"As wide as all the world, great, high, and unbelievably white in the sun, was the square top of Mount Kilimanjaro" Ernest Hemingway
The majestic summit of Kilimanjaro unshrouded by cloud is spectacular sight enough, but to see from its peak the folds of Africa roll out from horizon to horizon is something else altogether. Trekking toward this wondrous panorama is breathtaking in more ways than one; over either the Machame or Rongai routes you take in magnificent rainforests, moorlands, alpine meadows, glittering glaciers and, over the final high altitude scrabble, an alpine desert of loose, lichen-encrusted shale. And, of course, snow. Flora and fauna abound throughout the different zones, so stops to acclimatise are as fascinating as any of the scenic tours traversing the savannah below. Close to the top the landscape is desolate but hauntingly beautiful. Walking amongst the clouds, high on the ‘roof of Africa’, you’ll feel privileged to have experienced one of the world’s great climbs and a glorious vista of the great continent. The local Chagga people call it Kilema Kyaro, or ‘that which cannot be conquered’, and though you might reach the top of the world’s highest free-standing mountain, you’ll be humbled by Mount Kilimanjaro’s undiminished grandeur and be amazed to fulfill the dreams of many an adventurer.
You don’t climb Kili for the animals, but there are nonetheless sightings here, particularly among the mountain’s lower, wooded reaches. Keep your eyes and ears open for monkeys, while hornbills, turacos and sunbirds can also be seen overhead. Servals, civets and even leopards make rare appearances within the mountain’s forest-belt, but the real star of the show is the mountain’s magnificent flora. From walking through forests of camphor and fig, with their undergrowth of fern gully and elaborately draped Usnea (old man’s beard), to resting in valleys strewn with wildflowers and heather, to tackling high altitude semi-desert, studded with the striking rosettes of the giant groundsel, Kili delivers a range of riches befitting this king of African mountains.