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Mountain Climbing
Mountain Climbing
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Mountain Climbing

Although Mt Kilimanjaro tops the list as Africa's most famous and highest Mountain! Tanzania boasts many other Mountain ranges and attractive peaks, most of the country's mountains and volcanoes are located in the north and east of the country. They vary from the dramatic crater of Mount Meru and the active volcano Oldonyo Lengai to tamer options like the Usambara Mountains and the comparatively gentle slopes of the Crater Highlands.

Hiking trips and mountain climbing in Tanzania are becoming popular options for visitors not content merely observing the country from the back of the game viewing vehicle. Instead, adventurous types are taking advantage of the many trails and peaks Tanzania has to offer.

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MOUNT KILIMANJARO
Above the gently rolling hills and plateau of northern Tanzania rise the snow peaks of Kilimanjaro, its slopes and glaciers shimmering above the rising clouds. Kilimanjaro is located near the town of Moshi and is a protected area carefully regulated for climbers to enjoy without leaving a trace of their presence. The Mountain's eco-systems are as strikingly beautiful as they are varied and diverse.

On the lowland slopes, much of the mountain is farmlands, with coffee, banana, cassava, and maize crops grown for subsistence and cash sale. A few large coffee farms still exist on the lower slopes, but much of the area outside the national park has been subdivided into small spots. Once inside the park, thick lowland forest covers the low altitudes and breaks into alpine meadows once the air begins to thin. Near the peak, the landscape is harsh and barren, with rocks and ices the predominant features above a breathtaking African view. Climbing Mt Kilimanjaro is the highlight of many visitors' experiences in Tanzania. Few mountains can claim the grandeur, of the views of Amboseli National park in Kenya, the rift valley, and the Masai steppe, that belongs to Kilimanjaro.

Hiking on the roof-top of Africa is more than an adventure of a lifetime, and the good news is anyone from a seasoned trekker to a reasonably fit first-time enthusiast can scale the snowy peak.

MOUNT MERU
The dramatic crater of Mount Meru is often neglected in favor of its famous neighbor to the east, but a visit to this spectacular mountain, located within Arusha National Park is a forgettable experience. Its lower slopes are covered in dense highland forest, where colobus monkeys play and buffalos graze concealed beneath the thick foliage.

The extinct volcano's extensive base gives way to a perfectly formed crater and another internal crater with sharp, sheer cliffs. An ash cone forms a subsidiary peak and the momella lakes and ngurdoto crater are visible from the slopes of the mountain. At 4566m (14,979ft), Mount Meru is the 2nd highest mountain in Tanzania, although it is overshadowed by Kilimanjaro, its famous neighbor, and frequently overlooked by trekkers. But Meru is a spectacular classic volcanic cone, and well worth a visit. It is a great way to acclimatize to Kilimanjaro and a great trek if you don't have enough time for Kilimanjaro.

Mount Meru, maybe second to Kilimanjaro in height, but certainly more spectacular in terms of scenery, flora, and fauna. Giraffes and buffalo are plentiful on the lower slopes and the upper slopes offer spectacular views of Arusha National Park and Kilimanjaro to the west. The mountain's rim is horseshoe-shaped creating a natural amphitheater called Meru crater and contains a large ash cone. The walls of this Amphitheatre are nearly sheer from the summit down to its floor. The mountain only sees a fraction of the climbers that Kilimanjaro sees and it is not unusual to have the slopes and scenery to ourselves!

CRATER HIGHLANDS
Rising up from the floors of the rift valley, the crater highlands form a lush chain of mountains and volcanoes that includes the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the surrounding Maasai tribal lands. Hiking safaris take visitors from Ngorongoro Crater to the foot of Oldonyo Lengai and offer a chance to see some of the spectacular and stunning scenery in Tanzania. Exploring this little-visited wilderness is the hiking more than the adventure of a lifetime.

Within the crater rim, large herds of zebra and wildebeest graze nearby while sleeping lions laze in the sun. Dawn, the endangered black rhino return to the thick cover of the crater forests after grazing on dew-laden grass in the morning mist. Just outside the crater's ridge, tall Maasai herd their cattle and goats over green pastures through the highland slopes, leaving alongside the wildlife as they have for centuries.

EASTERN ARCH MOUNTAINS
Stretching from the Taita Hills of southern Kenya to the Southern Highlands of Tanzania, the Eastern Arc Mountain Range has some of the oldest geological activity on the continent. Estimated to be at least 100 million years old with some formations up to 600 million years old-the relative stability of their climate means that the area hosts a surprising array of biodiversity, from plant and insect life to spectacular bird species.

LIVINGSTONE MOUNTAINS
The Livingstone Mountains are a low-altitude chain that borders Lake Nyasa. Remote and difficult to reach, climbing is largely uncharted and for the most part of the area remains unexplored by trekkers and guides

MOUNT MONDULI
Just a few hours’ drive from Arusha town, the Monduli Mountains make a lovely day trip or can be a part of a longer hiking itinerary. Maasai pastoralists herds their cattle along the slopes and cultural tourism programs give visitors the opportunity to learn about traditional medicines and local Maasai culture. The surrounding views of the rift valley, Mt Meru and Kilimanjaro are incredible.

MOUNT HANANG
Located some 200 km south-west of Arusha Mount Hanang's extinct volcano crater makes it a stunning feature above the undulating plains. The two days climb takes trekkers through numerous tribal areas, including the land of the semi-nomadic Barabaig recognizable by their goat skin garments.

PARE MOUNTAINS
Part of the eastern Arc range in north-eastern Tanzania, the remote pare mountains are extremely rewarding to the avid trekker searching for hiking trails off the beaten path. Home to the Pare tribe, agriculturalists, and pastoralists who have largely retained their traditional way of life, a hike through the Pare Mountains takes visitors through local villages and beautiful forests and offers the chance to see a little-visited part of the country.

MOUNT OLDONYO LENGAI
Overlooking Lake Natron and the bushland of Kenya to the north, Oldonyo Lengai, which means "home of God, Or God's Mountain" in Maasai, is an active volcano and one of Tanzania's most spectacular and undiscovered climbs. The volcano erupts sporadically, sending streams of grey lava down the crater rim and spitting hot ash high into the air. The climb, undertaken overnight so hikers can experience sunrise over the rift valley escarpment is highly challenging. The summit of this strato-volcano is 2962 meters above sea level and affords direct views into the caldera of Tanzania's only officially-certified active volcano, and the world's only carbonatite volcano; records of eruptions have been maintained since 1883, the largest of which deposited ash 100 kilometers away in Loliondo on the Kenyan border to the northwest.

RECENT SEISMIC ACTIVITY
Recent volcanic activity began on 12th July 2007 with daily tremors in Kenya and Tanzania, the strongest of which measured 6.0 on the Richter scale. The mountain finally erupted on September 4, 2007, sending a plume of ash and steam at least 18 kilometers downwind and covering the north and west flanks in fresh lava flows.

The eruption continued intermittently into 2008, with a major outburst taking place on March 5, 2008, and smaller eruptions on 8 and 17 April 2008; activity continued until late August 2008. A visit to the summit in September 2008 discovered lava emissions from two vents on the floor of the new crater; by April 2009 this activity appeared to have ceased, but eruptions occurred again in October 2010.

ACTIVITY IN 2012
A visit to the summit of Oldoinyo Lengai in February 2012 revealed extensive crack development across the summit, accompanied by a significant gaseous release. Intermittent noises were detected from the ash pit, and large extents of the rock-studded pavement resounded hollowly on percussion, suggesting gaseous build-up beneath the pavement.

The lava of Oldoinyo Lengai is carbonatite-based and rich in nyerereite and gregoryite. These sodium and potassium carbonates mean that the lava erupts at relatively low temperatures, around 500-600ºC, giving the lava a black/muddy appearance in sunlight, as opposed to the reddish hue of the higher temperatures (1100ºC) of the silicate/basaltic lavas.

Carbonatite lava is the most fluid lava in the world, much less viscous than silicate lavas, and is often more fluid than water. The minerals formed by this lava are very unstable in the earth's atmosphere and rapidly turn from black to grey/white in color when exposed to moisture. The resultant rock formations are extremely friable, creating a shifting landscape of hard pavements alternating with knee-deep ash. The resulting scenery is different from any other volcano, as Oldoinyo Lengai is the only known active carbonatite volcano in the world.

UDZUNGWA MOUNTAINS
Located west of Dar es salaam the Udzungwa Mountains rise up from the western edge of the Selous Game Reserve. Vervet monkeys play high in the forest canopy, and small antelopes can be seen at the right time of the day. Botanical diversity is exceptional and the park is a host to a large number of endangered bird species. Views from the peaks of the Mountains, towards the Selous Game Reserve, and the distant Indian Ocean coast are incredible and well worth the effort. Five distinct trails cover the forests and mountain peaks within the park, offering various levels of difficulty for everyone from novices to experienced trekkers. Better yet there are no roads through the Udzungwa Mountains National Park so hikers have the area all to themselves.

ULUGURU MOUNTAINS
Overlooking the agricultural area around Morogoro, the Uluguru Mountains are a part of the Eastern Arc Range and are named after the Luguru tribe, a matrilineal group that farms on its verdant slopes. The area has some of the oldest forests in Africa, and because the ecosystem has remained undisturbed by climate and geographical changes for an estimated 25 million years, hiking in the area is particularly rewarding. A plethora of endemic bird and insect species are found here.

USAMBARA MOUNTAINS
The Usambara Mountains are part of the Eastern Arc chain in the north-eastern part of the country. Their western and Eastern ranges are divided by a 4km wide valley of small villages and farms, and hiking trails cover the foothills and large peaks. Day walks and overnight treks take visitors through some of the most concentrated areas of biodiversity in Africa. Bird watching is especially rewarding, and the views from the Mountain-tops stretch over the Maasai Steppe and on a clear day as far as the Indian Ocean.

Kilimanjaro Popular Treks