Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain in Tanzania, Africa, with a height of 5,895 meters (19,341 feet) above sea level. It is one of the dormant volcanoes which soon got labeled as a mountain. It is also the world’s tallest free-standing mountain.
Anyone who wants to climb the mountain must know some interesting facts about it. If you are looking to climb Mount Kilimanjaro anytime soon or simply want to learn about this mountain, then you have come to the right place.
In this article, we have listed some interesting facts about Mount Kilimanjaro. Stick with us till the end to get a deep insight into Kilimanjaro.
Mount Kilimanjaro Facts
There is much to learn about Mount Kilimanjaro, and the facts below will blow your mind!
1. History of Kilimanjaro
The African continent remained undiscovered while still a topic of curiosity for many geographers in the early 1800s. Ptolemy of Alexandria, a Greek mathematician, mentioned Kilimanjaro as “a great snow mountain,” later called “great mountain west of Zanzibar” by Oriental traders in Africa.
However, several early nineteenth-century British geographers were in denial of any snow-clad mountains in Africa. They refused to believe there was any such thing in dry Africa. But their denial was soon proven faulty when William Desborough Cooley wrote in 1844,
“The most famous mountain of Eastern Africa is Kirimanjara”.
Kirimanjara’s mention by Cooley has to be the first time anyone had referred to the present name of the mountain Kilimanjaro.
Spanish writer Fernandez de Encisco wrote about “an Ethiopian Mount Olympus” in his book “Suma de Geographia” after speaking to African locals who had visited the mountain’s interior.
In 1948, German missionary Johannes Rebmann went to the interior of Kilimanjaro himself. Regardless of his claims, the Royal Geographic Society dismissed the existence of any such mountain in Africa and did not acknowledge the missionary’s claims. They, in the end, turned out to be extremely wrong!
2. Hans Meyer and Yohani Lauwo
One of the most interesting facts about Mount Kilimanjaro is the one who ascended it for the first time, Hans Meyer and Yohani Lauwo. On 6th October 1889, Hans Meyer and a porter, Yohani Lauwo, summited the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro for the first time. While there were geographers and mountain enthusiasts who had been around the mountain to explore it earlier than them, they were the first ones to stand at the peak of the mountain.
Likewise, it took 20 years for mountaineers to climb Mount Kilimanjaro again in the year 1902 successfully. As for Yohani, he became a legendary mount climber by going on 70 expeditions of Kilimanjaro. He lived up to 125 years old.
3. Geology of Kilimanjaro
Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in the world. Another fact is that this mountain is a dormant volcano comprising three volcanic peaks, Kibo, Mawenzi, and Shira, Kibo being the largest summit.
Kibo is the oldest volcano which erupted almost 2 million years ago. Mawenzi and Shira, on the other hand, are newer than Kibo. These volcanoes erupted a million years ago. While Mawenzi and Shira have become extinct by now, Kibo is dormant. The gases from Kibo can still be smelt when you are around Kilimanjaro.
There are seven summits in the world that mountaineers try to ascend. Among them, Mount Kilimanjaro, at a height of 5,895 meters, is one of the highest and most sought peaks. Among all the seven peaks, Kilimanjaro is the fourth tallest mountain.
In the early nineteenth century, Kilimanjaro was completely covered with ice caps. This is not the case for the present time whatsoever. Moreover, it has been estimated that there will be completely no sign of ice caps in Kilimanjaro by the year 2060.
The glaciers in Kilimanjaro are around eleven thousand and seven hundred years old. And around 85% of the ice caps have disappeared over the years.
6. Routes to Kilimanjaro
There are seven routes that you can take to summit Mount Kilimanjaro. It depends on the direction you are taking to find the best route to the top. Moving from the south, you must take Marangu, Machame, or Umbwe routes. Going through the west will have you choose either one of the Lemosho, Shira, or Northern Circuit routes. Likewise, moving from the north, you can take the Rongai route.
7. Summit of Sheila MacDonald
Sheila MacDonald is the first woman to summit Mount Kilimanjaro. Sheila was of Scottish descent. She has been climbing different mountains in her country since childhood alongside her father. When she visited Africa to visit her relatives after ascending peaks in Sicily, she joined a group of mountaineers on their way up to the Kili.
On 27th September 1927, she became successful in summiting the mountain. It has been famously said that MacDonald drank lots of champagne and whiskey to keep her strength up while she ascended the summit. While many of her companions left her alone as they returned after accepting defeat from the mountain, she did not give up her will. Her push helped her succeed.
8. Climate Zones
There are four climate zones that you need to keep in mind when it comes to Mount Kilimanjaro. These are the Alpine Desert (13,000 feet – 16,400 feet), the Montane Rain forest (5,900 feet – 9,200 feet), Cultivation Zone(2,500 feet – 5,900 feet), and Ice Cap Zone, the Arctic Tundra (16,400 feet – 19,340 feet).
The cultivation zone has been used for cultivation purposes by farmers nowadays. The ice cap zone is one of the coldest, with snowy ice caps and rocky faces. Montane rain forest serves as the home of many wildlife in the area. And the alpine desert does not support vegetation or human visits either. The place is extremely cold at night and unbearably hot during the day.
9. Success of summits
Around 30,000 people in the world have attempted to climb Mount Kilimanjaro now. Sadly, only a very few have succeeded in doing so. Climbers have proved that anyone who takes the longer routes tends to succeed at reaching the peak. Likewise, people who chose the shorter route have chances of not getting used to the change in altitude as quickly, which leads to them suffering from altitude sickness and hence returning from the mountain.
Regarding the number of summits in Kilimanjaro, the Kilimanjaro National Park has not yet kept track. Therefore, there aren’t any evident numbers that can be said to be correct regarding the number of successful summits.
10. Deaths in Kilimanjaro
There are many reasons why people die in Kilimanjaro. The ascent is tough in itself, but people tend to lose their health on the way due to altitude sickness and injury or simply because they are not well-equipped to climb the peak.
A lot of tourists have died in the mountain because of altitude sickness. In the same way, there have been reported numbers of deaths of the porters who either die due to lack of equipment or by altitude sickness itself. A few porters have succumbed to deadly diseases like Malaria, which worsened as they increased.
While around 6 to 7 people die in Mount Kilimanjaro every year, the number may be higher or lower depending on the frequency of ascents. Similarly, most of the people who perish in Mount Kilimanjaro are tourists who are new to the altitude and conditions of the mountain. More often than not, porters die on the way to the peak.
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