If you want to take the phrase “conquering new heights” to the next level, then we have the best challenge for you: mountain biking up Mount Kilimanjaro. However, before you get up and start packing your bags, there are a few things you should know about the journey. Since mountain biking in Mt. Kilimanjaro was explored only recently, it’s a very underrated experience that needs to be talked about more often!
Standing at an astonishing 19,341 feet/5,895 meters, Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest peak in Africa. In order to reach the summit, you’ll pass through five different climate zones ranging from rainforest to alpine desert and eventually, the glacial Arctic.
While you can visit the mountain all year round, there are certain months that are much more comfortable than the rest. The two best seasons to visit are from January to March when the weather is cooler and routes are less crowded or from June to October when it’s relatively warmer. However, the latter months are the peak tourist season, so the route is likely to be more crowded. It’s best to avoid the wetter months of April, May and November. Irrespective of what month you do visit, you will need to pack warm clothes!
Only a few athletes have been able to reach the summit till now because mountain biking up Mt. Kilimanjaro is a very challenging task, which only a few can accomplish.
However, if you believe that this job isn’t for you, don’t worry because you can choose not to head for the summit, but to explore the lower slopes. The Shira Route is suited for those mountain bikers who just want to explore the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro without reaching the top.
There are two main routes available. The Kilema Route then has a subdivision.
- The Shira Route – this route is for those who don’t aim to reach the summit, or for those who want to reach the summit but need to spend acclimatization time too!
For this route, you drive to Londorossi Gate, which is about 2 hours away from Moshi Town. From Londorossi Gate, which is located at a height of 2100 m, you can start cycling.
On your way, you’ll get to see scenic views of Mt. Meru and the Great Rift Valley. If you’re lucky, you might also be able to spot lions and other wildlife on your way!
The route is pretty rocky so a lot of time is spent ‘hike-your-bike’, or carrying your bike.
Along the way, the flora varies from forest to grassland and moorland.
After you reach the Shira camp, you can set up your tents and spend the night there. Make sure you have plenty of warm clothes available because the temperature drops below 0 degrees Celsius!
Next day, you can cycle back to Londorossi Gate.
- The Kilema Route.
There are two versions of Kilema Route, one goes through Kilema Camp whereas the other goes through Mandaru Hut.
- Kilema Camp route: This route is much more expensive than the other, but also a lot easier because it involves less hiking.
- Mandaru Hut route: This route is less expensive but requires a much greater fitness level.
The route takes about 5 days to cover. The first 4 days are spent ascending and acclimatizing, whereas the last day is spent descending.
Along the way, you’ll face Moorland, Alpine Desert, a small section of large stones which is the most difficult part of the ascent, and then finally, the summit filled with snow!
Most people find hiking up the mountain difficult so imagine how challenging riding up will be. If you want to take up this challenge, you’ll have to be super fit. We say that with zero exaggeration because there will be times when you have to carry your bike up yourself. You will also face the likely prospect of altitude sickness. We suggest getting a check-up before your trip because the smallest illness can seem like the end of the world at 19000 ft! There will also be quite a few unknowns about the route and it’s also likely that you’ll fall along the rugged terrain and hurt yourself at time. However, that’s all a part of the journey!
Tips and Tricks
Do not attempt this unsupported, without guide/s and porters for the equipment.
To make things more convenient, you must have an experienced guide to help you through this journey.
Since the journey isn’t a one-day ride, you’ll also need porters to carry gear such as sleeping bags, water containers, food and medicine supplies.
Moreover, there will also be times when your partners aren’t too helpful. In fact, they may also be the cause of your delays or frustrations and you’ll find yourself contemplating pushing them off the edge of the cliff! In order to avoid that, make sure you choose your traveling buddies carefully!
In case you feel disheartened and are unpacking the bags you had packed before reading this article, don’t worry you still have time! Build your stamina up, find your travel buddies and face the biggest challenge of your life. We promise it will be worth it!