Mount Kilimanjaro and 6 Interesting Facts to Know

May 13, 2015 at 3:13 pm Leave a comment

You can see it rising in the distance as soon as you get off the plane and can’t wait to join the Mount Kilimanjaro tour to climb to the top. But how much do you know about Mount Kilimanjaro and the elusive challenge that it is?

5 Unique Ecosystems

While many picture just a steep rock, Kilimanjaro is actually a much more complex mountain. Farmland and villages make up the first level, followed by jungles and forests, both thriving in the torrential rainfalls. Next come the heath zone and then the alpine desert zones, reached as the altitude climbs, where vegetation fades and temperatures fluctuate. Almost all plant and animal life has disappeared at the summit zone, and surface water is nearly non-existent at this the second closest point on earth to the sun.

The World’s Tallest Free-Standing Mountain

The tallest mountain in Africa and the highest free-standing mountain in the world, Kilimanjaro stands at 19,341 feet or 5,895 meters. Most freestanding mountains are volcanic, but don’t worry, Kilimanjaro hasn’t erupted in at least 360,000 years.

Home to the Chagga People

The third largest ethnic group in Tanzania, the one million Chagga people are also one of the richest, living in close harmony with the mountain and all it has to offer. They grow bananas, coffee, maize, beans, sugarcane, and maletta. Many of the Chagga offer their services as porters, carrying large sacks of personal equipment on top of their heads for those scaling the mountain. Climbers will often begin their journey by visiting with the Chagga in their villages at the foothills.

Hans Meyer Was the First

In 1889, German geographer Hans Meyer reached the peak of Kibo, Kilimanjaro’s main summit. It was Meyer’s third attempt that was finally successful, and with him climbed Swiss alpinist Ludwig Purtscheller and their Chagga guide Yohani Kinyala Lauwo.

Over 20,000 People Climb Each Year

Of the 20,000 climbers who traverse its slopes each year, only two-thirds make it all the way to the peak. Decreasing oxygen causes altitude sickness, leading to headaches, nausea, exhaustion, and swelling beginning when climbers get less than halfway up. At the peak there is only about half as much oxygen as is found at sea level. Some 1,000 people have to be evacuated and around 10 die, confirming the danger of climbing this mountain as much as the thrill.

A Place for Determination and Inspiration

Climbing to any point of Mount Kilimanjaro is an accomplishment for anyone bold enough to try, but it isn’t just an item on a bucket list to many of the people who risk the feat. Many disabled climbers will use the challenge of the mountain to overcome their handicaps while showing others what they are capable of, often summiting triumphantly after much hard work.

Mount Kilimanjaro holds an inescapable allure for so many who seek to reach its summit, and offering a life-changing adventure and captivating challenge for those who dare to take it.

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Entry filed under: African Safari, Mt. Kilimanjaro. Tags: , , .

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