Mount Kilimanjaro Facts

Mount Kilimanjaro is the 4th highest mountain among the “Big Seven” , the highest peaks on each of the seven continents.

The enormous size of Mount Kilimanjaro [Or “Kili” that we affectionately refer to it as here – at least affectionately for now] is big enough to have it’s own weather system, and to influence the weather systems of the countries that surround it!

During the climb, you pass through four seasons in four days. From rain forests, through heather and moorland of the upper slopes, through an alpine desert of the Saddle and Shira Plateau and to the Arctic waste at the summit. [How do I pack?!]

In 1991, the Tanzania Park Authorities made it compulsory for all trekkers to arrange their climb through a licensed agency. In addition, all trekkers must be accompanied by a licensed guide.
[I guess a GPS isn’t going to help here!]

It’s Kili Time! Time to kick back, relax and take it easy with your friends. Printed on the labels of Kilimanjaro Beer

It is a known fact that the regular breaking of wind (passing gas) is a sure sign that you are acclimatizing during the climb. The Parker’s will omit this from our blog during our trek up the mountain! ūüôā

The onset of a crushing headache, combined with a loss of sleep and a severe loss of humor, are all classic symptoms suffered by those struggling to adapt to the thin air on Kili. (I promise I will not say, “Geoff we could have gone to a spa for our anniversary”)

Porter’s accompany climbers up the mountain. Typically they range in age from 18 to 50 years of age. The average pay for a day on the mountain is US$60 plus tips. The ratio of Porter’s to Climbers is usually around two per trekker.

In 2003, KPAP (The Kilimanjaro Porters Project) was started as an initiative to help insure fair treatment and training for Porters. It was started by the Ameican-based International Mountain Explorers Connection.

There are two main trekking seasons.  January to March and June to October.  The first tends to be colder and there is a much greater chance the trek will be done in snow.  The views however are likely to be clearer with lower chance of rain.  The second period, June to October will have more Trekkers on the mountain.  After the rainy season ends in May, the sky tend to be blue and brilliant above the tree line and the chance for precipitation decreases.

Even though the June through October season is busier, the mountain is so huge it is quite possible to have peace on the mountain.

Kilimanjaro is not only the highest mountain in Africa, it also has one of the biggest volumes in land mass, covering 388,500 acres.

The mountain has three peaks. ¬†Shira lies on the western edge and at it’s highest point at Johnsell Point it stands at 3,962 meters. ¬†Kibo, the second highest peak is the only point permanently covered in snow. ¬†The Uhuru peak is the highest peak, standing at 5,895 meters.

The route that Parker’s Climb will take will lead us up to the foot of Kebo Peak. ¬†From there we will go on, to reach the summit of Uhuru, the highest peak.

The last figures I found for number of climbs annually are for 2007/07. ¬†In this year, 40,710 individuals climbed Kili. ¬†Just under 25% of this total were Westerner’s, ¬†made up of Americans and Canadians.

Of the 40,710 treks taken in 2007, ¬†only 3,970 were on the Lemosho/Shira route that Parker’s Climb will take.

The average trekker usually takes from 400 to 600 photos when doing a one week climb.  It is said that you may leave the mountain feeling that you have spent the entire trip with a camera to your face.  It is also said  this is the frequency you will find something worth photographing while on the mountain.

Every person entering Tanzania must have proof of having a yellow-fever vaccination.  It is also recommended that you have inoculations for: Typhoid, Polio, Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Meningoccal Meningitis and Rabies ( Geoff hates needles Рthis will not be a high point of our pre-travel plans).

It is also highly recommended to start a course of Anti-Malarials before leaving for TZ, as Tanzania is considered one of the highest risk countries in the world for malaria.  Mosquitos will not be present above 1,200 ft.

The highest peak on Mt. Kilimanjaro is Kibo and it is considered a dormant volcano. This means that it could erupt again. (oh please do not let this happen when we are there!) The latest activity was about 200 years ago, and the last eruption was more than 360,000 years ago.

The oldest recorded person to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro was a Frenchman named Valtee Daniel. He was 87 years old when he reached the summit!

At the a crater rim, there is a wooden box that contains a journal. It is said that most every person who has summited Mt. Kilimanjaro has also taken the time to record their personal accomplishments in this journal. (You can bet Parker’s Climb will have an entry in the summit journal!)

In 2008, the Minister of Tourism announced that 4.8 million trees would be planted at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro. This effort will help with the erosion that is occurring on the mountain, and will preserve the most precious resource; water.

In recent years, (after 2007), the tourism market has been impacted by a troubled economy. The average number of Mt. Kilimanjaro climbs per year has dropped to roughly 25,000. On one hand this is good for the environment – on the other hand it is bad for the local Tanzanian economy.

Mount Kilimanjaro has 2.2 square kilometres (0.85 sq mi) of glacial ice and is losing it due to climate change. The glaciers have shrunk 82% since 1912 and declined 33% since 1989. It might be ice free within 20 years, dramatically affecting local drinking water and crop irrigation.

The 2011 snow season is said to have been one of the heaviest in a decade, with record snowfalls on the Mountain. Reports released in early 2011 are raising questions about when, and if the glaciers will actually melt. Additional research is being done to better predict and monitor this situation.

Kilimanjaro lies on a tectonic line intersection 80km. east of the tectonically active Rift Valley. The activity which created this stratovolcano dates back less than a million years and the central ash pit on Kibo, the highest volcanic centre, may be only several hundred years old. Steam and sulphur fumaroles here are indicative of residual activity.

Europeans first reported the name Mt. Kilimanjaro around the year 1860. In Swahili it meant “little mountain”, or “shiny mountain”; thought to have been evoked from the snow cap that glistened in the sun.

It is also claimed that the Kilimanjaro name is a combination of two Chagga words,¬†Kilemia,¬†ngaruo, meaning “difficult to climb”. The Chagga are native agriculturalists on the slopes and foothills of the mountain.

The Chagga (also called Wachaga, Chaga tribes) and are Bantu-speaking indigenous Africans and the third largest ethnic group in Tanzania. They live on the southern and eastern slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru, as well as in the Moshi area.

Most Chagga wealth comes from not only the favorable climate of the area, but also from successful agricultural methods which include extensive irrigation systems and continuous fertilization practiced for thousands of years.

The Chagga tribes were one of the first tribes in the area to convert to Christianity. This may have given them an economic advantage over other ethnic groups, as they had better access to education and health care as Christians.

The Chagga descend from various Bantu groups who migrated from the rest of Africa into the foothills of Kilimanjaro. While the Chagga are Bantu-speakers, they do not speak a single language but rather a number of related Chagga dialects. These dialects are related to Kamba, which is spoken in northeast Kenya.

The Chagga exist primarily by agriculture, using irrigation on terraced fields and oxen manure. Although bananas are their staple food, they also cultivate various crops including yams, beans, and maize.

In agricultural exports, the Chagga are best known for their Arabica coffee, which is exported to American and European markets, resulting in coffee being a primary cash crop. (Yes – Yes – Yes! This is music to my ears because I cannot walk to the mailbox without my morning coffee – more less up a mountain!) ūüôā Now if I can just get a little cream for the coffee I will be very happy! It would be pushing it to get fat-free half & half right?

Mount Kilimanjaro seen from Moshi, Africa
Mount Kilimanjaro seen from Moshi, Africa

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