Mount Kilimanjaro stands on featureless part of the East African plateau, on the Tanzanian side of the Kenya border near Moshi, side by side with the smaller Mount Meru. These mountains are extinct volcanoes, with Kilimanjaro actually being the agglomeration of three distinct volcanoes, Kibo (5896m/ 19,340 ft), Mwenzi (5,149 / 16,896 ft) and Shira (3,962m / 13,000 ft). whose violent creation is geologically associated with the creation of the Great Rift Valley, 100km to the West.
The East African mountains have created a micro-climate around themselves and the rain-shadow created to their Southand East supplies the beautiful and superbly fertile land in which the towns of Moshi and Arusha are situated, full of banana groves and coffee plantations. Kilimanjaro National Park comprises all of the mountain above the tree line and six forest corridors that stretch through the forest belt.
There are five major Mount Kilimanjaro Climbing routes through the forest and moor land areas before joining the south circuit path between 3500m and 4500m they are ; Kilimanjaro Machame route, Mount Kilimanjaro Marangu route, Kilimanjaro Climbing Lemosho Route, Kilimanjaro Rongai Route and Climbing Kilimanjaro Umbwe route.
From Mount Kilimanjaro south circuit path various walking (trekking), scrambling, and technical climbing trails take you the last 1200m or so to the summit. Most people however take the final leg of the Kilimanjaro Marangu route unless you are a technical climber in which case the summit may be reached via Rebman glacier, decken glacier or heim glacier amongst others. The final trekking Kilimanjaro ascent to the summit starts normally at about 2.00 am from Kibo hut so that it is reached before dawn to watch the sunrise and gaze out over the vast expanses of African bush land from the roof of Africa - Mount Kilimanjaro.
Mount Kilimanjaro National Park is the area above 2,700 meters on the mountain. Kilimanjaro National Park includes the moorland and highland zones, Shira Plateau, Kibo and Mawenzi peaks. In addition, the Kilimanjaro Park has six corridors or rights of way through the Kilimanjaro Forest Reserve. The Forest Reserve, which is also a Game Reserve, was established in 1921 ; the Park was established in 1973 and officially opened in 1977.