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Things You Don’t Know About the Highest Mountain in Africa

Africa, a continent known for its diverse cultures and stunning landscapes, boasts the title of being home to the world’s tallest free-standing mountain – Mount Kilimanjaro.

This massive mountain stands tall at 19,341 feet (5,895 meters) above sea level and has a wealth of interesting facts that are often overlooked. Let’s take a simple and engaging look at some of these lesser-known aspects of Kilimanjaro.

Volcanic Beginnings

Kilimanjaro’s Fiery Past Kilimanjaro isn’t just a mountain; it’s a volcano! It was formed through many volcanic eruptions over time. The last significant eruption happened around 150,000 to 200,000 years ago, making it quite quiet in geological terms. Kilimanjaro has three cones, with Kibo being the tallest and highest point in Africa.

A Mountain of Many Climates 

One of the most fascinating things about Kilimanjaro is its different climate zones. As you climb up the mountain, you’ll pass through five distinct zones. At the base, there are lush rainforests, followed by moorlands, alpine deserts, and, finally, an arctic summit. These zones offer a wide range of plant and animal life for climbers to experience.

Various Paths to the Summit 

Kilimanjaro offers several routes to reach the summit, each with its own appeal and level of difficulty. The Marangu route, often called the “Coca-Cola route,” is a popular and relatively easier choice. The Machame route, known as the “Whiskey route,” is more challenging. No matter which path you choose, breathtaking views and an unforgettable experience are guaranteed.

Melting Glaciers

Kilimanjaro’s glaciers are disappearing at an alarming rate. Over the past century, the ice that once crowned the summit has dramatically shrunk. This is due to climate change and rising global temperatures. If you plan to climb Kilimanjaro, you should go soon, as the ice might not be there for future generations.

The Oldest Person to Climb Mount Kilimanjaro

The oldest person to ever reach Kilimanjaro’s summit was 88 years old! Dr. Fred Distelhorst, a U.S. physician, achieved this incredible feat in 2015. It shows that Kilimanjaro is accessible to people of all ages, and determination can make the seemingly impossible possible.

Photo: Pexels

A Mountain with Spiritual Significance 

Kilimanjaro holds deep cultural and spiritual meaning for the Chagga people who have lived near it for centuries. They believe that the mountain is the dwelling place of their deity, Ngai, and they call it “the House of God.” Climbing Kilimanjaro is often seen as a spiritual journey, allowing visitors to experience the rich cultural traditions and stories of the local communities.

A Home for Unique Wildlife 

Kilimanjaro’s slopes are home to some incredible wildlife, including leopards, elephants, and buffalo. Its forests shelter rare and endangered species like the Abbot’s duiker, a small antelope found nowhere else in the world. You might also spot the Kilimanjaro tree hyrax, a small, furry creature.

Inspiration for a Famous Writer 

Ernest Hemingway, a celebrated American novelist, found inspiration in Kilimanjaro. He wrote his short story “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” while living in Africa. The magnificent mountain and its surroundings left a lasting impression on his writing and imagination.

Mount Kilimanjaro is more than just a mountain; it’s a geological wonder, a symbol of human determination, a refuge for a variety of wildlife, and a place of profound cultural and spiritual importance. Whether you’re an adventurer, a nature lover, or someone seeking a spiritual journey, Kilimanjaro offers a unique and unforgettable experience. 

The next time you think about Africa’s natural wonders, be sure to include this incredible peak on your list, and who knows, you might find yourself standing at its awe-inspiring summit.

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