Kilimanjaro National Park, Tanzania

Destinations Kilimanjaro National Park

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Mount Kilimanjaro National Park

Renowned for its’ diverse ecosystems ranging from lush rainforests to alpine meadows and a particularly famous snow-capped summit, Kilimanjaro National Park is a protected expanse of land in Northern Tanzania and an incredible bucket list destination for adventure seekers around the world.

Kilimanjaro National Park itself covers an area of 1,688 square km, or 652 square miles, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Of all the spectacular national parks in Tanzania, Mount Kilimanjaro National Park stands out for one particular reason. The park is home to Mount Kilimanjaro, the largest freestanding volcanic mass in the world and highest mountain in Africa at 5,895m at its peak.

But there is much more to Kilimanjaro National Park than just the iconic Kilimanjaro summit and in this guide, we will dive into the interesting facts about the park and provide you with some top travel tips when visiting Tanzania to climb Kilimanjaro.

Rongai Route, Kilimanjaro

Where is Kilimanjaro National Park?

Kilimanjaro National Park is located on the continent of Africa in northeastern Tanzania and south of the border to Kenya.

Mount Kilimanjaro in Kilimanjaro National Park is located in the centre of the park. The snow peaked dormant volcano stands alone above the surrounding plains, overlooking the savannah and can be seen from as far away as Tanzania’s neighbouring country Kenya.

Mount Kilimanjaro National Park can be accessed using several gates acting as entry and exit points. These gates include the Marangu gate, Machame gate and Umbwe gate on the southern foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro and the Lemosho gate, Londorsi gate and Rongai gate on its’ northern foothills.

How do I get to Kilimanjaro National Park?

The best way to get to Kilimanjaro National Park, Tanzania, is to fly directly to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) because it is the closest airport to the park itself. The drive to the park from the airport is 75km and takes about 90 minutes.

The next closest domestic airport is Arusha Airport (ARK) near the city of Arusha, but this is not serviced as well with transfers and transport as Kilimanjaro International Airport.

The main international airlines that fly into Kilimanjaro International Airport from the UK or US are KLM, Qatar Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines and their associated airline partners.

From the UK, KLM fly from London via Amsterdam, Qatar Airlines fly from London, Manchester and Edinburgh via Doha and Ethiopian Airlines fly from Manchester, London Heathrow and London Gatwick via Addis Ababa to Kilimanjaro International Airport.

From the US, Delta Airlines offer the most direct flights to Kilimanjaro International airport via Amsterdam in the Netherlands or American Airlines via Doha in Qatar.

On all our trips to Kilimanjaro, trekkers will need to organise their own flights to Kilimanjaro International Airport and from there we will arrange a private transfer to your hotel.

Kilimanjaro airport - How to get to Kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro National Park accommodation

You don’t actually stay inside Kilimanjaro National Park, except when climbing Kilimanjaro. Most people heading to Mount Kilimanjaro National Park stay in the city of Arusha, or the town of Moshi.

Moshi is very close to the southern entrance of the park whereas Arusha is over two hours away by car. Despite this, many people find Arusha to be a good base for both climbing Kilimanjaro and visiting one of the widely popular Tanzania safari parks of Tanzania’s Northern Circuit.

Is Kilimanjaro National Park Safe?

Tanzania is a pretty safe country to visit and once you reach Kilimanjaro National Park, you’ll find the people are friendly, welcoming and helpful. Mount Kilimanjaro itself is a dormant volcano with its’ most recent activity occurring about 200 years ago and its’ last major eruption 360,000 years ago.

The biggest threat posed by climbing Kilimanjaro is the possibility of developing altitude sickness. Anyone who travels to high altitude is subject to altitude sickness and it occurs when you ascend too quickly and don’t allow the body sufficient time to acclimatise to lower oxygen levels. Our blog on how to prevent altitude sickness when climbing Kilimanjaro provides you with all you need to know about altitude sickness. It’s well worth a read, particularly if it’s your first time trekking at altitude.

Lemosho Route

Kilimanjaro National Park weather and climate

Mount Kilimanjaro and the surrounding Kilimanjaro National Park area is completely unique compared to most other national parks in Tanzania because the mountain offers an unrivalled journey through five separate climate zones, each with its own distinct and beautiful features.

Those who visit Kilimanjaro National Park to climb Kilimanjaro must come prepared for all the different zones they’ll experience.

The base of the mountain begins with the dry cultivated zone from 800m to 1,800m where local people have farmed the land, growing crops such as coffee and bananas. When climbing Kilimanjaro, the trailheads start higher up the mountain so you would walk through this section of the park.

Next, at around 1,800m to 2,800m, you come to the dense rainforests of Kilimanjaro. You can expect plentiful plant life, large moss-covered trees, as well as thick undergrowth and streams running through this band around the base of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Above the treeline, at around 2,800m it is much drier, colder and less humid than the rainforest. There is still foliage here and rocky paths among an assortment of unusual vegetation.

At around 4,000m you enter the alpine desert zone. Then finally, you will experience the icy arctic summit zone about 5,000m. There is actually a glacier near the summit of Kilimanjaro called the Furtwangler Glacier, a remnant of the ice cap that covered the entire mountaintop a century ago.

The best time to visit Kilimanjaro National Park

While Kilimanjaro National Park is open all year round, conditions differ throughout the year so you should spend some time contemplating the best time to visit Kilimanjaro and align your visit with the best time to climb Kilimanjaro.

We recommend climbing Kilimanjaro on one of our Kilimanjaro routes during the warmest and driest time of the year, from June to October and December to March. In fact, we only run trips to Kilimanjaro during these ‘high’ seasons to ensure the safety of all our group members and a more enjoyable experience all round. For more information, our blog on the best time to climb Kilimanjaro covers everything you need to know about Kilimanjaro weather, season by season.