Mount Kilimanjaro

Mount Kilimanjaro


Location: Map

Height: 19,334 ft (5,893 metres)


Description of Mount Kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro is a mountain located in the North-East of Tanzania and composed of three volcanoes: the Shira in the west, culminating at 3,962 meters above sea level, the Mawenzi in the east, rising to 5,149 meters above sea level. altitude, and Kibo, the most recent geologically, located between the other two and whose Uhuru peak at 5,891.8 meters is the highest point in Africa. In addition to this characteristic, Kilimanjaro is known for its summit ice cap, which has been in an accelerated retreat phase since the beginning of the 20th century and which is expected to disappear completely by 2030 to 2050. The reduction in snowfall which is responsible for this is often attributed to global warming. climate but deforestation is also a major factor. Thus, despite the creation of the national park in 1973 and even though it plays an essential role in the bioclimatic regulation of the water cycle, the forest belt continues to tighten. Indeed, the mountain is notably the cradle of the Maasai pastoralists to the north and west, who need high altitude grasslands to graze their herds, and of the wachagga farmers to the south and east, who cultivate plots ever more extensive in the foothills, despite growing awareness since the beginning of the 21st century.

After the surprise generated in the scientific community with its discovery for Europeans by Johannes Rebmann in 1848, Kilimanjaro aroused the interest of explorers such as Hans Meyer and Ludwig Purtscheller who reached the summit in 1889 accompanied by their guide Yohanas Kinyala Lauwo. Subsequently, it constituted a land of evangelization which Catholics and Protestants disputed. Finally, after several years of German and then British colonization, it saw the emergence of a Chagga elite which was a pillar in the birth of a national identity, culminating in the independence of Tanganyika in 1961.

Since then, Kilimanjaro has become an emblematic mountain, evoked or represented in the arts and symbolized on many commercial products. It is very popular with the thousands of hikers who climb it while enjoying the great diversity of its fauna and flora.


Around 350 km south of the equator is the Kilimanjaro massif in north-eastern Tanzania, around 500 km north-west of the city of Dar es Salaam and close to the Kenyan border (Kenya's capital Nairobi is 200 km north-west). It is almost 560 km to the northwest to the middle of Lake Victoria.

While the 750 to 1000 m high terrain around the Kilimanjaro massif to the east gradually slopes down to the Indian Ocean after the 2463 m high Pare Mountains, it goes west and north into the mountains and highlands of Tanzania and Kenya and to the south in the Maasai steppe. About 70 km southwest of the mountain range rises the 4562 meter high Mount Meru.

The highest peak of the massif and thus the highest point in Africa is the Kibo with 5895 meters. Kibo is 325 km south of Batian, the second highest mountain on the continent in the Mount Kenya massif. Margherita Peak in the Rwenzori Mountains is 900 km to the northwest.

The massif covers an area of ​​around 80 km × 60 km.

The Kilimanjaro massif is of volcanic origin. It is located on the eastern rift shoulder of the East African Rift System. In connection with continental rifts, there is usually volcanic activity, which can be explained by the rise of asthenosphere material (often also mantle diapirs) and the resulting thinning of the lithosphere. Unlike the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, which are traversed by a mid-oceanic ridge, the East African Rift Valley is not a plate boundary. However, a continental rift represents the initial stage of the breakup of continental lithospheric plates. It does not necessarily have to result in complete breakup and the associated formation of mid-oceanic ridges. An example of a rift valley that did not lead to the complete rupture of two continental lithospheric plates is the Upper Rhine Plain.

On the Kilimanjaro massif, which is around two to three million years old, what is believed to be the largest eruption took place around 360,000 years ago. The Kibo is said to have last erupted around 1700, since then the volcanic activity has remained at a low level (fumaroles and solfatars), but has by no means died out.

It remains unclear why no significant ash deposits from past eruptions were found in the ice layers of the Kilimanjaro glacier. The 1700 eruption is not considered scientifically proven, but comes from oral traditions of the Chagga who settle on the mountain. Mountaineers are currently reporting a strong smell of sulfur compounds at the Reusch crater. The smell of sulfur compounds from the still active fumaroles of the "Ash Pit" can also occasionally be detected at Uhuru Peak, depending on the wind direction.

In addition to glaciers, the rocky mountains are home to firn and snow fields, frost debris deserts, numerous mountain streams and lush vegetation, which merges into the jungle-like rainforest in the lower mountain regions.

highest peaks
The Kilimanjaro massif essentially consists of three extinct volcanoes, the highest of which is the already mentioned Kibo ("the bright"). The summit of Kibo at 5895 m is called Uhuru Peak. The summit plateau includes the 1.9 km by 2.4 km Kibo Crater. In this lies the Reusch crater (about 800 meters in diameter; up to 200 meters deep), at the edge of which there is a small crater, the Inner Cone (5835 m).

About ten kilometers east of Mount Kibo and connected to it by a wide saddle averaging about 4300 m high, rises the rocky Mawenzi ("the Dark One"), which has no glacier, at 5148 m. About 15 kilometers west of the Kibo, the Shira (3962 m) can be reached via an approximately 3700 m high saddle. The Shira is a flat peak and also without a glacier.

Although the Kilimanjaro massif is located in the tropically hot regions of the world, it is the third glaciated high mountain range on the continent, alongside the Rwenzori Mountains and the barely glaciated Mount Kenya massif, which are also in equatorial East Africa.

The more recent glaciation on Kilimanjaro is limited to Kibo. Between 1912 and 2009, the ice cap shrank from 12 km² to 1.85 km², a loss of 85% of the area. The main reason for this decline is a regionally drier climate since the end of the 19th century. On the summit plateau, the Northern and Southern Ice Fields formed the largest units, while the Eastern Ice Field with the Rebmann Glacier and the Furtwangler Glacier were significantly smaller. The slope glaciers were primarily on the southern slope of Kibo, and remnants of the once mighty glaciation could still be seen on the western flank.


The satellite photos[10] from the years 1993 and 2000, which are often quoted by various media and are intended to illustrate the decline, are only of limited significance with regard to the retreat of the glacier. The 1993 photo shows the situation immediately after a fresh snowfall, while the 2000 photo shows hardly any fresh snow. The striking difference between the two images is thus based on the spatial extent of the seasonal snow cover.

The typical climate in the region around the Kilimanjaro massif follows a pronounced annual cycle of precipitation with two rainy seasons (March to May, October to December) and two dry seasons, whereby the small dry season (January and February) can also be rainy in some years. The average monthly temperature at the base of the mountain reaches more than 20 °C all year round. On the massif itself, the climate changes significantly, especially in the vertical direction, which is reflected in the succession of different vegetation zones. The lower areas (up to about 3000 m) are humid, often shrouded in cloud and covered with lush rainforest vegetation. With increasing altitude, the vegetation becomes sparser, temperature and precipitation decrease. Although the two rainy seasons are still pronounced on the summit plateau of Kibo, the annual amount of precipitation is only a tenth of that in the rainforest belt. Even in the afternoon, the temperature rarely rises above freezing. This makes the summit area a dry, icy environment.

bodies of water
Numerous mountain streams have their source on the Kilimanjaro massif, which arise, for example, on the glaciated peak of Mount Kibo and rush down the mountain slopes through the dense forests. They strive away from the massif in all directions. The Pangani and the Galana later arise from the union of such torrential streams and small rivers.

Because of the steep mountain slopes, there are only small lakes on the Kilimanjaro massif. However, Lake Chala (also called Lake Jala; 877 m; 4 km²) is located at its southeastern foot, and Lake Jipe (707 m; 46 km²) is a little further south. Both bodies of water are on the border of Tanzania and Kenya. At the southwest foot of the massif, already in the Arusha National Park, are the Momella Lakes.

Below the glaciers, snowfields and frost debris deserts, there is sometimes lush sprouting grassland that turns into shrubland. In the south, the tree line reaches a maximum of 3500 m, with an average of 2700 to 3000 m above sea level.

Due to the hot and humid climate, a unique flora has developed in the hot and humid jungle, not only in the lower regions of the mountains, in which countless plant species thrive with magnificent growth - they are usually larger than elsewhere. The rainforest is between 1400 and 3000 m altitude, it reaches a maximum of 3300 m altitude. In the vicinity of the mountain giant there are grass and tree savannas and swamps.

pre-colonial period
The Chagga people who live at the foot of the mountain worshiped the mountain for centuries before converting to Christianity. After the missionary work, altars were still aligned with the mountain. According to local legend, Kibo and Mawensi represent petrified wives of the god Ruwa. The story tells how Mawensi repeatedly abused Kibo's hospitality, who then beat her. This explains the jagged rim of Mawensi's summit (crater) and the fog that frequently lingers on Mawensi's summit is an attempt to cover up this disgrace.

Around AD 100, the Greek astronomer and geographer Ptolemy reported a high, snow-covered mountain in the middle of Africa. About 1,000 years later, more reports of such a mountain followed, this time from Chinese traveling traders.

A detailed Spanish account from 1519 was not taken seriously in Europe and fell into oblivion again.

It was not until May 11, 1848, when a European, the German missionary, geographer and linguist Johannes Rebmann from Gerlingen, stood in front of Kilimanjaro and reported to Europe about the overwhelming sight of the snow mountain, that the mountain came into the awareness of a broader public. However, Rebmann did not describe himself as its discoverer, as he had previously had reliable knowledge of the mountain from stories by Africans. Rebmann, who worked without interruption in East Africa from 1846 to 1875, stayed three times in 1848/1849 at the foot of Kilimanjaro. While the English geographers did not believe his account of the Schneeberg for decades due to its proximity to the equator, he received a medal of honor from the Geographical Society in Paris. However, Rebmann greatly misjudged the height, which he stated at around 3800 m without having measured it. He gave the mountain range its name and most of the peaks that his African companion gave him.

colonial era
During the colonial occupation by the German Reich from 1885 to 1918, this massif formed the highest mountain range in the Reich. The first climber Hans Meyer renamed the Kibo as the highest German mountain in Kaiser-Wilhelm-Spitze. The mountain huts built at that time were given German names such as Bismarck or Peters Hut. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Hanover section of the German and Austrian Alpine Club planned to build an Alpine Club hut between the Mawenzi and the Kibo at an altitude of 4900 m. The necessary building material had already been transported to the construction site. The start of the First World War prevented the construction of the Alpine Club's highest hut. Only after independence did the government of the Republic of Tanganyika become aware that the peak of the Kibo was still called the Kaiser Wilhelm Peak. In 1964 it was renamed Uhuru, which means freedom in Swahili.

first ascent
As early as 1861 and 1862, the German explorer Karl Klaus von der Decken had dared to climb the mountain and only reached a height of 4280 meters. The next documented attempts were made by the missionary Charles New on August 14 and 26, 1871, who on the second attempt on August 28, accompanied by a servant and a Chagga guide, reached the snow line before having to turn back. In 1872 the unsuccessful venture was reported in a publication of the Royal Geographical Society.

The first climbers were the Leipzig mountaineer, geographer and explorer Hans Meyer and the Austrian alpinist Ludwig Purtscheller, who scaled the summit on October 6, 1889 after two failed first ascent attempts in 1887 and 1888 (Muini Amani served as local mountain guide).

Meyer took a rock sample of black lava rock from the central peak of Kibo and shipped it to Germany to present it to Wilhelm II as a symbol of Germany's seizure of the massif. Another he kept privately. In 1890, the emperor had the boulder processed with other stones into a decorative piece, before which he is said to have kept it as a simple paperweight. There are sources that state that this work of art can still be viewed in the shell hall of the New Palace in Potsdam. However, the stone seems to have been stolen some time ago and replaced by a simple lump of lava - whether the original got lost during the National Socialist era or later in the GDR can no longer be traced. In 1980 an investigation was carried out in which the lava stone made of biotite slate was exposed. This shale is found nowhere on Mount Kilimanjaro. A piece of lava rock from the first expedition from Meyer's collection now sticks in place. The second stone is privately owned by one of Meyer's descendants.

More pioneering acts
First descent on skis: In 1912, after their third summit ascent, Walter Furtwängler and Siegfried König were the first to ski down from the Kibo summit.
On the fourth summit ascent on February 13, 1914, Clara von Ruckteschell-Truëb reached the crater rim at today's Gilman's Point and was the first woman to successfully climb Kilimanjaro.
First overflight: On January 8, 1930, Walter Mittelholzer was the first (motorized) to overfly Kilimanjaro. Among other things, he took aerial photographs of the Kibo crater from an altitude of around 6,200 meters, which were published in magazines and caused a great stir.
First live television broadcast: On July 21, 2008, a team of reporters from ARD set off from the Marangu Gate together with German mountaineers. Four days later they reached Gilman's Point and Uhuru Peak. The world's first live broadcast from Kilimanjaro was successful. The control and transmission system was stationed around 2000 meters below at the Horombo Hut.


population and cities
The Chagga live in the settlements and places on and around the Kilimanjaro massif, who mainly live from agriculture, but also partly from tourism.

Cities in the region are:

Arusha – major city 80 km southwest of the massif; There is an international airport 50 km east of the city.
Marangu - city on the massif, about 25 km from Moshi; optimal starting point for mountain tours on the Marangu route
Moshi - Big city on the massif with regional airport

The economy on the Kilimanjaro massif is still characterized by agriculture, so that the local Chagga live from agriculture, plantations and animal husbandry. Bananas, coffee, corn, wheat and sisal are among the crops grown.

The region around the Kilimanjaro massif and the Kilimanjaro National Park is very popular with tourists and nature lovers. Many tourists also come to climb Kilimanjaro.

Moshi, just south of the massif, offers a wide range of tourist facilities. Southwest of the massif and about 30 km west of the city in the direction of the neighboring city of Arusha is Kilimanjaro International Airport, from which tourists can travel to Kilimanjaro and Serengeti National Parks.

Climbing Kibo or Uhuru Peak offers mountaineers minor technical difficulties, which is why more and more people are trying to climb it despite the great physical exertion. In the mid-1990s it was still around 15,000 a year, but around ten years later this number had risen to 25,000. Among them are many who have never undertaken a multi-day trek before. However, as a result of the decrease in the partial pressure of oxygen associated with the high altitude, altitude sickness often occurs, so that only about half of all summit aspirants reach the highest point due to the physical exertion. At the summit, the partial pressure of oxygen is half that at sea level. In addition, there are sudden weather changes and significant temperature differences between the base of the mountain, where the thermometer regularly shows more than 30 °C, and its summit, where the temperature can drop below -20 °C. Due to the wind chill factor, the perceived temperature can appear even lower.

Five to seven days should be planned for the ascent because of the adaptation to the high altitude climate. In the NZZ, however, the high-altitude doctor Oswald Oelz described the five days that are normally reserved for ascent and descent on most routes as “physiologically attempted murder”. Anyone who does not acclimate properly beforehand runs the risk of developing pulmonary or cerebral edema. "It is not without reason that dozens of people die every year on Africa's highest mountain," explained Oelz.

The ascent is subject to a fee, and the appointment of a Chagga guide and the employment of local porters is required. The total fee in 2008 was 650 US dollars per person and is payable at the gates at the entrance to the national park. An additional $170-$250 is added for the guide and porters. The national park administration has announced non-binding recommended prices for tips. Depending on the organization, there are two to five porters for every tourist, including guides and a cook (“Regulations and Fees”, on the Tanzania National Parks website).

Marangu Route
While the five routes Mweka, Umbwe, Lemosho, Shira and Rongai are rarely used, the Marangu and Machame routes are much more popular. The Marangu Route ("Coca-Cola Route"), which is the most frequented according to park statistics and runs in the southeast of the Kilimanjaro massif, is the only route that offers overnight stays in huts instead of tents and has a maximum contingent of 70 guests per day.

The Marangu Trail begins on the southern slope of the massif and initially heads north via Marangu (Marangu Gate; 1879 m), which is often used as a starting point for mountain tours, and through the tropical rainforest to the Bismarck Hut (Mandara Hut; 2720 m). Then - above the tree line - through the initially luxuriantly sprouting grass and shrubland ascending in a northwesterly direction, you reach the Petershütte (Horombo Hut; 3719 m), which is located around five kilometers south of the Mawenzi. From there it goes in ever thinning air to the 4300 m high saddle, further west through the frost debris desert running to the 1932 (first) built Kibohütte (Kibo Hut; 4720 m) on the east flank of the Kibo. From there, after 987 m and a maximum of six hours steeply uphill through numerous switchbacks and through a scree landscape, Gilman's Point is only a few kilometers away (according to the inscription on a sign posted there 5681 m) on the edge of the Kibo crater. On the southern rim of the crater, another 214 m up, you reach the Uhuru Peak (5895 m) called Kibo summit.

After a total of around 34 km of walking you are on the rim of the Kibo crater, from which large parts of Tanzania and Kenya can be seen – if the sometimes unpredictable weather cooperates. For example, Mount Meru (4562 m) can be seen, often rising above cloud cover and some 70 km away.

More routes
In addition to the Marangu route, there are other paths that lead to the Kilimanjaro massif, which belong to the difficult routes. Among others these are:
Barafu Route - steep partial route from or via Barafu Hut (4600 m) to Kibo
Lemosho route - starting point Londorossi (2250 m)
Machame Route - Starting point Machame (1800 m)
Mweka route - starting point Mweka (1700 m)
Rongai or Kikelewa route - starting point Nalemoru (2020 m)
Shira Route - Starting point Londorossi (2250 m)
Umbwe route - starting point Umbwe (1700 m)
Western Breach Route – steep partial route from or past the Lava Tower (4600 m) to Kibo
Thomas-Glacier-Route - route leads over the glacier of the northern ice field - first ascent 28./29. October 2009

Oldest and youngest climbers of the mountain
At the beginning of July 2018, the American Montannah Kenney from Texas became the youngest climber of the mountain at the age of 7.
The oldest woman to reach Uhuru Peak was Angela Vorobeva at the age of 86 years and 267 days.
The oldest man on the mountain was American Robert Wheeler, who was 85 years and 201 days old when he summited on October 2, 2014.

Current research
Among other things, the University of Bayreuth has been operating a scientific research station on the Kilimanjaro massif for many years. It is primarily dedicated to researching the flora and the distribution of precipitation in the rainforest belt. In recent years, unique data on the climate history of the last millennia has been collected through glacial cores (ice boreholes). The Universities of Innsbruck and Massachusetts have been conducting a climate research project since 2002 with the aim of understanding the climatological reasons for glacier retreat. The body of scientific studies suggests that the shrinking of Kilimanjaro's glaciers is a direct result of a regionally drier climate since the late 19th century. A lack of snowfall reduces the inflow to the mass of glaciers, and lighter fresh snow, which reflects the sunlight well, protects against solar radiation. It is not yet entirely clear to what extent and since when the regionally dry climate will benefit from global warming. The less frequent occurrence of strong positive events of the Indian ocean dipole plays a probably decisive role, thereby reducing the supply of humid air masses to East Africa. While climate change does not have a major impact on the mass balance of glaciers via a direct increase in air temperatures on Mount Kilimanjaro, it is considered likely to affect Indian Ocean dynamics, thereby altering rainfall patterns on Mount Kilimanjaro.


Reception in literature and art
Carl Falkenhorst wrote in the story about Adler's war and hunting adventures in East Africa, in the non-fiction book Auf Bergeshöhen Deutsch-Afrikas (1890) and in the 1896 novel Zum Schneedom des Kilimanjaro about Kilimanjaro.

Ernst Platz painted his picture of Kilimanjaro while accompanying Hans Meyer on his fourth Kilimanjaro expedition in 1898. The painter Rudolf Hellgrewe made some gouache paintings with the motif of Mount Kilimanjaro. The painter and sculptor Walter von Ruckteschell climbed the Kibo in 1914 with his wife Clara and Carl von Salis. He also painted the Kibo as a colored watercolor. It is now in the German Historical Museum in Berlin.

At the foot of the mountain, Ernest Hemingway wrote his short novel The Snows of Kilimanjaro, which was filmed by Henry King in 1952 as Snow on Kilimanjaro. Starring Gregory Peck, Susan Hayward, Ava Gardner and Hildegard Knef, the film became a Hollywood classic.

Pascal Danel had a number one success in 1966 with the chanson Kilimandjaro (also called Les Neiges du Kilimandjaro).

The Dutch jazz formation The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble was founded in 2000 in Utrecht.

Mount Kilimanjaro is featured on a 2000 Tanzanian shilling banknote.

The name of the Linux distribution Manjaro is derived from the mountain massif.