Kilimanjaro - A Trekking Guide to Africa's Highest Mountain; Includes City Guides to Arusha, Moshi, Marangu, Nairobi and Dar Es Salaam

Stedman, Henry

2003 Feb

Book ID 781

See also

Stedman, Henry Kilimanjaro - A Trekking Guide to Africa's Highest Mountain; Includes City Guides to Arusha, Moshi, Marangu, Nairobi and Dar Es Salaam, 2003 Feb
Extract Date: May 2003

From the Author

(Copied from www.amazon.co.uk)

This book on trekking up Kilimanjaro was something of a labour of love for me. I’ve been writing guidebooks full-time for six years now, for companies such as Rough Guides (Indonesia, Southeast Asia), the trekking specialists Trailblazer and Bradt. For the past two years I have been editing other people’s guides as well, purely because I was getting a little tired of being on the road for nine months of the year and wanted to spend more time at home. At the time, there were very few destinations in the world that could persuade made me to ditch my red editing pen, put my rucksack back on and go and write another guidebook: Kilimanjaro, however, was one of them.

Quite simply, Kilimanjaro is a fantastic mountain, and the walk to the summit is one of the most enjoyable - and hardest - things I have ever done. Having previously researched and written about the European Dolomites, the Inca Trail and Nepal’s Annapurna region, I think I have some idea as to what makes a good trek; and believe me, the five-to-six day walk up Kilimanjaro, whatever route you take, is an absolute classic.

Its summit, at 5892.55m - 5896m, (depending on which estimate you’re using), is not only the highest point in Africa; it’s also one of the highest places regular trekkers (by which I mean those who have no mountaineering/climbing skills) can reach just by walking. And having gained the summit, the sense of achievement is awesome.

But like all good treks, reaching your goal is only part of the fun: it’s the getting there that counts. They say that to climb it is to pass through four seasons in four days - and they’re right. From the sweaty jungle of the first day via cloud forest, heath and moorland and on to the alpine desert and icy wastes of the summit, the scenery on Kilimanjaro is forever changing – and forever fascinating. The growing sense of camaraderie between yourself and your fellow trekkers and crew members, the feeling of leaving the rat-race behind, the glorious isolation, the enjoyment of feeling fit and healthy and, cliché though it may be, of feeling at one with nature, are all certain to become memories that will stay with you forever.

Nor do you have to be super-fit to make it to the summit. Indeed, there’s no reason why anybody with a working set of calf (something we examine at great length in the book) shouldn’t make it to the top.

That, in short, is why you should climb this mountain. But why should you choose this book to help you do so? The following list gives a few reasons as to why we think it’s THE book on Kilimanjaro

* This book is one of the few that looks at all the main routes up Kilimanjaro, and the ONLY one to look at THREE ROUTES in detail (Marangu Route, Machame Route and the little-known Rongai Route).

*This is the only book to provide a comparison between the trekking agencies, both in Africa and around the world - and because it is compulsory for every trekker to sign up with an agency, and these agencies have the power to enhance or ruin your trek, this comparison is pretty essential reading.

* The only book to provide an in-depth look at the towns (Arusha, Moshi and Marangu) surrounding Kilimanjaro, to help you compare hotels, locate the best restaurants and find venues for that post-trek celebratory/commiseratory knees-up.

We also provide:

* A thorough health and fitness section to help you stay healthy in East Africa, increase your chances of making it to the top and ensure you make it back down again;

* Advice on how to book your trek and what to look out for in the agency’s contract;

* Advice on what to take, and what to leave behind!

* Details on flights to East Africa;

* City guides to Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, the two cities that you are most likely to fly into, as well as the newly-opened Kilimanjaro International Airport;

* A thorough practical information section (including visas, currency, budgeting, transport, food etc) on travelling around Tanzania and Kenya;

* Advice on how to look after your porters and crew on the trek;

* The most comprehensive sections on the history of Kilimanjaro and Tanzania, and on the flora and fauna of Kilimanjaro(including a photographic guide to the plants and flowers);

* A look at the culture of the local Chagga people who inhabit Kilimanjaro’s lower slopes;

* Photos and illustrations (from both contemporary and historical sources, including some wonderful pen-and-ink sketches by the first Europeans to see Kilimanjaro, way back in the nineteenth century).

. . . Everything, indeed, to help you get from the safety of your favourite armchair at home all the way to the very summit of Africa’s highest mountain. And no other guidebook can provide anything like that kind of comprehensive coverage.

And if that’s not enough, we are also by some distance the NEWEST (published 2003) and, according to the Amazon website, the CHEAPEST too.

Simply put, Kilimanjaro is a mountain that everybody should climb; and we think that Trailblazer’s Kilimanjaro is the book to help you get there.

Henry Stedman, May 2003

Extract ID: 4622

See also

Stedman, Henry Kilimanjaro - A Trekking Guide to Africa's Highest Mountain; Includes City Guides to Arusha, Moshi, Marangu, Nairobi and Dar Es Salaam, 2003 Feb
Page Number: intro 01

preamble to The Snows of Kilimanjaro

"Kilimanjaro is a snow covered mountain 19,710 feet high, and is said to be the highest mountain in Africa. Its western summit is called the Masai ‘Ngà’je Ngài’, the House of God. Close to the western summit there is the dried and frozen carcass of a leopard. No one has explained what the leopard was seeking at that altitude."

Ernest Hemingway in the preamble to The Snows of Kilimanjaro

Extract ID: 4623

external link

See also

Stedman, Henry Kilimanjaro - A Trekking Guide to Africa's Highest Mountain; Includes City Guides to Arusha, Moshi, Marangu, Nairobi and Dar Es Salaam, 2003 Feb
Page Number: intro 03

Kilimanjaro challenges

The cynical could look upon the large numbers of trekkers climbing Kili as evidence that this is a relatively easy mountain to scale. For further proof, they could also point to those for whom the challenge of climbing Kilimanjaro simply wasn’t, well, challenging enough, and who deliberately went out of their way to make the ascent more difficult for themselves, just for the hell of it. Men such as the Brazilian who jogged right up to the summit in just 24 hours. Or the Crane brothers from England who cycled up, surviving on Mars Bars strapped to their handlebars. And the anonymous Spaniard who, in the 1970s, drove up to the summit by motorbike. Nor must we forget Douglas Adams, the author of the Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy, who in 1994 reached the summit for charity while wearing an eight-foot rubber rhinoceros costume; and finally there’s the (possibly apocryphal) story of the man who walked backwards the entire way in order to get into the Guinness Book of Records – only to find out, on his return to the bottom, that he had been beaten by somebody who had done exactly the same thing just a few days previously.

And that’s just the ascent; for coming back down again the mountain has witnessed skiing, a method first practised by Walter Furtwangler way back in 1912; snowboarding, an activity pioneered on Kili by Stephen Koch in 1997; and even hang-gliding, for which there was something of a fad a few years ago.

Cyclists to skiers, heroes to half-wits, bikers to boarders to backward walkers: it’s no wonder, given the sheer number of people who have climbed Kili over the past century, and the ways in which they’ve done so, that so many believe that climbing Kili is something of a doddle. And you’d be forgiven for thinking the same.

You’d be forgiven – but you’d also be wrong. Whilst these stories of successful expeditions tend to receive a lot of coverage, they serve to obscure the tales of suffering and tragedy that often go with them. You don’t, for example, hear much about the hang-glider who leapt off Kili a few years ago and was never seen again. Or the fact that the Brazilian who jogged up spent the next week in hospital recovering from severe high-altitude pulmonary oedema. And for all the coverage of the Millennium celebrations, when over 7000 people stood on the slopes of Kilimanjaro during New Year’s week – with a 1000 on New Year’s Eve alone – little mention was made of the fact that three people died on Kilimanjaro in those seven days. Or that another 33 had to be rescued. Or that well over a third of all the people who took part in those festivities failed to reach the summit, or indeed get anywhere near it.

Extract ID: 5587

See also

Stedman, Henry Kilimanjaro - A Trekking Guide to Africa's Highest Mountain; Includes City Guides to Arusha, Moshi, Marangu, Nairobi and Dar Es Salaam, 2003 Feb
Page Number: intro 04

‘inclusivity’

It is this ‘inclusivity’ that undoubtedly goes some way to explaining Kilimanjaro’s popularity, a popularity that saw 20,351 foreign tourists and 674 local trekkers visit in 2000, thereby confirming Kili’s status as the most popular of the so-called ‘Big Seven’, the highest peaks on each of the seven continents. The sheer size of it must be another factor behind its appeal. This is the Roof of Africa, a massive massif 60km long by 80km wide with an altitude that reaches to a fraction under 6km above sea level. The renowned anthropologist, Charles Dundas, writing in 1924 claimed that he once saw Kilimanjaro from a point over 120 miles away. It is even big enough to have its own weather systems (note the plural) and, furthermore, to influence the climates of the countries that surround it.

"The aspect presented by this prodigious mountain is one of unparalleled grandeur, sublimity, majesty, and glory. It is doubtful if there be another such sight in this wide world. "

Charles New, the first European to reach the snow-line on Kilimanjaro, from his book Life, Wanderings, and Labours in Eastern Africa

But size, as they say, isn’t everything, and by themselves these bald figures fail to fully explain the allure of Kilimanjaro. So instead we must look to attributes that cannot be measured by theodolites or yardsticks if we are to understand the appeal of Kilimanjaro.

Extract ID: 5588

See also

Stedman, Henry Kilimanjaro - A Trekking Guide to Africa's Highest Mountain; Includes City Guides to Arusha, Moshi, Marangu, Nairobi and Dar Es Salaam, 2003 Feb
Page Number: Intro 06

Its beauty

In particular, there’s its beauty. When viewed from the plains of Tanzania, Kilimanjaro conforms to our childhood notions of what a mountain should look like: high, wide and handsome, a vast triangle rising out of the flat earth, its sides sloping exponentially upwards to the satisfyingly symmetrical summit of Kibo; a summit that rises imperiously above a thick beard of clouds and is adorned with a glistening bonnet of snow. Kilimanjaro is not located in the crumpled mountain terrain of the Himalayas or the Andes. Where the mightiest mountain of them all, Everest, just edges above its neighbours – and look less impressive because of it – Kilimanjaro stands proudly alone on the plains of Africa. The only thing in the neighbourhood that can even come close to looking it in the eye is Mount Meru, a fair way off to the south-west and a good 1420m smaller too. The fact that it’s located smack bang in the heart of the sweltering East African plains, just a few degrees and 330km south of the equator, with lions, giraffes, and all the other celebrities of the safari world running around its base, only adds to its charisma.

And then there’s the scenery on the mountain itself. So massive is Kilimanjaro, that to climb it is to pass through four seasons in four days, from the sultry rainforests of the lower reaches through to the windswept heather and moorland of the upper slopes, and on to the arctic wastes of the summit.

There may be 15 higher points on the globe; there can’t be many that are more beautiful, or more tantalizing.

Extract ID: 5590

See also

Stedman, Henry Kilimanjaro - A Trekking Guide to Africa's Highest Mountain; Includes City Guides to Arusha, Moshi, Marangu, Nairobi and Dar Es Salaam, 2003 Feb
Page Number: Intro 07

Ethiopian Mount Olympus

"In sitting down to recount my experiences with the conquest of the “Ethiopian Mount Olympus” still fresh in my memory, I feel how inadequate are my powers of description to do justice to the grand and imposing aspects of Nature with which I shall have to deal. "

Hans Meyer, the first man to climb Kilimanjaro, in his book Across East African Glaciers – an Account of the First Ascent of Kilimanjaro.

Nor is it just tourists that are entranced by Kilimanjaro; the mountain looms large in the Tanzanian psyche too. Look at their supermarket shelves. The nation’s second favourite lager is called Kilimanjaro. The third favourite, Kibo Gold, is named after the higher of Kilimanjaro’s two summits. Even the nation’s best selling lager, Safari, has something distinctly white and pointy looming in the background of its label. Nor can teetotallers entirely escape Kili’s presence. There’s Kilimanjaro coffee (grown on the mountain’s fertile southern slopes) and Kilimanjaro mineral water (bottled on its western side). On billboards lining the country’s highways Tanzanian models smoke their cigarettes in its shadow, while cheerful roly-poly housewives compare the whiteness of their laundry with the mountain’s glistening snows. And to pay for all of these things you can use a Tanzanian Ts5000 note – which just happens to have, on the back of it, a herd of giraffe lolloping along in front of the distinctive silhouette of Africa’s highest mountain.

It is perhaps no surprise to find, therefore, that when Tanganyika won its independence from Britain in 1961, one of the first things they did was plant a torch on its summit; a torch that the first president, Julius Nyerere, hoped would ‘…shine beyond our borders, giving hope where there was despair, love where there was hate, and dignity where before there was only humiliation.’

To the Tanzanians, Kilimanjaro is clearly much more than just a very large mountain separating them from Kenya. It’s a symbol of their freedom, and a potent emblem of their country.

And given the tribulations and hardships willingly suffered by thousands of trekkers on Kili each year – not to mention the money they spend for the privilege of doing so – the mountain obviously arouses some pretty strong emotions in non-Tanzanians as well. Whatever the emotions provoked in you by this wonderful mountain, and however you plan to climb it, we wish you well. Because even if you choose to leave the bicycle at home, forego the pleasures of wearing a latex rhino outfit and walk in the direction that nature intended you to, climbing up Kilimanjaro will still be one of the hardest things you ever do.

But it will also, without a doubt, be one of the most rewarding.

Extract ID: 5591

See also

Stedman, Henry Kilimanjaro - A Trekking Guide to Africa's Highest Mountain; Includes City Guides to Arusha, Moshi, Marangu, Nairobi and Dar Es Salaam, 2003 Feb
Extract Author: Hans Meyer
Page Number: Intro 08

notwithstanding all the toil

"We were in an amiable frame of mind ourselves and, notwithstanding all the toil and trouble my self-appointed task had cost me, I don’t think I would that night have changed places with anybody in the world. "

Hans Meyer on the evening after reaching the summit, as recorded in Across East African Glaciers

Extract ID: 5592
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