Unfortunately at present, no airline operates direct flights to Kilimanjaro from the United Kingdom. Connecting flights are available from all major airports in the UK with major airlines like Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines, KLM, Ethiopian Airlines and Kenya Airways offering indirect flights.
Serving the nearby municipalities of Moshi and Arusha, Kilimanjaro International Airport is the main airport serving the Kilimanjaro region. The rapid growth of air transportation in northern Tanzania led to the establishment of this airport back in 1971. Its IATA code is JRO. From the nearest city – Arusha – it is at a distance of 52 kilometres. Travellers make a stay in either one of the two cities (Arusha or Moshi) before venturing onto Mount Kilimanjaro.
Whenever it rains it pours. During April and May, frequent thunderstorms followed by heavy showers make it impossible to camp around Mount Kilimanjaro. Not only does the terrain get soft and slippery but an average humidity of 75 % dehydrates trekkers and spoils their supplies. Except for Mount Kilimanjaro there are relatively few other attractions and Kilimanjaro experiences a sudden drop in fresh arrivals. Airlines offer discounted deals and hotels bring down their rates during these months. Travelling is much cheaper during this time of the year.
From July to October, the weather remains set-fair with no rain. The heat is not that oppressive, particularly in September and October and this is usually the best time for general tourism. However humidity can be a problem especially for hikers and trekkers. January-February and October-November periods have less humidity with little to no rainfall making these the best trekking periods in the whole year.
Mount Kilimanjaro: This postcard site is the most representative landmark of northern Tanzania. With a total of seven hiking trails, this volcanic mountain (now dormant) is the most popular site in the region.
Furtwangler Glacier: Not many people expect to see snow on top of Mount Kilimanjaro but they are in for a big surprise. Temperature keeps dropping as hikers ascend the gradient till they reach this glacier near the summit. Mount Kilimanjaro is not just about the panoramic view from up top its summit; the journey is just as fascinating as the destination.
Kilimanjaro National Park: A large-scale wildlife reserve in the vicinity of Mount Kilimanjaro offering extended safari tours and overnight jeep rides. Housing a wide range of African species, this UNESCO World Heritage Site attracts jeeploads of tourists travelling miles and miles to see elephants and leopards.
Pare Mountains: For those who choose to hike off the beaten path, this mountain range offers a complete contrast to Mount Kilimanjaro. Technically inside the Kilimanjaro region, however, this range is about 64 kilometres from Moshi.
Lake Chala: Equally shared between Tanzania and Kenya, this large Crater Lake is yet another side of Kilimanjaro’s natural attractions. The lake enjoys an ecological protection exercised by the authorities that keeps the pristine element of the landscape alive.
Kilimanjaro region is a box set of almost all the must-haves that every tourist enlists on his / her checklist. There are lakes, mountain ranges, safaris, waterfalls, public parks, bazaars and what not. Some honourable mentions include:
- Materuni Waterfall
- Mkomazi National Park
- Lake Jipe
- Ndoro Waterfalls
- Chagga Museum
From Kilimanjaro International Airport to Arusha or Moshi, taxi is the most reliable option. There will always be a few taxis on standby at the airport willing to let you share your ride with someone else. This pretty much halves the fare and accommodates as many passengers as possible. There are not many taxis around for obvious reasons. Your hotel can also arrange private transfers from the airport. Auto rentals offer a more exclusive experience but also cost a lot.
Bus shuttles are also available at Kilimanjaro International Airport but not readily available. Some of you will have to wait till the bus returns for its next trip and this may lead to a late check-in. But shuttle service is far safer than a taxi, especially when travelling during night time.
Some of the hotels have their own shuttle services. When making hotel reservations, see if they are offering shuttle service as well. These buses have their own collection points at the airport.
Trekking does not begin straight from Arusha (or Moshi). Jeeps and other 4 x 4s take trekkers from city centres to Mount Kilimanjaro where they begin their respective hikes. Also, jeeps are well spoken of by safari-goers who believe its every shilling worth it to take into Kilimanjaro National Park.
Foreigners will likely find more bed & breakfasts here than five-star resorts. A high percentage of accommodation options are 2-star hotels and bed & breakfasts with 3-star hotels being few and far between. Some of the finest 3-star hotels in Arusha are:
- Arusha Serena Hotel
- Boulevard Inn Mt Meru
- Naura Springs Hotel
- Tulia Hotel and Spa
- Masailand Safari Lodge
3-star hotels are easy on the wallet and do not ruin an otherwise great experience. Without being lavish, travellers – especially those with families – can get all the necessary amenities without disturbing their budgets. Leading 3-star hotels in Moshi are:
- Honey Badger Lodge
- Mountain Inn
- DreamsTone Hotel
- Parkview Inn
- Weru Weru River Lodge