One of the important prerequisites of a successful summit attempt is being properly equipped.
Ensure that you are well equipped – read and print our Suggested Checklist below and mark it off, it will be an essential part of your preparation for the climb.
Altitudes are generally defined as …
High altitude 2,400m – 4,200m Very high altitude 4,200m – 5,400m Extreme altitude above 5,400m (Uhuru Peak is 5895m)
During the trek it is likely that all climbers will experience at least some form of mild altitude sickness. It is caused by the failure of the body to adapt quickly enough to the reduced level of oxygen in the air at an increased altitude.
There are many different symptoms but the most common are headaches, light headedness, nausea, loss of appetite, tingling in the extremities (toes, fingers) and a mild swelling of the face, ankles and fingers. These symptoms in a mild form are not serious and will normally disappear within 48 hours, the result of poor circulation or a small leakage of fluid within the body. In serious cases, the leakage can become large and start to fill up the brain cavity (Cerebral Oedema) or the lung cavity (Pulmonary Oedema). Cerebral Oedema is recognised by severe headaches, loss of balance and dizziness leading to coma. Pulmonary Oedema results in the coughing up of pink sputum. Both conditions, if left unchecked, will lead to coma and death unless a rapid descent is made.
Six factors that affect the incidence and severity of altitude illness :
1. Rate of ascent. 2. Altitude attained. 3. Length of exposure. 4. Level of exertion. 5. Hydration and diet. 6. Inherent physiological susceptibility.
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) :
The illnesses is commonly encountered at exceptional high altitudes, such as the summit area of Mount Kilimanjaro. Once apparent, can be most effectively treated by immediately taking the affected person to a lower altitude.
The symptoms of AMS include in the order normally experienced; headaches, nausea, anorexia, exhaustion, lassitude, rapid pulse, insomnia, swelling of the hands and feet and reduced urine output. Climbers can take precautions to at least minimize the severity of the illness, by maintaining a slow steady pace from day one, include an extra day of acclimatisation at a high altitude and by drinking at least 3-4 liters of water every day.
Preventative medicine is also available and you should consult your physician for specialist advice.
Fluid build-up may cause a condition known as edema, which can affect the lungs (pulmonary), preventing effective oxygen exchange, or effect the brain (cerebral) which will result in the swelling of the brain tissue. The latter can be lethal if not treated immediately or if symptoms are ignored.
Probably 70% of all people climbing Kilimanjaro will suffer to some extent from AMS. You should familiarise yourself with this condition and take preventative care.
Hypothermia or exposure is the lowering of the body’s core temperature. Once again prevention is the best cause of action. The correct equipment and clothing is critical in the prevention of Hypothermia. Do not allow your clothing to get wet from either rain or perspiration.
Please visit our Suggested Clothing Sections, for more information on the proper layering of clothing to prevent hypothermia.
Sun related injuries:
About 55% of the earths protective atmosphere is below an altitude of 5000m. Far less ultraviolet light is being filtered out, making the sun’s rays much more powerful, which could result in severe sun burning of the skin. It is strongly recommended to use a 20+ sun protection cream at lower altitudes, and a total block cream above an altitude of 3000m. It is also important to wear dark sun glasses preferably with side panels above 4000m in daytime and essential when walking through snow or ice.
Mount Kilimanjaro Climb – Suggested Equipment for Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.
The hardest part in planning a trip to a location that you know nothing about is deciding what equipment to bring, and also what not to bring.
Good equipment is vital to a safe and enjoyable climb. Sure, in superb weather conditions you could climb the mountain in a pair of old trainers, your oldest pair of long trousers and with a couple of sweaters thrown in you will only suffer badly during the last night of the ascent. However, let the weather change for the worse, a couple of hours driving rain soon after setting off from the Horombo area, and you could be dead from hypothermia very rapidly.
SUGGESTED LOWER MONTANE FOREST CLOTHING:
Starting out, you will be in synthetic or fleece shorts, a polyester T-Shirt, sock liners with synthetic would hiking / trekking socks, and heavy-duty hiking boots.
SUGGESTED UPPER MONTANE FOREST CLOTHING:
Rain is common, so Gore-Tex jacket and pants are required. A cape is needed to protect the head from the sun. Sun block and lip balm are musts – as are bug repellent, water bottles and a water purifier.
SUGGESTED HEATH AND MOORLAND CLOTHING:
A polypro long underwear top and bottom beneath shorts and a T-Shirt is recommended.
As a suggestion during the trek, a fleece vest or jacket must be kept at ready pauses during the climb. Gaiters are essential through the wet, knee-high grasses at this elevation.
SUGGESTED ALPINE DESERT CLOTHING:
Fleece pants will warm you during the windy nights, which follow the summer-ice days at this zone. A warm sleeping bag will keep you warm for those few hours you get to sleep before making an attempt at the top.
SUGGESTED SUMMIT CLOTHING:
Polypro long, a fleece middle, and Gore-Tez outer.
A balaclava and warm hat will protect the head and line gloves, wind stopper gloves and over mitts protect your hands.
Because the summit attempt day begins at around midnight or 1:0 a.m., you will need a headlamp.
Glacier glasses will keep you from snow blindness when you reach those snows of Mount Kilimanjaro.
As you can see above, because you move from the Africa jungle to arctic tundra in a matter of days, you need many different types of clothing.
You go from dressing in shorts and T-Shirts that are wringing wet with sweat to a layering system topped off by Gore-Tex to endure winds that push the chilly air well below zero degrees.
You will require the correct underwear, thermal hiking socks, gloves (preferably mittens), warm head protection, rain coat, sunglasses and sun protection cream. Also remember your hiking boots, hiking/running shoes (it is not necessary to walk with boots or climbers shoes until the last sections where scree and rocks are encountered), and very importantly, a walking stick / ski-pole. One of the most critical items of clothing is a an outer jacket.You want it to perform the functions of keeping you warm, protect you at temperatures of as low as minus 25 degrees Celsius, keep the wind out and yet still “breath”. Try to avoid tight fitting clothing or underwear. This will hamper circulation, causing either cold or discomfort on the mountain. A balaclava will protect your face against cold, wind, sun and snow. Other clothing like shorts, sweaters and T-shirts are strongly recommended, especially during hiking on the lower slopes, when the day temperatures are still high.
The only way to ensure that you are dressed warmly is to follow the principal of wearing the correct clothing layers, starting from against the body. A common mistake made by climbers is to wear almost everything they have and to start off with cotton against the skin. Cotton absorbs moisture perfectly, and moisture trapped against the skin will result in a definite lowering of the body temperature, which could even lead to hypothermia. It is therefore very important to use proper thermal underwear with “wicking” properties (a fabric which has the ability to draw moisture away from the body) and thus enabling it to evaporate to the outside. The middle layer should provide the insulation and a product like polar fleece will be adequate in this regard. The outer layer should be windproof, waterproof and breathable. Products like Ventex, Gore-Tex or Jeantex offer these properties. Short of altitude and physical exertion, cold is one of the most serious obstacles when attempting to summit Kilimanjaro.
FOR THE HEAD :
Hat The higher you ascend the more the suns rays burn. Something that shades your eyes is best.
Balaclava …or ski mask made from some type of insulated material with just an opening for your eyes and nose. You will need it for the final ascent.
Sunglasses A good pair, necessary for both the desert area and for snow blindness at the summit.
FOR THE UPPER BODY :
T-Shirts Take one for every day you intend to be on the mountain, and one more, just in case.
Upper Clothing Polo neck long sleeves loose are best, as the thin layers trap air which insulates you. Also bring at least one woolen or fleece jumper.
Jacket As good as you can afford. There are many insulated materials that are good, Polertex, Gortex/Ventex. Get one that can pack easily with big pockets and a covered zip area. Waterproof is good but not essential. All these features will be appreciated at 4am when you are climbing to the summit 🙂
Rain Gear Simple lightweight rain suit for the rain forest and in case it snows later on. The waterproof leggings will also shield your legs from the wind at the summit.
Gloves As waterproof and as windproof as possible. Ski gloves are good.
FOR THE LOWER BODY :
Underwear A change for every day. Even though it’s cold you’ll still sweat which makes climbing uncomfortable.
Thermal Underwear A pair of long-johns. If you can’t find any, a pair of elastic leggings does the same thing – nobody’s going to see them 🙂
Shorts Light jogging shorts are necessary for the first days.
Pants Trousers or track-suit pants – anything except jeans. Jeans hold the cold close to your body and give off heat very quickly. Also, if they get wet, they are very slow to dry.
Rain Pants Bring a good pair of rain pants of Gore-Tex or other waterproof material. Try to get a pair that are wind-proof too.
FOR THE FEET :
Socks Two pairs of light socks for each day you intend to climb. Also bring a couple of pairs of woolen socks for climbing the final stage.
Boots Probably one of the most important piece of equipment you could bring. The boots you wear shouldn’t be underestimated – a radio operator on a non-technical climb with us was killed in a fall, partly due to the fact that he wasn’t wearing suitable clothing and boots. The boots should be leather, insulated, and of good quality. Anything other than leather and your feet will freeze. Choose a good brand, and make sure they are well broken in before the climb.
Runners / Trainers Optional. These are to wear in camp after a day of hiking.
Poor fitting, new or little used boots will result in blistering feet. Even if boots are only slightly to small, your toes will get bruised , particularly on your descend. It is it therefore also important to keep your toe nails short for the climb. Developing blister should be treated immediately as soon as the “hot spot” is felt. Remove the boot and cover the area with a zinc oxide tape or something similar
Rucksack About 40 – 60 liter capacity. Get a rucksack with lots of side pockets for storing raingear, torch, water, camera etc. The rucksack should be frameless, with strong, comfortable padded straps, both at the shoulders and at the waist. Otherwise the rucksack will literally cut two grooves in your shoulders.
Sleeping Bag Again, get as good a sleeping bag as you can afford – it gets extremely cold on the mountain at night. Try to get a three/four season bag, preferably light and compact.
Camping Gas and Cooking Equipment A small lightweight gas stove and one or two camping saucepans should be enough for the climb. Important – You aren’t allowed to bring compressed gas on the aero plane, and the only camping gas available in Tanzania and Kenya is the small “bluegaz” cylinders which the stove pierces – not the screw-on type. I didn’t know this and had to buy a new stove when I got there.
Torch A head torch is vital as you will need both hands to climb with for the final 1000 meters. Bring a couple of sets of batteries for final ascent. Keep the batteries warm, the cold will kill them.
Walking Stick Definitely necessary. Get a telescopic aluminum one or even two. It helps a lot to use your arms as well as your legs. They can be rented for about $12 at the base of the mountain.
Sunscreen High factor essential. Don’t forget it start putting it on from the start and don’t stop.
Water Bottles Get insulated bottles as the water freezes at higher altitude. Drink at least 4 liters of water per day to prevent dehydration.
Swiss Army Knife Every mountaineer should have one. Get a knife with a few good features, i.e. tin opener, bottle opener, sharp blade, scissors, etc. It saves on packing individual items.
Money You can use US dollars pretty much everywhere, but exchange about $30 into Tanzanian shillings for small items such as soft drinks etc. Take small notes, lots of $1 bills are useful.
Money belt Take a waist belt, the small flat type that can fit inconspicuously under your clothes. Put your money and passport in it and keep it on all the time. Things have been known to go missing at the camps.
Ziploc Bags These bags are very useful for holding loose items.
Matches and Lighter You’ll need these to light your gas stove….
Camera Bring a good, light camera. People will tell you that the shutters freeze on good cameras at the top. They are wrong – it’s the batteries that freeze. BuyLithium, not Alkaline batteries and you should be ok. Bring a couple of spare sets and store them in your clothes close to your body so that your body heat will keep them warm. Bring a camera that’s easy to use so that someone else can take your picture at the top without messing it up. It ‘s an important photo and you can’t expect someone else to focus it at 5895 meters and get it right. Because of the high altitude bring a polarizing filter and a UV filter. Take plenty of film – ASA 200 film is good for taking shots with relatively little light.
A first aid kit should be brought on any climb. Specialized compact kits are available, but if you don’t have one, the following medical items should be brought.
Bandages of all shapes and sizes
Scissors – always handy for cutting bandages, gauze, etc.
Antiseptic Cream – for cuts and grazes.
Headache Tablets – lots of them 🙂 Be careful that they don’t have any nasty side effects though, dizzy spells at the edge of a 100m drop are generally not good.
Altitude Sickness Tablets – Diamox tablets to be taken twice a day from 13,000 feet to the top. This drug is widely used in high altitude mountaineering. I couldn’t get any and I suffered because of it. Thanks to the group of Swedish climbers who gave us some of theirs.
Please note that this is a basic first aid kit. I’m not trying to say that these are the only items you should bring, but they are a basis to which you can add more items as you see fit.
Toilet Paper For when nature calls…Be warned – toilets usually consist of a tank buried in the ground.
Garbage Bags Don’t leave rubbish on the mountain. Pack it up and take it down with you. Also good for separating wet and dry clothing.
Pen and Notepad Useful for taking notes on the climb. Take a felt tip pen so the ink won’t freeze.
Travel Insurance The medical facilities are not too good in Tanzania. Take out a fly out insurance in case of an accident.
Pack Sensibly Every day you will need to change. try to pack in a way that you can get to the next days kit easily.
Mountain Water The stream water high on the mountain has been tested and has been found to be fit for drinking. However, if you would like to be on the safe-side, use water purification tablets or boil drinking water in the evenings.
Eating Tips Eat as much as you can as you lose your appetite as you ascend. Drink lots of water, 4 liters a day – do not dehydrate.
Batteries Keep all spare batteries close to your body so they don’t freeze.
Suggested Climb Preparation for Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.
Climbing Kilimanjaro is usually a “once in a lifetime” experience for most people, so is vital that proper preparations are made beforehand. With superior information and sufficient time to prepare, you stand an extremely good chance of reaching the summit.
WHEN TO GO
Mount Kilimanjaro can be climbed at any time of year but seasonal variations in climate and traffic need to be considered :
January, February and March have the best weather, being warm and almost devoid of cloud.
April through to mid June is still warm but there may be some rainfall on the lower slopes and bands of cloud may reduce visibility around the forest area.
Late June, July and August can become very cold at night but in return, the sky is usually completely clear above 3,000m.
September to October are perhaps the best months to plan a climb for this next year with steadily increasing temperatures with low rainfall.
November and December are for the more adventurous climbers. Thunderstorms are possible in the afternoon and there can be heavy snow showers towards the summit but night and early morning bring excellent visibility.
HEALTH REQUIREMENTS :
Although the majority of routes leading to the summit of Kilimanjaro require no technical climbing skills, some kind of training beforehand is important. It is important to remember that you will be hiking on surfaces with varying angles which may put lots of stress on your ankles and knees. It is also worth remembering that most of the injuries which occur on Kilimanjaro happen on the way down. When climbing Kilimanjaro, take a slow pace to allow your body to acclimatize to the altitude, as at 4000 meters, you only have 60% of the oxygen you would normally have at sea-level.
To climb Kilimanjaro:
– You need to be in decent physical condition.
– You must not have heart or lung problems.
– You need healthy knees and ankles.
– Take your time and know your physical limitations.
Consult your personal physician if:
– You are taking any kind of medication.
– You have any other health problems.
If you plan to take any medication during your climb, you must consult your doctor prior to departure. The effects of medications may vary with altitude and stress.
All climbers should consult their doctor or a specialized travel clinic well in advance of their trip.
Although Kilimanjaro is not a technical mountain climb, it is a major challenge and the rigors of altitude should not be underestimated. Remember that Uhuru Peak is 500m higher than Everest Base Camp! The pace of your ascent coupled with good acclimatization will help you on the climb but it is essential to be mentally and physically prepared before you start. Regular hikes are one of the best ways to prepare, increasing frequency and length as you get closer to the trek. All aerobic exercises such as; cycling, running, swimming and funnily enough aerobics are good for strengthening the cardiovascular system. Generally, any exercise that increases the heart rate for 20 minutes is helpful but don’t over do it just before the climb.
Any climber who suffers from any cardiac or pulmonary problems should be cautious and should not attempt to climb the mountain unless they have consulted their physician. It is strongly recommended that a physical fitness program is followed to prepare your self physically for the mountain.
The following three steps are a guide to achieving acclimatization:
Water : A fluid intake of 4 – 5 liters per day is recommended. Fluid intake improves circulation and most other bodily functions, but does not increase fluid leakage from the body. Thirst should not be an indicator of proper fluid intake, if your urine is clear then you are drinking enough. On the lower slopes, bottled mineral water will be provided but on the higher slopes drinking water is taken from mountain streams. The water is double-pumped and iodine is added for purification (Good enough to drink but you may wish to add extra purification tablets).
Slow Walk : Pace is a critical factor on all routes. Unless there is a very steep uphill section your breathing rate should be the same as if you were walking down the street. If you cannot hold a conversation you are walking too fast. Breathing through the nose for the first 2 days of the climb will limit the pace. Walk “softly” allowing your knees to gently cushion each pace. “Pole pole” (go slowly) is the phrase of the day.
Walk high sleep low : If you have enough energy, take an afternoon stroll further up the mountain before descending to sleep (not if you have any symptoms of altitude sickness!)
Almost all routes offer an extra day for acclimatization. Taking this day increases your chances of getting to the top by 30% and increases you chances of actually getting some enjoyment out of the experience by much more than that. An extra day is a considerable expense, but Bobby Tours’ recommends that all climbers take this option.
Some climbers take Diamox, which is widely used to combat the effects of mild altitude sickness by causing the body to breath more deeply during sleep. This is of course a personal preference.
On the climb, guides carry all basic medications but it is recommend that all climbers should take a small, personal first aid kit.
Personal First Aid Kit:
– Painkillers (aspirin/paracetamol – aspirin is recommended as it thins the blood helping prevent blood clots – strong painkillers should not be taken as they may mask the symptoms of altitude sickness)
– Blister treatment
– Imodium or other anti-Diarrhoea tablets
– Plasters/Band Aids
– Antiseptic wipes
– Dressings, especially pressure relief for blisters
– Talcum Powder
– Malaria tablets
– Sun block for skin & lips (Factor 15+)
– Knee supports etc.
– Lemsip or other cold cure sachets
– Oral rehydration salts/sachets
– Insect repellent containing DEET
– Sanitary Towels or similar
Other health tips:
Ladies please note that altitude may affect the menstrual cycle.
All contact lens wearers should take care to remove the lenses at night as the eye needs to absorb oxygen from the atmosphere. The rarefied conditions of altitude reduce oxygen levels and in extreme cases a Corneal Oedema can develop.
In the event of an emergency on the mountain the rescue team plus one of the assistant guides will descend with the casualty to the park gate. At the gate, Bobby Tours And Safaris will take over and make the necessary arrangements.
Bobby Tours Mountain climbing department has a vast experience in leading hikers and climbers to the summit of Kilimanjaro. Our experienced mountain guides have a proud summit success rate averaging between 96% – 98% and have safely guided over 10000 clients to the top of the mountain.
This section aims to provide the potential Mount Kilimanjaro climber with valuable and accurate information on climbing Kilimanjaro, which will hopefully contribute towards increasing your chances of a successful summit attempt.
Below, we have complied this information, after years of experience as well as from feedback from previous climbers.
The following pages gives you more information on factors such as WHEN TO GO, HEALTH REQUIREMENTS …. Read more
Be properly equipped
An essential part of your preparation will be to ensure that you are well equipped for your summit attempt. Print our suggested final checklist and mark it off, to ensure that you are. Please check our : Suggested Checklist page, for all the necessary equipment you might need.
Be physically prepared
It is important that your body is adequately prepared for the physical challenges of Mount Kilimanjaro.
It is possible to summit Kilimanjaro successfully. Many before you have succeeded. This should be topmost in your mind when preparing for the summit attempt. You should always remain in a positive state of mind, but not overly arrogant. Try to anticipate various different scenarios, which you may possibly encounter on the mountain and try to work out the most suitable course of action, mentally by yourself or even as a group. Your mental stamina will, with out a doubt, make the really difficult sections, like from Kibo to Uhuru or from Barafu to Uhuru, easier to complete. Remember if you are properly equipped, you have taken everything as indicated on the final checklist, you are physically prepared and have all the knowledge gained from this section – you will be mentally confident for the physical part of Kilimanjaro..
Adequate travel insurance
Make sure that you have adequate travel and medical insurance, which will also provide you with cover for the climb up Kilimanjaro.
Drink enough water
Make sure that you drink at least 3 – 4 liters of liquid a day – preferably water. For both the Marangu and Machame routes, it is possible to buy mineral water at all the huts and camps. Although a little bit more expensive on the mountain, this is probably the most convenient option – we are however at this stage, not to sure how reliable the supply lines are. For your first day it is recommended that you take along fresh water which is purchased before your climb.
The stream water high on the mountain Kilimanjaro has been tested and has been found to be fit for drinking. However, if you would like to be on the safe-side, use water purification tablets or ask your guide to boil the water for you. This can be done in the evening. You can fill your flasks in the morning, ready for the next part of the climb.
If you are not used to fresh water in nature, prevent any inconvenience by using water purification tablets. REMEMBER! A functioning “body water balance” is one of the keys to a successful climb!
Walk high – sleep low
If possible and especially on your acclimatization day “walk high – sleep low” Try to do a short evening stroll to a higher altitude and then descend to sleep at the camp at a lower altitude. This is essential on your acclimatization day.
Climb as lightly as possible, this becomes even more important on your summit night.
Remember that you will be on the mountain for at least 5 or 6 days. You need to take enough clothing, especially socks to last for this period. Due to frequent rainfall as well as numerous streams on the routes, it is advisable to pack items individually in your bag. These individually packed items should be wrapped in plastic bags to prevent them from getting wet in case of rain or of being accidentally dropped in a stream.
The hardest part in planning a trip to a location that you know nothing about is deciding what equipment to bring, and also what not to bring. The following pages will give you more information on factors such as CLOTHING, EQUIPMENT, FIRST AID, OTHER ITEMS, TIPS & TRICKS … Read more
Go POLE POLE
Go slowly – “Pole Pole” as they say in Swahili! This is also very important during your first days of climbing. Even if you feel well, slow down and enjoy the scenery.
Replace your head lamp and camera batteries with new ones on your summit night.
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)
AMS commonly affects people at high altitude, who are not accustomed to high altitude conditions. AMS can be lethal if not treated immediately or if its symptoms are ignored. Probably 70% of all people climbing Kilimanjaro will suffer to some extent from AMS. You should familiarize yourself with this condition and take preventative care. Click Altitude Sickness for more information on this medical condition.
There is no washing water at Kibo and Arrow Glacier camps. Wet Wipes are very useful.
Take enough snacks like energy bars etc.
Adequate sun protection
Wear a good quality pair of sunglasses (with UV protection) and use adequate sun protection cream with a protection factor of at least 20+
Use a thermal flask for your water on the summit night, other water bottles might freeze solid.
Taking pictures with a fully automatic camera at the summit of Kilimanjaro is possible, and most people do this. The secret is to always have a new battery in your camera when going into cold areas at high altitude. A mechanical camera works just as well, provided you have the knowledge to operate it successfully. Cameras exposed to cold do not cease functioning, but remember, that if you keep your camera inside your jacket and the lens becomes warm, chances are that it will form condensation when suddenly exposed to extreme cold. This condensation will freeze under conditions at the summit. Therefore, keep your camera dry at all times. Moisture will freeze at the summit which WILL cause your camera to stop functioning.
Above the gently rolling hills and plateaux of northern Tanzania rises the snowy peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro, it’s slopes and glaciers shimmering above the rising clouds. Kilimanjaro is located near the town of Moshi and is a protected area, carefully regulated for climbers to enjoy without leaving a trace of their presence. The mountain’s ecosystems are as strikingly beautiful as they are varied and diverse. On the lowland slopes, much of the mountain is farmland, with coffee, banana, cassava, and maize crops grown for subsistence and cash sale. A few larger coffee farms still exist on the lower slopes, but much of the area outside the national park has been subdivided into small plots. Once inside the park, thick lowland forest covers the lower altitudes and breaks into alpine meadows once the air begins to thin. Near the peak, the landscape is harsh and barren, with rocks and ice the predominant features above a breathtaking African view.
Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro is the highlight of most visitors’ experiences in Tanzania. Few mountains can claim the grandeur, the breathtaking views of Amboseli National Park in Kenya, the Rift Valley, and the Masaai Steppe, that belongs to Kilimanjaro. Hiking on the ‘rooftop of Africa’ — the highest point on the continent at 5896 metres — is the adventure of a lifetime, especially because, if paced well, everyone from seasoned trekkers to first-time enthusiasts can scale the snowy peak. For more information, see the ‘Mountain Climbing’ section under ‘Things to Do.
Situated inside Lake Manyara National Park, the lake is home to millions of flamingos, pelicans, storks and other plentiful bird life, as well as hippos that can be observed at close range. Hot springs trickle into the shallow waters and during the dry season, the lakeshore retreats to leave striking white soda deposits in its wake. For more information, see the ‘Lake Manyara National Park’ section under ‘National Parks and Reserves’.
Lake Manyara National Park is a Tanzanian national park located both in Arusha Region and Manyara Region, Tanzania. The two administrative regions have no jurisdiction over the parks. The park is governed by the Tanzania National Parks Authority.
Portuguese invasion and control of the Swahili Coast in the late 16th century ended the golden age of the archipelago, although the Omani Arabs returned to power less than a century later. Today, many of the winding streets and high townhouses of old Stone Town remain unchanged and visitors can walk between the sultan’s palace, the House of Wonders, the Portuguese fort and gardens, the merchants’ houses, and the Turkish baths of the old city. Day-long spice tours to working plantations offer visitors the chance to observe the cultivation of cloves, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, and other spices that have made the island famous.
Zanzibar’s coastline offers some of the best beaches in the world, but sand and surf vary depending on what side of the island you’re on. On the east coast, waves break over coral reefs and sand bars offshore, and low tide reveals small pools of starfish, small minnows, and anemones. Up north, ocean swimming is much less susceptible to the tides, and smooth beaches and white sand make for dazzling days in the sun.
The port city of Stone Town dominates the west coast, and although the beaches of Mangapwani, where slave caves are visible at low tide and nearby Bububu are less than half an hour’s drive away, a night or two spent on the east or north cost is well worth the extra hour it takes to drive there. That said, the Chole Island Marine Park just off Stone Town – and nearby Prison, Grave, and Snake Islands – make a refreshing day-trip and a good break from exploring the winding passageways of the old city.
On the south coast of Zanzibar lies the Menai Bay Conservation Area, a sea turtle protection area for the endangered species that come to breed on the island. Roads to the southeast coast take visitors through the Jozani Forest, home to Zanzibar’s rare Red Colobus monkeys and a number of other primate and small antelope species.
Located in the northern highlands of Tanzania, beneath the twin peaks of Mt. Meru and Mount Kilimanjaro, Arusha is the safari capital of the country. Guests embarking on the popular northern safari circuit all stop in the ‘Geneva of Africa’ to prepare for their journeys into the African bush. From is two-lane streets, the dramatic crater of Mt. Meru stands over the town like a majestic sentinel, it’s crater strewn with thick clouds, it’s slopes dark with verdant forest. Arusha’s ideal location near the major national parks and it’s highland setting make it a peaceful idyll of relaxation before the start of an exciting journey.
Built by the Germans as a centre of colonial administration administration in the early 20th century, Arusha was a sleepy town with a garrison stationed at the old boma and a few shops around a grassy roundabout. From its backwater status amidst the farmlands and plantations of northern Tanzania, today Arusha is one of the country’s most prosperous towns. The site for the United Nations Criminal Tribunal on the Rwandan genocide and the headquarters for the Tripartite commission for East African Co-operation, Arusha is a major centre of Tanzanian diplomacy and international relations.
Located in south-east Tanzania in a remote and little-visited part of the country, the Selous Game Reserve is Africa’s largest protected wildlife reserve and covers more than 5% of Tanzania’s total area. It’s rivers, hills, and plains are home to roaming elephant populations, the area’s famous wild dogs, and some of the last black rhino left in the region. Due to its remote location, and because it is most easily accessible only by small aircraft, the Selous Game Reserve has remained one of the untouched gems of Tanzania’s national parks and game reserves, and offers visitors a chance to see a wild and expansive Africa far from paved roads and curio shops.
One of the more historic protected areas in Tanzania, the Selous Game Reserve was named after Frederick Courteney Selous, a British explorer and hunter in East Africa who wrote a book about the region and his travels, and was tragically killed in land now named after him during the First World War. In 1905, when few people in East Africa thought of land conservation and the preservation of wildlife for posterity, portions of the area were earmarked for a hunting reserve. In 1922, the land area was increased and named after Frederick Selous. From then until 1975, when the current boundaries were delineated, the Selous Game Reserve increased steadily in allocated land. These days, tourists flock to the north of the reserve, while large portions of the south are still reserved for hunting.
The Rufigi River Delta is a striking feature of the game reserve. It connects the Great Ruaha River with the Rufigi River and not far from the park boundaries empties out into the Indian Ocean along the Tanzanian Coast. The Rufigi River is the largest water catchment locations in the region, and as such, is home to a plethora of varied water and bird life. Along its shores, oppulent hippos sleep languidly in the mud and sun themselves, mouths wide open, as the river passes by. Crocodiles are also common along the Rufigi’s riverbanks, their armour plated skins the only rough edges in the rivers incessant flow. Stiggler’s Gorge, where the Great Ruaha River meets the Rufiji River, is a breathtaking example of the diversity and spectacular scenery along the game reserve’s waterways.
The Selous is unique among Tanzania’s more renowned preserved areas because it is a game reserve, not a national park, and therefore a larger range of activities are permitted. Boating safaris are becoming a popular alternative to vehicle-based trips, and offer visitors a chance to see the diverse life along the Rufigi River up close in all its splendour. Hiking safaris and fly camping are also ideal ways to explore the country and add a bit of adventure to your African experience.