Kilimanjaro Factfile

Mt. Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa, the highest free-standing mountain in the world, and one of the largest volcanoes ever to break through the earth’s crust. Seen from a distance it looks as though it is sitting on the clouds. Although only three degrees south of the equator, glaciers and snow cover its peak. Almost four miles high, it can be seen on a clear day from more than one hundred miles away.

This glacier-topped monolith, one of the largest volcanoes to break through the earth’s crust, represents many things to many people. A beacon to high altitude trekkers, it is also an important symbol of African independence. European explorers first encountered Kilimanjaro in the 1830s, but it was not summitted until more than half a century later. Originally named the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Spitze by the German colonists, the summit at 5,895m was renamed Uhuru Peak following Tanzania’s independence in 1961 (Uhuru means freedom in Swahili).

Kilimanjaro is in fact not one but three distinct volcanoes that first emerged around one million years ago; Mawenzi and Shira, which are extinct, flank the highest volcano, Kibo, which is dormant.

And this is not all: within its one great ecosystem is found almost every kind of environment, broadly conceived, found on earth. In the space of a few days you will pass, as it were, from the equator to the Arctic: through tropical rain forest, Alpine meadows, moorland, desert uplands, to snow and ice. We can trace the grand process of evolution in reverse: from the animals of the forest to the first stirrings of bacterial life on the summit.

About 3,000 visitors each year attempt to climb Kili. It is one of the Seven Continental summits, but this majestic peak does not require technical climbing skills.

These pages are intended to provide an insight into Kilimanjaro – its climate and geology, flora and fauna, and it’s place in history. None of the information on these pages is essential for planning a Kilimanjaro climb. But we hope it’ll provide a useful bit of background and further your enjoyment of the mountain!