Kilimanjaro The Shining Mountain

Kilimanjaro is Africa's largest volcano and it is probably the most beautiful, the most fascinating volcano the world has to offer. The word Kilimanjaro is derived from Swahili and means the Shining Mountain. The Germans have a long history in Tanzania and in 1849 German missionaries reported seeing this huge, snow-capped mountain. The Royal Geographical Society refused to believe that snow could exist only 200 miles south of the Equator, and finally in the mid nineteenth century they sent an expedition which confirmed Kilimanjaro and its snow capped existence. The mountain successfully climbed for the first time by a European in 1887, Hans Meyer, and a tribute to him can be found at the Marangu gate.

Kilimanjaro is actually made up of three volcanic cones. Firstly and most famously there is Kibo, the highest and youngest cone, with the highest point on the cone named Uhuru [meaning freedom]. Shira which is the oldest cone collapsed and was then filled in by lava flows, creating the stunning Shira Plateau, which makes up the oldest part of the mountain.

Mawenzi summit is a steep rocky peak surrounded by cliffs ? as a result of heavy erosion it is possibly one of Africa's most dangerous peaks to climb.In climbing Kilimanjaro, your starting point is already a half-mile above sea level. The adventure of the climb beginning on the hot dusty savannah ascends three miles straight up onto almost artic conditions of the glaciers around Uhuru peak. The whole trek involves walking about 60 miles passing through five distinct climate zones.

Kilimanjaro is the world's highest non-technical climb, as well as the tallest mountain in Africa it has a girth at its base of 40 miles. Kilimanjaro is not extinct but merely dormant; occasionally threatening rumbles are heard and gases are released from Kibo.High Altitude Sickness is something that is inevitable when climbing Kili. Everyone climbing above 8,000 feet should be prepared for some degree Altitude Sickness.

Because of the quick elevation many climbers go home without reaching the summit. To increase the chances of getting to the top it is better to acclimatize slowly and take - at the very least - five days to climb, remembering to drink lots of water and the eat properly.Edema - either pulmonary or cerebral - is deadly and also kills on this mountain.

The cure for this is a rapid decent. I was once witness to a climber suffering from this affliction; he was dumped onto a wooden contraption resembling a wheelbarrow and two porters literally sprinting down the mountain pushing the patient who rocked gently in this rickety wheeled lifesaver.This mountain should be treated with respect, many, because it is a non-technical climb, think it is the equivalent of a five day walk in the park - however - as many as ten people die on the mountain every year. Heart attacks are the usual killer but other problems such as severe snow blizzards can cause death. Kilimanjaro is a huge mountain and like all big mountains it makes its own weather; to be prepared with proper equipment is necessary.

Scientists have established that molten lava is a mere 400 metres below the summit crater. An eruption is not expected, however, some fear the volcano may collapse, causing a major eruption. In the past there have been several collapses and landslides, one of these events created the western breach. Local history says the last activity was around 170 years ago.


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By: Ian Williamson

Bermuda Tourism

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