8 Best Mountain Treks in Africa

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flock of pink birds wading in shallow lake
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Whether you’re looking to climb Africa’s highest mountains or simply explore its breathtaking scenery, there are a lot of great treks to choose from! Inside Africa has picked 8 of the best mountain treks in Africa that will take you to breathtaking mountain tops.

Kilimanjaro is a popular choice for tourists seeking to climb the continent’s tallest peak, but Mount Kenya, the second-tallest, is far less crowded. A one-week trek to the summit passes through bamboo rainforest, Afro-alpine moorland and snowy glaciers, all awe-inspiring.

1. Mount Kilimanjaro

snowcapped mount kilimanjaro
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The tallest freestanding mountain in the world, Kilimanjaro is also one of Africa’s most iconic destinations. A trek to the summit of Kilimanjaro combines adventure with the opportunity to explore the diverse landscapes of Tanzania.

While it is possible to climb Kilimanjaro alone, the best way to experience this adventure is by arranging for a guided trekking tour with a company specializing in Kilimanjaro treks. These experts will have extensive knowledge of all the routes and will be able to offer you a safe and enjoyable experience.

You’ll have a chance to see some of Tanzania’s wildlife on the trek as well. White necked ravens are common around campsites and huts, and Galagos (or bush babies) are small primates that lead a nocturnal lifestyle.

The hike to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro will take you through five distinct eco-zones, including rainforest, heath, moorland, alpine desert and glacier. You’ll also see never-to-be-forgotten sunrises and sunsets from the rim of an extinct volcano.

Almost every year, a staggering 25,000 people attempt to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, with just over two-thirds succeeding. Climbers are accompanied by guides, porters and cooks, who help keep you fed and watered during the journey.

2. Mount Kenya

mountain under cloudy sky
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Straddling the equator and rising to rugged snowy peaks at 5,199m, Mount Kenya is the 2nd highest mountain in Africa. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and offers hiking and climbing opportunities to those with the requisite fitness and determination.

With twelve remnant glaciers and four secondary peaks, the mountain’s geology, ecology and afro-alpine flora make it one of East Africa’s most impressive landscapes. As a National Park, the area above 3,400m is a protected wilderness that offers excellent sightseeing, game viewing and challenging high-altitude mountaineering.

While climbing is the most popular activity, you can also enjoy a trek up the mountain. Hike through four of the mountain’s different vegetation zones- tropical rain forest, bamboo jungle, rosewood and heather zone – and catch some stunning views along the way.

The best way to experience mountain trekking is with an organised group. This will include a guide and porters who will carry your cooking gear and supplies while they also share their knowledge of the wildlife and flora on the mountain. They must be registered with the Kenya Wildlife Services and members of local guide and porter associations.

3. Mount Meru

Climbing Mount Meru is a rewarding and exciting adventure for anyone who wants to see Africa’s highest mountain. The 4,566 m (14,980 feet) volcano is Tanzania’s second highest peak and part of Arusha National Park.

The trek begins at Momella Gate in Arusha, and it typically takes three to four days to reach the summit. The trail is fairly easy and requires no special equipment.

Unlike Kilimanjaro, Mount Meru is not as popular, so the trails are less crowded and traffic is much quieter. This makes it a great choice for those who want to avoid crowds and noise and still get amazing views of the surrounding landscape.

The climb starts at Momella Gate and follows a path through the rainforest, which offers a diverse range of flora and fauna. Giant heather trees and lilies are often found on the slopes, which make the experience of hiking on Meru even more memorable. You’ll also see a variety of forest birds, mammals and insects.

4. Mount Ndutu

When it comes to mountain treks, Tanzania offers a diverse range of options. Whether you’re looking for short hikes in national parks, a challenging climb to the zenith of Mount Kilimanjaro or a safari in the heart of Africa’s most famous wildlife reserve, there is something for everyone.

The world-famous Lake Ndutu region lies within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. It features marshlands and two saline lakes, both of which are extremely important for migratory animals that travel around these areas from the north to south.

Ndutu is best known for one of nature’s most spectacular events, the wildebeest migration. The massive herds of this iconic species congregate in the plains surrounding Lake Ndutu and give birth to up to 400 000 calves in a matter of weeks.

This event attracts predators like lion, cheetah, and leopard. Moreover, a number of other animal species also live here throughout the year.

Guests can enjoy the traditional game drives on the Ndutu plains to watch these animals at their best. This is a sight that will linger in their memory forever.

5. Mount Elgon

Mount Elgon is a massive solitary volcanic mountain on the border between eastern Uganda and western Kenya. Eighty kilometers in diameter, it rises 3070m above the surrounding plains and offers respite for humans from the hot plains below and a refuge to unique floral and faunal diversity.

Its cool heights also provide a critical regional water tower, feeding countless rivers on which millions of people depend, such as the Nile. It is home to many endemic species of animal, including duikers, leopards and hyenas, as well as incredible birds, including Jackson’s francolin, alpine chat and white-starred forest robin.

For more adventurous travellers, there are many different hiking trails, ranging from short day hikes to full-blown climbs of the main peaks. Depending on your experience level and fitness, you can choose the route that suits you best.

The main trails include the Sasa Trail, Sipi Trail and Piswa Trail. For less experienced trekkers, the Forest Exploration Centre has also opened up 3 shorter trails that are perfect for day walks or for people who want to take in some of the beauty of Mount Elgon without having to commit to a full hike.

6. Mount Stanley

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mount Stanley is part of the Rwenzori Mountains in East Africa. Its two twin summits and a number of lower peaks form a high chain that rises from a variety of glaciers including the Stanley Plateau, the widest mass of ice within the range.

Experienced climbers can ascend the highest of Mount Stanley’s twin summits, Margherita Peak. This a challenging but rewarding adventure.

The mountain has a variety of different routes. Some are more difficult than others, so it is recommended that you have previous rock climbing experience before attempting this trek.

Day 5: Ascent up steep often wet/verglassed slabs to the Elena Glacier and Africa’s largest ice field, the Stanley Plateau. From here you can cross the Stanley Plateau to the north reaching the tow of Alexandra’s SE Ridge, drop down a sharp gully to the Margherita Glacier, climb this to the Alexandra/Margherita Col then continue on to the summit of Margherita Peak on snow trending left somewhat, generally wet or icy rock.

This 8-day expedition is led by experienced guide Holly Budge, an acclaimed conservationist and NGO founder. She will guide you through a safari hiking trip that includes a climb to Margherita Peak, game drives in Queen Elizabeth National Park and a trek to see rare mountain gorillas.

7. Mount Murchison

Located in the west coast of Tasmania, Mount Murchison offers one of Tassie’s best day walks. The hike is not suitable for inexperienced climbers and requires a high level of fitness and understanding of risks associated with walking in remote areas.

The region is rich in history, including a large number of surviving gold and coal mining buildings that were built at the peak of the country’s gold rush. The heritage trail is a fascinating way to learn about the area’s mining and earthquake history as well as the lives of the people who lived in it.

A day of trekking through the park will take you through mahogany forest where over 600 chimpanzees live, alongside olive baboons and colobus monkeys. You can also book a chimp habituation experience where you’ll spend the day with a guide learning all about these primates’ daily activities.

You can also take a boat cruise on the Nile in search of water birds, buffalo and giraffes. Alternatively, you can try your hand at gold panning in the Buller River.

8. Mount Meru

Mount Meru is the second highest mountain in Tanzania and is located in Arusha National Park. It is a dormant volcano and is surrounded by fertile slopes that are home to many animals.

The wildlife in the area includes giraffes, zebras, antelopes and buffalos. You can also spot lions and elephants on the slopes of the mountain.

Bird watching is also a popular activity in the area with over 400 species. There are also coffee tours in the region where tourists can visit the farms and watch them process the coffee.

Game drives are another popular activity in the area. Tourists can take game drives before or after hiking and see the different animals in the park.

Climbing Mount Meru is often considered a warm up for Kilimanjaro as it provides the chance to acclimatize and allows you to experience a new environment. It is also less crowded than Kilimanjaro and is a great alternative if you have limited time to climb the mountain.

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