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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Kibo Summit of Kilimanjaro
Elevation 5,893 metres (19,334 ft)[1]
Prominence 5,882 m (19,298 ft) Ranked 4th
Listing Seven Summits
Country high point
Kilimanjaro is located in Tanzania
Coordinates 3°4′33″S 37°21′12″E / 3.07583°S 37.35333°E / -3.07583; 37.35333Coordinates: 3°4′33″S 37°21′12″E / 3.07583°S 37.35333°E / -3.07583; 37.35333
Topo map Kilimanjaro map and guide by Wielochowski [2]
Type Stratovolcano
Last eruption None in recorded history
Easiest route hike

Kilimanjaro, with its three volcanic cones, Kibo, Mawenzi, and Shira, is an inactive stratovolcano in north-eastern Tanzania and the highest mountain in Africa at 5,895 metres or 19,341 feet (the Uhuru Peak).[3] Mount Kilimanjaro is among the tallest freestanding mountains in the world, rising 4600 m (15,100 feet) from the base.


The exact meaning and origin of the name Kilimanjaro is unknown. It is thought to be a combination of the Swahili word Kilima (meaning "mountain") and the Kichagga word Njaro, loosely translated as "whiteness", giving the name White Mountain. The name Kibo in Kichagga means "spotted" and refers to rocks seen on snowfields. The Swahili word Uhuru translates as "freedom", a name given to commemorate Tanzanian independence from Great Britain in 1961.

Climatic conditions

Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and fourth highest of the Seven Summits. It is among tallest freestanding mountains in the world, with Uhuru Peak rising to an altitude of 15,100 feet (4,600 m) from base to summit.

Kilimanjaro is composed of three distinct volcanic cones: Kibo 19,340 feet (5895 meters); Mawenzi 16,896 feet (5149 m); and Shira 13,000 feet (3962 m). Uhuru Peak is the highest summit on Kibo's crater rim.

Kilimanjaro is a giant stratovolcano that began forming a million years ago, when lava spilled from the Rift Valley zone. Two of its three peaks, Mawenzi and Shira, are extinct while Kibo (the highest peak) is dormant and could erupt again. The last major eruption has been dated to 360,000 years ago, while the most recent activity was recorded just 200 years ago. Kilimanjaro has 2.2 square kilometres (0.85 sq mi) of glacial ice and is losing it quickly due to climate change. The glaciers have shrunk 82% since 1912 and declined 33% since 1989. It might be ice free within 20 years, dramatically affecting local drinking water and crop irrigation.[citation needed]

Volcanic conditions

Although it is inactive, Kilimanjaro has fumaroles that emit gas in the crater on the main summit of Kibo. Scientists concluded in 2003 that molten magma is just 400 m (1,310 ft) below the summit crater. Several collapses and landslides have occurred on Kibo in the past, one creating the area known as the Western Breach.

Mount Kilimanjaro seen from the air - very little ice remains


Early good maps of Kilimanjaro were published by the British Government's Directorate of Overseas Surveys (DOS 422 Y742) in 1963. These were based on air photography carried out as early as 1959 by the RAF. These were on a scale of 1:50,000 with contours at 100 ft intervals. These are now unavailable. Tourist mapping was first published by the Ordnance Survey in England in 1989 based on the original DOS mapping (1:100,000, 100 ft intervals, DOS 522). This is now no longer available. EWP produced a map with tourist information in 1990 (1:75,000, 100 m contour intervals, inset maps of Kibo and Mawenzi on 1:20,000 and 1:30,000 scales respectively and 50 m contour interval). This is regularly updated and in its 4th edition. In the last few years numerous other maps have become available of various qualities.[2]

EWP map sample (1:75,000, summit area).[4]

Physical features

Mount Kilimanjaro as seen from Moshi town, Kilimanjaro region

Kilimanjaro rises[5] 4,600 m (15,092 ft) from its base, and approximately 5,100 m (16,732 ft) from the plains near Moshi.


The exact meaning and origin of the name Kilimanjaro is unknown. It is thought to be a combination of the Swahili word Kilima (meaning "mountain") and the Kichagga word Njaro, loosely translated as "whiteness", giving the name White Mountain. The mountain has three peaks, Kibo, Mawenzi and Shira. The names are also Chagga words, Kibo from Kifwo in Chagga which means present, Mawenzi from Kimawenje meaning brocken and Shira meaning war as it was a platform for fighting with the Maasai. The names predate the sighting of the mountain by the Germans explorers. Kibo is sometimes hidden by clouds in the evening but is visible in the morning. Kibo is a landmark for those travelling to and from the coast and when they arrive in Moshi at the foot of the mountain during the evening would not see the peak until morning of the following day. The residents miss to see the peak during the evening but will see it during the morning. Kibo for the travellers translated to the kiswahili term kipo with the same meaning it is present. Njau M. A. UDSM Tanzania

Historical map with "Kilima-Ndscharo" in German East Africa, 1888

It is unknown where the name Kilimanjaro originates, but a number of theories exist. European explorers had adopted the name by 1860 and reported that it was its Swahili name,[6] with Kilimanjaro breaking into Kilima (Swahili for "hill, little mountain") and Njaro,[7] whose supposed origin varies according to the theories—according to some it's an ancient Kiswahili Swahili word for white or for shining,[8] or for the non-Swahili origin, a word from the Kichagga language, the word jaro meaning "caravan". The problem with all these is that they can't explain why the diminutive kilima is used instead of the proper word for mountain, mlima. The name might be a local joke, referring to the "little hill of the Njaro" being the biggest mountain on the African continent, since this is a nearby town, and guides recount that it is the Hill of the Njaro people. A different approach is to assume that it comes from the Kichagga kilmanare or kileajao meaning "which defeats the bird/leopard/caravan". However this theory cannot explain the fact that Kilimanjaro was never used in Kichagga before in Europe in the mid-1800s.[6]

In the 1880s, the mountain, at that time spelled Kilima-Ndscharo in German following the Swahili name components, became a part of German East Africa after Karl Peters had persuaded local chiefs to sign treaties (a common story that Queen Victoria gave the mountain to Kaiser Wilhelm II is not true).[9] In 1889 the peak of Kibo was named "Kaiser-Wilhelm-Spitze" ("Kaiser Wilhelm peak") by Hans Meyer, on the first ascent to the summit on 5 October 1889.[6] That name was used until 1918, when after World War I the German colonies were handed over to the British empire. When British-administered Tanganyika gained its independence in 1961, the peak was named "Uhuru peak", meaning "Freedom peak" in Swahili.

The Ki- prefix in Swahili has several underlying meanings. The old Ka- diminutive noun prefix (found now only as Kadogo - a small degree), merged with the Ki class. One of its meanings was to also describe something unique of its kind: Kilima, a single peak, as opposed to Mlima, which would better describe a mountain range or undulating country. Several other mountains also bear this prefix, such as Kilima Mbogo (Buffalo Mountain), just north of Nairobi in Kenya. People with disabilities are also placed in this class, not so much as a diminutive idea; but a unique condition they possess: a blind or a deaf person, Kipofu and Kiziwi. This prefix "Ki-" in no way implies a derogatory sense.

Trekking routes up Kilimanjaro

There are several routes by which to climb Mt Kilimanjaro, namely: Marangu, Rongai, Lemosho, Shira, Umbwe and Machame. Of all the routes, Machame is by far the most scenic albeit steeper route up the mountain, which can be done in 6 or 7 days.[10] 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.

Caution signs at the Machamé trailhead
Sign at Uhuru peak, indicating to climbers that they have reached the top.

Persons wishing to climb Mt Kilimanjaro are advised to undertake appropriate research[11] and ensure that they are both properly equipped and physically capable. Though the climb is technically very easy, the altitude, low temperature, and occasional high winds make this a difficult and dangerous trek. Acclimatisation is essential, and even then most people suffer some degree of altitude sickness.[12] 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.[13] 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 trekkers 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. This can encourage 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. 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.


Memorial recognizing Hans Meyer as the first European to conquer Kilimanjaro
  • Fastest ascent: Bruno Brunod, 5 hours 38 minutes 40 seconds[14]
  • Fastest ascent and descent: Simon Mtuy, 8 hours 27 minutes[14]
  • Youngest 4 sisters to climb Kilimanjaro: Jillian, Velma, Lynette and Cheryl Hunter, age 6 years old and up with dad Gene Douglas Hunter in the early 70's. Youngest girl in the world summitted Kilimanjaro in 3 days Velma Gene Hunter, awarded wreath for being the youngest female summitter - Canadian/American born in South Africa; Youngest girl to reach Uhuru Peak: American Cheryl Hunter.
  • Youngest boy to summit: Keats Boyd, 7-years old[15]
  • Oldest person to summit: Karl Haupt, 79 or Valtee Daniel, 87[14]
  • First ascent: Kinyala Johannes Lauwo (1871–1996[citation needed]). Lauwo, a Marangu army scout, then served as guide to Hans Meyer, who named Johannes Notch after him. In 1989 the West German government built Lauwo a house at Ashira Marangu to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first European ascent.
  • First paraplegic to summit assisted: Chris Waddell[16]
  • First blind people to reach the summit: Tofiri Kibuuka, John Opio and Lawrence Sserwambala, in 1968.[17]
  • Largest Blind Team to Summit: FBC Team Kili 8 blind climbers reach the top June 29, 2009 [18]
  • Youngest Blind Climber to summit: Max Ashton, 13 years, 2 months June 29, 2009 [19]
  • First Blinded U.S. Veteran to summit: Tom Hicks, June 29, 2009 [20]
  • First Person with Albanism to summit: Adam Messler, June 29, 2009 [21]
  • First Deaf woman to reach the top of Kilimanjaro: Heidi Zimmer

Unique vegetation

Being a sky island, Kilimanjaro has unique vegetation such as the water holding cabbage in the tussock grassland and other plants like this all adapted to living in alpine conditions.

Kilimanjaro has a large variety of forest types over an altitudinal range of 3,000 m (9,843 ft) containing over 1,200 vascular plant species. Montane Ocotea forests occur on the wet southern slope. Cassipourea and Juniperus forests grow on the dry northern slope. Subalpine Erica forests at 4,100 m (13,451 ft) represent the highest elevation cloud forests in Africa. In contrast to this enormous biodiversity, the degree of endemism is low. However, forest relicts in the deepest valleys of the cultivated lower areas suggest that a rich forest flora inhabited Mt Kilimanjaro in the past, with restricted-range species otherwise only known from the Eastern Arc mountains. The low degree of endemism on Kilimanjaro may result from destruction of lower altitude forest rather than the relatively young age of the mountain. Another feature of the forests of Kilimanjaro is the absence of a bamboo zone, which occurs on all other tall mountains in East Africa with a similarly high rainfall. 'Sinarundinaria alpina' stands are favoured by elephants and buffaloes. On Kilimanjaro these megaherbivores occur on the northern slopes, where it is too dry for a large bamboo zone to develop. They are excluded from the wet southern slope forests by topography and humans, who have cultivated the foothills for at least 2000  years. This interplay of biotic and abiotic factors could explain not only the lack of a bamboo zone on Kilimanjaro but also offers possible explanations for the patterns of diversity and endemism. Kilimanjaro's forests can therefore serve as a striking example of the large and long-lasting influence of both animals and humans on the African landscape.

See also


  1. ^ "Kilimajaro Guide - Kilimanjaro 2008 Precise Height Measurement Expedition". Retrieved 16 May 2009. 
  2. ^ a b EWP. Kilimanjaro Map and tourist Guide [map], 4th edition, 1:75,000 with 1:20,000 and 1:30,000 insets, EWP Map Guides. Cartography by EWP. (2009) ISBN 0-906227-66-6.
  3. ^ the Kilimanjaro 2008 Precise Height Measurement Expedition. "Precise Determination of the Orthometric Height of Mt. Kilimanjaro". Retrieved May 12th, 2009. 
  4. ^ EWP map sample
  5. ^ The concept of "free-standing rise" is not completely well-defined; however one definition characterizes it as the rise of the summit over the lowest closed contour line encircling and remaining near the summit. (Compare topographic prominence.) Kilimanjaro is encircled by a contour line at elevation 1,395 metres (4,577 ft), giving a rise of 4,500 metres (14,764 ft), which goes no further than 45 kilometres (28 mi) from the summit. This is the world's highest free-standing rise attainable within a 50 kilometres (31 mi) radius. Higher rises are attainable over somewhat larger distances, namely for Pico Cristóbal Colón, which rises 5,000 metres (16,400 ft) above a contour within 75 kilometres (47 mi), and Mount McKinley, which rises 5,300 metres (17,390 ft) above a contour within 120 kilometres (70 mi). (Sources: SRTM data, USGS National Elevation Dataset.) If points below sea level are considered, Mauna Kea beats Mount McKinley by hundreds of metres with a similar radius. (Source: USGS National Elevation Dataset and Geologic Investigations Series I-2809.)
  6. ^ a b c Hutchinson, J. A.: The Meaning of Kilimanjaro
  7. ^ "Kilima-Njaro" (alternate name in 1907), The Nuttall Encyclopædia, 1907,, 2006, webpage: FOB-Njaro.
  8. ^ "SRTM TANZANIA IMAGES" (Kilimanjaro or Kilima Njaro description), NASA, August 28, 2005, webpage: NASA-Tanzania.
  9. ^ Briggs, Philip (1996): "Guide to Tanzania; 2nd edition." Bradt Guides.
  10. ^ R. Stoppelenburg. "Climbing Kilimanjaro on the Machame Route". 
  11. ^ R. Stoppelenburg. "Prepare yourself for the Kilimanjaro climb". 
  12. ^ Muza, SR; Fulco, CS; Cymerman, A (2004). "Altitude Acclimatization Guide.". US Army Research Inst. of Environmental Medicine Thermal and Mountain Medicine Division Technical Report (USARIEM-TN-04-05). Retrieved 2009-03-05. 
  13. ^ Cymerman, A; Rock, PB. Medical Problems in High Mountain Environments. A Handbook for Medical Officers. USARIEM-TN94-2. US Army Research Inst. of Environmental Medicine Thermal and Mountain Medicine Division Technical Report. Retrieved 2009-03-05. 
  14. ^ a b c "Record climbs on Kilimanjaro". Climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Retrieved 2009-02-17. 
  15. ^ "Young Boy Climbs Kilimanjaro". CBS Evening News. 
  16. ^ "They Did It". One-Revolution. 
  17. ^ [ “Uganda's Kibuuka Flies Norway's Flag”], Asia Africa Intelligence Wire, April 30, 2004
  18. ^ [1]
  19. ^ [2]
  20. ^
  21. ^

External links


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

KILIMANJARO, a great mountain in East Africa, its centre lying in 3° 5' S. and 37° 23' E. It is the highest known summit of the continent, rising as a volcanic cone from a plateau of about 3000 ft. to 19,321 ft. Though completely isolated it is but one of several summits which crown the eastern edge of the great plateau of equatorial Africa. About 200 m. almost due north, across the wide expanse of the Kapte and Kikuyu uplands, lies Mount Kenya, somewhat inferior in height and mass to Kilimanjaro; and some 25 m. due west rises the noble mass of Mount Meru.

The major axis of Kilimanjaro runs almost east and west, and on it rise the two principal summits, Kibo in the west, Mawenzi (Ki-mawenzi) in the east. Kibo, the higher, is a truncated cone with a nearly perfect extinct crater, and marks a comparatively recent period of volcanic activity; while Mawenzi (16,892 ft.) is the very ancient core of a former summit, of which the crater walls have been removed by denudation. The two peaks, about 7 m. apart, are connected by a saddle or plateau, about 14,000 ft. in altitude, below which the vast mass slopes with great regularity in a typical volcanic curve, especially in the south, to the plains below. The sides are furrowed on the south and east by a large number of narrow ravines, down which flow streams which feed the Pangani and Lake Jipe in the south and the Tsavo tributary of the Sabaki in the east. South-west of Kibo, the Shira ridge seems to be of independent origin, while in the north-west a rugged group of cones, of comparatively recent origin, has poured forth vast lava-flows. In the south-east the regularity of the outline is likewise broken by a ridge running down from Mawenzi.

The lava slopes of the Kibo peak are covered to a depth of some 200 ft. with an ice-cap, which, where ravines occur, takes the form of genuine glaciers. The crater walls are highest on the south, three small peaks, uncovered by ice, rising from the rim on this side. To the central and highest of these, the culminating point of the mountain, the name Kaiser Wilhelm Spitze has been given. The rim here sinks precipitously some 600 ft. to the interior of the. crater, which measures rather over 2000 yds. in diameter, and is in part covered by ice, in part by a bare cone of ashes. On the west the rim is breached, allowing the passage of an important glacier formed from the snow which falls within the crater. Lower down this cleft, which owed its origin to dislocation, is occupied by two glaciers, one of which reaches a lower level (13,800 ft.) than any other on Kilimanjaro. On the north-west three large glaciers reach down to r6,000 ft.

Mawenzi peak has no permanent ice-cap, though at times snow lies in patches. The rock of which it is composed has become very jagged by denudation, forming stupendous walls and precipices. On the east the peak falls with great abruptness some 650o ft. to a vast ravine, due apparently to dislocation and sinking of the ground. Below this the slope is more gradual and more symmetrical. Like the other high mountains of eastern Africa, Kilimanjaro presents well-defined zones of vegetation. The lowest slopes are arid and scantily covered with scrub, but between 4000 and 6000 ft. on the south side the slopes are well watered and cultivated. The forest zone begins, on the south, at about 650o ft., and extends to 9500, but in the north it is narrower, and in the north-west, the driest quarter of the mountain, almost disappears. In the alpine zone, marked especially by tree lobelias and Senecio, flowering plants extend up to 15,700 ft. on the sheltered south-west flank of Mawenzi, but elsewhere vegetation grows only in dwarfed patches beyond 13,000 ft. The special fauna and flora of the upper zone are akin to those of other high African mountains, including Cameroon. The southern slopes, between 4000 and 6000 ft., form the well-peopled country of Chaga, divided into small districts.

As the natives believe that the summit of Kilimanjaro is composed of silver, it is conjectured that Aristotle's reference to "the so-called Silver Mountain" from which the Nile flows was based on reports about this mountain. It is possible, however, that the "Silver Mountain" was Ruwenzori, from whose snow-clad heights several headstreams of the Nile do descend. It is also possible, though improbable, that Ruwenzori and not Kilimanjaro nor Kenya may be the range known to Ptolemy and to the Arab geographers of the middle ages as the Mountains of the Moon. Reports of the existence of mountains covered with snow were brought to Zanzibar about 1845 by Arab traders. Attracted by these reports Johannes Rebmann of the Church Missionary Society journeyed inland from Mombasa in 1848 and discovered Kilimanjaro, which is some 200 m. inland. Rebmann's account, though fully borne out by his colleague Dr Ludwig Krapf, was at first received with great incredulity by professional geographers. The matter was finally set at rest by the visits paid to the mountain by Baron Karl von der Decken (1861 and 1862) and Charles New (1867), the latter of whom reached the lower edge of the snow. Kilimanjaro has since been explored by Joseph Thomson (1883), Sir H. H. Johnston (1884), and others. It has been the special study of Dr Hans Meyer, who made four expeditions to it, accomplishing the first ascent to the summit in 1889. In the partition of Africa between the powers of western Europe, Kilimanjaro was secured by Germany (1886) though the first treaties concluded with native chiefs in that region had been made in 1884 by Sir H. H. Johnston on behalf of a British company. On the southern side of the mountain at Moshi is a German government station.

See R. Thornton (the geologist of von der Decken's party) in Proc. of Roy. Geog. Soc. (1861-1862); Ludwig Krapf, Travels in East Africa (1860); Charles New, Life ... in East Africa (1873); Sir J. D. Hooker in Journal of Linnean Society (1875); Sir H. H. Johnston, The Kilimanjaro Expedition (1886); Hans Meyer, Across East African Glaciers (1891); Der Kilimanjaro (Berlin, 1900). Except the lastnamed all these works were published in London. (E. HE.)

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


Proper noun




  1. Volcanic mountain in Tanzania, the highest peak in Africa at 19,321 feet.



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