There are challenging peaks that can be found from Morocco’s Atlas Mountains all the way to South Africa’s Drakensberg. To illustrate, the highest mountain on the continent, Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa’s most popular trekking destination. Additionally, lesser-known mountain ranges like Uganda’s Rwenzori Mountains offer an astonishing array of snow-capped peaks right next to the equator. If you are a true adventurer with a plan to conquer the trekking routes in beautiful mountains in Africa, here are The Broad Life‘s top 10 suggestions.
1. Mount Kilimanjaro – Tanzania
Actually, Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa’s most popular trekking destination and at 19,341 feet (5,895m), it is Africa’s highest peak. Especially, the route to the summit takes you through 5 different climates. There are about 30,000 people who attempt the climb each year. The successful rate of ascent on Kilimanjaro is approximate 65-70%.
The routes vary in difficulty level, traffic, and scenic spots. The least difficult routes are Marangu and Machame. On the other hand, the more difficult routes are Shira, Lemosho, and Umbwe. The longer routes will be more difficult to walk but you will be more acclimatized and your chances of reaching the top are higher.
2. Mount Kenya – Kenya
In fact, Mount Kenya is the second-highest mountain in Africa. There are different trekking routes in the area of Mt. Kenya for you to choose from. While the highest peaks Batian (5,200m) and Nelion (5,188m) require some climbing technique, Lenana (4,985m) is the peak that many adventurers choose. The slopes of Kenya are covered with forests and moors, giving way to rock, ice and snow. The mountain is part of a larger reserve.
The best time to climb Mount Kenya is between January-February and July-October. There are huts in the mountains, or you can camp.
3. Atlas Mountains – Morocco
Jebel Toubkal, located in the High Atlas Mountains, is North Africa’s highest peak at 4,167m (13,667 ft). It has a challenging trek to the top of the mountain, but worth it for the breathtaking views. Although you can reach the top and back to Imlil village in one day, you should take at least 3 days to make the most of it. Imlil village is only about 1h30′ from Marrakesh city.
The Atlas Mountains cover a large territory and there are many good walks in the Middle Atlas, High Atlas, and Anti-Atlas Mountains. Furthermore, all bring to you the opportunity to meet the Berbers, the locals living in the region.
4. Simien Mountains – Ethiopia
The Simien Mountains are a vast mountain range in Ethiopia with many peaks above 4,000 meters (13,000 feet). On top of that, the highest peak is Ras Dashen at 4,543 meters (14,901 feet), making it the fourth highest mountain in Africa.
Trekking here is amazing! It’s not only because of the scenery, canyons, and streams but also because you get the chance to see some unique, endemic wildlife like the baboons and the Walia Ibex.
Most trips start from Debark (or Debarek), a 3-4 hour drive from Gondar. You can arrange porters, donkeys, equipment, and more from here.
5. Drakensberg – South Africa
The Drakensberg is South Africa’s highest mountain range. It’s called uKhahlamba, which means “barrier of spears” in Zulu. In particular, its lower elevation is ideal for day hiking, horseback riding, San Rock Art viewing, and bird watching. Its higher passes provide more challenging rides.
Serious trekkers should check out the “Drakensberg Traverse”. A 2-3 week trek that includes Drakensberg’s many massive peaks and dramatic spires, including the over 3000-foot Tugela Falls and poured over 5 separate floors. If you don’t have that much time, try the spectacular walk from the Sentinel to the Cathedral.
6. Mount Meru – Tanzania
Mount Meru is Tanzania’s second-highest mountain at 4,566 meters (14,980 ft). It is often used to run adaptation tests against its close neighbor, Mount Kilimanjaro. Normally, the trek to the top of this pretty volcano takes 3-4 days. Outstandingly, the route passes through lush ancient rainforests of fig-trees, giving way to heather lawns and wastelands. Along the trail are buffalo, baboons, and giraffes as well as hundreds of species of birds.
The best period for ascent is from August to October. Trekkers can spend the nights in small well-tended huts along the route. Armed rangers are required, so it’s best to organize your trip in advance.
7. Rwenzori Mountains – Uganda
The Rwenzori Mountains, also called Mountains of the Moon, lie just north of the Equator along the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Uganda. Mount Stanley is the tallest mountain in the range, with double peaks, each over 5,000m high making it Africa’s 3rd highest mountain. Glaciers permanently adorn the mountain peaks.
The main trail up to the Stanley peaks is called Central Circuit and takes 4-10 days. Along the route, you will encounter jungle, swamps, boulders, glaciers, and elephants. Guides and armed rangers are required. There are basic huts along the routes for rest. The best time for a trek here is from December to February, and from June to August.
8. Mount Elgon – Uganda and Kenya
Mount Elgon is a large extinct volcano located on the border between Kenya and Uganda. There are 5 main peaks, the two highest are Wagagai (4,321m) in Uganda and Sudek (4,302m) in Kenya. Distinctively, the crater here is one of the largest craters in the world. The routes offer challenging treks along canyons, waterfalls, and caves.
From December to March is the best time for your trip. Yet, you must hire an official guide. In Uganda, you can register at Mbale for walking equipment, information, and permits.
There are several trekking routes to choose from. If you’re planning to reach the top of any of the highest peaks, you’ll want to spend at least 5 days in the mountains.
9. Mount Cameroon – Cameroon
Mount Cameroon is locally known as Mongo ma Ndemi (“Mountain of Greatness”). It is West Africa’s highest peak, at 4,040 meters (13,255 ft). In fact, Mount Cameroon is an active volcano. Its last eruption happened in 2000.
There are several mountain trails in the area. The oldest and steepest trail is the Guinness Trail named after an annual marathon once sponsored by Guinness Beer.
There are requirements for porters and guides on this 2-3 days tour. You can find basic huts and camps on the main trails. The main route passes through farmland, rainforest, montane forest, savanna, and finally to the rocky summit.
10. Mount Mulanje – Malawi
Actually, Mount Mulanje is a giant granite massif in southern Malawi. Its highest peak is Sapitwa at just over 3,000m. There are many routes to choose from with simple huts at the end of each route. Particularly, this is a great trek for families, with lots of streams and peaks to explore. You should spend at least 2 nights in the mountains.
The Mountain Club of Malawi has good route information as well as info on fees and how to pay your porter. If you join the Mountain Club, you can use their cooking equipment stored in the huts. Also, you should start your trek from Lihkubula Forest Lodge. From May to October is the best time to climb Mulanje.
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