MOUNT KILIMANJARO "The Roof Of Africa"

Mount Kilimanjaro stands on featureless part of the East African plateau, on the Tanzanian side of the Kenya border near Moshi, side by side with the smaller Mount Meru. These mountains are extinct volcanoes, with Kilimanjaro actually being the agglomeration (combination) of three distinct volcanoes: Kibo (5895m/ 19,340 ft), Mawenzi (5,149 / 16,896 ft) and Shira (3,962m / 13,000 ft). whose violent creation is geologically associated with the creation of the Great Rift Valley, 100km to the West.

Kilimanjaro climbing Routes:
Machame, Lemosho, Rongai and Western Breach

The mountains have created a micro-climate around themselves and the rain-shadow created to their South and East supplies the beautiful and superbly fertile land in which the towns of Moshi and Arusha are situated, full of banana groves and coffee plantations. Kilimanjaro National Park comprises all of the mountain above the tree line and six forest corridors that stretch through the forest belt.

map of kilimanjaro climbing routes

Origin of the name 'Kilimanjaro'
There are many  explanations for how the mountain got its name and no one can agree what is the truth. "Mountain of Greatness", Mountain of Whiteness", "Mountain of Caravans",  are all names derived from the Swahili and  Chagga dialects.

From what little we know on the subject, it is thought  it might have something to do with the swahili word 'kilima', which means 'top of the hill'. There is also a claim that the word "kilemakyaro" exists in the Chagga language, meaning "impossible journey". But the truth is that no one really knows and is a good discussion point over a couple of beers

click here for Mount Kilimanjaro History
In the second century AD, Ptolemy, the Greek astronomer and cartographer, wrote of mysterious lands to the south of modern day Somalia that contained "man-eating barbarians" and a "great snow mountain". This knowledge he must have gained from the Phoenicians, who had circumnavigated Africa by this date. Ptolemy's account stands as the first documented reports of Africa's highest mountain, Kilimanjaro.

The next thousand years however brings no mention of this great mountain. As the coast of East Africa rose in prominence as a trading route after the establishment of Arab rule in the sixth century, the main hub of activity centred around the island of Zanzibar and the immediate mainland known at the time as Zinj. The Arabs had at their disposal, an almost unlimited supply of ivory, gold rhinoceros horn and a far more lucrative and mobile commodity, slaves. The great slave caravans that ventured far into the interior would have passed close by to the mountain to collect water from the permanent streams but it was the Chinese traders of the twelfth century that were next to record observations of a great mountain west of Zanzibar.

Kilimanjaro was to remain a mountain of myth and superstition throughout the centuries - one of the great secrets of interior of 'the dark continent'. It was the desire to find the source of the Nile that drove British explorers and geographers to first head inland towards the mysterious mountain around 1840 onwards. Up until then Kilimanjaro had been tall tale told by the Arab traders of Zanzibar. No one really believed that there was a snow-capped mountain on the equator.

On 16th October 1847, Rebmann a missionary, with the help of eight tribesmen and Bwana Kheri, a caravan leader, set off for the mountain of Kasigau, where they hoped to establish the first of mission posts. The journey went well and they returned to Mombasa on the 27th of the same month. Along the way they had heard the stories of the great mountain "Kilimansharo", whose head was above the clouds and "topped with silver", around whose feet lived the mountain's people, the fearsome Jagga (now Chagga). Krapf immediately sought permission from the governor of Mombasa for an expedition to Jagga. His official reason was to find areas suitable for mission stations, but the legendary mountain was becoming of increasing interest to the two missionaries. Disregarding warnings about the 'spirits of the mountain', on the 27th April 1848, Rebmann and Bwana Kheri set off for Jagga and within just two weeks was standing on the great steppe of East Africa within sight of Kilimanjaro ... the first European to set eyes on the mountain. There really were snowfields on the African equator. In April 1849, Rebmann's observations were published in the Church Missionary Intelligenciers and although not properly substantiated until twelve years later, it remains the first confirmed report of Mount Kilimanjaro.

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