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Mount Kilimanjaro National Park

Tanzania's insider take:

Mount Kilimanjaro may be Africa's highest peak—and the tallest freestanding mountain in the world—but what's captured the imagination of generations of adventurous travelers is its topographical drama. Kilimanjaro rises in near isolation from the flat equatorial scrublands; an ascent takes you from subsistence farmland through lush tropical rain forest, open moors, alpine desert, and finally to the snowcapped (for now) peak.

Kilimanjaro is one of the world's most accessible mountains to summit, requiring no ropes or technical climbing experience. But it's a serious physical undertaking. You can climb Kilimanjaro in as little as five days, although swift ascents make altitude sickness much more likely. A six- to eight-day route allows your body time to become acclimated, but nearly every hiker experiences headaches, shortness of breath, and hypothermia. It is crucial to book with a reputable guide (such as Zara Tours, Alpine Ascents, or Abercrombie & Kent), undergo the necessary training (hit the gym at least four times a week and take outdoor hikes for at least three months leading up to your climb), and choose your route wisely. Marangu is the easiest and has huts for overnight accommodations. Machame, the most scenic, is steeper and requires sleeping in tents. Umbwe, the most challenging and direct route to the summit, is recommended only for very experienced climbers. The dry seasons, from late June through October and from late December through February, are generally the best periods to climb.—Collen Clark

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.