Kilimanjaro is not really a mountain, but a triple summit volcano located in the northeast of the Republic of Tanzania, just near the border with Kenya. Easily recognizable by its silhouette and the snow that covers its peak, it is the highest peak in Africa and a true natural beauty.
The 3 peaks of Kilimanjaro
The volcanic group that we know as the Kilimanjaro mountain is made up of three elevations: the Kibo, the Shira, and the Mawenzi ; the latter is considered the third highest peak on the African continent, after Mount Kenya.
The highest part of Mawenzi is Hans Meyer Point. On the other hand, the Kibo is a dormant volcano and currently emits minor fumaroles.
The Shira is the oldest of the three crater that make up Kilimanjaro. It is 3,962 meters high and is known to be the most worn crater of the three, with a relatively flat plateau in the northern and eastern areas, invaded by materials from Kibo.
For geologists and surveyors, Kilimanjaro is a true gem of study, as it presents a really interesting structure. For example, at the top of the Kibo, there is a volcanic caldera, that is, a great depression, which includes a crater called ‘Reusch’ of 900 meters in diameter.
On the southern edge of Kilimanjaro, you can see the Uhuru Peak, one of the most remarkable points of the Kibo and the entire complex. And on the southwest side of the summit, is the western opening that occurred 100,000 years ago and is called Western Breach .
Since 1987, Kilimanjaro is part of the list of places that are a World Heritage Site, thus, it becomes a forest reserve. Hunting is not allowed within its limits and, at present, every effort is made to take care of both its flora and fauna, which includes endangered species.
With regard to fauna, the lower elevations are those that offer the greatest number of species. There you can find different species of monkeys, leopards, antelope, buffalo or elephants, a great variety of birds, among other animals.
In Kilimanjaro National Park you can find everything from glaciers, areas of perpetual snow and alpine moors to tropical rainforest, deserts and, of course, the savannah on its slopes. However, it is known that glaciers have been retreating for years due to global warming.
Due to its proximity to the Indian Ocean and the large size of the park, it is possible to admire all kinds of ecosystems. Kilimanjaro acts as a natural barrier to the monsoon winds, which sweep across East Africa from March to August.
The rains are important on the southern slope, since they provide the necessary humidity for the life of the flora and fauna. Then, in the higher parts, where there are greater concentrations of snow and ice, the flora and fauna are scarce.
The ascent of Kilimanjaro
It is curious that this wonder of nature was not known until well into the 19th century. It was the German missionary Johannes Rebmann, together with Ludwing Krapf, who discovered the massif in 1848. However, his first stories about the beauty of this place were hardly taken into account.
Little by little, more missionaries and explorers arrived in the area, corroborating what Rebmann had pointed out and the first attempts to reach the top of Africa began to follow.
The first person to reach the top of Kilimanjaro was the German Hans Meyer, on October 6, 1889, who undertook the adventure together with the Chagga guide Yohana Lauwo and the Austrian Ludwig Purtscheller.
Since then, thousands of people have taken it upon themselves to climb the highest peak of Kilimanjaro. Routes have been established for all slopes and the best known are the Marangu route and the Machame route.
The summit can be reached without great knowledge or climbing equipment, partly because of the creation of these routes and also because the retreat of the glaciers has made the ascent easier compared to the last century.
What you do have to keep in mind is that you need a permit from the Tanzanian authorities to climb this mountain.