Mount Kilimanjaro. So much more than just being the highest peak in the entire African continent AND the tallest free-standing mountain in the world.
For many, it represents the ultimate once-in-a-lifetime personal challenge - an arduous but highly rewarding 6 to 8 day trek up to Uhuru Point (the actual summit) or to Gillman's Point (on the lip of the crater).
The famous snow-covered peak of Kilimanjaro towers an impressive 5,895 metres (19,336 feet) above the African plains below. It is situated within the Kilimanjaro National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is about a 130 km drive from Arusha.
The slopes are covered with a variety of vegetation, starting with dense tropical forests at the base, which are inhabited by elephant, leopard, buffalo, the endangered Abbot’s duiker, and other small antelope and primates.
Further up, the vegetation changes to moorland, covered with heathers. When you reach 4,000 metres, the alpine desert landscape begins, whose extreme temperature fluctuations means that very little in terms of plant and wildlife can survive here, with the exception of a few hardy mosses and lichens.
And finally, the desert turns into a winter scene of snow and ice - and before you know it, you are at the summit, looking out over the world.
Mount Meru is the second highest mountain in Tanzania and the fifth highest in Africa. Mount Meru is an active volcano located 70 kilometres (44 miles) west of Mount Kilimanjaro At a height of 4,566 metres (14,980 ft), it is still visible from Mt Kilimanjaro on a clear day. Much of its bulk was lost about 8,000 years ago due to an eastward volcanic blast, similar to the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in the U.S. state of Washington. Mount Meru most recently had a minor eruption about a century ago. The several small cones and craters seen in the vicinity probably reflect numerous episodes of volcanic activity.Mount Meru is the topographic centerpiece of Arusha National Park. Its fertile slopes rise above the surrounding savanna and support a forest that hosts diverse wildlife, including nearly 400 species of birds, and also monkeys and leopards. Mount Meru is one of Africa's highest and most beautiful volcanoes. The route to the summit passes through parkland, montane forest, a giant heather zone and moorland. Finally, the summit is reached by a narrow, barren ridge which provides stunning views of the Ash Cone lying several thousand feet below in the crater and Kilimanjaro in the background. Over 400 species of birds, rhino, elephant, buffalo, baboon, warthog, black and white Colobus monkey and duiker are all found in this delightful 'gem amongst parks'. The visit to the Ngurdoto crater and Momella lakes, with their superb scenery, flamingoes and other wildlife, is an unforgettable experience.