Mount Kilimanjaro, at 5,895 metres, is the highest peak in Africa. It also has the distinction of being the tallest free-standing mountain and the tallest walkable mountain in the world.
Mount Kilimanjaro lies on the border of Tanzania and Kenya, just south of the Equator. To the west lies the Great African Rift Valley, created by tremendous forces which also gave birth to a string of other volcanoes. One of these, Mount Kenya, was originally much higher than Kilimanjaro.
The three summits of Mount Kilimanjaro, Shira, Kibo and Mawenzi are all of very recent origin. Shira and Mawenzi both have suffered considerable erosion. Kibo, the central, youngest and highest peak.
It is unknown if any of the natives in the area had ever climbed the mountain all the way to the top. Europeans first arriving in the area heard tales of brave souls sent up the mountain to bring back the silver on it's slopes. They reached the silver slopes and gathered up the silver, but upon coming down the mount found the silver had turned to water.
Dr. Hans Meyer was the first European to summit the mount on the 5th of October 1889.
Getting There and Away
Most people travelling to Kilimanjaro will travel to Arusha.
Arranging Mountain Climbs
Mountain climbs can be arranged in Arusha, or through a tour company in a visitors home country. Most legitimate tour operators in Tanzania will be members of the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators.
Rongai is the only route over on the northeastern side of the mountain, starting close to the Kenyan border. It is not as popular as other routes, probably because it was closed for many years due to border problems between Kenya and Tanzania. The route has re-opened and is gaining popularity.
There are no motels or stay facilty on the Rongai route, so camping is done in tents.
On a six day climb, the itinerary would be:
Day 1 is a 3 to 4 hour climb from Rongai. The climb is through a pine forest, emerging eventually into the moorland.