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Area: 1668 sq km (641 sq miles).

The great mountain of Kilimanjaro is a metaphor for the compelling beauty of East Africa. Rising in absolute isolation at 5,895m (19,336ft) Kilimanjaro is one of the highest walk able summits on the planet and a beacon for visitors from around the world. Just three degrees south of the equator, Kilimanjaro’s great peaks of Kibo and Mawenzi are nonetheless covered all year round with snow and ice. Most reasonably fit and properly guided climbers can experience the triumph of reaching the crater rim with little more than a walking stick, warm clothing and determination. Those who reach Uhuru Point , the actual summit, or Gilman’s point on the lip of the crater. (Kilimanjaro is a dormant, but not extinct, volcano) will have earned their climbing certificates and their memories.

There is, however, so much more to Kilimanjaro than the summit. A journey up the slopes takes visitors on a climatic world tour, from the tropics to the arctic. The grassy and cultivated lower slopes turn into lush rainforest, inhabited by elusive elephant, leopard, buffalo and antelope. Higher still, heath and moorland, covered with giant heather, becomes a surreal alpine desert and, finally, there is ice, snow and the biggest view on the continent.

December to February is the warmest and clearest time to visit, with July to September being colder but also dry. It is wet in the rainforest from April to June and during November.

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