Cheap Flights to Kilimanjaro
Rising out of the surrounding plains, Africa's tallest mountain and Tanzania's pride Kilimanjaro is visible for miles around. It is a common stopping-off point for those on their way to safaris in the Serengeti or the Ngorongoro Crater, but it is also very much a destination in its own right. Climbing it requires no specialist equipment or even a particularly high level of fitness; it is all about grit, determination and the ability to tolerate altitude.
Those who are particularly confident in their physical capabilities might like to take part in the annual Kiliman adventure challenge. However, those who prefer to take in their mountains in a less energetic manner can enjoy an outstanding view of Kilimanjaro by hot air balloon from Amboseli national park over the border in Kenya.
Things to do
Tourists have been coming to climb Kilimanjaro for decades, but it would be an oversight to visit this part of east Africa and not make time to take at least a short safari.
- Climb into the clouds
There are six main ascent routes up the mountain. Marangu and Machame are the most popular. Lemosho, Rongai and Shira are longer and attract slightly fewer climbers. Umbwe is the steepest route. It is also the quietest but its steepness means that altitude acclimatisation can be difficult. The lower slopes are clothed in rainforest but higher up heather gives way to an alpine landscape. Beyond this, there is only rock and the occasional frozen waterfall. It takes an average of five to seven days to make the trip to the top, with most people choosing to summit at sunrise.
- Go on safari
It takes about a day to drive from Kilimanjaro to the Serengeti but only an hour to fly from Kilimanjaro airport right into the heart of the game reserve. The Serengeti's huge expanses of plain are broken only by the occasional acacia and, particularly in the less visited eastern side of the reserve, scrubland in which elephants, buffalo and lions hide. There is nowhere better on earth to see large game animals at very close quarters.
- Fly over the mountain
Hot air balloon safaris from the nearby Amboseli national park, just over the border in Kenya, offer one of the best ways to view the iconic mountain. Good photographs are almost assured and there is also the strong possibility of game viewing from the air.
Calendar of Events
Kilimanjaro is a sparsely populated area, and its most compelling events are those connected to the natural world.
Kiliman Adventure Challenge. Although not strictly speaking a triathlon, this has to be one of the most challenging physical fitness events anywhere. Every February, participants compete for the title of "KiliMan". Their challenges include hiking up to the summit, mountain biking around its base and a marathon.
Kilimanjaro Marathon. As well as forming part of the Kiliman Adventure Challenge, this marathon is also a stand-alone event for endurance runners. Held in late February, when temperatures are at their coolest, participants run their marathon in the shadow of the enormous mountain.
The Migration. Millions of wildebeest and zebra migrate around the Serengeti and Masai Mara ecosystems in a circular pattern, following the rains. Experiencing a game drive from the heart of one of these vast herds is an unforgettable experience. The months between November and February tend to be the best for viewing the migration in the northern and eastern parts of the Serengeti.