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Mount Kilimanjaro located in Tanzania is the highest mountain in Africa. It is also considered the highest free standing mountain in the world. Mt. Kilimanjaro, a volcanic mountain consists of three volcanic cones, the highest being Kibo at 5,895m, Mawenzi at 5,149m and Shira at 3,962m.
Another name for the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro is Uhuru Peak, which is situated on the Kibo’s crater rim, thus Uhuru Peak and Kibo Peak are simultaneously referred to as the highest points. While Mawenzi and Shira are extinct volcanic cones, Kibo is dormant and could erupt again.
Mount Kilimanjaro is not a technical climb/trek and therefore trekkers without previous experience and skills can undergo the journey. But, the volcanic mountain should not be underestimated. Mt. Kilimanjaro is regarded as a difficult trek because of the high attitude and the weather contrasts during the trek.
Furthermore, trekkers will experience variation in temperature while traversing through 5 different climatic zones:
- Cultivated Areas (793m – 1,799m)
- Rainforest (1,829m – 2,744m)
- Heath and Moorlands (2,805m – 3,993m)
- Alpine Desert (3,993m – 4,999m)
- Arctic (4,999m+)
5 different climatic zones, changing weather and high altitude are all factors which challenge your body and mind and test your determination during this adventure, yet all the same variables will provide you with the very rewarding feeling it is reaching atop Mt. Kilimanjaro at 5,895m.
Mount Kilimanjaro has several routes up the mountain but the most popular routes are:
- Machame Route - about 45 % of all climbers
- Marangu Route - about 35% of all climbers
- Lemosho Route - about 8% of all climbers
- Rongai Route - about 7% of all climbers
All in all, Kilimanjaro is a trekking adventure of a lifetime and is highly recommended for your Tanzania tour.
Although Mount Kilimanjaro is not as challenging and difficult as climbing in the Himalayas or the Andes, the volcanic-mountain should not be taken lightly. Ascending the mountain is still classified as entering Extremely High altitude zone (5,500m+). So, like any other rigorous trek and climb, health and safety should always be the first priority. The main threat to the climbers’ health and safety is altitude. Most trekkers will feel minor symptoms of altitude sickness, like headaches, nausea and low appetite as they ascend the mountain. These symptoms are diagnosed as Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) and should be reported to the company and accompanying guide immediately, so they can properly address the problem before your health worsens.
Generally it is recommended to always climb the mountain in a group as you will be able to help each other out.
Mt. Kilimanjaro can actually be climbed all year round. The following article will brief on the best weather seasons for mountain Kilimanjaro.
The precise origin of the name “Kilimanjaro” is not known; however, the indigenous tribe, Maasai, call the Moutain ol doinyo naibor, meaning “the white mountain” or ngaje ngai meaning “the house of God”. Another translation refers Mount Kilimanjaro as “mountain of greatness”. Regardless of the origin of the name, plenty of legends and mysticism surround the mountain.
One famous legend recounts how Menelik I, the son of King Solomon and Queen Sheba, conquered the lands in the south and then tried to climb to the top of Kibo, but was unsuccessful and died. His attendants buried him high upon the snowy craters of the mountain. Supposedly Menelik was wearing Solomon’s ring and today it is believe that whoever finds the king’s corps and wears the ring will gain Solomon’s wisdom and Menelik’s bravery.
Whether the legend is true or not, the earliest acknowledgment of Mt. Kilimanjaro by the western world was only made in 1849 by missionary Johannes Rebmann. Many attempts were made to scale Mt. Kilimanjaro, yet all of them were unsuccessful in reaching Kibo Peak/Uhuru peak, until 1889 when German explorer Hans Meyer and Austrian mountaineer Ludwig Purtscheller led by local guide Yohana Lauwo completed the climb to the summit.
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