Rising about 4,900 metres from its base, Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and also the highest freestanding mountain on earth. Crowned with an interminable snow-cap, this regal mountain can be found inside the Kilimanjaro National Park of Tanzania.
The mountain has become a major climbing destination by tourists worldwide but the first people to reach the peak of the mountain were Ludwig Purtscheller and Hans Meyer in 1889. Numerous scientific studies have occurred on this mountain because of its disappearing ice fields and shrinking glaciers.
Though a couple of theories exist, the source of the name “Kilimanjaro” is not exactly known. It is said that some European explorers adopted the name as it was the mountain’s Kiswahili name but Johann Ludwig Krapf claimed Swahilis along the coast called it Kilimanjaro meaning “mountain of greatness or mountain of caravans”.
Mount Kilimanjaro also has the highest dormant or active volcano outside South America; it is also composed of 3 distinct volcanic cones namely: Kibo, Mawenzi & Shira. Shira and Mawenzi are extinct volcanoes while Kibo is a dormant volcano and may erupt once again. The highest point on Kibo’s rim is called the “Uhuru Peak”.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization as well as the Tanzania National Parks Authority confirm that the height of the Uhuru Peak is 5,895 metres. Though the interior of The Uhuru peak is not well known, because the large erosion scale has exposed the interiors of the volcano.
Kilmanjaro is drained by a network of streams and rivers; the Pangani & Lumi Rivers drain the mountain on the southern and eastern sides respectively.
The Tanzania National Parks Authority reports that the park recorded over 57,456 tourists during the 2011-2012 budget year. Out of that number, 16,425 tourists hiked the mountain. This made the Kilimanjaro National Park generate about $51 million as its 2013 revenue which was the 2nd highest revenue generated in any Tanzanian National Park.
The large number of tourists and mountain climbers generated a lot of jobs and also boosted the economy of Tanzania as it created seasonal occupations such as 11,000 porters, guides, cooks etc.
There are seven trekking routes for all tourists who wish to ascend and descend Mount Kilimanjaro. The 7 routes are Machame, Lemosho, Mweka, Marangu, Rongai, Umbwe and Shira. Of all the 7 routes, Machame is known for its attractive route though it’s a bit steep. Lemosho is also quite attractive as well. The Machame route can be completed in 6 or 7 days while Lemosho would take 7 days or more.
Tourists who want to trek to the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro are advised to undergo some form of research, so they can be sure that they are physically capable and properly equipped. Though the climb to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro is not so challenging.
Those areas are slightly difficult because of the high elevation, occasional high winds, the low temperature etc. it could be a difficult and risky trek. Getting familiar with the mountain is essential as even the most experienced trekkers get some level of sickness.
Nonetheless, Mount Kilimanjaro is a place to be, what with its astonishing and picturesque atmosphere, amazing wildlife and its native forestry and vegetation.