Mount Kilimanjaro

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"Kilimanjaro" redirects here. For other uses, see Kilimanjaro (disambiguation).
Mount Kilimanjaro.jpg
Kibo summit of Kilimanjaro
Elevation 5,895 m (19,341 ft)[1][2]
Prominence 5,885 m (19,308 ft)[3]
Ranked 4th
Kilimanjaro is located in Tanzania
Mount Kilimanjaro's location in Tanzania
Location Kilimanjaro Region, Tanzania
Coordinates 03°04′33″S 37°21′12″E / 3.07583°S 37.35333°E / -3.07583; 37.35333Coordinates: 03°04′33″S 37°21′12″E / 3.07583°S 37.35333°E / -3.07583; 37.35333
Topo map Kilimanjaro map and guide by Wielochowski[4]
Type Stratovolcano
Last eruption Between 150,000 and 200,000 years ago
First ascent 1889
Hans Meyer
Ludwig Purtscheller
Easiest route Hike
Aerial view of Mount Kilimanjaro in December 2009
Historical map with "Kilima-Ndscharo" in German East Africa, 1888

Mount Kilimanjaro /ˌkɪlɪmənˈɑːr/,[5] with its three volcanic cones, Kibo, Mawenzi and Shira, is a dormant volcanic mountain in Tanzania. It is the highest mountain in Africa and the highest free-standing mountain (i.e., not part of a mountain range) in the world at 5,895 metres (19,341 ft) above sea level.


Local legends by the Chagga people say that a man named Tone once provoked a god Ruwa to bring famine upon the land. The people became angry at Tone, forcing him to flee. Nobody wanted to protect him but a solitary dweller who had stones that turned miraculously into cattle. The dweller bid that Tone never open the stable of the cattle. When Tone did not heed the warning and the cattle escaped, Tone followed it but the fleeing cattle threw up hills to run on, including Mawenzi and Kibo. Tone finally collapsed on Kibo, ending the pursuit.

Another legend has it that Kibo and Mawenzi were good neighbours, until Mawenzi played a prank on Kibo and threw away embers he had received from Kibo and claimed that they had burned out. Kibo eventually got angry and beat Mawenzi badly, explaining why the mountain is so badly degraded. This theory explains Mawenzi's name as "the Battered".

Other legends tell of graves of elephants on the mountain with ivory and a cow named Rayli that produces miraculous fat from her tail but will blow men to slow to escape after taking it with a snort down into the plain.[6]

Geology and physical features[edit]

Mount Kilimanjaro as seen from Moshi town, Kilimanjaro region

Kilimanjaro rises approximately 4,877 metres (16,001 ft) from its base in the plains near Moshi.[2]

Kilimanjaro is a large stratovolcano and is composed of three distinct volcanic cones: Kibo, the highest; Mawenzi at 5,149 metres (16,893 ft);[7] and Shira, the shortest at 4,005 metres (13,140 ft).[8] Uhuru Peak is the highest summit on Kibo's crater rim. Tanzania National Parks, a governmental agency,[1] and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization[2] list the height of Uhuru Peak as 5,895 m (19,341 ft). That height is based on a British Ordnance Survey in 1952.[9] Since then, the height has been measured as 5,892 metres (19,331 ft) in 1999, 5,891 metres (19,327 ft) in 2008, and 5,888 metres (19,318 ft) in 2014.[9] The interior of the volcanic edifice is poorly known, given the lack of large scale erosion that could have exposed the interiors of the volcano.[10]

Mawenzi and Shira are extinct, while Kibo is dormant and could erupt again. Eruptive activity commenced 2.5 million years ago at the Shira centre and ended 1.9 million years ago there concomitant with a northwards flank collapse. Subsequently Mawenzi and Kibo both began activity one million years ago. At Mawenzi the youngest dated rocks are about 448,000 years old. Kibo was formed by four major formations, phonotephrites and tephrophonolites of the Lava Tower group (482,000 years ago, on a dyke cropping out 3,600 metres (11,800 ft)), tephriphonolite and phonolite of the Rhomb phorphyry group (460,000-360,000 years ago), aphyric phonolithe with basaltic horizons of the Lent group (359,000-337,000 years ago) and porphyric tephriphonolite to phonolite of the Caldera rim group (274,000-170,000 years ago). The last activity has been dated to between 150,000 and 200,000 years ago and created the current Kibo summit crater as well as more than 250 parasitic cones on its northwest and southeast flanks that erupted picrobasalts, trachybasalts, ankaramites and basanites and are generally of small size. Kibo has gas-emitting fumaroles in its crater. The crater itself is embedded in a 2.5 kilometres (1.6 mi) wide caldera formed by the collapse of the summit.

Shira is topped by a broad plateau at 3,800 metres (12,500 ft), perhaps a filled caldera, and erosion has cut deeply into a remnant rim. Prior to erosion and caldera formation, the volcano might have been between 16,000 feet (4,900 m) and 17,000 feet (5,200 m) high. It is mostly composed from basic lavas with some pyroclastics. The formation of the caldera was accompanied with lava effusion along ring fractures, but no large scale explosive activity. Subsequently two cones formed, a phonolitic one at the northwest end of the ridge and the doleritic Platzkegel in the caldera centre.

Mawenzi forms a horseshoe shaped ridge with pinnacles and ridges opening to the northeast which has a tower like shape resulting from deep erosion and a mafic dyke swarm. Several large cirques cut into the ring, the largese of these sits on top of the Great Barranco gorge. Also notable are the Ost and West Barrancos on the northeastern side of the mountain. Most of the eastern side of the mountain has been removed by erosion. Mawenzi has a subsidiary peak named Neumann Tower (4,425 metres (14,518 ft)).[11][12][10] Mawenzi and Kibo are separared by the "Saddle Plateau" at 4,400 metres (14,400 ft).[13]:3

Kibo is the largest centre and is more than 15 miles (24 km) wide at the "Saddle" altitude (14,000 feet (4,300 m)). An almost continuous layer of lavas buries most older geological features, with the exception of exposed strata within the Great West Notch and the Kibo Barranco. The former exposes intrusions of syenite.[10] Kibo is capped by an almost symmetrical cone with scarps rising 180 meters (590 ft) to 200 meters (660 ft) on the south side. These scarps define a 2.5-kilometre-wide (1.6 mi) caldera.[14] Within this caldera is the Inner Cone and within the crater of the Inner Cone the Reusch Crater, which the Tanganyika government in 1954 named after Gustav Otto Richard Reusch upon his climbing the mountain for the 25th time (out of 65 attempts during his lifetime).[15][16] The Ash Pit, 350 metres (1,150 ft) deep, lies within the Reusch Crater.[17] 100,000 years ago on Kibo, part of the crater rim collapsed, creating the area known as the Western Breach and the Great Barranco.[18]

Parasitic activity occurred in a southeast-northwest running belt. They reach as far down as Lake Chala and Taveta in the southeast and the Lengurumani plain in the northwest. Most of these cones are well preserved, with the exception of the Saddle cones which were heavily affected by glacial action. Despite their mostly small size lava coverage from the cones has obscured large portions of the mountain. The Saddle cones are mostly cinder cones with terminal effusion of lava, while the Upper Rombo Zone cones are mostly lavic. All Saddle zone cones predate the last glaciation.[10]The Dschalla lake on the volcano's flanks according to reports from Massai people was once place of a village that was destroyed by an eruption.[19]


The origin of the name "Kilimanjaro" is not precisely known, but a number of theories exist. European explorers had adopted the name by 1860 and reported that "Kilimanjaro" was the mountain's Kiswahili name.[20] But according to the 1907 edition of The Nuttall Encyclopædia, the name of the mountain was "Kilima-Njaro".[21]

Johann Ludwig Krapf wrote in 1860 that Swahilis along the coast called the mountain "Kilimanjaro". Although he did not support his claim,[22] he claimed that "Kilimanjaro" meant either "mountain of greatness" or "mountain of caravans". Under the latter meaning, "Kilima" meant "mountain" and "Jaro" possibly meant "caravans".[20]

Jim Thompson claimed in 1885, although he also did not support his claim,[22]

The term Kilima-Njaro has generally been understood to mean the Mountain (Kilima) of Greatness (Njaro). This is probably as good a derivation as any other, though not improbably it may mean the "White" mountain, as I believe the term "Njaro" has in former times been used to denote whiteness, and though this application of the word is now obsolete on the coast, it is still heard among some of the interior tribes. Either translation is equally applicable.... By the Wa-chaga[,] the mountain is not known under one name, the two masses which form it being respectively named Kibo and Kimawenzi.[23]

"Njaro" is an ancient Kiswahili word for "shining".[24] Similarly, Krapf wrote that a chief of the Wakamba people, whom he visited in 1849, "had been to Jagga and had seen the Kima jaJeu, mountain of whiteness, the name given by the Wakamba to Kilimanjaro...."[25] More correctly in the Kikamba language, this would be Kiima Kyeu, and this possible derivation has been popular with several investigators.[22]

Others have assumed that "Kilima" is Kiswahili for "mountain". The problem with this assumption is that "Kilima" actually means "hill" and is, therefore, the diminutive of "Mlima", the proper Kiswahili word for mountain. However, "[i]t is ... possible ... that an early European visitor, whose knowledge of [Kiswahili] was not extensive, changed mlima to kilima by analogy with the two Chagga names; Kibo and Kimawenzi."[22]

A different approach is to assume that the "Kileman" part of Kilimanjaro comes from the Kichagga "kileme", which means "which defeats", or "kilelema", which means "which has become difficult or impossible". The "Jaro" part would "then be derived from njaare, a bird, or, according to other informants, a leopard, or, possibly from jyaro a caravan."

According to one [Wachagga] informant, the old men tell the story that long ago the Wachagga, having seen the snowy dome, decided to go up to investigate; naturally, they did not get very far. Hence the name: kilemanjaare, or kilemanyaro, or possibly kilelemanjaare etc.- "which defeats," or which is impossible for, the bird, the leopard, or the caravan. This is attractive as being entirely made up of [Wachagga] elements based on an imaginable situation, but the fact remains that the name Kilimanjaro is not, and apparently never has been, current among the Wachagga as the name of the mountain. Is this then only, as other Wachagga suggest, a latter-day attempt to find a [Wachagga] explanation when pressed to do so by a foreign enquirer? Is it perhaps arguable that the early porters from the coast hearing the Wachagga say kilemanjaare or kilemajyaro, meaning simply that it was impossible to climb the mountain, imagined this to be the name of the mountain, and associated it with their own kilima? Did they then report to the European leaders of the expedition that the name of the mountain was, their version of the Kichagga, which, further assimilated by the European hearer, finally became standardised as Kilimanjaro?[22]

In the 1880s, the mountain became a part of German East Africa and was called "Kilima-Ndscharo" in German following the Kiswahili name components.[26]

On 6 October 1889, Hans Meyer reached the highest summit on the crater ridge of Kibo. He named it "Kaiser-Wilhelm-Spitze" ("Kaiser Wilhelm peak").[27] That name apparently was used until Tanzania was formed in 1964,[28] when the summit was renamed "Uhuru", meaning "Freedom Peak" in Kiswahili.[29]



From the UK National Archives

The mountain was known since antiquity. Sailors' reports recorded by Ptolemy mention a "Moon Mountain" and a spring lake of the Nile, which may indicate Kilimanjaro, although available historical information does not allow to differentiate between Mount Kenya, Ethiopia, the Virunga Mountains, Kilimanjaro and the Ruwenzori Mountains. Several reports were substantiated by Arab slave traders in the 12th century. Prior to Ptolemy Aeschylus and Herodotus refer to "Egypt nurtured by the snows" and a spring between two mountains respectively. One of these mentions two tall mountains in the coastal regions with a valley with traces of fire in between. A Spanish traveller in 1507 reported to have seen "very tall Mount Olympus" to the east of the "Moon Mountains" where the Nile originates from, likely referring to Kilimanjaro with the "Olympus" reference.

The German missionaries Rebmann and Krapf were the first Europeans to try to reach the snowy mountain; Rebmann in the 1840 was the first to see the mountain. Krapf followed upon a report by Rebmann.[19] According to English geographer Halford Mackinder, in 1848 the German missionary Johannes Rebmann of Mombasa was the first European to report the existence of Kilimanjaro.[30][31]:14

In 1861, the Prussian officer Baron Karl Klaus von der Decken made a first attempt to climb Kibo but "got no farther than 8,200 feet (2,500 m) owing to the inclemency of the weather."[32] In 1862, von der Decken tried a second time together with Otto Kersten. They reached a height of 14,000 feet (4,300 m).[33][34]

In June 1887, the Hungarian Count Sámuel Teleki and Austrian Lieutenant Ludwig von Höhnel made an attempt to climb the mountain. Approaching from the saddle between Mawenzi and Kibo, Höhnel stopped at 4,950 meters (16,240 ft), but Teleki pushed through until he reached the snow at 5,300 meters (17,400 ft).[35]

Later in 1887 during his first attempt to climb Kilimanjaro, the German geology professor Hans Meyer reached the lower edge of the ice cap on Kibo, where he was forced to turn back because he lacked the equipment needed to handle the ice.[36]:page 81 The following year, Meyer planned another attempt with Oscar Baumann, a cartographer, but the mission was aborted after the pair were held hostage and ransomed during the Abushiri Revolt.[36]:page 82

In the autumn of 1888, the American naturalist Dr. Abbott and the German explorer Otto Ehrenfried Ehlers approached the summit from the northwest. While Abbott turned back earlier, Ehlers at first claimed to have reach the summit rim but, after severe criticism of that claim, later withdrew it.[37]:pp 17–19

In 1889, Meyer returned to Kilimanjaro with the Austrian mountaineer Ludwig Purtscheller for a third attempt.[36]:page 82 The success of this attempt was based on the establishment of several campsites with food supplies so that multiple attempts at the top could be made without having to descend too far.[36]:page 82 Meyer and Purtscheller pushed to near the crater rim on October 3 but turned around exhausted from hacking footsteps in the icy slope.[36]:page 82 Three days later, on Purtscheller's fortieth birthday, they reached the highest summit on the southern rim of the crater.[36]:page 82 They were the first to confirm that Kibo has a crater.[36]:page 82 After descending to the saddle between Kibo and Mawenzi, Meyer and Purtscheller attempted to climb the more technically challenging Mawenzi but could reach only the top of Klute Peak, a subsidiary peak, before retreating due to illness.[36]:page 84 On October 18, they reascended Kibo to enter and study the crater, cresting the rim at Hans Meyers Notch.[36]:page 84 In total, Meyer and Purtscheller spent 16 days above 15,000 feet (4,600 m) during their expedition.[36]:page 84 They were accompanied in their high camps by Mwini Amani of Pangani, who cooked and supplied the sites with water and firewood.[37]:pp 135–186

The first ascent of the highest summit of Mawenzi was made on 29 July 1912, by the German climbers Edward Oehler and Fritz Klute, who christened it Hans Meyer Peak. Oehler and Klute went on to make the third-ever ascent of Kibo, via the Drygalski Glacier, and descended via the Western Breach.[36]:page 85

In 1989, the organizing committee of the 100-year celebration of the first ascent decided to award posthumous certificates to the African porter-guides who had accompanied Meyer and Purtscheller.[38] One person in pictures or documents of the 1889 expedition was thought to match a living inhabitant of Marangu, Yohani Kinyala Lauwo.[38] Lauwo did not know his own age.[38] Nor did he remember Meyer or Purtscheller, but he remembered joining a Kilimanjaro expedition involving a Dutch doctor who lived near the mountain and that he did not get to wear shoes during the climb.[38] Lauwo claimed that he had climbed the mountain three times before the beginning of World War I.[38] The committee concluded that he had been a member of Meyer's team and therefore must have been born around 1871.[38] Lauwo died on 10 May 1996, 107 years after the first ascent, but now is sometimes even suggested as co-first-ascendant of Kilimanjaro.[39]

Notable other ascents[edit]

Fastest ascent and descent[edit]

The fastest ascent-descent has been recorded by the Swiss-Ecuadorian mountain guide Karl Egloff (*16 March 1981, Quito), who ran to the top and back in 6 hours and 42 minutes on August 13, 2014. Egloff also holds the record for the fastest ascent/descent of Aconcagua.[40] Previous records were held by Spanish mountain runner Kílian Jornet (7 hrs 14 min on 29 September 2010) and by Tanzanian guide Simon Mtuy (9 hrs 21 min on 22 February 2006).[41]

Fastest female ascent[edit]

The female ascent record is held by Britain's Becky Shuttleworth, who, in September 2014, climbed to the summit in 11 hours and 34 minutes, breaking a 3-year old record by Zimbabwean Debbie Bachmann by just 8 minutes.[41]

Youngest and oldest people to summit[edit]

Despite an age-limit of 10 years for a permit, Keats Boyd of Los Angeles was only 7 years old when he summited Kilimanjaro on January 21, 2008. The oldest person to reach Uhuru Peak was either the American Robert Wheeler, who was 85 years and 201 days when he summited on 2 October 2014, or the Frenchman Valtee Daniel, who reportedly was 87 at his ascent. The latter climb is not recognized by the Guinness Book of Records for a lack of documentation. In October 2010 the Canadian-Swiss couple of Martin and Ether Kafer became the oldest summiters, aged 85 and 84 respectively. Ether still holds the record for oldest woman.[41]

Ascents by people with disabilities[edit]

Wheelchair-bound Bernard Goosen scaled Mount Kilimanjaro in six days in 2007, while in 2012 Kyle Maynard, who has no forearms or lower legs, crawled unassisted to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.[41]


A map of the Kibo cone on Mount Kilimanjaro was published by the British government's Directorate of Overseas Surveys in 1964 based on aerial photography conducted in 1962 (Subset of Kilimanjaro, East Africa (Tanganyika) Series Y742, Sheet 56/2, D.O.S. 422 1964, Edition 1, Scale 1:50,000).[42]

Tourist mapping was first published by the Ordnance Survey in England in 1989 based on the original DOS mapping (1:100,000, 100 ft intervals, DOS 522).[43] West Col Productions produced a map with tourist information in 1990 (1:75,000, 100 meter contour intervals, inset maps of Kibo and Mawenzi on 1:20,000 and 1:30,000 scales respectively and 50 meter contour interval).[43] In the last few years, numerous other maps have become available of various qualities.[4] 3D route maps are also available online.[44]

Trekking Kilimanjaro[edit]

A 3D model of Kibo

There are seven official trekking routes by which to ascend and descend Mount Kilimanjaro: Lemosho, Machame, Marangu, Mweka, Rongai, Shira, and Umbwe.[45] Of all the routes, Machame is considered the most scenic, albeit steeper, route.[46] It can be done in six or seven days.[46] The Rongai is the easiest and least scenic of all camping routes.[47] The Marangu is also relatively easy, but this route tends to be very busy, the ascent and descent routes are the same, and accommodation is in shared huts with all other climbers.[48]

People who wish to trek to the summit of Kilimanjaro are advised to undertake appropriate research[49] and ensure that they are both properly equipped and physically capable. Though the climb is technically not as challenging as when climbing the high peaks of the Himalayas or Andes, the high elevation, low temperature, and occasional high winds make this a difficult and dangerous trek. Acclimatisation is essential, and even the most experienced trekkers suffer some degree of altitude sickness.[50] Kilimanjaro summit is well above the altitude at which high altitude pulmonary edema or high altitude cerebral edema can occur.[51] The risk is substantially increased by excessively fast climbing schedules brought by high daily national park fees, busy holiday schedules and inadequate housing on longer routes.[52]

Falls on steep portions of the mountain, and rock slides have killed trekkers. For this reason, the route via the Arrow Glacier was closed for several years, reopening in December 2007.[53]

Kilimanjaro generates the most income of all Tanzanian national parks with 51 US $ revenue in 2013 alone. About 10,000 local labourers work on Kilimanjaro especially for foreign tourists, providing various services. Concerns have been raised about poor working conditions and inadequate wages.[54]

Annual deaths[edit]

Of about 20,000 people who attempt to climb Kilimanjaro each year, one third do not reach the summit, usually due to altitude sickness (a.k.a. acute mountain sickness (AMS)). Most suffer mild symptoms, but in its most severe forms, high-altitude cerebral edema or high-altitude pulmonary edema, it is life-threatening. Officially there are, on average, two or three deaths annually as a result of AMS on Kilimanjaro, although the total number of annual fatalities (due to a variety of causes), is put at between 10 and 15.[55]


Natural forests cover about 1,000 square kilometres (250,000 acres) on Kilimanjaro.[56] In the foothill area maize, beans and sunflowers (on the western side also wheat) are cultivated. Remnants of the former savanna vegetation with Acacia, Combretum, Terminalia and Grewia also occur. Between 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) and 1,800 metres (5,900 ft) coffee also appears as part of the "Chagga home gardens" agroforestry. Native vegetation at this altitude (Strombosia, Newtonia and Entandrophragma) range is limited to inaccessible valleys and gorges [57] and is completely different from vegetation at higher altitudes. On the southern slope montane forests first contain Ocotea usambarensis as well as ferns and epipythes, farther up in cloud forests Podocarpus latifolius, Hagenia abyssinica and Erica excelsa grow as well as fog-dependent mosses. On the drier northern slopes olive, Croton-Calodendrum, Cassipourea and Juniperus form forests in order of increasing altitude. Between 3,100 metres (10,200 ft) and 3,900 metres (12,800 ft) lie Erica bush and heathlands, followed by Helichrysum until 4,500 metres (14,800 ft).[58][59] Neophytes have been observed, including Poa annua.[60]

Records from the Maundi crater at 2,780 metres (9,120 ft) indicate that the vegetation of Kilimanjaro has varied over time. Forest vegetation retreated during the Last Glacial Maximum and the ericaceous vegetation belt lowered by 1,500 metres (4,900 ft) between 42,000 and 30,000 years ago because of drier and colder conditions.[57]


The climate of Kilimanjaro is influenced by the height of the mountain, which allows the simultaneous influence of the equatorial trade winds and the high altitude anti-trades, and the isolated position of the mountain. Kilimanjaro has daily upslope and nightly downslope winds, a regimen stronger on the southern than the northern side of the mountain. The flatter southern flanks are more extended and affect the atmosphere more strongly.[13]:3-4

Kilimanjaro has two distinct rainy seasons, one from March to May and another around November. The northern slopes receive much less rainfall than the souther ones.[56] The lower southern slope receives 800-900mm, rising to 1500-2000m at 1,500 metres (4,900 ft) altitude and peaking in the forest belt (2,000 metres (6,600 ft)-2,300 metres (7,500 ft)). In the alpine zone precipitation is about 200mm.[58]

Temperature in the summit area is approximately −7 °C (19 °F), with surface temperatures during night on glaciers falling below −15 °C (5 °F). Maximum temperatures are only −4 °C (25 °F) with sub-zero maxima on glaciers.

Snowfall is ephemeral and coupled to the rainy seasons. The presence of snow is seasonal.[61] Precipitation in the summit area occurs principally as snow and graupel (250-500 mm/year) and ablates within days or years.[62]


The mountain is drained by a network of rivers and streams especially on the wetter, more heavily eroded southern side, especially above 1,200 metres (3,900 ft). Below that altitude, increased evaporation and human water usage reduces the waterflows. The Lumi and Pangani rivers drain Kilimanjaro on the eastern and southern side, respectively.[63]


The present day icecap has a characteristic cap structure on account of Kibo being an undissected mountain, but hanging glaciers are found on its flanks. The glacier cap is divergent and outwards splits up into individual glaciers. The central portion of the icecap is interrupted by the presence of the Kibo crater.[13]:5

A continuous ice cap covering approximately 400 square kilometres (150 sq mi) down to an elevation of 3,200 metres (10,500 ft) covered Kilimanjaro during the maximum of the last period of glaciation in the Pleistocene, extending across the summits of Kibo and Mawenzi.[8][14] There were some successive glacial episodes named First, Second, Third, Fourth, Little and Recent. The third was most extensive but most of the obvious glacial features belong to the fourth. The Little and Recent ones were smaller but in all glaciations the south and west side glaciers were generally the largest.[64] Exceptional drought during the Younger Dryas likely resulted in the disappearance of the glaciers during this period; subsequently, the beginning of the Holocene resulted in higher precipitation thus allowing the reformation of an icecap. In the late Holocene, conditions became less favourable again with a major drought inferred from dust accumulation 4000 BP.[62]

In the late 1880s, the summit of Kibo was completely covered by an ice cap covering about 20 square kilometres (7.7 sq mi) with outlet glaciers cascading down the western and southern slopes, and except for the inner cone, the entire caldera was buried. Glacier ice also flowed through the Western Breach.[8][14]

Aerial view of the Kibo summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in 1938.

An examination of ice cores taken from Kilimanjaro's northern ice field indicates that the glaciers there have a basal age of 11,700 years.[65][66] Those glaciers survived a widespread drought during a three century period beginning around 2,200 BC.[67]

The slope glaciers retreated rapidly between 1912 and 1953, in response to a sudden shift in climate at the end of the 19th century that made them "drastically out of equilibrium", and more slowly thereafter. Their continuing demise indicates they are still out of equilibrium in response to a constant change in climate over the last 100 years.[8]

In contrast to the persistent slope glaciers, the glaciers on Kilimanjaro's crater plateau have appeared and disappeared repeatedly during the Holocene, with each cycle lasting a few hundred years.[68] It appears that decreasing specific humidity instead of temperature changes has caused the shrinkage of the plateau glaciers since the late 19th century. No statistically significant warming at the elevation of those glaciers occurred between 1948 and 2005. Although air temperatures at that elevation are always below freezing, solar radiation causes melting on their vertical faces. "There is no pathway for the plateau glaciers other than to continuously retreat once their vertical margins are exposed to solar radiation."[8] Vertical ice margins are an unique characteristic of the summit glaciers and focus points of areal retreat of the glaciers. They manifest stratifications, calving and other ice features.[61] The summit glaciers and ice fields do not display significant horizontal movements because their low thickness precludes major deformation.[62]

Almost 85 percent of the ice cover on Kilimanjaro disappeared from October 1912 to June 2011, with coverage decreasing from 11.40 square kilometres (4.40 sq mi) to 1.76 square kilometres (0.68 sq mi).[69] From 1912 to 1953, there was about a 1.1 percent average annual loss.[67] The average annual loss for 1953 to 1989 was 1.4 percent while the loss rate for 1989 to 2007 was 2.5 percent.[67] Of the ice cover still present in 2000, almost 40 percent had disappeared by 2011.[69] The glaciers are thinning in addition to losing areal coverage,[67] and do not have active accumulation zones with retreat occurring on all glacier surfaces. Loss of glacier mass is caused by both melting and sublimation.[62] While the current shrinking and thinning of Kilimanjaro's ice fields appears to be unique within its almost twelve millennium history, it is contemporaneous with widespread glacier retreat in mid-to-low latitudes across the globe.[67] At the current rate, most of the ice on Kilimanjaro will disappear by 2040 and "it is highly unlikely that any ice body will remain after 2060".[69]

A complete disappearance of the ice would be of only "negligible importance" to the water budget of the area around the mountain. The forests of Kilimanjaro, far below the ice fields, "are [the] essential water reservoirs for the local and regional populations".[70]

The Kilimanjaro glaciers have been used for deriving ice core records, including six cores drilled in 2000 - three from the Northern Icefield, two from the Soutern Icefield and one from the Furtwängler Glacier. Based on the data, the Furtwängler Glacier formed in the middle 17th century concomitant with the beginning of the Maunder Minimum and high humidity derived from Lake Navaisha. The Southern Icefield formed between 500 and 700 AD.[71]

In popular culture[edit]


  • According to the Tanzania National Parks Authority, the first wedding performed on the mountain below the summit took place on 21 September 2014, when an American couple exchanged vows at Shira 2 Camp.[73][74] In 2011, a couple had exchanged their vows at the summit.[75]
  • On 26 September 2014, a new world record for the highest-ever cricket match was set when a group of international cricketers played on a flat crater on the mountain at an elevation of 5,730 metres (18,800 ft).[76]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Mount Kilimanjaro National Park", Tanzania National Parks, accessed 7 October 2014
  2. ^ a b c Kilimanjaro National Park, World Heritage Centre, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
  3. ^ "Kilimanjaro". Retrieved 2012-08-16. 
  4. ^ a b Kilimanjaro Map and tourist Guide (Map) (4th ed.). 1:75,000 with 1:20,000 and 1:30,000 insets. EWP Map Guides. Cartography by EWP. EWP. 2009. ISBN 0-906227-66-6. 
  5. ^ Oxford dictionary: definition of Kilimanjaro, Mount (British & World English)
  6. ^ Charles Dundas (12 November 2012). Kilimanjaro and Its People: A History of Wachagga, their Laws, Customs and Legends, Together with Some. Routledge. pp. 84–88. ISBN 978-1-136-24940-2. 
  7. ^ Mawenzi, World Mountain Encyclopedia, Peakware, accessed 12 November 2014
  8. ^ a b c d e "Kilimanjaro Glaciers: Recent areal extent from satellite data and new interpretation of observed 20th century retreat rates", Geophysical Research Letters, authored by Nicolas J. Cullen, Thomas Mölg, Georg Kaser, Khalid Hussein, Konrad Steffen, and Douglas R. Hardy, 2006, accessed 12 November 2014
  9. ^ a b "The New Digital Orthometric Elevation Model of Kilimanjaro", CEUR Workshop Proceedings, authored by Pascal Sirguey, National School of Surveying, University of Otago, Dunedin, NewZealand; Nicolas J. Cullen, Geography Department, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand; Jorge Filipe Dos Santos, Vale Technological Institute, Brazil, volume 1142, paper 12, April 2014, pages 114-5, accessed 7 October 2014
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Further reading[edit]

  • Freeman, Sue C. 'In My Wildest Dreams, A Woman's Humorous Perspective Of Her Mt. Kilimanjaro Experience'

External links[edit]