World Travel GuidesKilimanjaro, Tanzania

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Kilimanjaro in Tanzania at 5891 meters or 19330 feet is the highest peak in Africa. In fact, it comprises three volcanic cones, Kibo, Mawenzi, and Shira, inactive stratovolcano in north-eastern Tanzania that rise 4,600 meters (15,100 feet) from its base and approximately 5,100 meters or 16,700 feet from the plains near Moshi.

It is unknown how Kilimanjaro got its name. European explorers have used that name since 1860, saying that it was Swahili in origin. Some claim that Kilimanjaro comprises two words, Kilima (Swahili for "hill, little mountain") and Njaro, whose supposed origin varies according to the theories - according to some, it is an ancient Swahili word for white or for shining, or for the non-Swahili origin, a word from the Kichagga language, the word jaro meaning caravan. These so-called theories fail to explain why the diminutive kilima is used instead of the proper word for mountain, mlima.

Kilimanjaro" style="text-decoration:none" target="_blank">M. Disdero (cc-by-sa-2.0)

Kilimanjaro, called Kilmanscharo in German, became a part of German East Africa after Karl Peters had persuaded local chiefs to sign treaties in 1880. In 1889 Uhuru Peak on Kibo was named Kaiser-Wilhelm-Spitze. The name was in use in the German Empire until its defeat in 1918, subsequently the territory became British-administered Tanganyika and the name was discontinued.

There are several routes to climb Mt Kilimanjaro, among them, Marangu, Rongai, Lemosho, Shira, Umbwe and Machame. Of all these routes, Machame is the most scenic. However it is the steeper route up the mountain, and can be accomplished in 6 or 7 days. The Rongai is the easiest camping route and the Marangu is also easy, but accommodation is in huts. As a result, this route tends to be very busy and ascent and descent routes are the same. People who wish to climb Mount Kilimanjaro are urged to do their homework, to ensure they are well prepared, properly equiped, and physically fit.

Rebmann Glacier at Kilimanjaro
Rebmann Glacier at Kilimanjaro" style="text-decoration:none" target="_blank">Chris 73
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Although the climb is technically very easy, the altitude and low temperature make this a difficult and dangerous trek. Acclimatisation is essential, and even then most people suffer some degree of altitude sickness. About 10 climbers die from this each year, together with an unknown number of local porters - figures for these are guessed at between 10-20. Kilimanjaro summit is well above the altitude at which high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE), or high altitude cerebral edema (HACE) can occur. All climbers will suffer considerable discomfort, typically shortage of breath, hypothermia and headaches, and though most young, fit people can make the Uhuru summit, a substantial number of trekers will abandon the attempt at a lower altitude.

High altitude climbing clubs have criticised the Tanzanian authorities for charging fees for each day spent on the mountain, saying this encourages climbers to climb rapidly to save time and money, while proper acclimatisation demands that delays are built in to any high climb. Tanzanian Medical Services around the mountain have expressed concern recently over the current influx of tourists that apparently perceive Kilimanjaro as an easy climb.

Mawenzi Peak at Kilimanjaro
Mawenzi Peak at Kilimanjaro" style="text-decoration:none" target="_blank">Chris 73
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Many individuals require significant attention during their attempts, and many are forced to abandon the climb. An investigation into the matter concluded that tourists visiting Tanzania were often encouraged to join groups heading up the mountain without being made aware of the significant physical demands the climb makes.

Unesco Inscription

The Kilimanjaro National Park, which includes Mount Kilimanjaro, in the United Republic of Tanzania, was inscribed by Unesco as a World Heritage Site in 1987 under criteria vii.

Getting there

Kilimanjaro National Park has a park fee for entry and camping of over US$100 per day. You would need a licensed guide if you wish to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Porter is also useful. A trip should cost you around US$1000 to US$5000.

South Glacier at Kilimanjaro
South Glacier at Kilimanjaro" style="text-decoration:none" target="_blank">Chris 73
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Climate of Kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro National Park is located at the equator, so it does not experience the extremes of winter and summer weather, but rather dry and wet seasons. January and February are the warmest months, April and May are the wettest months, June and July are the coolest months, and August and September are the driest months. January, February, and September are considered to be the best months to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in terms of weather.

The journey from the gate to the peak is like traveling from the equator to Antarctica in a matter of days. This is because the routes to the Uruhu peak cross different ecological zones. Throughout the climb, temperatures vary considerably with the altitude and time of day. Mount Kilimanjaro has five major ecological zones, each approximately 3,280 feet (1,000 m) in altitude. Each zone is subject to a corresponding decrease in rainfall, temperature and life as the altitude increases.

Aerial photo of Kilimanjaro
Aerial photo of Kilimanjaro" style="text-decoration:none" target="_blank">mariagrazia innecco
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At the beginning of the climb, at the base of the mountain, the average temperature is around 70°F to 80°F (27°C to 32°C). From there, the temperatures will decrease as you move through Mount Kilimanjaro's ecological zones. At the summit, Uruhu Peak, the night time temperatures can range between 0°F to -15°F (-18°C to -26°C). Due to Mount Kilimanjaro's great height, the mountain creates its own weather. It is extremely variable and impossible to predict. Therefore, regardless of when you climb, you should always be prepared for wet days and cold nights.

Books on Kilimanjaro

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