Tanzania – Mount Kilimanjaro National Park

The local people, the Chagga, don’t even have a name for the whole massif, only Kipoo (now known as Kibo) for the familiar snowy peak that stands imperious, overseer of the continent, the summit of Africa.

The highest peak on the African continent; it is also the tallest free-standing mountain in the world, rising in breathtaking isolation from the surrounding coastal scrubland – elevation around 900 metres – to an imperious 5,895 metres

Kilimanjaro is one of the world’s most accessible high summits. Most climbers reach the crater rim with little more than a walking stick, proper clothing and determination. And those who reach Uhuru Point, the actual summit, or Gillman’s Point on the lip of the crater, will have earned their climbing certificates

The ascent of the slopes is a virtual climatic world tour, from the tropics to the Arctic. Even before you cross the national park boundary, the cultivated foot slopes give way to forest; elephant, leopard, buffalo and other small antelope and primates. Higher still is the moorland zone, where a cover of giant heather is studded with giant lobelias.

Above 4,000m, alpine desert supports little life other than mosses and lichen. Then, finally, the vegetation gives way to a winter wonderland of ice and snow – and the magnificent beauty of the roof of the continent.