Top 5 Hiking & Climbing Routes in Tanzania

Guest post by Marian Morgam:

Tanzania is an exotic tapestry of colors, flavors, and sights. From the vast plains of the Serengeti, teeming with Africa’s iconic Big Five, to paradisiacal islands that call for horizontal me-time on sun-soaked beaches, there is so much more to Tanzania than what you’d expect.

Jaw-dropping sights abound at every corner when you’re on a safari in Tanzania, but if it’s a killer view you’re after then look no further than the region’s heavenly mountains.

Here are our top 5 mountains in Tanzania that provide the most breathtaking views and trekking experiences. Don’t forget your best travel camera.

1. Mount Kilimanjaro

Best for: Intermediate – advanced climbers
Fitness level: High
Recommended days: 7 Days (depending on route)

Whether you’re daring enough to climb it or simply just want to take in this snow-capped mountain from the ground, stopping over at Kilimanjaro is an essential part of any Tanzanian itinerary.

The views at the top of Kilimanjaro lure thousands of trekkers to the roof of Africa each year and are completely worth the time and effort.

At 5896m, the peaks of this equatorial mountain can certainly seem imposing but that doesn’t mean it’s out of reach. Mount Kilimanjaro has six climbing routes that vary in length, scenery, and difficulty.

There is no single “best route” so when choosing a path to climb, it all comes down to your previous experience and fitness, the time of the year, and personal preference.

The Marangu route is the oldest on the mountain and often referred to by locals as the “Tourist Route” or “Coca-Cola Route” as it is the most popular (and because there is a hut that sells coca-cola along the way).

The trail begins among the ripe banana stands of Kilimanjaro’s verdant lower slopes and gradually inclines up through the dense, wet montane rainforest toward alpine meadows and moorlands before reaching the peaks.

It’s worth noting that, although this route is dubbed the easiest, it is definitely NOT for the faint of heart and only a third of the climbers on this route reach the summit, so you should definitely train your body for the trek.

The Machame route is a longer, scenic climb that takes more experienced trekkers across a succession of valleys, ridges, and barren lunar landscapes, before reaching the twin summits of Kibo and Mawanzi.

To aid acclimatization, plan on at least a seven-day round trip for a summit attempt, and budget at least USD$1700.

2. Mount Meru

Best for: Beginner – intermediate climbers
Fitness level: Moderate
Recommended days: 5 Days

Situated in the Arusha National Park, Tanzania’s second-highest peak is often lost in the shadow of Kilimanjaro, but these rugged slopes offer an exhilarating trek like no other.

If you’re after no traffic and a great wildlife experience, Mount Meru is the perfect mountain to climb! Because Meru is lower than Kilimanjaro, a trek can be done comfortably in four days and three nights. But, do not underestimate the mountain

While it is generally considered a “warm-up” to Kilimanjaro, its steepness, terrifying drop-offs on the final ascent, as well as the effects of altitude make it challenging climb. It is the second highest mountain in Tanzania and the fourth highest on the continent, but the rewards are unparalleled.

The ascent starts in a savanna, taking intrepid travelers through lush forest on the mountain’s lower slopes, rising up through picturesque glades and finishing with an exhilarating walk along the knife edge of Meru’s (dormant) volcanic crater rim.

The treks are geared more toward hikers than climbers and the paths lead travelers over an array of landscapes, brimming with elephants, giraffes, and buffalo!

2. Ol Doinyo Lengai

Best for: Beginner – intermediate climbers
Fitness level: Moderate
Recommended days: 3 Days

Have you ever thought of yourself as brave enough to climb an active volcano? If so, Ol Doinyo Lengai, aka the “Mountain of God” is one worthy adversary and can be completed in three days.

You can climb the volcano all year round, but during wet seasons (March to May, October and December) the roads to Ol Doinyo Lengai make it horrible to travel.

Thanks to its prime location in the eastern Rift Valley, this fiery peak offers amazing views. This impressive mountain, which dominates the whole plain, represents a great beauty due to its peculiar, almost perfect conical shape of about 1,600 m base diameter, and with the summit at 2,768 meters above sea level.

Its slopes have been formed by compacted ash for thousands of years, and its deep ravines, cracks and white lava flows are clearly visible from any spot, giving it an inhospitable and majestic appearance at the same time.

Because it is an active volcano, it’s very hot there, so make sure you bring enough water. To get a unique, breathtaking view of Tanzania, climb Ol Doinyo Lengai before sunrise.

4. Usambara Mountain Range

Best for: Beginner – intermediate hikers and climbers
Fitness level: Moderate
Recommended days: Routes range from 1 to 10 days

The Usambara mountain range is one of Tanzania’s most underrated attractions, home to a plethora of wildlife, verdant tea plantations and numerous scenic viewpoints.

Usambara is a vibrant, diverse location to admire and is often said to be the pinnacle of beauty in Tanzania and a true gem of Africa.

Although the mountains are known for their comfortable climate all year round, the best time to visit is a between June and November, the dry season.

While not on the main Tanzanian northern tourist circuit, these glorious mountains offer a unique African experience, where hikers can spot exotic wildlife in Magamba forest or take in jaw-dropping natural scenery such as the Mkuzu Waterfall.

There are many varieties of hikes in Usambara and if you happen to have more time there are options of longer multiple day treks in the Usambara Mountain region. This is a great way to see the local area and experience the hospitality of Tanzanian people.

5. Udzungwa Mountains

Best for: All hikers and climbers
Fitness level: All
Recommended days: Routes range from 20min hikes to 5 day treks

The Udzungwa Mountains National Park is a paradise for both hikers and backpackers. It is an impressive destination covering a massive area of 2000 sq km of wild East African forests.

Although Uzdungwa is not usually listed in the catalogs of Tanzanian routes, it can be a great destination for those who love hiking. It provides an excellent network of forest routes, among which is a half-day walk to the Sanje waterfall that plunges 170 meters through a mist to the forest valley below.

Because of such a wide range in altitude and habitat types, Udzungwa National Park has one of the highest numbers of species worldwide. Six species of primate are found here, including the Iringa red colobus monkey and the Sanje Crested Mangabey, which are native to the area.

The plateau also supports a diverse, large mammal community including elephants, buffaloes, lions and leopards.

Udzungwa has the richest forest bird habitat in Tanzania. The dry season takes place from June to October, and that is when it is best to visit.

Each mountain is an earthly treasure, and there will be no regrets whichever one you choose. We wish you safe travels as you embark on your next adventure!

Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself and reach new heights. Go on an epic mountain safari in Tanzania! It’s an experience you’ll never forget.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Marian Morgam is a travel blogger from Minnesota. She has traveled to almost 50 countries and spent two years living and working in Europe as well as volunteering in Tanzania. Currently, she is working on a book about tips for backpacker travelers around the world.

This article was originally published in bookallsafaris.com.

“Hidden Gem” hikes USA

Have you heard of any of these?

1) Gore Range, Eagles Nest Wilderness, Colorado
2) Gap Run, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
3) Jones Hole, Dinosaur National Monument, Utah
4) Indian Point, Garden of the Gods Wilderness, Illinois
5) Redwood Canyon, Kings Canyon National Park, California
6) Sal Hollow, Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky
7) Sahale Glacier Camp, North Cascades National Park, Washington
8) Charon’s Garden, Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, Oklahoma
9) Yankee Paradise, Cumberland Island National Seashore, Georgia
10) Mt. Cabot, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Find a new adventure in the book “Backpacker Hidden Gems: 100 Greatest Undiscovered Hikes Across America.” Author Maren Horjus, Backpacker Magazine’s destinations editor.

great Hot Springs in the USA

Guest content contributed by Keilah Keiser.

The United States is home to over 1,661 known thermal springs across the country. Some are far too hot to soak, others have been turned into weekend wellness resorts that will melt your worries away while others have been left “au natural” — tucked away in nature.

Because hot springs are a product of geothermal heat, they are often found in areas with unique geological locations. Most hot springs in the U.S. are found west of the Colorado Rockies. Tucked away at the base of snow-capped mountains, among acres of protected forest, perched above whitewater rivers or set in the middle of grassy plains, hot springs are defined by the landscapes that surround them.

So how do hikers go about finding these hot springs?

While locations that have been turned into weekend resort getaways are easy to locate with a local director GPS on your phone, more remote locations are not. From California to Colorado and even farther north, hikers can use this guide to help plan their road trip and scout out some of the best and off-the-beaten-path-soaks in the Western U.S.

Click over to this page for Google map links for each destination.

The Great Outdoors Is Getting Crowded [infographic]

Guest post by Dustin Walker

“National Parks Are Being Loved To Death.”

This headline has been repeated by media so often in 2018 that it’s become almost a cliché.  

And it’s all because of recent statistics showing a more than 21% spike in visitors to U.S. national parks over the past decade. Canada is no different. Park attendance there jumped 27% in the past decade.

All this extra foot traffic means more pressure on park infrastructure, increased human-wildlife conflicts and added stress on the environment (check out the infographic below for more details on this).

What’s causing the surge? No one seems to be certain. However, theories range from social media influence and demographic trends to successful state ad campaigns. But one solution to the problem — at least, from my perspective — is far more obvious:

We need to seek out the trails less traveled.

Much of the overcrowding in parks is happening at the most well-known outdoor “hotspots.” Places like the Grand Canyon and Yosemite in the U.S. Or Banff and Jasper in Canada.

And yet, there are plenty of lesser-known backpacking and hiking trails throughout North America that offer an amazing experience — without the crowds.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m not suggesting you avoid the best hikes altogether — I’d hate to dissuade anyone from trekking the West Coast Trail or the John Muir Trail.

But I do think that tourism organizations, governments and — to some extent — the media should put more effort into promoting North America’s hidden gems. Whether it’s a little-known hiking trail, a rarely explored park or a lake that’s simply left off the typical tourist map.

Not only would this help alleviate some of the pressure on crowded national parks. It would also introduce more people to the thrill of exploring off-the-beaten path.

This infographic was made by Slick & Twisted Trails

DUSTIN WALKER’S BIO:

Dustin runs Slick & Twisted Trails – a blog for hikers & backpackers who shun the beaten path. Based on Canada’s Vancouver Island, Dustin is always on the hunt for those rare, less-traveled routes through the wilderness.

INDIA – 13 best treks

India Hikes recommendations:

1. Rupin Pass
2. Roopkund
3. Kashmir Great Lakes
4. Buran Ghati
5. Pin Bhaba Pass
6. Tarsar Marsar
7. Kedarkantha Trek
8. Kuari Pass
… see our Kauri INFO page
9. Gaumukh Tapovan
10. Goechala
11. Hampta Pass
12. Sandakphu Phalut
13. Brahmatal

Brahmatal

The trekking is GREAT in India. But logistics are often troublesome.

Next time I get to the subcontinent I plan to try a guided trip with India Hikes.

However, their list is certainly not definitive. Markha Valley is our favourite trek in India. It’s not included.

My Interview on Adventure Podcast #17

Kraig Becker:

The latest episode of The Adventure Podcast is now available for download.

As usual, you can grab it from Apple PodcastsGoogle PlayStitcher, and Spotify. I’ve also attached it to this blog post for those who prefer to listen directly from their browser ….

Adventure Blog – Interview with Rick McCharles of BestHIke.com

We talked best hiking trails in the world. My essential gear. Cam Honan. And much, much more. It’s a long episode.

I’ve learned a lot about a lot over the first 18 episodes.