The snow-covered peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro towering amidst the blazing heat of the Tanzanian grasslands is one of the top items on each hiker’s bucket list. Without any doubt, climbing the Roof of Africa is absolutely worth it. Of course, before you hit the trail, it’s a good idea to find out when is the best time to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and how to prepare for this extraordinary adventure.
And if you can’t imagine your life without photography, this guide is what you need. We gathered the top 8 places on Kilimanjaro where you can take the most awesome shots. No matter which route you pick, there’s always something for you to put on Instagram. Let’s jump right in.
1. Shira Plateau
Kilimanjaro actually consists of three volcanic cones: Kibo, Mawenzi, and Shira. While Kibo is dormant and can erupt again, the two others are extinct. The Shira cone expired about 500,000 years ago and fell down on itself. This is how the spectacular Shira Plateau was formed.
The plateau stretches for 24 square miles, lying west of the peak at 12,500 feet (3,800 meters) above sea level. Today, Shira Plateau stands as a World Heritage Site, boasting deep valleys and weather-beaten lava flows. It’s just amazing in the rays of sunset. Here, you will have the chance to encounter elephants, antelopes, buffalos, and lions from the neighboring Amboseli National Park, across the border in Kenya.
If you pick the Shira, Lemosho, or Northern Circuit Route, you’ll get your first glimpse of Mt Kilimanjaro from here.
2. Mawenzi Peak
Mawenzi is the second-highest peak on Mt Kilimanjaro as well as the third highest peak on the African continent after Kilimanjaro and Mt Kenya. Mawenzi is steep and spiky, it rises to a series of peaks on a north-south ridge, which makes it look particularly unusual.
Interesting fact: because of some fatal accidents in the past, Mawenzi was restricted to hikers for a long time, but it has recently reopened.
The great news is that the spectacular Mawenzi can be seen from each trek. However, mountaineers on the Marangu and Rongai Routes have an opportunity to enjoy the most stunning views of Mawenzi from camp.
3. Barranco Wall
The Barranco Wall is a steep ridge about halfway up Mt Kilimanjaro, at the southern base of Kibo. It was formed when a section of Kibo’s rim collapsed, leaving this impressive structure. The wall soars 843 feet (257 meters) above the Barranco valley. From a distance, the Barranco Wall looks like a dramatic cliff that requires special climbing gear, however, when you come closer, you see that there is a stair-like path zig-zagging up the steep wall.
Due to this, navigating the rock is not as difficult as it may seem, and climbing the wall is one of the most enjoyable parts of the entire climb. When you reach its top, you’ll be rewarded with a spectacular backdrop for your perfect shots, with clouds floating below.
Barranco Wall is unique challenge climbers face on day three or four of the Machame, Shira, Umbwe, or Lemosho Routes.
4. Barranco Valley
The Barranco Valley lies south of Kilimanjaro’s summit, right underneath the great Barranco Wall. Without any doubt, it’s a stunning location with spectacular views all around. It’s cooler and moister in the protected valley, which creates perfect conditions for the giant succulents that grow here. The unique succulents can’t be found anywhere on Earth except for Mt Kilimanjaro, so don’t forget to take some juicy pics in the Barranco Valley.
If you choose the Lemosho, Shira, Machame, or Umbwe Route, you’ll camp in the Barranco Valley.
5. Lava Tower
Do you know what a volcanic plug is? If not, let us explain it to you: a volcanic plug is a geographical formation that occurs when lava cools inside a vent of an active volcano, which results in a distinctive landform.
Have you ever seen a volcanic plug? The Lava Tower you can encounter on the Shira, Lemosho, Machame, and Northern Circuit Routes is a volcanic plug, so don’t miss the opportunity to snap a selfie featuring this rare and unusual object. Or bring some stuff for a hardcore Insta lunch photoshoot with the Lava Tower in the background. By the way, a team at Follow Alice has chosen this majestic spot for lunch on the fifth day of the adventure. The 300 feet tall Lava Tower is a visible landmark on the trail, so you’ll easily recognize it.
6. The Saddle
The diversity of Kilimanjaro is really stunning, you experience a variety of landscapes from lush rainforest to arctic desert, but did you expect to take pics of a Martian-like plain? Meet the Saddle, an almost sterile five-mile-long plateau that connects Kilimanjaro’s highest peak, Kibo, with its neighbor, Mawenzi. The views of the Mawenzi peaks to the east and the views of Kibo to the west are totally fascinating.
You’ll be able to experience the severe beauty of the Saddle if you are on the Marangu or Rongai Route.
7. Southern Ice Field
Although Mt Kilimanjaro is located only 205 miles from the equator, its peak is covered in ice. Kilimanjaro’s sparkling glaciers are believed to have covered the mountain for more than eleven thousand years, but sadly, they are getting smaller and smaller these days. So don’t forget to take some shots of the icy field in the middle of the African continent. Each of Kilimanjaro’s treks offers breathtaking views of the Southern Ice Field as you get close to the summit.
8. Uhuru Peak
Uhuru Peak, the highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro, is the final destination goal for hikers who attempt to climb the Roof of Africa. Interestingly, the name Uhuru is Swahili for ‘freedom’ and was given to the peak back in 1961 when Tanganyika, part of modern Tanzania, gained independence from the UK.
“Congratulations! You are now at Uhuru Peak, Africa’s highest point and the world’s tallest free-standing mountain.” This is what the sign at the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro says. And yes, a photo near this sign is a must-have! Not to mention, there is also a book at Uhuru Peak, protected by a wooden box. This book is for visitors to record their thoughts when they reach the mountain’s peak. It goes without saying that every route leads to the legendary Uhuru Peak.