It's no surprise people consider adding a climb up Kilimanjaro to their itinerary when they include Africa on their gap year. The peak in Tanzania is the highest on the continent and a truly awe-inspiring landmark, offering outstanding views from its summit.
Before you book a trip with your chosen African walking company, read our guide to the different trails available.
This is one of the best routes up the mountain, boasting spectacular views along the way that you will never forget. Named after the Shira Plateau you cross after setting out on a western approach up the mountain, it is best taken over seven nights with one spent at Moir Hut.
You will have the opportunity to pick a variation on the standard route where you will walk through some of the least visit areas of the slopes, allowing you to feel like a true explorer. In addition, the extra night spent climbing will make the process of acclimatising to the high altitude easier.
If you consider yourself fit, active and passionate about the great outdoors, this is a good option for you.
There was a time when very few people would ever get the opportunity to climb Kilimanjaro but the growth of international travel has meant the trek is now open to far more tourists. As a result, some of the routes up the landmark suffer from high volumes of traffic.
Happily, there are no such problems on the North route, as it is a relatively new addition to the available trails. As its name suggests, it sets out from the north of the mountain and over the course of an eight-night climb you will see some of the most wild and least visited slopes in the area.
If you don't have much time to spare, this is probably the best option for you as the route is designed to last five nights. As a result, you will still have plenty of time to make it to the summit, enjoying the views along the way, but can fit the whole trip into one week.
Leaving your hotel in Tanzania, you will set out from the northeast of Kilimanjaro, where a further perk is that the rainfall is comparatively low on the early slopes, making mud less of a hindrance.
When people started climbing Kilimanjaro recreationally, this is the route they took. Because it is the original trail, it is also one of the most crowded and leads you back and forth along the same route so the scenery you enjoy - while beautiful - is not as varied as on some of the other options.
Due to the popularity of this trail with tourists, it suffers from very high traffic. As a result, it is probably best avoided if you want to climb at a leisurely pace and not battle the crowds.
Variations on this route are designed to last between six and eight nights and the longer option gives you the opportunity to stroll through beautiful forest glades on your approach.
One downside is that the woodland is situated at a low altitude and so does not benefit you in the acclimatisation process. It is recommended that non-experienced climbers choose a trail that embarks from a higher starting point to give your body more time to get used to the change.
This route is seldom used bar those attempting to scale Kilimanjaro in record time. Because it is so fast, steep and technical, it is best left to very experienced climbers.