Who Discovered Mt Kilimanjaro

Geology of Mt Kilimanjaro

Mt Kilimanjaro is a dormant stratovolcano in northern Tanzania, East Africa, situated in the Eastern Rift Valley. It is the highest mountain in Africa, measuring approximately 5,895 metres above sea level. The mountain is composed of three distinct volcanic cones: Kibo, Mawenzi and Shira. The most prominent of these cones is Kibo, the highest and outermost slope of which forms the top of the mountain. Its summit rises 4,600 metres above the surrounding plains and is the closest peak of such stature to the equator. Its name, translated to “the big mountain” in Kiswahili, hints at its size and importance in the local area.

Mt Kilimanjaro is believed to have first become visible around 200,000 years ago, however, the exact date of its formation is unknown. Scientists believe it is the result of multiple eruptions from two distinct volcanic centres. The first eruptions occurred in the Pliocene period and the most recent during the Holocene. This increased volcanic activity has created a crater known as the ‘Kibo Caldera’ at the top of the mountain.

The establishment of the mountain as a geographical landmark is attributed to the German geographer Hans Meyer and the Austrian mountaineer Ludwig Purtscheller in 1889. Meyer and Purtscheller are the first recorded people to summit the mountain. In commemoration of their historic achievement, the summit has since been named “Kilimanjaro Peak”.

However, the original tribes who settled in the area are said to have known of the formidable mountain long before Meyer and Purtscheller, with their local language “Kichagga”, referencing the mountain as “Kilemakyaro”, which has a similar meaning in translation. Through both language and visual depictions, the tribes are said to have held the mountain in reverence, considering it to be a spiritual place, heavily embedded in local history and folklore.

These ancient indigenous tribes often referred to the mountain with a sense of awe and wonderment, with their beliefs and traditional customs intertwined with the landscape. This imaginative reverence for the mountain and its surroundings is evident today through the many anecdotes that are still shared by locals, with stories of supernatural creatures, time travellers, and deities.

Modern Sciences and Mt Kilimanjaro

Modern scientific study of Mt Kilimanjaro began in the early 1900s. In 1909, German geologist Hans Meyer undertook an expedition to summit the mountain and made detailed observations of its topography, as well as of the surrounding fertile highland area. This proved to be instrumental in establishing the mountain’s geological make-up and geological history.

As a result of Meyer’s explorations, it was determined that the mountain is composed of two distinct rock types. The upper slopes are composed of mainly phonolite lava, while the lower slopes consist of sedimentary rock layers of ash and sandstone. The phonolite lava deposits form a variety of ‘volcanic landforms’, such as dykes, plugs, vents and cones. This demonstrates the powerful and ongoing change in the mountain’s shape and form, due to its eruption history.

Extensive surveying was undertaken in the 1930s, which saw the Royal Geographical Society carry out topographical mapping of the entire mountain. It was during this survey that the spectacularly beautiful ice fields were observed, more evident than they had ever been before. This work paved the way for a deeper understanding of the glacier system that adorns the flanks of the mountain today.

The glaciation of the mountain is multi-faceted, having notable implications for the region. Firstly, the ice fields provide a valuable source of fresh water for the thousands of people that live in the foothills of the mountain. Secondly, the action of glacial erosion has created a unique terrain, with extraordinary features such as vertical ice walls and dry valleys.

Since then, advances in technology have enabled researchers from all over the world to study the surface of the mountain and its glaciers in unprecedented detail. With computer modelling, specialists have been able to approximate the age of the ice fields and the rate of glacial shrinkage, giving insight into the long term prospects of the mountain’s sustainability.

Fauna and Flora of Mt Kilimanjaro

The natural habitats on Mt Kilimanjaro are varied, ranging from low, dense jungle to high mountain peaks, offering refuge to an abundant array of indigenous fauna and flora. The lower reaches of the mountain boast a range of subtropical and deciduous trees, including wild ginger, wild bananas, wild dates and cedar. As you ascend, these give way to alpine moorland and scrub with an ever-decreasing air temperature.

The forest habitats are home to a wide variety of animals and birds, such as the African elephant, leopard, baboon and black-and-white colobus monkey. Similarly, the bird population of the mountain is diverse, with records of nearly 200 species, including the African rock pigeon, golden-winged sunbird, and unique species such as the Schalow’s turaco and Kilimanjaro double-collared sunbird.

The temperate zone of the mountain features lush meadows, and the delicate alpine flowers that bloom in the snow line give the appearance of a high altitude, natural garden. Many of these flowering plants are endemic to Mt Kilimanjaro, and as such, form a unique botanical environment of unusual beauty. Such species are adapted to the harsh conditions, and are essentials sources of food for mountain animals such as rodents, antelopes, and birds.

Conservation of Mt Kilimanjaro

Mt Kilimanjaro is a protected area and is nationally listed as a game preserve, making it illegal to hunt within its boundaries. In addition, the whole mountain area is designated a national park, with the addition of Montane Forest and the Kilimanjaro National Park Reserve in 2005. This expansion has allowed for better monitoring of the area and an increased conservation effort by the government. Protection of the mountain and its resources is essential for preserving the unique environment and the local people’s livelihood.

A number of large, international organisations have conducted independent research and lobbying campaigns to protect the mountain and its surrounds from the many threats that it faces. These include the promotion of sustainable agriculture and tourism, the establishment of biosphere reserves, the preservation of ancient forests and the protection of local wildlife.

In total, some 10 million trees have been planted around the mountain and local communities now benefit from improved living conditions and educational facilities. This has enabled the area to emerge as one of the most eco-friendly tourist attractions in Africa, containing several conservation projects and programmes, which help to reduce the human impact on the inner and outer environment.

Climate Change and Mt Kilimanjaro

Mt Kilimanjaro is one of the most carbon neutral sites in Africa. Studies conducted over the past few decades have shown that the mountain’s glaciers have been melting steadily. This largely has to do with the effects of climate change, as warmer temperatures have caused the mountain’s glaciers to recede faster than ever before. A worrying consequence of this is the potential for a serious loss of water supply in the region.

In response to this problem, conservationists have identified a number of solutions. This includes the measures previously mentioned such as establishing biosphere reserves and better land governance initiatives. The establishment of glaciation monitoring programmes is also being explored, as well as the possibility of utilising geoengineering solutions.

These initiatives are proving vital in helping to combat the effects of climate change, and conserve the unique beauty of Kilimanjaro for future generations. It is hoped that with concerted effort and dedication, the mountain’s glaciers may be preserved for many years to come.

Health and Wellness Tourism on Mt Kilimanjaro

Mt Kilimanjaro has become an increasingly popular destination for health and wellness tourism, allowing visitors to reconnect to nature and exercise in a setting of extraordinary breathtaking beauty. Climbing the mountain is also a unique opportunity for physical and mental challenge, with the majority of visitors choosing to ascend the summit in one to two days.

For those looking to take part in nutrition and fitness activities, many high-end resorts offer personalised meal plans, fitness classes such as yoga and Pilates, and guided hikes.
Within the local area, a range of more adventurous activities are available, including abseiling, rock climbing, mountain biking and horse riding.

The region is also rich in culture, with local villages offering visitors the opportunity to taste traditional cuisine and witness local customs and rituals. There are also a number of cultural and historical sites of interest, with many spectacular views of the surrounding landscape that are a must-see.

Mt Kilimanjaro offers an exceptional chance to experience the beauty of nature and learn about the local wildlife and customs. There are many activities available for all ages and levels, and it is without doubt one of the best places to visit for travelers looking to explore, relax and unwind.

Adventure Sports on Mt Kilimanjaro

Mt Kilimanjaro offers a range of outdoor activities for adventure seekers looking to explore the area and challenge themselves. In addition to the usual trekking and mountaineering, there are now more unusual sports available, such as snow-kiting, paragliding, and even alpine skiing. All these activities take place in areas with stunning views and spectacular terrain, making the mountain a great place to visit for those thrill seekers looking for a rush of adrenaline.

The area also offers excellent opportunities for glacier trekking and ice climbing. Glaciers and icefields are one of the most beautiful parts of the mountain, and with the right equipment and guides, you can explore the region up close and take in breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.

An interesting aspect of the mountain is its wildlife. The mountain is home to a range of species, including the majestic snow leopard, black and white colobus monkey, and greater kudu. Wildlife enthusiasts may choose to join a local safari and have the chance to see these animals in their own habitats.

Mt Kilimanjaro is a unique destination for adventure seekers looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. With a range of thrilling activities and breathtaking views, the mountain is well worth a visit for those who wish to explore and challenge themselves.


Mt Kilimanjaro is an awe-inspiring natural wonder of the world. Its diverse landscapes, rich flora and fauna, and abundant cultural and historical sites offer something for everyone. Whether it is taking part in outdoor activities, appreciating the mountain’s ecological importance, or visiting the local villages, Mt Kilimanjaro is an incredible destination with many things to discover and explore.

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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