A guide to Mount climbing in Africa, the top trekking destinations and advice.Where To Go For Mountain Climbing in Africa
1. Mount Kilimanjaro
Mount Kilimanjaro is located in the Kilimanjaro Region of Tanzania and it has got an elevation of 5,895m (19,341ft), with Prominence, its 4th and its Isolation is at 5,510 kilometers (3,420mi). It’s a strato volcano mountain and its last eruption happened between 150,000 and 200,000 years ago. This Mountain has got three volcanic cones including; Mawenzi, Shira and Kibo and it’s a dominant Volcano in Tanzania. Kilimanjaro Mountain is the highest mountain in Africa and rises over 4,900m (16,000ft) from its base above sea level. Its first ascent to the summit was by Hans Meyer and Ludwig Purtscheller in 1889. This famous mountain is also part of Kilimanjaro National park and it’s the major climbing destination in East Africa.
Kilimanjaro National park has generated high revenues of over US 51 million to the country and from 2011-2012, it was visited by over 16,425 climbers. The mountain has got over seven known trekking routes which includes; ascending and descending mount Kilimanjaro: these routes include;’Machame, Mweka, Lemosho, Marangu, Shira, Rongai and Umbwe. And of all these routes, Machame is the most scenic and steeper route, this is because it can be completed in 6-7 days. Among all the above routes, Rongai is the easiest and least scenic route. More so, the Morangu route seems to be easy but tends to be so busy. However, the mountain ascent and descent routes are the same and the accommodation facilities are usually shared in the huts with many other climbers. The mountain climbers are always advised to make research about the different routes and should also ensure that they are well equipped and capable physically. The Hike is usually made difficulty by the high elevation, occasional high winds, and the low temperatures.
Kilimanjaro rises 4,900m from its southern base with in the plains that are near the municipality of moshi towards its height of 5,895m and this means that it’s the highest volcano located outside South America, this mountain is comprised of many volcanic cones including; Mawenzi, shira, these two are extinct while Kibo cone is dormant and could erupt again which is a danger to the climbers.
2. Mount Kenya
This is the highest mountain in Kenya and it’s second to Kilimanjaro Mountain which is the highest mountain in Africa. Its highest peaks include; Batian which is 5,199m ( 17,057ft), Point Lenana (4,985m (16,355ft), Nelion ( 5188m (17,021ft). this mountain is located in the Centre of Kenya and its about 16,5 km south of the Equator and 150km northeast of Nairobi , the capital city of Kenya. The mountain is also the source name to the Republic of Kenya. It’s also a strato volcano and was created 3 million years ago. The mountain is over 7000m (23,000ft) above the sea level and it’s covered by an ice cap for the many years it has existed. It has got eleven small glaciers and its forested slopes are so important for providing water to many parts of Kenya. The other types of vegetation cover around the mountain includes; Lobelias, Rock Hyrax and the senecious. Part of its area (715km) was designated as a national park called Mount Kenya National Park and was listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.
The mountain has many peaks that require rock climbing. Most of these peaks have been summited and majority involve rock climbing and considered as the easiest route, even though some require walking. One of the highest peak that can be ascended without climbing is point Lenana which is 4,985m (16,355ft), this peak is mostly climbed by majority of the visitors that come to the park. The other peaks of Nelion and Batian are climbed by few people since they are the highest peaks. The Batian was first ascended on 31st/ July 1944 by Hicks and Firmin. This route is climbed in 2 days. The mountain is also famous for the good ice routes, these include; Diamond couloir and the Ice Window route. The snow and the ice on the mountain has been retreating at a high rate in the past years, which makes the climbs so difficult and dangerous. This mountain has also got eight walking routes leading to the main peaks. These include; Kamweti, Naro, Moro, Chogoria, Meru, Burguret, Timau, and Sirimon route, the frequently used routes include; Chogoria, Sirimon, Moru and Naro and these have got staffed gates, the rest of the routes require special permission from Kenya Wildlife services to be used.
3. Mount Rwenzori
The Rwenzori Mountains was previously referred to as Ruwenzori Ranges, and sometimes it’s called the “mountain of the moon”, this is also a mountain range of the eastern equatorial Africa and its located on the border of Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. The mountain is at a height of 5,109m (16,762ft) above the sea level and its highest peaks are fully and permanently snow capped with Mount Kenya and Kilimanjaro. The Mountain harbors both Virunga National park and Rwenzori National Park. This mountain formed three million years ago in late Pliocene epoch and this was a result of an uplifted block of the crystalline rocks that include; amphibolite, Gnesis, granite and Quartite.
This mountain range is about 20km long and 65km wide and it has got over 6 massifs which are separated by deep gorges including; Mount Speke 4,890m (16,040ft), Mount Stanley 5,109m (16,762ft), Mount Emin 4,798 (15,74ft), Mount Baker 4,715m (15,469ft), mount Luigi di savoia 4,627 (15,180ft) and Mount Gessi 4,715m (15,449ft), Mount Stanley has got many subsidiary summits and Margherita peak being the highest point. The first European sightings of this mountain was by Henry Morton Stanley in 1889 and William Grant Stairs was the second to climb the mountain and reached a height of 3,254m. More so, the first ascent to the summit was made by the Duke of the Abruzzi in 1906. These mountains are known for hiking and mountaineering safaris, and a 9 to 12 day trek will get the skilled climbers to the top summit of Margherita which is the highest peak, even though they are shorter, the treks are possible to scale the nearby surrounding peaks. And for those climbers who prefer a little less trek, there are some neighboring Bakonzo villages that offer nature walks, home steads visit as well as cultural performances.
4. Atlas Mountains Morocco
The Atlas Mountains are also a mountain range found in the Maghreb. It reaches around 2, 500km (1600mi) through Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria. The highest peak of this mountain is called Jebel Toubkal and it has got an elevation of 4,167m (13,671ft) in the south-western Morocco. The mountains also divides the Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines from the famous sahara desert. These mountains are mainly inhabited by the Berber people. It has also got variety of endangered plants and animals, some of these include; Atlas bear, Barbary Macaque, the animals include; the Barbary leopard, Barbary lion, sheep, Barbary stag, north African Elephant, atlas mountain viper, Cuvier’s gazelle, and many more.
The Atlas Mountain was formed during the three subsequent phases of earth’s geology. These are also believed to have originally been formed as part of the Alleghenian Orogeny. They were also formed when both America and Africa collided. This mountain has got many natural resources including; Iron ore, copper, lead ore, rock salt, marble, silver, Mercury, anthracite coal, phosphate, and the natural gas. The Atlas Mountains are divided in to four main regions including; Middle Atlas, Anti Atlas and High Atlas in Morocco, this middle atlas is in the western side of the three Atlas mountain chains that make a large plateau basin extending east wards. The high atlas also rise in the west of the Atlantic coast and also extends to the Moroccan Algerian boarder and the Anti-atlas extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the south west of Morocco. The second region is Saharan Atlas range which is in Algeria and in the eastern portion of the Atlas mountain Range, the Tell Atlas Range is over 1,500 km (930mi) in length and stretch from Morocco through Tunisia and Algeria and the Aure’s mountain range located in the Aures Region of Algeria and Tunisia.
5. Semien Mountains of Ethiopia
Semien Mountains are found in northern Ethiopian, north east of Gondar and are also part of the great Ethiopian Highlands. These are considered as a world Heritage site and they include, the semien National park. This unique mountain contains a plateaux that is separated by the valleys and the rising to the pinnacles. Its tallest peak is Ras Dashen (4,550m), the other heights also include; Kidis Yared (4,453m) and Biuat (4,437m). The animal species found here include; Gelada, caracal, the walia ibex and the Ethiopian Wolves. These mountains are known to be a great spot in Africa where snow never falls. This snow was first seen by Jesuit priest and later by Henry salt.
All the trekkers on this mountain follow the same common route along the ridge of the Simien mountains national park that passes a route from Sankaber to Geech to the Chenek camp. This famous trail can be completed in 3 to 5 days with the 4 x4s having the access to Sankaber and Chenek at the end of the trek. We also recommend 4 to 5 days on this same route since this will give you the time to go imet Gogo which is a stand out view and also climb Mount Buahit. More so, from Chenek, for those very keen with trekking from the longer distances have got many options. These are usually temped by the allure of Ras Dashen, which is Ethiopia’s highest peak, and apart from its altitude, this route has little to commend it. Many of the trekkers attempt a multi week move all the way to Lalibella, which is an incredible walk through the rarely visited parts. The trekkers to this mountains can also head to the low alnds via sonar, Mekarba and Mullet campsites, which is also a lovely route with much swimming spots in the rivers and are rarely visited camps.
6. The Drakensberg South Africa
The Drakensberg is a name that was given to the eastern portion of the great Escarpments, and this covers the southern African plateau. The Escarpment elevation reaches 2,000 to 3,000 m and the Drakensberg escarpment reaches for over 1,000km (600 miles) from the Eastern Cape Province in the south to the north, to the border between Lesotho and the Eastern Cape towards the Kwazulu Natal province. This is also the main mountain range in South Africa and rises to more than, 11,400 ft (3,475m). The rock and cave art has been found several years within the range. It has got many game reserves and parks and it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s also the main watershed of South Africa and it’s also the source of water to Orange River. The highest peak of the mountain is Thabana Ntlenyana at 3,482m (11,424ft), the other peaks include; Makoaneng at 3,315m, Mafadi at 3,450m, Njesuthi at 3,408m , Giant’s Castle at 3,315m, Champagne castle at 3,377m, popple peak at 333m, and Ben Macdhui at 3,001m
The other popular area for the hikers is cathedral peak. In the north of Lesotho, the ranges become lower and less rugged until it enters Mpumalanga where the great Quartzite Mountains of the Transvaal Drakensberg are seen at loftier state and broken from the eastern rim of the Transvaal Basin. You can chose between the day hikes, longer overnight trails or the walks which is the famous Giant’s cup trail. The Hikes vary in length from 1 to 8 hours. These hikes also include good views of the peaks of the area, most especially Hodgon’s paeka at 3,256m as well as the beautiful mountain streams, waterfalls, pools to swim, forests and the challenging scent. You can take up the beautiful views from the top of Ndlovini at 2,200m, stand at the base of the floating balancing rocks and sight the reedbuck, oribi, duikers, eland, grey Rhebok, baboons and the vultures during your hike.
7. Mount Meru of Tanzania
Mount Meru is also a dormant strato volcano that is located 70km (43mi) west side of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. It’s at a height of 4,562.13m (14,968ft) and it’s visible from Mt Kilimanjaro on a well clear day. It’s known to be the highest mountain in Africa. This mountain had a minor eruption in 1910, and the many small cones and craters around the mountain reflect the many episodes of volcanic activity. Its savannah grassland supports a forest which hosts variety of wildlife including; 400 bird species, leopards and the monkeys. The Momella Route which is 4km (.7mi) is the main and only route to the summit in the recent times. The route starts at the Momella gate (1,500m) and uses two tracks of Miriakamba Hut (2,514m/8,250ft) and saddle Hut route (3,566m/11,700ft). The Rhino point can give you the best amazing views of the summit as well as the inner crater walls. The trek to this mountain serves as an ideal warm up for the great Mt Kilimanjaro due to its altitude and the hiking distances. The trek also helps hikers who prefer less crowds as well as the challenging ascent.
Long ago, it was possible to reach the summit via the North and west slopes, but now days the use of these trails is illegal. It’s also legal to reach the inner Ash Cone and the park authorities recommend it for the researchers and also issues a special permit for this particular activity. The best and good time to climb the peak of Momella is from June to February with the occasional rains in November. This is because it’s a dry season. This hike can be began from Momella gate between 9:00 am and 3:00pm. This helps since it helps to avoid conflicts with the wildlife. Even though you would like to take the long route of up to Miriakamba hut and carry out the trip in 3 days, you will need to start the hike by 4:00am on the first day.
8. Mount Elgon, Uganda & Kenya
Mount Elgon is an extinct shield volcano located in Mt Elgon national park and found on the border of Uganda and Kenya and in the north of Kisumu and western part of Kitale. Its highest point is called Wagagai and the mountain is located in Uganda. It has an altitude of 4,321m (14,77ft) above sea level and it’s the seventeenth highest mountain in Africa. The mountain is 24 million years old which makes it the oldest extinct volcano with in East Africa. This mountain also covers an area of around 3,500 sq km (1,400 sq mi). It’s also known to be a solitary volcanic mountain on the border of eastern Uganda as well as western Kenya. The mountain is 80km in diameter and also rises over 3,070m above the nearby plains. It has got cooler heights that offer respite for the human beings from the hot plains below and the higher altitude that provides a relief to the fauna and Flora.
The park consists of five peaks including; the wagagai peak; (4,321 metres (14,177 ft)), located in Uganda, the Sudek peak (4,302 metres (14,114 ft)) located on the border of Uganda and Kenya, Mubiyi peak; (4,211 metres (13,816 ft)) in Uganda, Masaba peak (4,161 metres (13,652 ft)) also in Uganda and Koitobos peak ((4,222 metres (13,852 ft) which is a basalt column in Kenya. The mountain has got one of the largest intact caldera in the world. Hiking this mountain also presents an exciting setting of unique fauna and flora, caves, waterfalls, peaks, and the hot springs as well as the gorges. Hiking this mountain takes place the whole year but its better done during the dry months of June to August and December to March. Trekking here takes place every day and it’s not difficult to climb this mountain and the hikers need to be fit and there are no specialised equipment or skills are needed to reach the peak since the mountain is not so high.
9. Mount Cameroon
Mount Cameroon is known to be an active volcano with in Cameroon and it’s near the border of the Gulf of Guinea. It’s also called Cameroon Mountain or Fako ad it’s a name of its two peaks or the known native name called Mongo ma Ndemi. It’s the highest point in the sub Saharan western and the central Africa. This is also the most prominent peak in Africa and it gets the 31st position in the whole world. The mountain is one of the largest volcano in Africa and rises to 4,040m (13,255ft) above the coast of West Cameroon. It rises from the coast tropical rain forest to the bare summit which is cold, windy and sometimes brushed with snow. The peak of the mountain can be reached by the hikers and the mount Cameroon Race of hope scales the peak in around 4and half hours. The summit of the mountain was first reached by Mary Kingsley in 1897.
This mountain was also designated as a national park in 2014, even though people have been climbing it for many centuries. Many tour groups can arrange for the trips to the summit. Many of the climb tours start from Buea which is a relaxed town at the base of the mountain. There are also varied options for these tours with the most popular one being the two day summit and three day summit and a crater tour. The four day trek will take you to the wilderness reserve where you can locate the elephants. The mountain recent eruption occurred in 2012. There are also many trails on the mountain the oldest and steepest trail is called the Guinness trail. The porters and the guides are compulsory on 2 to3 day trek, there are also basic camps and huts that can be found on the main trail.
10. Mulanje Mountain Malawi
Mulanje Massif also called Mount Mulanje and is the largest manadnock in the southern Malawi and its 65km east of Blantyre, as it rises from the near plains of Chiradzulu as well as the tea growing Mulanje district. It also measures (13×16 miles and 22×26 km) and its elevation is 3,002m at its highest point called Sapitwa peak. Much of the mountain consists of the rolling grassland at an elevation of 1800-2200m. It also got many peaks including; Chumbe peak and it’s the longest rock climb in Africa. The mountain summit was first seen by David Livingstone in 1859. The elevation of the mountain is too high and disturbs the upper level air flow as well as the rain clouds.
The massif is also popular for hiking and climbing and has got many mountain huts that are scattered across it and these are maintained by Malawi Mountain club as well as Malawi forest Depart. The famous Sapitwa peak was first reached in 1894 and in the recent times it’s the most famous mountain climb on this plateau. At the foot of the mountain between the Muloza and Lujeri , there are very incredible views on the falls of the source of River Ruo. The departure for the hikes starts here and there are some scenic routes to reach the 1 huts that are found on the upland. This mountain is so excellent for rock climbing, ie the west face of chambe with over 1700 m and is the longest unbroken wall in Africa. There are also many large network of paths that link the many huts and the routes that are chosen depending on the ambitions for the trip. There are mainly three main options that help in reaching the Sapitwa summit, these include; hiking through the forests, hiking along mountain plains. The huts can only be booked on arrival at Likabula. More so, it should be noted that the first day of the hike on Mulanje makes the ascent to the plateau is so steep and quite demanding.