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Kilimanjaro: The Trekking Guide to Africa's Highest Mountain    by Henry Stedman order for
by Henry Stedman
Order:  USA  Can
Trailblazer, 2006 (2003)

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest mountain is 5895 meters (19,341 feet) tall - and I remember every breathless step to the top. It's one of the highest spots on the planet you can reach by walking - as opposed to climbing - as long as you're in reasonable shape and can handle the altitude. This guidebook provides a thorough backdrop to the mountain and the region, and explains all the options for making the trek.

In his Introduction, Henry Stedman quotes Hemingway's preamble to The Snows of Kilimanjaro, which mentions the frozen leopard found surprisingly near the western summit. He tells us about people who have cycled, run, and walked backwards up the mountain as well as the myriad of folk who have strolled more traditionally through its four eco-zones. Sound easy? Not really. One in four climbers 'fail to even reach the crater' never mind the summit, and a couple of people die every year on the mountain. Children are allowed to make the ascent, but only over the age of ten. Aside from the accessibility of the mountain, what's its allure? Its beauty, and its variety (in both ecosystems and seasons, from tropical at the base to glacial on top, though the ice up there is apparently shrinking).

The guidebook (which is supplemented by a website, covers all the bases, divided into nine parts: Planning Your Trip (budget, timing, booking, getting there, and routes up the mountain); Tanzania (people and place, accommodations, security and health); Kilimanjaro (geology, history, flora and fauna with color photos, and the Chagga people); Arriving in East Africa (Dar es Salaam, Nairobi, and Kilimanjaro Airport); Arusha, Moshi and Marangu (where to stay and what to do in these towns, with maps); Minimum Impact and Safe Trekking (go pole pole, keep Kili clean, how to avoid and treat acute mountain sickness); Mount Meru (routes and maps); Trail Guide and Maps (for the different routes up and down Kilimanjaro ); and The Summit (touring the Reusch crater).

I wish I'd had this guidebook when I hiked up Kilimanjaro in 1986. Kilimanjaro: The Trekking Guide to Africa's Highest Mountain is an impressive, comprehensive resource, highly recommended.

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