Other things to do around Kilimanjaro
There are plenty of other things you can do on the mountain other than climbing it. Let’s look at some of the other activities around Kilimanjaro (and on it too!).
The Kilimanjaro Marathon
One of the most popular things to do in the Kili region is the annual Kilimanjaro Marathon. Taking place in late February or early March, the race is run over the standard 26 miles/42.2km. It starts by heading out along the road to Dar before returning to Moshi via a climb to Mweka. As such, it doesn’t actually enter into the national park at all. That said, given the levels of exhaustion suffered by your average marathon participant, it’s probably just as well that they don’t have to climb a mountain too.
A half-marathon, a 10km disabled wheelchair and handcycle race and a fun run take place at the same time. This is turning into one of the biggest events in Northern Tanzania’s social calendar. The prizes reflect this, with the winners of the men’s and women’s full marathon each getting Ts4 million each. Even the half-marathon winner receives Ts2 million. There are also prizes for the various disabled categories) .
The Kiliman Challenge
For those for whom a marathon is not testing enough, there is always the Kiliman Challenge. This particular brand of masochism begins with a six-day saunter up the Machame Route to Uhuru Peak. This is followed by a two-day circumnavigation of the base of Kilimanjaro by mountain bike. That’s around 190km of pedalling in total. You then round it all off by participating in the marathon described above.
The organizers are at pains to point out that only the last two events are competitive. With the climb, of course, it’s too dangerous to race up. If it all sounds too much, you can opt to participate in just one or two of the activities.
The Kilimanjaro Trail Run
Still not exhausted? Well, runners looking for other activities around Kilimanjaro can sign up for the annual Kilimanjaro Trail Run.
This is an eight-day, 260km (approximately 160-mile) slog around the mountain. Led by Simon Mtuy, who hold the record on Kilimanjaro for the fastest ascent and descent, the trail runs along dirt tracks and footpaths. You’ll also spend time in some lush rainforest. The scenery is breathtaking, of course – which is a bit unfortunate when you’re spending most of your time running. Your encounters with the locals living on the northern slopes of Kili, where few tourists venture, are usually memorable.
Simon is at pains to point out that this is a run, not a race. So the competitive aspect of the trip is reduced to a minimum, allowing a strong esprit de corps to develop amongst the participants instead.
It’s not cheap but, for a true adventure, you’ll struggle to find a better one.
Other activities around Kilimanjaro? Well, how about horseriding? Makoa Farm near Machame Gate, at the start of the Machame Route, organizes horseback safaris. They concentrate their safaris on the West Kilimanjaro Wildlife Management Area. At night you’ll stay in permanent luxury camps, mobile camps and farmhouse accommodation next to Kilimanjaro Forest Reserve. Alternatively, there’s also a guesthouse at Makoa Farm itself.
The farm also run horseback safaris in Arusha National Park. One of the routes rides from the slopes of Mount Meru to the slopes of Kili. Alternatively, you can take a safari for three to six days on the Wilderness Trail in the West Kilimanjaro region. Or there’s an 8-day trek around Kilimanjaro. (For an idea of what you’ll see, please visit our Cycling around Kilimanjaro page.
It’s certainly a unique experience. Even more so who you consider that being on horseback allows you to go where four-wheel drives and mountain bikes never could. Though do note that some experience is necessary for most of these rides.
Staying in luxury
Finally, if all of the above sounds just too, well, energetic, then there are a couple of more sedentary options. A few years ago the previous boss of KINAPA, Mr Lufungulo, revealed that he had plans to build a couple of luxury lodges on Kilimanjaro, for those who want to be on the mountain without actually doing anything so exhausting as trekking.
To be honest we’ve yet to see much in the way of progress in this field but should this plan ever come to fruition, the TANAPA website will probably be the best place to look for details. They have also started to allow people to marry at the summit of Kilimanjaro – though we know of one couple had to arrange to have the local bishop carried to the top to conduct the ceremony as he was too unfit to walk himself; and those involved should prepare to get hitched lower down the slopes if anyone is unable to make it to Uhuru Peak.