could Be The Trip Of A Lifetime

By Douglas Rathbone

A Kilimanjaro safari might seem like an adventurous trek which would be out of the reach of most people, but that is not the case. Although the mountain's summit sits just under 20,000 feet above sea level, the journey to the peak is actually accessible to ordinary people, rather than specialist mountaineers. There is also a good range of wildlife to encounter while you journey to the top.

The mountain itself is located in the East African country of Tanzania, on the border with neighbouring Kenya. The mountain's structure consists of three volcanoes, Mawenzi, Kibo and Shira, Five different climate zones are trekked through by people who climb to the top of the mountain.

Climbers begin their journey in rain forest, and head through heathland, moors and an alpine desert, as well as glaciers. There is wildlife to be encountered in all the zones of the slopes apart from the very summit. This means that climbers may see species of mammal like elephants and buffalo on the northern slopes of the mountain.

In the forest zone, visitors might well encounter monkeys, with black and white colubus and Sykes monkeys living here. Birds are abundant, with raptors like the mountain eagle hawk soaring overhead. White naped ravens and sun birds are among the other species which can be seen.

The Chagga people, who live at the base of the mountain, viewed the peak with fear for many years. This was because they saw tribal members climb the mountain and not return, or return misshapen with frostbite and cold. The mountain was first climbed by a geographer from Germany and an Austrian mountaineer, Hans Meyer and Ludwig Purtscheller, in 1889.

What they discovered, and what has been proved subsequently though, is that the mountain really is not something to be frightened of. If you are fit enough to be able to run for half and hour without stopping, then you are probably fit enough to tackle Kilimanjaro. If you dress properly and wear the correct footwear then you should not run into any problems.

A Kilimanjaro safari is a top way to see Africa's highest peak and its wonderful sights. There is no need to be a specialist mountaineer or explorer, just make sure that you are reasonably fit and have the right gear. Over 15,000 people make it the mountain each year, showing how popular and accessible it is as a destination for visitors from across the world.

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