As the largest mountain in Africa, and one of the highest points of the world, Mount Kilimanjaro has infatuated both professionals and the public for centuries. Located in Tanzania at the Kilimanjaro National Park, the 19,341 mountain is believed to have taken its name from the Swahili language.

One of the marvels of planet earth, Kilimanjaro is approximately 70 miles wide by 47 miles long and has five dramatically diverse ecological zones within its borders. Kilimanjaro actually evolved into existence from a stratovolcano after lava spilled from its ‘Rift Valley zone’ over one thousand years ago. Kilimanjaro has three volcanoes, two of which, Mawenzi and Shira, are extinct, while, Kibo, the third with the highest peak, is dormant but may one day erupt again. The last severe eruption the volcano experienced is thought to have occurred around 360,000 years ago.

Navigating around the mountain has been a source of great fascination for both scientists and the public for centuries. The first attempt at climbing Kilimanjaro was in 1861, when accompanied by African porter-guides, German officer, Karl Klaus von der Decken, and British geologist, Richard Thornton, made the first attempt, but were forced to stop at 8,200 feet. The first successful climb was in 1889 by German professor, Hans Mayer, and Austrian mountaineer Ludwig Purtscheller. The pair made several interesting findings along the way, including the discovery of a crater in the Kibo volcano.

Kilimanjaro has many different types of forest located throughout, from the wet Montane Ocotea forests in the south, to the dry Cassipourea and Juniperus Monoctea forests of the north. In addition to the 1,200 vascular plant species on the mountain, there is a wide array of wildlife in the mountain’s forests. Colobus monkeys, mongooses and honey badgers are all native to the land while buffalos have been spotted as far as 4,000 feet up the mountain.

Thanks to Kilimanjaro’s height and the flat land surrounding it, the mountain has the distinction of possessing the largest single geographical view of the Earth from its peak. Climbing the mountain presents many challenges such as low temperatures and occasional high winds, but Kilimanjaro excursions are an increasingly popular tourist attraction with a number of routes available with which to explore the mountain, some easier to complete than others.
There are no descriptions that can ever truly prepare you for the wonders of Kilimanjaro; you have to witness it for yourself.

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