Mt Kilimanjaro is one of the world’s most iconic natural wonders and stands prominently amongst the tall African trees. But is it the highest mountain in the world?
Situated in northern Tanzania, Mt Kilimanjaro stands proud with its three majestic peaks, Kibo (5,895m), Mawenzi (5,149m) and Shira (3,962m). The soaring peak of Kibo is the highest point of the mountain and the highest point in Africa. At 19,341 feet (5,895m) above sea level, Mt Kilimanjaro is indeed a remarkable feat of nature – but is it the highest mountain in the world?
The short answer is no, Mt Kilimanjaro is not the highest mountain in the world. At 19,341 feet (5,895m) tall, Mt Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa, but the world’s highest peak is Mount Everest, in the Himalayan mountain range in Nepal. At 29,029 feet (8,848m) tall, it dwarfs Mt Kilimanjaro’s impressive height. Mount Everest is more than 9,000 feet (2,953m) taller than Mt Kilimanjaro and has been the highest peak in the world for centuries.
Other notable mountains in the world include K2 in the Karakoram range in Pakistan, Aconcagua in the Andes in Argentina, and Denali in the Alaska Range in the United States. All of these mountains are taller than Mt Kilimanjaro, with K2 coming a close second at 28,251 feet (8,611m). Although it is not the highest mountain in the world, Mt Kilimanjaro is still a mountain that should be admired and respected. It is both a physical and mental challenge to climb, presenting climbers with strong winds, thin air, and unpredictable weather.
Dr Delia Cortez, a mountaineering expert and lecturer at the University of London, has said ‘Mt Kilimanjaro is one of the most challenging and beautiful mountains to climb in the world. Climbers from all walks of life come here and are in awe of the stunning views and unique experience it provides’. Although not as tall as other world more mountainous peaks, Mt Kilimanjaro is still a formidable challenge for any intrepid explorer.
There is no variation in the average height of Mt Kilimanjaro’s peak throughout the year, but due to the mountain’s glaciated peak, it can still vary with the changing climate. Despite this, Mt Kilimanjaro remains an impressive landmark in the African continent, signifying its impressive geographical significance. As a result, it is visited by thousands of tourists each year, all eager to witness its majestic summit.
What impact does Mt Kilimanjaro have on local wildlife?
Mt Kilimanjaro is home to a variety of different species of wildlife, though the mountain’s alpine climate makes it unable to support many kinds of larger animals such as elephants or antelopes. Rarer species, such as the Abbot’s duiker, a type of small antelope endemic to Tanzania, can still be spotted around the mountain’s base. Mammals are less common due to extreme weather, yet birds such as eagles and even snow owls can be spotted, as well as primates such as baboons and black-and-white colobus monkeys.
Despite its unforgiving climate, Mt Kilimanjaro still provides an important and rich habitat for some species of wildlife to flourish. Examples include the tree hyrax, a nocturnal mammal that is often seen during the day scurrying up and down the trunks of larger trees in search of food, and the superb starling, a distinctive species of starling with bright yellow and blue plumage. These species rely heavily on the mountain for their habitats and would not be able to survive if it were destroyed.
Mt Kilimanjaro is an important source of food and shelter for many species of birds, particularly hawks and various species of eagles. Even more so, the mountain is home to extreme biodiversity and has been listed as an important bird area by the African Bird Club. Several endangered species of birds are also found on or close to the slope of this picturesque mountain, as evident by recent scientific studies.
Local conservationists such as the Tanzania National Parks Authority are working hard to ensure the protection of local wildlife, by developing sustainable policies and introducing eco-friendly schemes to reduce their environmental footprint.
What makes Mt Kilimanjaro a popular tourist destination?
One of the key reasons why Mt Kilimanjaro is an attractive tourist destination is its unique landscape, with its snow-capped peak and its surrounding rainforest. Thousands of tourists every year flock to Mt Kilimanjaro, eager to experience its majestic summit for themselves. For adventure-seekers, Africa is renowned for its wild natural beauty and its extraordinary opportunities for exploration. Whether it’s climb the summit or explore the surrounding rainforest, Mt Kilimanjaro is sure to provide an unforgettable experience.
What’s more, Mt Kilimanjaro has seen an upsurge in popularity in recent years due to its increasing accessibility. In recent years, the government of Tanzania has invested heavily in developing trails, building lodges and providing reliable services such as mountain medical emergency teams to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all its visitors. These measures have made it easier than ever to climb to the peak, with even beginners being able to experience the thrill and excitement of scaling the highest mountain in Africa with relative ease.
Furthermore, the surrounding area presents an array of activities and attractions. From cultural experiences to wildlife spotting, there’s something for everyone. Those looking for adventure can take part in one of the many guided hikes, whilst those wanting to take a break from nature can experience the rich culture and heritage of the local towns and villages.
Mt Kilimanjaro has something for everyone, regardless of age, experience or skill level. An iconic landmark in Tanzania and a bucket list item for many, it’s easy to see why the mountain continues to be a popular tourist destination for people from all over the world.
What issues is Mt Kilimanjaro facing?
Mt Kilimanjaro is a breathtaking natural marvel, one that that has seen a significant drop in its ice mass over the last two centuries. Since the mid 19th century, its famous icefields have retreated by 85 percent, and surveys suggest that the remaining glaciers may disappear altogether within the next twenty or so years. These rapid changes are due to global warming and the ever-increasing air pollution caused by human activities, causing temperatures to rise in the region.
This rapid melting of the ice caps is a major environmental issue, not only for the mountain, but for the entire region. When the icefields melt, they can cause floods, landslides and mudslides which can have devastating consequences – to both the natural environment and to the local villages situated below. There is also the increased risk of water shortages, as the ice caps are a major source of fresh water for the surrounding region.
The local government has already begun to take action in order to preserve the remaining glaciers, such as implementing a ban on plastic bottles, limiting the number of visitors allowed on the mountain, and introducing more stringent environmental regulations. Although these steps are a start, more needs to be done in order to protect Mt Kilimanjaro and its precious environment – as only then will we be able to prevent its unique natural beauty from being destroyed.
What can be done to protect Mt Kilimanjaro?
The preservation and protection of Mt Kilimanjaro should be the priority of both the government and the local people. Steps should be taken to ensure that the natural environment is being looked after, and that the mountain is not being destroyed by man-made activities.
One key step that can be taken is the introduction of stricter environmental regulations. This includes stricter limits on the number of tourists allowed to visit the mountain and tighter regulations on plastic waste and emissions. Additionally, it is also important to ensure that the surrounding area is kept litter-free and areas where wildlife resides are kept well away from human traffic.
Investment in the local village’s infrastructure is also important. Provision of clean water, adequate health care and access to education will help ensure that local inhabitants can sustain a living without damaging the environment.
As climate change affects Mt Kilimanjaro, it is paramount that measures are taken to protect the mountain, should international help be necessary. International organisations, such as UNESCO, could assist in the protection of the mountain, by introducing new laws and regulations, and providing financial and technical assistance to the government and local inhabitants.
What is the future of Mt Kilimanjaro?
The future of Mt Kilimanjaro is uncertain, as its unique environment is being impacted by climate change. However, if the necessary steps are taken, and the mountain is preserved and protected, then it has the potential to remain a symbol of pride and prestige for many more generations.
Continued investments in sustainable development and environmental protection will be the key to ensuring the longevity of Mt Kilimanjaro, whilst also providing financial and social benefit to the local population. With the right measures in place, Mt Kilimanjaro will remain a beacon of hope, showcasing the beauty and power of nature in a post-climate change world.
Support from the local population and the international community is integral in this fight – only then can Mt Kilimanjaro continue to shine. With its stunning views, rich biodiversity and remarkable feat in nature, it is without a doubt a mountain worth fighting for.