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Name: Mountain Kilimanjaro  Elevation: 19,340 feet (5,895 meters)
Location: Tanzania, East Africa
World Status: #1 free standing mountain
Most people in the world have heard of mountain Kilimanjaro, or at least have tried to know it. Its a bit heart breaking though because most of them do not really know where mount Kilimanjaro is located, A Tanzanian will go through so much trouble trying to explain where Tanzania is until he mentions Kilimanjaro. Anyways "The land of mountain Kilimanjaro" will be our next Topic, Today's topic however is Mount Kilimanjaro it self.

A lot of people in Asia, Europe and America tends to think that this mountain is in Kenya, well that's VERY WRONG. Mount Kilimanjaro is located in TANZANIA, a topical country in Eastern part of Africa, Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa and fourth highest of the Seven Summits, is considered the tallest freestanding mountain in the world, rising 15,100 feet (4,600 meters) from base to summit. Kilimanjaro is the only point n Africa covered with Ice in all seasons. 

Mt. Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and fourth highest of the Seven Summits. Its highest point Uhuru Peak, rises to an altitude of 5,895 m (19,341 ft) AMSL (Above Mean Sea Level). Kilimanjaro is composed of three distinct volcanic cones: Kibo 5,895 m (19,341 ft); Mawenzi 5,149 m (16,893 ft); and Shira 3,962 m (13,000 ft). Uhuru Peak is the highest summit on Kibo's crater rim. Kilimanjaro is a giant stratovolcano that began forming a million years ago, when lava spilled from the Rift Valley zone. Two of its three peaks, Mawenzi and Shira, are extinct while Kibo (the highest peak) is dormant and could erupt again. The last major eruption has been dated to 360,000 years ago, while the most recent activity was recorded just 200 years ago. Although it is dormant, Kilimanjaro has fumaroles that emit gas in the crater on the main summit of Kibo. Scientists concluded in 2003 that molten magma is just 400 m (1,310 ft) below the summit crater. Several collapses and landslides have occurred on Kibo in the past, one creating the area known as the Western Breach.

Kilimanjaro rises from its base, and approximately 5,100 m (16,732 ft) from the plains near Moshi. Kibo is capped by an almost symmetrical cone with scarps rising 180 to 200 m on the south side. These scarps define a 2.5 km wide caldera.Within this caldera is an inner crater, the Reusch Crater. This inner crater was named after Dr. Richard Reusch. The name was conferred by the government of Tanganyika in 1954 at the same time it awarded Reusch a gold medal on having climbed Kilmanjaro for the 25th time. Reusch climbed Kilimanjaro 65 times and helped to establish the exact altitude of the crater. Within the Reusche Crater lies the Ash Pit. The Reusche Crater itself is nearly surrounded by a 400 feet (120 m) high dune of volcanic ash.


You have to be very lucky to see much in the way of fauna on Kilimanjaro. The more exotic fauna of East Africa does occasionally venture onto the mountain. It just doesn’t happen very often, with most animals preferring to be somewhere where there aren’t 35,000 people marching around every year. So in all probability you will see virtually nothing during your time on the mountain beyond the occasional monkey or mouse. Nevertheless, keep your mouth shut and your eyes open and you never know...

Forest and cultivated zones

Animals are more numerous down in the forest zone than anywhere else on the mountain; unfortunately, so is the cover provided by trees and bushes, so sightings remain rare. As with the four-striped grass mice of Horombo, it tends to be those few species for whom the arrival of man has been a boon rather than a curse that are the easiest to spot, including the blue monkeys, which appear daily near the Mandara Huts and which are not actually blue but grey or black with a white throat. These, however, are merely the plainer relatives of the beautiful colobus monkey, which has the most enviable tail in the animal kingdom; you can see a troop of these at the start of the forest zone on the Rongai Route, by Londorossi Gate and, so we’ve been told, near the Mandara Huts. Olive baboons, civets, leopards, mongooses and servals are said to live in the mountain’s forest as well, though sightings are extremely rare; here, too, lives the bush pig with its distinctive white stripe running along its back from head to tail. 

Then there’s the honey badger. Don’t be fooled by the rather cute name. As well as being blessed with a face only its mother could love, these are the most powerful and fearless carnivores for their size in Africa. Even lions give them a wide berth. You should too: not only can they cause a lot of damage to your person, but the thought of having to tell your friends that, of all the bloodthirsty creatures that roam the African plains, you got savaged by a badger, is too shaming to contemplate. Of a similar size, the aardvark has enormous claws but unlike the honey badger this nocturnal, long-snouted anteater is entirely benign. So fear not: as the old adage goes, aardvark never killed anyone. Both aardvarks and honey badgers are rarely, if ever, seen on the mountain. Nor are porcupines, Africa’s largest rodents. Though also present in this zone, they are both shy and nocturnal and your best chances of seeing one is as roadkill on the way to Dar es Salaam. 

Further down, near or just above the cultivated zone, bushbabies are more easily heard than seen as they come out at night and jump on the roofs of the huts. Here, too, is the small-spotted genet with its distinctive black-and-white tail, and the noisy, chipmunk-like tree hyrax. One creature you definitely won’t see at any altitude is the rhinoceros. Although a black rhinoceros was seen a few years ago on the north side of the mountain, it is now believed that over-hunting has finally taken its toll of this most majestic of creatures; Count Teleki is said to have shot 89 of them during his time in East Africa, including four in one day, and there are none on or anywhere near Kilimanjaro today.

Heath, moorland and above

Just as plant-life struggles to survive much above 2800m, so animals too find it difficult to live on the barren upper slopes. Yet though we may see little, there are a few creatures living on Kilimanjaro’s higher reaches.
Above the treeline you’ll be lucky to see much. The one obvious exception to this rule is the four-striped grass mouse (left), which clearly doesn’t find it a problem eking (or should that be eeking?) out an existence at high altitude.
Indeed, if you’re staying in the Horombo Huts on the Marangu Route, one is probably running under your table while you read this, and if you stand outside for more than a few seconds at any campsite you should see them scurrying from rock to rock. Other rodents present at this level include the harsh-furred and climbing mouse and the mole rat, though all are far more difficult to spot. For anything bigger than a mouse, your best chance above 2800m is either on the Shira Plateau, where lions are said to roam occasionally, or on the northern side of the mountain on the Rongai Route. Kenya’s Amboseli National Park lies at the foot of the mountain on this side and many animals, particularly elephants, amble up the slopes from time to time. Grey and red duikers, elands and bushbucks are perhaps the most commonly seen animals at this altitude, though sightings are still extremely rare. None of these larger creatures live above the tree-line of Kilimanjaro permanently, however, and as with the leopards, giraffes and buffaloes that occasionally make their way up the slopes, they are, like us, no more than day-trippers.

On Kibo itself the entymologist George Salt found a species of spider that was living in the alpine zone at altitudes of up to 5500m. What exactly these high-altitude arachnids live on up there is unknown – though Salt himself reckoned it was probably the flies that blew in on the wind, of which he found a few, and which appeared to be unwilling or unable to fly. What is known is that the spiders live underground, better to escape the rigours of the weather.


Kilimanjaro is great for birdlife. The cultivated fields on the lower slopes provide plenty of food, the forest zone provides shelter and plenty of nesting sites, while the barren upper slopes are ideal hunting grounds for raptors. In the forest, look out for the noisy dark green Hartlaub’s turaco (there was one nesting near the first-day lunch stop on the Machame Route), easy to distinguish when it flies because of its bright red under-wings. The silvery-cheeked hornbills and speckled mousebirds hang around the fruit trees in the forest, particularly the fig trees. There’s also the trogon which, despite a red belly, is difficult to see because it remains motionless in the branches. Smaller birds include the Ruppell’s robin chat (black and white head, grey top, orange lower half) and the common bulbul, with a black crest and yellow beneath the tail. 

Further up the slopes, the noisy, scavenging, garrulous white-necked raven is a constant presence on the heath and moorland zones, eternally hovering on the breeze around the huts and lunch-stops on the lookout for any scraps. Smaller but just as ubiquitous is the alpine chat, a small brown bird with white side feathers in its tail, and the streaky seed-eater, another brown bird (this time with streaks on its back) that often hangs around the huts. The alpine swift also enjoys these misty, cold conditions. 

You’ll rarely see these birds up close as they spend most of the day gliding on the currents looking for prey. The mountain and augur buzzards (right) are regularly spotted hovering above the Saddle (a specimen of the former also hangs about the School Huts when it’s quiet). These are impressive birds in themselves – especially if you’re lucky enough to see one up close – though neither is as large as the enormous crowned eagle and the rare lammergeyer, a giant vulture with long wings and a wedge tail. 

The prize for the most beautiful bird on the mountain, however, goes to the dazzling scarlet-tufted malachite sunbird (pictured left). Metallic green save for a small scarlet patch on either side of its chest, this delightful bird can often be seen hovering above the grass, hooking its long beak in to reach the nectar from the giant lobelias or feeding on the lobelias. 

Trekking Kilimanjaro

There are six official trekking routes by which to climb Mt Kilimanjaro, namely: Marangu, Rongai, Lemosho, Shira, Umbwe and Machame. Of all the routes, Machame is by far the most scenic albeit steeper route up the mountain, which can be done in six or seven days. The Rongai is the easiest camping route and the Marangu is also relatively easy, but accommodation is in huts. As a result, this route tends to be very busy, and ascent and descent routes are the same. People who wish to trek to the summit of Kilimanjaro are advised to undertake appropriate research and ensure that they are both properly equipped and physically capable. Though the climb is technically not as challenging as when climbing the high peaks of the Himalayas or Andes, the altitude, low temperature, and occasional high winds make this a difficult and dangerous trek. Acclimatisation is essential, and even then most experienced trekkers suffer some degree of altitude sickness. Kilimanjaro summit is well above the altitude at which high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE), or high altitude cerebral edema (HACE) can occur. All trekkers will suffer considerable discomfort, typically shortage of breath, hypothermia and headaches.


Find a good tour operator. You can only climb Kilimanjaro with an organized trek and along established routes, so you have to go with an operator. The operators vary from excellent to downright negligent so be selective.

Book in advance. This will enable you to go in high season, which is January-March and September October. High Season is a good time to go simply because the weather conditions are safest for climbing.

Get fit. Break in your hiking boots and walk the dog; climb stairs; hike some hills with a pack on -- walking is the best way to prepare yourself for the long hike up Kilimanjaro. You need to build up stamina. It's a good idea to get a basic medical check-up before you go. You don't want to be dealing with an ingrown toenail or worse at 18,000 feet. Travel insurance that includes medical is also a must.
Pack well. Pack light but make sure you have everything you need to deal with altitude and variation in temperatures. Don't worry about carrying it yourself since a porter will take up to 30lbs (15kg) of your personal gear in a duffel bag. You can rent some equipment and clothing locally but you may end up with teeny sleeping bags and a fraying pink jacket.

Choose your route. Make sure your hike is at least 6-7 days for maximum success. Any shorter and you will not be properly acclimatized. Routes vary in degree of difficulty, traffic and scenic beauty. The least difficult routes are Marangu and Rongai; the more difficult routes are Machame, Shira and Limosho. The longer routes may have more difficult hiking but you'll be more acclimatized and your chances of reaching the summit are therefore higher. The longer western routes also allow you to start your summit day at a more reasonable hour. 

Dealing with altitude. Pace yourself; you will hear the Swahili phrase "pole pole" - slowly slowly, heed it well. Drink lots of water about 4-5 liters a day is recommended. Luckily the mountain streams after the first day are good to drink and naturally cooled.  

Walk high and sleep low. Take a walk to a higher elevation during the day and come back down to sleep. Consult a doctor before you go and get some medication to prevent altitude sickness. Also make sure your guides are carrying the proper medical equipment such as oxygen, radios and a recompression bag to deal with altitude sickness if it arises.

Reaching the summit. The hardest part of the trek. Pace yourself, be determined, and you will reach the Uhuru peak. The final ascent is usually timed so you can watch the sunrise over the crater and distant plains. Enjoy the view take a few photos and get back down before you get too affected by the high altitude. Take a well earned nap

At first sight, Kilimanjaro’s glaciers look like nothing more than big smooth piles of slightly monotonous ice. On second sight they pretty much look like this too. Yet there’s much more to Kilimanjaro’s glaciers than meets the eye, for these cathedrals of gleaming blue-white ice are dynamic repositories of climatic history – and they could also be providing us with a portent for impending natural disaster.
You would think that with the intensely strong equatorial sun, glaciers wouldn’t exist at all on Kilimanjaro. In fact, it is the brilliant white colour of the ice that allows it to survive as it reflects most of the heat. The dull black lava rock on which the glacier rests, on the other hand, does absorb the heat; so while the glacier’s surface is unaffected by the sun’s rays, the heat generated by the sun-baked rocks underneath leads to glacial melting.
As a result, the glaciers on Kilimanjaro are inherently unstable: the ice at the bottom of the glacier touching the rocks melts, the glaciers lose their ‘grip’ on the mountain and ‘overhangs’ occur where the ice at the base has melted away, leaving just the ice at the top to survive. As the process continues the ice fractures and breaks away, exposing more of the rock to the sun… and so the process begins again. The sun’s effect on the glaciers is also responsible for the spectacular structures – the ice columns and pillars, towers and cathedrals – that are the most fascinating part of the upper slopes of Kibo.

Why haven’t Kilimanjaro’s glaciers melted away?

One would have thought that, after 11,700 years of this melting process, (according to recent research, the current glaciers began to form in 9700BC) very little ice would remain on Kilimanjaro. The fact that there are still glaciers is due to the prolonged ‘cold snaps’, or ice ages, that have occurred down the centuries, allowing the glaciers to regroup and reappear on the mountain. According to estimates, there have been at least eight of these ice ages, the last a rather minor one in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, a time when the Thames frequently froze over and winters were severe. At these times the ice on Kilimanjaro would in places have reached right down to the tree line and both Mawenzi and Kibo would have been covered. At the other extreme, before 9700BC there have been periods when Kilimanjaro was completely free of ice, perhaps for up to twenty thousand years.

The period from 1912 to now witnessed more than 80% of the ice cover on Kilimanjaro disappearing. From 1912-1953 there was ~1% annual loss, while 1989-2007 saw ~2.5% per year. Of the ice cover still present in 2000, 26% had disappeared by 2007. While the current shrinking and thinning of Kilimanjaro's ice fields appears to be unique within its almost twelve millennium history, it is contemporaneous with widespread glacier retreat in mid-to-low latitudes across the globe. Unless trends change, Kilimanjaro is expected to become ice-free some time between 2022 and 2033.