African safaris are great and the beaches are diverse and dramatic. But an Africa Safari adventures don’t just have to be about 4X4 game drives or lazy strolls on cotton-soft sands by crystal blue waters.
If you’re looking to soak up Africa’s breathtaking scenery, and have an eye for adventure, then there’s only one place to be: at the top.
From the snow-capped peak of Kilimanjaro and the Rwenzori Mountains, through the forest-clothed slopes of Mount Kenya, East Africa’s magnificent rooftops offer glorious views and a wide range of trekking experiences that appeal to all kinds of climbers, from hardcore mountaineers to weekend warriors and families.
Make it to the summit of Tanzania’s 5,895-meter Kilimanjaro, and you’ll be standing at Africa’s highest point. The majestic mountain is Africa’s most-visited trekking destination, attracting tens of thousands of tourists and adventurers every year.
There are six routes to choose from, each with varying degrees of difficulty, scenery and success. No special equipment is required.
On the way to the “Roof of Africa,” you will travel through five different climatic zones, reaching arctic cold temperatures around the glaciers that cap Kibo, Kilimanjaro’s summit.
You’d a better hurry, though, as climate change experts say that the ice and snow in the mountain’s upper slopes are melting and could disappear within decades.
Climbing Mount Kenya
A long-extinct volcano, Mount Kenya is Africa’s second-highest peak, at 5,199 meters. Lying just south of the equator, the mountain’s glacial valleys, successive vegetation zones and diverse wildlife will guarantee you spectacular scenery and fantastic trekking experience.
The ascent, however, to the mountain’s steep ice-capped peaks is quite challenging. Mount Kenya is the most technical, probably, in that East African area.
At the mountain’s crest, temperatures rarely rise above freezing point. There are several routes on the way to the mountain’s summit, the majority of which take between three and seven days to complete.
The Rwenzori mountain range stretches on the western border of Uganda between Lake George and Lake Albert. This mountain range has many peaks with the highest being Mount Stanley, the third highest mountain range in Africa, after Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya. At 5 110 metres, Mount Stanley (also known as Mount Ngaliéma), was named after Sir Henry Morton Stanley, the first European to reach its highest peak, Margherita’s Peak. Other peaks include: Mount Speke 4,890m (16,040ft), Mount Stanley 5,109m (16,762ft), Mount Emin 4,798 (15,74ft), Mount Baker 4,715m (15,469ft), Mount Luigi di Savoia 4,627 (15,180ft) and Mount Gessi 4,715m (15,449ft).
Unlike Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya, Mount Stanley is not frequently visited by tourists. Due to this the mountain range still remains a mystery to many climbers. Many routes are unexplored and are still relatively new. Unlocking the mystery around Mount Stanley should be an exciting experience for any climber.
Mount Stanley is located in a high rainfall area and many climbers might be discouraged by this. However, the scenery around the mountain more than compensates for the long drenched climb to Margherita’s Peak.
Hiking Mount Meru
Mount Meru may forever be destined to exist in the shadow of its imposing neighbour, Kilimanjaro, but Tanzania’s second-highest mountain (4,565 meters) has its own devotees.
It’s lesser-known, but Mount Meru is for the true enthusiast who wants to experience what very few people actually do.
A beautiful volcanic cinder cone, Mount Meru will treat you to stunning views and diverse wildlife. Its slopes are coated with dense rainforest up to about 2,900 meters, which then give way to rocky areas.
Mount Meru is often used by mountaineers for acclimatization before trekking Kilimanjaro, or by those wanting a trek with the local Massai.
Climbing Mount Elgon
Mount Elgon is a magnificent extinct volcano dominating the skyline along the Uganda-Kenya border. Its enormous crater is surrounded by several jagged peaks, including Wagagai, which is the highest point at 4,321 meters.
Here you can explore ancient caves and zip past spectacular cliffs, over which Mount Elgon’s streams cascade as dramatic waterfalls. Elgon’s slopes are covered in ancient dense forests and bamboo belts which then give way to a spectacular moon-like moorland zone blanketed by tree heaths, massive groundsels and lobelias.
There are several routes to the mountain’s peaks, and the full trekking circuit takes up to five days. A descent into the vast caldera, at 40 kilometres long and 8 kilometres wide, is also a must.