The highest mountain in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro, rises to more than 19,000 feet above sea level, or about 16,000 from its base. It is also the second highest mountain in the world.
Kilimajaro has three volcanic cones including Kibo, Mawenzi, and Shira, but the mountain is a dormant volcano. It is part of the Kilimanjaro National Park, a popular climbing destination, and subject of many scientific studies as well. There have been a number of theories trying to explain the origin of the name. One of them suggests that the name is derived from two words: Kilima (a Swahili word) which means mountain and Njaro (a KiChagga word) which translates to whiteness. Another theory claims that Kilimanjaro simply means we failed to climb it.
Climbing the Mountain
Whether or not any of the theories is true, the fact is that many people have reached the summit. More or less 30,000 people climb Kilimanjaro every year and the majority of them reach to the top. Many of those who failed to climb usually had problems with altitude-related issues or weather (especially near the peak). At the peak, the temperature can go down to 0-degree F (or minus 18°C), and that’s when the wind is not blowing; added with strong wind, the temperature can go lower. While there is no restriction on when you should climb it, summer and early fall have been the more preferable seasons. Wet season only makes the temperature colder.
The easiest route is Marangu, and therefore it is the busiest as well. Just because it is easy, however, it does not mean it is the most popular, too. Lemosho and Machame are both scenic routes and better known than others.
In case you are planning to climb the mountain anytime soon, you may want to know a thing or two about Mount Kilimanjaro before you get there:
Mount Kilimanjaro is home to wide variety of forest types. On the wet southern slopes, there is the Montane Ocotea forest; on the dry northern slope, it has Juniperus and Cassipourea. The Subalpine Erica forest is the highest elevation forest in Africa at about 13,400 feet high. Together, those forests harbor about 1,200 vascular plant species. Mount Kilimanjaro has quite high rainfall, but it is different from other similar mountains in East Africa in the sense that it does not have bamboo zone; it also means that there is limited supply of food for animals living in the mountain.
Some species do thrive in Mount Kilimanjaro for examples Blue Monkeys (they are actually grey or black), bush pigs, leopards, mongooses, baboons, and civets. Aardvarks and honey badgers also exists, but they are nocturnal creatures so visitors rarely see them.
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