By definition, hiking is the act of walking in the wilderness. When it is referred to as an activity, you are most likely talking about a day trip that requires very little planning or organization as it is usually just walking on trails. However, hikes can also include gentle prairie trails that wind along a river or creek and can involve taking a trail to the top of a mountain, which may be why Kilimanjaro hikes are a popular choice.
On the other hand, treks are always a multi-day affair. They are generally more commercial and involve wide trails, guest houses, and food stops. When you trek, you can hire a porter to carry your stuff and buy supplies along the way. Therefore, even though the two words are used interchangeably, while you can take a Kilimanjaro trek, you cannot hike to the top of the mountain.
A safari is an overland journey. It is usually a trip taken by tourists in order to either hunt or observe animals in their natural habitat. Since they take place mostly in Africa, it is no wonder that Kilimanjaro safaris are a popular choice among those that visit the area and try to climb to the “Roof of Africa.” There are many wonderful animals to see along the way.
Kilimanjaro is the world’s tallest walkable mountain and in order to reach the summit, you will have to pass through five distinct climate zones. These include rainforest, alpine desert, and glacial Arctic when you reach the top.
Regardless of which way you choose to go, all tourists are required to register at the base and climb with a licensed guide. More than 35,000 people try it each year, how many actually make it is unknown. The estimate is around 65 percent. This is due in part to the fact that it is hard work to make it to the top and though no animals will kill you, if you do not acclimate yourself to the new altitude, the lack of oxygen might. There are parts of the trail that are very steep and feel like they go on forever. Additionally, there are also sections filled with large boulders that feel like a Stair Master on its hardest level. It is recommended that you go with a decent fitness level and work on your stamina. Take practice hikes in order to prepare and to break in your boots so you do not get blisters.
However, all of that work, the lack of toilet paper if you do not bring your own, and the absence of showers is worth it. Kilimanjaro is one of the most beautiful places you will ever see, even if you do not make it all the way to the top. There are many wondrous and beautiful things to see along the way, as long as you take your time and stop to look at them. Far too many people are intent on reaching the top that they fail to notice the streams, animals, and views along the way. The entire climb is beautiful and otherworldly.