1. Uhuru peak: The Top Peak of Mount Kilimanjaro
The summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, situated on Kibo — one of the mountain’s three peaks.
Its name comes from the Swahili word for freedom, ‘Uhuru,’ for its part in the history of Tanzania’s (then Tanganyika) independence from British colonial rule.
On 8th December 1961, the eve of the country’s independence day, the late Brig. Alexander Nyirenda (then army officer) erected the Uhuru torch and the national flag on top of the mountain as a celebratory act.
At the same time, the Union Jack (then the Tanganyika flag) was lowered at the national stadium.
Formerly known as the Kaiser Wilhelm peak by German explorer Hans Meyer under German colonial rule, it was renamed in 1964, three years after Tanzania got independence.
Since then, it has been the target of many people, aiming to reach Africa’s highest point.
The final part of the climb to it usually starts just after midnight, reaching the summit just before or after sunrise — depending on fitness.
Uhuru peak is now marked by a huge signpost, courtesy of the park authorities, and there are no remains of the torch or flag erected back in 1961.
There are about 8 routes (including the special permission western breach) to Uhuru peak, with most getting there within 5 or 6 days.
2. Kibo Crater campsite
An overnight resting point or campsite, located on top of the Kibo, is one of Mount Kilimanjaro’s three peaks.
It lies close to the summit and serves as a resting point for those climbing using the Western breach route or those who choose to spend a night on top of Africa’s highest mountain.
There are completely no built structures at the campsite, not even toilets, as building anything at that altitude would be challenging.
This means no tents and almost certainly no water.
Most tour companies would charge extra for the use of this camp as more effort and workforce is required to haul equipment up a steep, scree filled slope to that height.
However, Kibo crater camp provides an experience unlike no other — a chance to explore the vast, unique plateau at the top of Africa’s highest mountain.
Kibo crater campsite is located on top of Kibo, mount Kilimanjaro’s highest feature.
Named because of its location near the crater, the campsite is within walking distance of most of the mountain’s glaciers, making it suitable for those who would like to explore, study, or even climb them.
Nothing grows here, and there are almost no animals, with the ground soil being mostly scree, volcanic ash, and rocks.
The temperature and pressure are also shallow, making this dangerous for anyone with altitude sickness.
The crater campsite can be reached through any of the 7 Kilimanjaro routes.
3. Stella Point
A point on the crater rim of Mount Kilimanjaro marks the end of the screen filled slopes of Kibo while using the ascent route from Barafu hut.
For climbers from Barafu hut, this would be the first point after the campsite where there is solid, non-sloping ground free of loose gravel.
A huge signpost onsite, courtesy of the park authorities (TANAPA), marks its location to approaching people.
Some choose to end their climb here due to fatigue or altitude sickness, though the climb to the summit from here is fairly easy, compared to that from Barafu hut.
For those who end at Stella point, the park authorities offer recognition certificates for reaching this point, Gilman’s point, or Uhuru peak.
Stella’s point is also where the trails from Gilman’s point, Uhuru Peak, and Barafu hut meet, and most people attempting to summit the mountain would go through Stella point.
The only route that does not go through it is the perilous Western breach that requires special permission.
4. Zebra Rock
A set of large volcanic rocks on mt. Kilimanjaro, with a striped pattern that resembles that of a Zebra.
Predominantly a lava cliff, they were formed when mineral-rich rainwater flowed down on the rocks, turning them partially white or black in some places.
The rocks are used as a destination for an acclimatization hike.
Climbers on the 6 day Marangu route are given the option of hiking to the rocks to acclimatize themselves to the high altitude before coming back down to Horombo Huts.
Whereas those on a 5-day variation of the route continue to Kibo huts on day 3.
Zebra rocks are about a half-hour hike from Horombo huts and along the route to Mawenzi campsite. The route to Kibo huts also runs nearby.
Like Horombo huts, Zebra rocks are close to the border between the mountain’s moorland and alpine desert regions.
The area does receive some rainfall and has a few small animals such as birds and rodents.
5. Shira Campsite
An overnight camping area located along the Shira and Lemosho routes of mount Kilimanjaro.
For both routes, it is the third campsite used while on the ascent to the summit, and it is named for its location on the Shira plateau of the mountain.
The campsite does not have any cabins for accommodation; instead, it, along with all the others on the two routes, operates on bringing your own tent policy.
There are two toilet types on site, one is the old style ‘long drop’ pit latrines that are housed inside a small wooden shack, and the other is the recently built much cleaner toilets that are housed inside a building with solar-powered lighting, tiled floors, and a roof that lets sunlight through.
There also is a small green metal hut that serves as accommodation for the camp’s ranger.
6. Barranco Wall
A large volcanic ridge on Mt. Kilimanjaro climbers on the Shira, Lemosho, Umbwe, and Machame routes encounter during their ascent.
It was formed due to the previous volcanic activity of the mountain when lava flowing from Kibo cooled on its own slopes.
Repeated weathering and erosion did the rest of the shaping.
It has an elevation of about 250 to 300 meters and a second slope to only that of the final ascents to Kibo or Mawenzi — two of the three peaks of Kilimanjaro.
No technical climbing skills are required to scale the Barranco wall as the climb takes you through a gently sloping path that winds up its side.
Most people complete the climb in about 1 to 2 hours, depending on their fitness level.
The Barranco wall is used as an acclimatization climb as right after the wall, the route takes on a descent that brings you to the next campsite, Karanga huts.
7. Shira Cave campsite
An overnight camping area along the Machame route of mount Kilimanjaro.
It is the second encountered while ascending on the route.
The word “cave” in its name refers to a nearby one used for accommodation before the presence of the actual campsite and ranger’s cabin.
However, this practice has since been banned for safety reasons.
The campsite has no built accommodation or cabins; thus, anyone intending to stay here needs to bring a tent.
The only cabin on site is for the camp’s ranger, and where everyone staying at the camp is required to register.
Toilets are all dry toilets or pit latrines due to the lack of a water supply.
The camp also has a good view of the foothills down below, and Kibo is where most people staying here are headed.
8. Arrow Glacier campsite
Named for its proximity to the almost, if not completely extinct Arrow glacier of mt. Kilimanjaro.
It is mainly used by ascending climbers on the western breach route, who spend a night at the camp before attempting to scale an almost vertical wall — the western breach.
Although other routes, such as Lemosho, Shira, and the Northern circuit, go through or near the camp, most do not use it for accommodation.
The camp is a tent only camp with no built structures apart from the toilets, pit latrines inside a small wooden hut.
Due to the difficulty of the western breach route that requires special permission, the camp is seldom used.
The camp is also only used during the ascent to the summit, and the descent takes on a different route.
9. Umbwe Cave campsite
Umbwe cave camp is an overnight resting point and the first campsite encountered by hikers on the Umbwe route of mt. Kilimanjaro. It is not a large campsite, mainly due to the relatively small number of hikers that use the Umbwe route.
Hikers arriving at the campsite are usually those from Umbwe gate, heading towards Barranco campsite. Umbwe campsite has no built structures apart from those of the toilets, about 3 shared pit latrines.
10. Barafu Hut campsite
An overnight resting point located on the south-eastern base of Kibo — one of mount Kilimanjaro’s three peaks.
It is also one of the last camps encountered before reaching the mountain’s summit, others being Kibo huts, arrow glacier camp, and school huts.
Barafu hut campsite lacks cabins for accommodation, requiring all climbers to have their own tents for sleeping in.
However, there is a rangers hut, perched near the end of the ridge, with views far off into all the approaching hikers’ horizon.
The camp also has a large campsite area for climbers, but due to the large numbers of rocks and toilets at the site, good spots are hard to find when large numbers of people present.
Toilets at the camp are provided in pit latrines, some of which are located close to the edge of the ridge.
11. Gilmans Point
A place on mt. Kilimanjaro marks the end of the screen filled slopes of Kibo and the start of the crater rim.
From here, the path to the summit follows the crater rim going clockwise, though not on the ground as scary as this.
Only climbers on the Marangu, Rongai, and northern circuit routes pass through Gilman’s point on summit day — usually the second or third last day of the climb.
The climb to Gilman’s point starts from Kibo huts campsite at midnight and is usually the toughest part of the route.
Some climbers end their journey at Gilman’s point because of fatigue and altitude sickness; However, the trek from Gilman’s point to Uhuru peak (the summit) is much easier.
There is a huge signpost demarcating this point that was put up by the park authorities.
During the day, at dusk or dawn, Gilman’s point offers amazing views of Kibo’s crater, Mawenzi, and the saddle between the two peaks.
12. Karanga Hut campsite
An overnight resting point located next to the Karanga valley, on the southern side of Kibo, and in Kilimanjaro national park.
It is primarily used by hikers on the Lemosho, Shira, Umbwe, and Machame routes, during their ascent to the summit, either as a lunch point or as a campsite for the night — depending on the duration or timetable of the route.
In cases where it is used as a rest stop during lunch, Barranco (before) and Barafu (after) camps are used for the nights.
However, all of these routes take you through the Karanga valley itself.
Karanga huts campsite has no cabin accommodations, providing only spaces for tent pitching and dry toilets in the form of pit latrines.
Apart from the toilets, the only other built structure is the ranger’s hut, a wooden house on the western edge of the campsite, next to the valley itself.
All persons intending to use the campsite would have to carry their own tents.
14. Lava Tower
A volcanic rock tower on mount Kilimanjaro was formed by the volcanic activity on the mountain many years ago.
It is about 90m tall from the base and is known as a volcanic plug.
At some point in the distant past, lava shot out of a vent at the base of where the tower now stands, cooled, and hardened, thus stopping the venting of lava from beneath.
In the previous years, the tower used to be a point of interest for rock climbers, both novices and experts who would scale it to enjoy a 360-degree view of the surroundings and the peaks.
However, this practice has since been banned for safety reasons.
At the base of this tower is the Lava tower camp, formed as a resting point for these climbers.
The camp is still used as a general resting point for people on the Shira, Lemosho, Northern circuit, and Machame routes while on their way to the summit.