When Was Kilimanjaro First Climbed


Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the tallest mountains on Earth and is considered an iconic climbing destination. But when was Kilimanjaro first climbed? This article attempts to answer this question, looking at the historical and cultural contexts of the mountain, and the various accounts of its first successful ascent.

Who Discovered it?

The earliest written record of Kilimanjaro dates back to ancient Greek writings in the 3rd century BC. The Greeks had no way of actually reaching the peak, but they made detailed observations and referred to the mountain by its current name. To this day, few people know who actually discovered the mountain, though there is some evidence that suggests it was a tribal subgroup of the Chagga people who lived in the area.

Attempts to Climb

Throughout the 19th century, there were numerous attempts by explorers to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro, but all were unsuccessful. The terrain was extremely difficult, and the effects of altitude sickness often posed an insurmountable challenge. Additionally, the Chagga people were wary of outsiders and offered no assistance to those looking to scale the mountain.

First Known Ascent

It wasn’t until 1889 that Kilimanjaro was finally successfully climbed. That year, two German geographers, Hans Meyer and Ludwig Purtscheller, became the first people known to have made the ascent. Over the course of their journey, they reached the maximum peak of Uhuru Peak, which stands at 19,340 feet. Meyer and Purtscheller made their climb without the assistance of local tribes and relied on the assistance of their experienced guides.

Successful Attempts Since

Since the first successful ascent of Kilimanjaro, the mountain has seen numerous successful climbing attempts from around the world. Over the past century, climbers have attempted to summit the mountain from many different routes. In 2010, the Seven Summits Climb, which is the world’s most comprehensive list of highest peaks on each continent, listed Kilimanjaro as the tallest free-standing mountain in the world.

Scientific Studies

Throughout its history, Kilimanjaro has been studied extensively by scientists studying the effects of altitude and weather on the environment. The mountain is host to a variety of animal and plant life, and researchers have been researching the effects of climate change on the mountain as well as how changes in the climate can affect the wildlife in the area.

Tourist Attraction

The ascent of Kilimanjaro is now a popular tourist destination, drawing in thousands of visitors every year. The mountain offers breathtaking views, and a unique experience for trekkers looking for a challenge. Climbers are able to enjoy the unique local culture and learn about the rich history of Tanzania, the home country of Kilimanjaro.

Human Impact

While the mountain is a popular tourist destination and attracts a large number of visitors, the impact of human activity on the mountain has been significant. The effects of climate change have led to dangerous levels of soil erosion and the destruction of animal habitats. This has had an adverse effect on the delicate ecosystems of the area and has been a cause for concern among conservationists.

Conservation Efforts

In response to environmental concerns, local and international conservation organizations have taken up efforts to protect the mountain. These include initiatives to establish protected areas, restore eroded landscapes, and regulate trekking routes. Additionally, the establishment of the Kilimanjaro National Park has helped protect the mountain and its ecosystems, ensuring that future generations can appreciate the beauty and significance of Kilimanjaro.

Cultural Significance

Kilimanjaro holds a special place in the hearts of the Chagga people, who regard the mountain as a sacred site that holds deep spiritual and cultural significance. The Chagga have strong beliefs about the spiritual power of the mountain, and the importance of protecting it from outside influences. This is reflected in the strict laws surrounding climbing and trekking, and the reverence with which the Chagga people treat the mountain.


Kilimanjaro is a unique mountain that has captivated the imagination of climbers and adventurers since the dawn of recorded history. Though the first ascent of the mountain took place in 1889, the mountain holds a deep spiritual and cultural significance for the local Chagga people, and the importance of conservation efforts to protect its ecosystems and cultural heritage cannot be overstated. With its rich history and spiritual significance, Kilimanjaro remains an iconic and beloved climbing destination.

Herman Shaw is a passionate traveler and avid photographer who has seen many of the world's most awe-inspiring monuments. He has developed expertise in various aspects of world architecture and culture which he enjoys sharing with his readers. With deep historical knowledge and insight, Herman's writing brings life to these remarkable artifacts and highlights their importance in the grand scheme of human history.

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