Mountaineering is a physically demanding activity that involves ascending to the top of the mountains or steep slopes and descending back to base camp following established routes or trails. For mountain climbing lovers, East Africa offers very many places to enjoy and explore about the environment and scenery.
Mountains often provide a mixed terrain with the presence of rocks, ice and snow. Climbers therefore need to be able to navigate through a wide variety of conditions. Mountaineering thus may involve using technical equipment and combining a series of related skills like scrambling, climbing, and glacier travel, ice climbing or mixed climbing. There are several mountains in the various East African counties with varying elevations that are hiked and these include;
1. Mount Kilimanjaro of Tanzania:
Mount Kilimanjaro is located in the Kilimanjaro Region of Tanzania and it has got an elevation of 5,895m above sea level with its summit about 4,900 meters from its base. Kilimanjaro Mountain is the highest mountain in Africa and rises to 5895m from its base above sea level with three volcanic cones which include; Mawenzi, Shira and Kibo. Trekking to the peak and descending to the base of Mount Kilimanjaro normally takes between 6 to 7 days. The mountain has got over seven known trekking routes which includes; Machame, Mweka, Lemosho, Marangu, Shira, Rongai and Umbwe. These various routes have diverse scenery with Machame the most scenic though steeper and Rongai the least scenic.
2. Mount Kenya of Kenya:
This is the highest mountain in Kenya and the second to Kilimanjaro Mountain in elevation in Africa rising up to 5,199m above sea level. The Mountain was initially covered by an ice cap for thousands of years and this resulted in much eroded slopes with numerous valleys radiating from the Center. There are currently 11 small glaciers which are shrinking rapidly and will likely be gone forever by 2050, due to global warming. There are several vegetation bands from the base to the summit with lower slopes covered by different types of forest. Many alpine species are endemic to Mount Kenya such as the giant lobelias and senecios and a local subspecies of rock hyrax. Trekking to the summit and descending to the base of Mount Kenya requires about 3-4 days.
3. Mount Rwenzori of Uganda:
Mountain Rwenzori sometimes called the “mountain of the moon” is located on the border of Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. The mountain is at a height of 5,109m above the sea level and its highest peaks are fully and permanently snow capped. This mountain range is about 20km long and 65km wide with over 6 massifs which are separated by deep gorges including; Mount Speke ,4,890m Mount Stanley 5,109m , Mount Emin 4,798 m, Mount Baker 4,715m, Mount Luigi di Savoia 4,627m and Mount Gessi 4,715m. Ascending to Margherita peak and descending to the base of the mountain takes about 8-9 days. The mountain has distinctive vegetation zones depending on the altitude. These include; Afro Montane Forest at 1800 to 2500 metres, Bamboo-Mimulopsis zone at 2500-3000 meters, Heather-Rapanea zone at 3000 to 4000 meters and Alpine zone at 4000 to 4500 meters.