Lower Slopes (800M – 1,800M)
This is the area found between the planes, where Moshi and Arusha are situated, and the park gates. Most of the area is cultivated land and as such most of the indigenous vegetation has been replaced by banana and coffee plantations as well as other subsistence crops.
The Forest Belt (1,800M – 2,800M)
This band of vegetation completely surrounds the mountain and extends from 1,800m to 2,800m. It is the area that receives the most rainfall, which is about 2000mm a year and supports the greatest amount of life. Some of the more prolific trees are camphor, podocarpus, fig and other large trees.
Alpine Heath And Moorland (2,800M – 4,000M)
Alpine Heath – This part of the zone is characterized by the heather and heath-like shrubs. From about 2,800m you will see the giant heather, Erica arborea. It is a tree with a gnarled trunk that grows up to 10m in the upper forest but will only reach 3m or so higher up on the moorland.
Moorland – You will know when you are truly in the moorland when you see clusters of giant lobelias and senecios. These plants characterize the higher elevation and are found in valley bottoms and beside streams.
Highland Desert (4,000M – 5,000M)
At between 4,000m and 5,000m this area receives about 250mm of rain a year, This is the alpine zone where it is “summer every day, winter every night”. There is intense radiation, high evaporation and huge daily fluctuations in temperature. Nights are well below 0 degrees Celsius and in the daytime it can be as high as 40 degrees Celsius.
Ice Cap (Above 5,000M)
This zone has an altitude of above 5,000m and less than 100mm of precipitation a year, the precipitation is usually in the form of snow. Above 5,000m the area is characteristic by artic conditions, freezing cold at night and burning sun during the day. Oxygen is about half that at sea level and there is little atmosphere to protect against the sun’s radiation.