Mount Kilimanjaro is situated on a part of the East Africa Plateau, devoid of character, on the Tanzanian side of the Kenyan border near Moshi, next to the smallest Mount Meru. These mountains are extinct volcanoes, Kilimanjaro being the agglomeration of three different volcanoes, Kibo (5896 m), Mwenzi (5 149/16 896 ft) and Shira (3 962 m / 13 000 ft). The violent creation of Kilimanjaro is geologically associated with the creation of the Great Rift Valley, 100 km to the west.
Mount Kilimanjaro was born from the catastrophic crustal movements that created the Great Rift Valley, stretching from the Red Sea to Tanzania through Tanzania. About 25 million years ago, East Africa was an immense flat plain that twisted after the separation of the continental African and Eurasian plates and caused huge rips and weaknesses in the thinning which led to the formation of many volcanoes in the area. Where the original valley was the deepest, the volcanic activity was the largest and finally formed the huge volcanoes of the Ngorongoro crater on the same Rift and a series of volcanoes to the east, including Meru, Kenya and Kilimanjaro.
Mount Kilimanjaro has five important ecological zones and the activity in each of them is determined by the five factors of altitude, rainfall, temperature, flora and fauna. Each zone covers an area approximately 1000 meters high and is subject to a corresponding decrease in precipitation, temperature and life from the forest.
Origin of the name “Kilimanjaro
There is a lot of explanation as to how Kilimanjaro got his name and no one can agree on the truth. “Mountain of greatness”, “mountain of whiteness”, “mountain of caravans”, are all names derived from Swahili and Chagga dialects.
It is thought that the little we know about this subject has something to do with the Swahili word “Klima”, which means “top of the hill”. There is also an allegation that the word “Kilimanjaro” exists in the Chagga language, which means “impossible journey”. But the truth is that no one really knows it.
The First Ascents
In 1887, German geographer Professor Hans Meyer made his first attempt at the Kibo summit. With Baron Von Eberstein, Meyer was finally defeated by a combination of deep snow, 30 meters of ice walls and altitude sickness from his partner.
After an unsuccessful expedition in 1888, Meyer returned the following year, accompanied by famed mountaineer Ludwig Purtscheller and a well-organized support group that was determined to climb the summit. The climbers came prepared with the latest equipment and established a base camp on the heather from where the carriers brought fresh food to Marangu. Discouraged by the sheer ice cliffs of the northern crater rim and the vast ice currents of the south, the two mountaineers agreed that the best chance of success was to tackle the less severe slope of the southeastern slope of Mt. Kilimanjaro. From their camp at 4300 meters altitude, the two mountaineers left at 1 am and reached the lower slopes of the glacier around 10 am.
Mount Kilimanjaro is a perfectly formed volcano, still active, rising sharply from the surrounding plains. At 5895m, it is the highest peak in Africa and its summit is snowy. Mount Kilimanjaro can be climbed at any time of the year, but precipitation is generally much higher in April, May and November. At lower levels, you’ll pass cropped farmland that goes from the rainforest to alpine meadows and finally the arid landscape that leads to the snow-and-ice summit. The lower levels also offer the opportunity to observe a wide variety of animals, birds and wildlife in their natural habitat.
Kilimanjaro Weather Conditions
Because of the proximity of the equator, Tanzania does not experience extreme changes in temperature, but rather wet and dry seasons. As such, it is possible to climb the Kilimanjaro at any time of the year.
Long rains usually occur from February to May, with short rains from November to December. It is still possible to climb during these months if you have a lot of wet equipment, and because it is “out of season”, the mountain is less crowded.
June and July are popular months for climbing with a clear blue sky, although it is colder than in August-October when the weather is mild. January is perhaps the hottest month to climb Kilimanjaro, which is why many choose to climb for New Year’s Eve. Whichever month you choose, you can expect a combination of warm tropical weather and icy nights – so proper clothing is the key to a comfortable ascent.
Training for Kilimanjaro
Climbing Kilimanjaro is not technically difficult and does not require any mountain equipment or special training, but it makes sense to include physical training in your preparations to make the most of your Kilimanjaro experience. If possible, start training 12 weeks before departure.
The best training for Kilimanjaro is walking, mountain hiking or simulated climbing with a treadmill. You should walk as often as possible with the clothes you wear while climbing Kilimanjaro (especially your hiking boots). To get used to extra weight, carry your daily pack with 3 litres of water.
In addition, running, cycling and swimming are excellent types of exercises that build muscle strength and improve your overall fitness. However, as with all exercise programs, consult your doctor first.
Altitude Sickness & Health Issues
One of the most important problems when climbing Kilimanjaro is altitude, which in extreme cases can lead to acute mountain sickness (AMS). Most mountaineers experience more than 3,500 meters of discomfort, such as headaches, nausea, or loss of appetite, but usually, one litre of water and a simple ibuprofen tablet (provided you are not allergic) Some mountaineers recommend taking Diamox to prevent altitude sickness, but you should consider this only after consulting your doctor.