If you are planning an active gap year to Tanzania and want to spend part of your trip climbing Kilimanjaro, there are several things you should know about the famous peak. Here are just a few facts about Mount Kilimanjaro you may not have come across before.
Although you may be aware that Kilimanjaro is volcanic, did you know that it is in fact made up of three volcanoes? The peaks of Shira and Mawenzi are extinct, but Kibo, where many travellers go to reach the mountain's highest point, is classed as dormant.
While there has not been a major eruption for hundreds of thousands of years, the most recent volcanic activity was recorded around 200 years ago.
If you are intending to attempt the trek up Kilimanjaro, you will more than likely ascend to the top of Uhuru Peak - the highest point on the mountain located on the southern rim of the Kibo crater.
There is more than one way to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro and if you book your break with the African Walking Company, you will be able to choose between several different routes to reach the top.
Your selection should be based on your own physical ability, as well as what you want to get out of your trek.
One of the most popular is the Rongai route, which takes around five days to complete, while the trail on the northern side of Kilimajaro is one of the longest and most challenging, lasting for around eight days.
This combines aspects of the Rongai and Lemosho routes, giving you an excellent overview of the topography and scenery the mountain has to offer.
Other options for your trek include the Shira, Machame and Umbwe paths. The majority of travellers take the Marangu route to the summit, so those looking for a more adventurous option may want to pick a different trail.
You may be surprised by the diversity of landscapes on Kilimanjaro itself and in the area surrounding it.
In the foothills, you will discover cultivated farmland, which quickly gives way to mountain forests as you ascend. Once you have passed through the forest, you will reach an area of moorland which is covered in heather.
After you pass the 4,000 m point, you will find yourself in an alpine desert that leads into the snowy and icy regions at the top of the mountain.
Along the way, you may be lucky enough to spot some of the fascinating creatures that inhabit Mount Kilimanjaro, including elephants and leopards in the forest.
Record your memories
When you have made it to the Uhuru Peak, you can record your thoughts and feelings in a special book - something that almost every traveller to climb Kilimanjaro has done.
The book is kept in a wooden box at the summit and you are free to note down your impressions of the mountain, climb and views from the summit in its pages once you have reached the top.
Kilimanjaro National Park
The mountain sits in the Kilimanjaro National Park that spans some 75,353 hectares, which has been officially protected since 1973, although it was declared a game reserve by the German colonial government as early as 1910.
It has been open to the public since 1977 and in 1987 Kilimanjaro was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. According to the organisation, 82 per cent of the peak's ice cap has disappeared since 1912.