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Mountains Of Tanzania
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Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest mountain, the world’s tallest free-standing massif and one of the world’s largest dormant volcanoes, reaching an elevation of just over 5,890m. Other names for this giant stratovolcano are: Kilima Dscharo Oldoinyo Oibor (white mountain in Maasai), and Kilima Njaro meaning shining mountain in Swahili. The volcano’s highest and youngest cone is named Kibo, it’s highest point is Uhuru peak, on the southwestern rim, it’s official height is 5891.6m; Shira (3962m) to the west and Mawenzi (5149m) in the east are older cones that make up Kilimanjaro. Kibo has not been active in recent times, but steam and sulfur are still emitted. At the top of Kibo’s summit is a 1 1/2 mile (2 1/4 Km) wide crater.
Kilimanjaro is the world’s highest non-technical climb, although this should not be taken to mean it is an easy ascent. Cold and altitude are the main problems facing anyone wishing to reach the summit. A healthy person, who is attentive to their bodies needs and takes their time, should be able to make it to the top. Chances of reaching the summit are greatly enhanced by taking extra time to acclimatize to the altitude.
Mount Meru, at 4,566m, is the second highest mountain in Tanzania. From Arusha it look like an almost perfect cone, however from the east can be seen the results of volcanic activity, which blew away the top and eastern side of the mountain. The volcano is now classed as dormant, although earth tremors still occur, and the most recent minor eruption was in 1910.
Mount meru is often used as an acclimatization trip before attempting Kilimanjaro. However it is a rewarding climb in its own right Several distinct zones are passed through on the way to the summit: evergreen forest, thinning with altitude, beginning at 1800m; higher forest, including tall bamboo, home to duiker, blue monkeys and black and white colobus; approaching 3000m the forest gives way to floral meadows, home to giraffe, buffalo and warthog; a zone of giant lobelia and groundsel; above 3400m is alpine desert, where the sound of white-necked ravens is often heard above the noise of the wind.
A Mount Meru climb is usually done over three days, two up, one down; an extra day would help acclimatization and give time to enjoy the spectacular views. Although not so much of a problem as on Kilimanjaro, altitude sickness symptoms should be taken seriously.
Oldonyo Le Ngai
Ol Doinyo Lengai means “Mountain of God” in Maasai language. It is a steep stratovolcano located in a section of the East-African rift valley in northern Tanzania, near the Ngorongongo and Serengeti National parks. The volcano is known for its unique type of natrocarbonatite lava and as such it is the only known active natrocarbonatite volcano on earth. The diameter of the crater floor is about 350 to 400 meters and the elevation of the summit is about 2,800 meters
It is the only active volcano in East Africa, rising up at the southern end of Lake Natron. Minor eruptions occur every decade or so, major explosive eruptions every twenty to forty years. It is almost perfectly conical in shape and one of the few volcanoes to emit potassium and calcium carbonate. There are two crater summits, the southern is dormant and filled with ash; the northern, 200m deep, is active and needs to be treated with extreme caution.
A tough but rewarding climb, taking at least seven hours, 4 up, 3 down. The ascent is steep, almost 45 degrees, and mostly on loose soil, with no shade and prickly vegetation, not for the faint-hearted!
Mahale Mountains National Park is located in one of the most remote locations in Tanzania, on the western border with the Congo, against the dramatic shores of Lake Tanganyika. Accessible only by small aircraft, the park is the home of a large chimpanzee population that is well acclimatized to human contact. Although the nearby Gombe Stream National Park is more famous, the primate population in Mahale Mountains is more numerous and sightings more regular and prolonged.
Observing the chimpanzees in their natural habitat, one cannot help but be touched by their natural grace and anthropomorphic features. Although remote, a chimpanzee safari to Mahale Mountains National Park is well worth the effort. Hikes to their habitation areas are accessible and not strenuous, although being in good physical condition will ease the strain of walking through the jungle! Up close, observing the endangered primates is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The Usambara mountains are located between Kilimanjaro and the Indian Ocean. Some of the tops rise to well over 2000m. Between steep cliffs and rocky hilltops are set small communities of the pastoral Usambani tribe. The high altitude and fertile soils attracted German, British and other European settlers. This is an excellent place to visit for a few relaxing days if you are travelling overland between the coast and Kilimanjaro and the northern gameparks. Lushoto, at the heart of the Usambara, can be reached in a 5 hour drive from Moshi. It is a further 4 hours drive to Tanga from where there are daily flights to Zanzibar, or 5-6 hours drive to Pangani or Saadani. Although a variety of accommodation is available in the area.
Both offer guiding services for walkers. Available walks include:
A bird walk
Wildlife to be seen includes the elegant Colobus monkey, blue monkeys and a wide variety of birds. In the rain forest euphorbias, acacias, giant ferns, palms, lobelias, camphors (Japanese and Usumbaru) eucalyptus and fig trees are all to be ound.
Lengths of walks can be varied from just an hour or so to all day long taking a packed lunch with you. To be able to see something of the region it is best to spend at least two nights in the area.
The Ngorongoro Highlands is a dramatic range of volcanic mountains that straddles the Rift Valley escarpment immediately to the south of the Serengeti.
The main highlight is perhaps the most remarkable natural wonder in all Africa ... the Ngorongoro Crater, where virtually the whole panoply of game can be seen year round.
Although there are several accommodation options on the rim of the crater itself, we often find that it is generally better to stay either side, in the farmland of Ngorongoro Karatu to the south and in Southcentral Serengeti to the north, visiting the crater on the way through.Away from the crater the highland areas of Ngorongoro North and Ngorongoro South generally contain less game and are consequently much less visited. But this extremely scenic high altitude scenery contains some superb hiking and trekking options. Exploring on foot in the company of authentic Maasai morani can really enrich the overall safari experience and is not to be missed if you think you can handle the exercise.
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