Best 5 Mountains to Hike in East Africa


Are you an adventurous traveler who is eager to take part in a mountain climbing experience but still bothered on the best destinations to quench this thirst? The land of safaris also known as the African continent has got you covered.

There are a number of honorable mentions in the African mountaineering landscape such as the Atlas Mountains in northern Africa, and Drakensberg in South Africa among several other highlands. However, today we wish to major on the other competing counterparts to the above two giants.

The beautiful continent offers amazing features such as the rolling plains, unique vegetation, the magnificent Rocky Mountains, snow-topped peaks, rare wildlife, primate species, lakes and rivers which can all be summed up on an African mountaineering experience.

With over 55 independent countries on the African continent. It has never been simpler to have many mountaineering options like it is when you travel to East Africa. Below are the best mountaineering destinations in East Africa.

1. Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania


With an elevation of 5,895 meters, Mount Kilimanjaro stands as the highest mountain in Africa. It is also the highest single freestanding mountain above sea level in the whole world. All these facts are quite convincing if compared to major destinations such as the Atlas Mountains.

The Kilimanjaro Mountain towers above the vast African plains that dominate the Kenya-Tanzania border. The mountain is protected within the Kilimanjaro National Park that was opened in 1977. In 1989 the park was declared a World Heritage Site by the World Heritage Convention. Today Kilimanjaro is one of the most visited mountains in the world and there is more as to why Kilimanjaro is a prime mountaineering destination in Africa.

Hikes to the Kilimanjaro Mountain peaks started many years ago. Hikes increased steadily after the First World War and by the 1970s visitors to the park increased and new routes were established up the mountain.

There are several routes up Kilimanjaro and most routes start in the Tanzanian (southern) side of the mountain. The most popular hikes are the Marangu Route, Machame route and Umbwe route. The Rongai route is offers the only option to hike the mountain from the north and starts in Kenya.

Kilimanjaro has a number of options when it comes to short hiking trips, and in East Africa, there is no mountaineering destination as accessible as Kilimanjaro mountains.

Its hikes range in terms of toughness. If you simply wish to hike for a few days without summiting, Kilimanjaro is the best place in East Africa.

2. Mount Kenya, Kenya


Mount Kenya is the highest mountain in Kenya and the second-highest mountain on the African continent. Similar to Kilimanjaro, the mountain is one of the few snowcapped mountains on the African continent.

When envisioning Kenya, most travelers conjure images of wildlife safaris in savanna national parks such as Masai Mara National Reserve, Amboseli National Park, Tsavo National Park etc.

However, even though mountain Kenya is known for big game safaris, it also offers an opportunity to hikers. Mount Kenya comes second to Kilimanjaro and the hiking experience is far apart. A single trip to this diverse area will change how you think of Kenya and its powerful mountain region forever. When visiting Mount Kenya, you can enjoy the equatorial climate in the morning, witness the sun glinting off Diamond Glacier at noon, spend the afternoon weaving through the bamboo-laden forest and end your day by watching the sun set through the enchanting, mist-filled valley between the mountain’s highest peaks.

Hiking Kilimanjaro is relatively tougher than trekking mountain Kenya. In fact, some people have opted for a flight in order to view the top of Mount Kilimanjaro.

But Mount Kenya remains a recognizable force in the world of mountaineering in Africa. It is recommended to try both. Given the fact that Kilimanjaro is higher than Mount Kenya, it is recommended to start with Mount Kenya before trekking Kilimanjaro.

3. Mount Rwenzori, Uganda


Also spelled as Ruwenzori in earlier guides, the Rwenzori Mountains are a range of mountains in the eastern equatorial Africa located between Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo. The Rwenzoris are protected by the Rwenzori Mountains National Park of Uganda and the Virunga National Park of Congo.

Legendarily known as the mountains of the moon, Rwenzori Mountains comprises of the highest peak in Uganda and the third highest in Africa after Kibo of Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and Batian of Mount Kenya. However, a hike to the Magherita Peak is one of the most challenging hikes in Africa and a central circuit trail takes 7 days of ascending and descending the mountains.

A Rwenzori trek to the permanently snow-capped peaks of the is regarded as one of the most dramatic and challenging hikes in not only East Africa but also Africa at large.

The mountains are far more unique compared to its counter parts. They are less congested; only receiving less than 10,000 visitors in a year yet to those who have climbed both Rwenzori Mountains and Kilimanjaro mountains; they have found Rwenzori hikes more challenging. You can easily plan a hike of the Rwenzori mountains through Ugandan local tour operators.

4. Mount Meru, Tanzania


It is hard to introduce Mount Meru without highlighting its elevation of 4,565 meters above sea level. Unlike other mountaineering destinations, this is not a very popular stop for mountaineers.

The name Meru is already overshadowed by other mountains with similar names already the world. And in Tanzania, it is over shadowed by Mount Kilimanjaro. However, for those seeking a more doable mountaineering experience than Kilimanjaro Mountain, Mount Meru is more doable challenge.

5. Mount Semien, Ethiopia


Lying in the Ethiopian Highlands, Mount Semien is one of the best five mountains in East Africa located in northern Ethiopia, northeast of Gondar in Amhara region. The mountains are a World Heritage Site and they are protected by Semien Mountains National Park.

Even though the terrain cannot match that of Kilimanjaro Mountains, it is a fairly good destination to consider for a relaxed mountaineering trek.

Semien Mountains stands as the one of the few spots where snow regularly falls and they stand at a height of 4,550 meters. The popular highlights of the Siemen’s hike is a trek through the Danakil Depression where you will visit the hottest & most spectacular volcano & salt desert range. You can also visit the Lalibela Churches, the rock hewn churches in Lalibela that are marked by UNESCO as a unique heritage site.

After the hike, you can easily visit Oromo and South Ethiopia where you will visit the spectacular & colorful Hammer & Mursi tribes in South Ethiopia.