Going to one of Africa's wonders can be a surreal experience, especially upon gazing at the snowy peak of Kilimanjaro. The highest mountain in Africa might be challenging to hike, but it can be quite the accomplishment to achieve. One can reach this mountain via Kilimanjaro International Airport, which lies around 40 kilometres away from Moshi, the capital of the region.
A popular port of entry for tourists out to visit some of the greatest wildlife parks in East Africa, Kilimanjaro International Airport serves at least 500,000 passengers per year. Despite its small size, the airport can handle aircraft as large as a Boeing 747 and an Antonov 124. Plans to renovate the airport, including its aprons, taxiways, and terminal building were arranged in 2014 to meet increasing demand. This will be funded by the Dutch government, which coordinated with Tanzania on the improvement of the facilities.
What to see & do
Kilimanjaro National Park, the main highlight in this part of the region, is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site to visit. It covers an area of some 75,575 hectares consisting of various types of terrain featured by the volcanic mountain. The lower slopes are covered with a montane forest, heath, and moorland, and an alpine desert and summit. Various endangered mammal species also live here, such as the blue monkey, Abbot's duiker, and the black rhinoceros. About 179 highland bird species can also be found here, which include the lammergeier, Hunter's cisticola, and the scarlet-tufted malachite sunbird.
The Arusha National Park is also one of the natural landmarks to visit here. It is northern Tanzania's safari capital, which one can explore diverse habitats whose entrance leads into shadowy montane forest inhabited by blue monkeys and colourful turacos and trogons. The spectacular Ngurdoto Crater can also be found here, with its steep rocky cliffs enclosing a wide marshy floor dotted with herds of buffalo and warthog.
Stretching for 50 kilometres along the base of the Rift Valley escarpment, Lake Manyara makes a scenic destination with a lovely setting. Compact game viewing can be enjoyed in the forest, as one will see baboon troops, dainty bushbucks, and forest hornbills. The grassy floodplain to the jagged blue volcanic peaks that rise from the Maasai slopes also let one view a breathtaking terrain. Large buffaloes, wildebeests, and zebras venture to the plains, along with other creatures.
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is also not to be missed, with its vast expanses of highland plains, savannah, savannah woodlands, and forests. It includes the spectacular Ngorongoro Crater, the world's largest caldera. It also has a high density of wildlife living in the area, with the annual migration of wildebeest, zebra, gazelles, and other creatures venturing to the northern plains.
How to get around within Kilimanjaro
When getting around the towns and communities in Kilimanjaro, tourists can look for taxis and buses to take them to different areas in the vicinity. For those who want to visit the national parks, one can join a group tour or rent a 4WD to get where they want to go. Considering getting a car with a driver is a great idea, but one must make sure the agency is reputed to ensure safety throughout the trip.
How to get there
Kilimanjaro International Airport transports passengers to the area via Airkenya Express, Coastal Aviation, Condor, Ethiopian Airlines, Fastjet, Kenya Airways, KLM, Precision Air, Qatar Airways, Regional Air Services, RwandAir, Safarilink Aviation, and Turkish Airlines. Known as the “Gateway to Africa’s Wildlife Heritage”, the airport receives flights from Nairobi, Frankfurt, Addis Ababa, Dar es Salaam, Amsterdam, Entebbe, Kigali, Istanbul, and some domestic destinations.
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