Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Every hiker wants to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa at 5896m (19,344ft). It’s actually the highest freestanding mountain in the world, a volcano rising 4600m (15,000ft) above the giraffes and elephants roaming the plains.

No independent hiking is allowed. You must sign on with a trekking company — minimum cost in 2006 is US$800 on the Marangu Route. Over 80% of people choose Marangu often disparaged as the tourist route, or the Coca Cola route. This is the easiest, fastest and quickest line. And the only route where you have the option to sleep in huts.

If you can afford it, opt instead for one of the more challenging tent routes: Machame or Rongai.

The other major consideration is altitude sickness. Unlike the Andes and the Himalaya, it is difficult to acclimatize here. Best strategy is to climb lower Mt. Meru just before you start Kilimanjaro.

The snows of Kilimanjaro are melting. Get there soon.

Mt. Kilimanjaro on besthike.com

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Tongariro Northern Circuit, New Zealand

The best multi-day Kiwi hike, we feel, is not the Milford Track, rather a circuit around an active volcano called Ngauruhoe. You know it as Mt. Doom in the film The Lord of the Rings.

On this 3-4 day trek you can scramble 2 volcanoes. Walk the only desert in the country. Wash-up in pristine waterfalls. And marvel in how life survives in a bleak, tortured volcanic landscape.

The best trip report is posted by David Briese. He calls this the Land of Mordor.

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Ngauruhoe – David Briese

Details on besthike.com