Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and the highest free-standing mountain in the world. The mountain is composed of three distinct volcanic cones: Kibo (5,895 m), Mawenzi (5,149 m), and Shira (3,962 m). Uhuru Peak is the highest summit on Kibo’s crater rim.
Mawezi and Shira are extinct while Kibo, the highest peak, is dormant and could erupt again. The last major eruption is thought to have occurred between 150,000 and 200,000 years ago.
Mt Kilimanjaro is located in Northern Tanzania, near the town of Moshi.
The missionary Rebmann of Mombasa was the first to report the existence of the mountain in 1848. Hans Meyer and Ludwig Purtscheller where the first to ascent the mountain on October 6, 1889. Their climbing team comprised of two local headmen, nine porters, a cook, and a guide.
The lower slopes of the mountains are heavily cultivated, especially those to the south, which receive plenty of rainfall.
The forest belt, which completely encircles the mountains and extends from 1,500 m to 2,900 m provides the best conditions for plant life. Coffee, bananas and various vegetables are grown in this zone.
Above the forest belt the porous soils and lower rainfall result in much sparser vegetation with semi-desert conditions prevailing above 4,000 m.
The southern wetter forests contain camphor, podocarpus, fig and other trees whereas the northern drier forests contain podocarpus, junipers and olives.
In contrast to Mount Kenya few large animals are encountered in the forest zone, though colobus monkeys and blue monkeys can often be seen but other animals such as antelopes and leopards are very shy.
There are many colorful birds the most noticeable being sunbirds, touracos, and hornbills.
The forests end abruptly without a bamboo zone, which occurs on all other tall mountains in East Africa. Above, the rapidly thinning giant heather zone leads to the upper moorlands where giant groundsels and lobelias peculiar to high altitude tropical mountain zones are seen.
There are few animals other than rodents, though leopard spoor can often be detected. Augur Buzzards and eagles soar high above and smaller birds such as alpine chats and seedeaters can also be seen.
In the higher moorland and alpine zones only a few tufts of grass, mosses and lichen are found, together with a few flowers such as the senecios and helichrysums.
When To Go
The best time to climb Mt Kilimanjaro is during the dry seasons. The clearest and warmest conditions are from December to February. Conditions are also dry from July to September, but colder.
Mount Kilimanjaro Climbing Tours
There are 5 and 6 days Mt Kilimanjaro climbing tours via the popular trekking routes: Rongai, Marangu, Machame, Umbwe, and Shira. Tours can be adjusted to 7 or 8 days for better acclimatization.