African Mount kilimanjaro

Mount kilimanjaro
African The roof Of Africa

Unique Things about Mount Kilimanjaro

Located in Tanzania, Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa’s tallest mountain at about 5,895 meters (19,340 feet). It is the largest free-standing mountain rise in the world, meaning it is not part of a mountain range.

Also called a stratovolcano (a term for a very large volcano made of ash, lava, and rock), Kilimanjaro is made up of three cones: Kibo, Mawenzi, and Shira. Kibo is the summit of the mountain and the tallest of the three volcanic formations. While Mawenzi and Shira are extinct, Kibo is dormant and could possibly erupt again. Scientists estimate that the last time it erupted was 360,000 years ago. The highest point on Kibo’s crater rim is called Uhuru, the Swahili word for “freedom.” The mountain is also known for its snow-capped peak; however, scientists warn that the snow might disappear within the next 20 years or so.

In 1889, German geographer Hans Meyer and Austrian mountaineer Ludwig Purtscheller became the first people on record to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro. Since then, Kilimanjaro has become a popular hiking spot for locals and tourists. Because mountaineering gear and experience is not needed to reach the peak, tens of thousands of climbers ascend the mountain each year. The climb is still dangerous, however, because of the risk of altitude sickness—a condition climbers experience if they ascend too quickly, which can be deadly if not treated right away.

In 1973, the mountain and its six surrounding forest corridors were named Kilimanjaro National Park in order to protect its unique environment. The park was named a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage site in 1987. A variety of animals live in the area surrounding the mountain, including the blue monkey (Cercopithecus mitis).

1. Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest freestanding mountain in the world

Mount Kilimanjaro’s biggest claim to fame is, without a doubt, its height. Standing at a majestic 5,895 meters above sea level, it holds the title of Africa’s tallest mountain.

But the highest freestanding mountain in the world? What does that mean, and what happened to Everest? Kilimanjaro isn’t part of any mountain range. It’s in an entire league of its own.

Everest, on the other hand, is a peak in the Himalayas mountain range.

2. There are 5 major climate zones on Kilimanjaro

The start of your trek up Mount Kilimanjaro will look completely different by the time you summit. And no, it’s not the icy caps of “Everyone’s Everest” that make the difference.

Kilimanjaro is home to five different climate zones:

  1. Cultivation Zone:  Lowland forest and farmland.
  2. Montane Rain Forest:  Dense, damp tropical forest home to plenty of flora and fauna.
  3. Heath/Moorland:  Small scrubs replace the forest, and temperatures start to drop.
  4. Alpine Desert:  Little water and hardly any plants. Expect high daytime temperatures, which drop to below freezing at night.
  5. Ice Cap Zone:  Also known as the Arctic Zone, it has half of the available oxygen you’ll find at sea level.

It’s like walking from the Equator to the North Pole. Pretty incredible that you get to experience all those climates in one climb, right?

3. Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the seven summits

As Africa’s highest peak, Kilimanjaro is one of the Seven Summits. What are the Seven Summits? These are the highest mountains on each continent. For mountaineers around the world, conquering each one is the ultimate goal.

The other six mountains are:

  • Mount Everest in Asia:  8,848 meters
  • Mount Aconcagua in South America:  6,961 meters
  • Mount Mckinley in North America:  6,194 meters
  • Mount Elbrus in Europe:  5,642 meters
  • Mount Vinson in Antarctica:  4,892 meters
  • Mount Kosciuszko in Australasia:  2,228 meters

4. Mount Kilimanjaro is a dormant volcano

Kilimanjaro is a stratovolcano, a large volcano made of ash, lava, and rock. It’s made up of three volcanic cones Shira, Mawenzi, and Kibo. While the other two are extinct and cut off from the flow of lava, Kibo is dormant.

If you hike to the Ash Pit (a 2-hour trek across the crater floor), you can smell the sulfurous gases.

What does this mean? You’re hiking a volcano, and one day it could become active again. However, there has been no volcanic activity for hundreds of years.

5. Kibo's last eruption was 360,000 years ago

For most of us, we don’t think about the threat of volcanic eruptions in our day-to-day lives, but when you want to climb Kilimanjaro, it gets you thinking, “When was the last time Mount Kilimanjaro erupted?”

Well, according to scientists, the last time Kibo released some steam was 360,000 years ago, but the dormant volcano cone did stir up some activity as recently as 200 years ago.

What about Shira and Mawenzi? Shira became extinct 2.5 million years ago and collapsed to form the Shira Plateau. Mawenzi erupted with Kibo one million years ago, forming “The Saddle” and went extinct 450,000 years ago.

6. Its home to Africa's tallest tree

It might come as a surprise (or not) that Kilimanjaro not only boasts the title of Africa’s highest peak but the tallest tree as well!

Andreas Hemp from Germany spent 20 years studying the trees in Kilimanjaro’s remote valleys when he stumbled upon the Entandrophragma excelsum. Using laser technology, Hemp measured the tree and found it stands a whopping 81.5 meters tall. To put that in perspective, Rome’s Colosseum is only 48 meters.

But the shocking facts don’t stop there.

Hemp estimates the tree is around 600 years old!

7. There are 7 official routes to the summit

One of the biggest choices you have to make when climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is the route.

There are seven established routes to the Rooftop of Africa:

  1. Marangu:  The only root with hut accommodation.
  2. Machame:  The most popular route.
  3. Lemosho:  The most beautiful route.
  4. Shira:  Approaches the summit from the west.
  5. Rongai:  Approaches the summit from the north.
  6. Northern Circuit:  The newest and longest route to the top.
  7. Umbwe:  The shortest, steepest, and hardest route.

How do you find the best Kilimanjaro route for you? It depends on the route’s scenery, difficulty, altitude acclimatization, success rate, and foot traffic.

8. 30,000 people attempt to climb Kilimanjaro each year

Is summiting Mt Kilimanjaro on your Tanzania bucket list? You’re not alone. Every year, 30,000 people attempt to trek up to the Rooftop of Africa. Sounds like the summit would be full of people, right?  Wrong!

Despite the high volume of climbers, not everyone makes it to the top. Acute mountain sickness is usually the main culprit, which is why the longer routes have the greatest success rates.

9. The first recorded successful summit of Mount Kilimanjaro was in 1889