Mount Kilimanjaro Self Drive – Mount Kilimanjaro National Park

It is a Tanzanian national park, located 300 kilometers south of the equator and in Kilimanjaro Region, Tanzania. The park is located near the city of Moshi.

The park includes the whole of Mount Kilimanjaro above the tree line and the surrounding montane forest belt above 1,820 meters.  It covers an area of 1,688 square kilometers. The park is administered by the Tanzania National Parks Authority.

In the early twentieth century, Mount Kilimanjaro and the adjacent forests were declared a game reserve by the German colonial government.  In 1921, it was designated a forest reserve.

In 1973, the mountain above the tree line was reclassified as a national park.  The park was declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization in 1987.

In 2005, and it was expanded to include the entire montane forest, which previously was under the Kilimanjaro Forest Reserve.
A variety of animals can be found in the park.

Above the timberline, the Kilimanjaro tree hyrax, the grey duiker, and rodents are frequently encountered. The bushbuck and red duiker appear above the timberline in places.

Cape buffalo are found in the montane forest and occasionally in the moorland and grassland.  Elephants can be found between the Namwai and Tarakia rivers and sometimes occur at higher elevations.  In the montane forests, blue monkey, western black and white Colobus, bush baby, and leopards can be found.

Since its official opening, Mt Kilimanjaro National Park has become one of Tanzania’s most visited parks. Unlike the other northern parks, this isn’t for the wildlife, although it’s there.

Rather, coming here is all about gazing in awe at a mountain on the equator capped with snow, and to climb to the top of Africa. At the heart of the park is the 5896m Mt Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain and one of the continent’s most magnificent sights.

It’s also one of the highest volcanoes and the highest freestanding mountain in the world, rising from cultivated farmlands on the lower levels, through lush rainforest to alpine meadows, and finally across a barren lunar landscape to the twin summits of Kibo and Mawenzi. Kilimanjaro’s third volcanic cone, Shira, is on the mountain’s western side.

The lower rainforest is home to many animals, including buffaloes, elephants, leopards and monkeys, and elands are occasionally seen in the saddle area between Kibo and Mawenzi.

A trek up Kilimanjaro lures around 25,000 trekkers each year, in part because it’s possible to walk to the summit without ropes or technical climbing experience.  But this is a serious undertaking.

While many thousands of trekkers reach Uhuru Peak without major difficulty, many more don’t make it because they suffer altitude sickness or simply aren’t in good enough shape. And, every year some trekkers and porters die on the mountain.

Come prepared with appropriate footwear and clothing, and most importantly, allow yourself enough time. If you’re interested in reaching the top, seriously consider adding at least one extra day onto the ‘standard’ climb itineraries: accepted medical advice is to increase sleeping altitude by only 300m per day once above 3000m which is about one-third of the daily altitude gains above 3000m on the standard Kilimanjaro climb routes offered by most operators.