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Harder Footprints

High, hard, cold, dark and challenging may be the kind of hiking that suits you. You are ready with your heavy side supported boots, gators and layers. East Africa offers six mountains of at least 4,000 m.

Mt. Kilmanjaro at just under 6,000 m. has the world’s highest trekkable peak and Africa’s highest mountain. There are half a dozen main routes from the easiest and most popular, Marangu route, called “coca cola route”. It has a near manicured trail, comfy bunkhouses and heavy traffic. The most popular for the more adventuresome hikes is the Machame route, called “whiskey route”.

The sternest test of the standard routes is the Umbwe, where the first couple of days are particularly steep.

The per diem rate on Kili is among the highest of the parks in East Africa so one should know why they are choosing it. It is on the Tanzania-Kenya border, but is hiked from Tanzania.

Mt. Kenya at 5,200 m. is Africa’s second highest and basically the only African peak sought out by serious mountain climbers. There are four main routes up and a spectacular circuit of the peaks. Aesthetically it is my favourite and the one I recommend.

The Ruwenzori mountains, the only real mountain chain is on the western border of Uganda in an area that has rain more than 350 days per year. The highest peak is just over 5,100 m. When the clouds lift it is spectacular, but visibility is not guaranteed. It can be a great adventure for those prepared for wet and the long travel to get there. Also known as the “mountains of the moon” they are the source of the water for the origin of the Nile.

These three are the only ones with a permanent, although shrinking, ice cap.

Mt. Meru at 4,566 m. is the fourth highest and in the vicinity of Kili. It can be used as an acclimatization hike for Kili, but it is expensive preparation.

Mt. Elgon at just over 4,300 m. is the fifth highest, but in area, it is by far the largest mass of the African mountains and one of the largest in the world. It boasts a huge spectacular 8-km. diameter Caldera at the top. It is remote and wild, little traffic and large animals. It has traditionally been hiked from the Uganda side, but recently the Kenya side has been opened.

The Aberdare Highlands, across the valley from Mt. Kenya, rise to about 4,000 m. Like Mt. Elgon the hiking is not so challenging, but again it is a wild place with big animals.

There are other good hiking opportunities less involved with altitude challenge and more with destination. The Crater highlands in Tanzania are spectacular and there is a steep ascent of Ol Doinyo Lengai, if you are up for it.

Mt. Longonot, in the Rift Valley in Kenya is a good one-day challenge to warm up the hiking legs. The views are great, but it is usually hot.

Even hotter are hikes in the Saguta Valley and the Loroghi Hills in north central Kenya.

Of course there are more hiking areas, but this is representative of the more popular and difficult.

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About Footprints

Whether you want to experience the glaciers and thin air, high on the great mountains, the huge herds and predators of the fabled Serengeti Plain, or the chaotic tangle of life in the rain forest, Footprints Tours offers opportunity to marvel at nature or test yourself in it.  Read More »

Hiking at Altitude

Forays up higher than the camp and back down improve the body's acclimatization to altitude. Depending on energy levels, several of these at the end of the day may suffice.. Read More »


Read comments and opinions from previous Footprints Tours adventurers.

"You were along for the trip. When someone is traveling that far and is doing specialized travel, like climbing, you like to know someone is looking after you.." Read More »