- The routes definitely best describe the varied topography of Mount Kilimanjaro, great places for climbers starting their historic journeys. But they certainly don’t share a personality.
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is a rewarding experience for those who attempt and conquer its Summit, 5895m. However, there is no simple way to describe Mount Kilimanjaro routes.
The routes definitely best describe the varied topography of Mount Kilimanjaro, great places for climbers starting their historic journeys. But they certainly don’t share a personality.
Each has its own feel, a unique experience guaranteed to leave adventurous climbers feeling rejuvenated and inspired by the lifetime experience. It’s perfect for those who wish to explore the routes in their own raw beauty and remoteness.
Ms Betrita Loibooki, chief park warden in the Mount Kilimanjaro National Park (KINAPA) which holds a special place in Tanzania tourism, named the Machame route as the busiest of the six routes.
Machame route offers camping grounds all the way up easing booking requirements for routes like Marangu in which accommodation huts are provided by the park. In addition, Machame route offers good views as climbers pass through pristine montane forests.
Second in a row is the popular Marangu route. It is a traditional route for thousands of climbers who have scaled Mt Kilimanjaro for over four decades. And it has serviced accommodation huts with basic facilities throughout the climb.
Lemosho’s Londorossi comes third. Its biggest tick is being the best route to help climbers acclimatize well during ascends and descends. It takes between nine and ten days, one of the longest routes.
By acclimatising well, climbers run a minimal risk from mountain sickness, a common illness in scaling the mountain.
Next in the row is Rongai followed by Umbwe. And Mweka is used for descending climbers only. Climbers who ascend through Lemosho’s Londorosi, Umbwe and Machame routes climb down using the Mweka route.
So my companions and I gathered recently at Mweka gate to welcome female footballers who had climbed the mountain using the Londorosi route.
Ms Betrita Loibooki said they were happy to be part of the 60 female footballers with their 360 porters who climbed down singing happily.
As part of the park’s recent improvement, Betrita said they have consistently maintained cleanness and their round-the-clock rescue operations. And in the near future, rescue operations will be beefed up by a helicopter service, which is awaiting clearance formalities from the authorities.
Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) MD, Ms Devota Mdachi led the tourism stakeholders to welcome the female footballers.
My excitement grew upon seeing the female footballers. They arrived singing motivational songs including an inspiration one that captured the interest of many of us: “Tanzania tujivunie utalii wetu” loosely translated as - Tanzanians let us be proud of our tourism.
Ms Devota commended the female footballers and remained hopeful that they will be good ambassadors for Tanzania and in particular Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s rooftop.
The female footballers were from 20 countries across the world. The list includes traditional and emerging markets for Tanzania tourism. Their ages, nationalities, and experiences were truly inspiring and remarkable.
The female footballers who played the first ever football game at the crater at 57311m, nearly all made it to the Summit, except two who fell sick along the hike.
Devota Mdachi said that they already have indication visit by the Everton team which is to play in Tanzania. And TTB will use the opportunity to once again promote Tanzania tourist attractions.
TTB’s marketing focus, according to Ms. Devota, take on emerging markets such as China, Israel, South Korea, Russia and United Arab Emirates (UAE).
In the African continent, TTB is reaching out to West Africa (Nigeria, Ghana, and Morocco), South Africa and Zimbabwe (Zim). While Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda remain the potentials in the surrounding neighbourhood.
Tanzania’s tourism contributes nearly 17% of GDP, and Devota is optimistic that this per cent level is set to an additional number. She attributes the improvements being implemented by the government in major Tanzania airports as one of the key driver including the revival of Air Tanzania (ATC) operations and the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) project.
Tanzania’s top tourism producers, according to TTB, include US, UK, German, Italy, France, Netherlands, Israel, China and India. There is also marked improvement of beach tourism in which Italy, German and Israel lead the pack. Set to benefit from new tourist arrivals include: Tanga, Zanzibar, Bagamoyo, and Pangani as well as the Katavi National Park in Western Tanzania and Gombe Stream and Mahale Mountains national parks located near the Lake Tanganyika.