Ernest Hemingway's First Site of Mount Kilimanjaro
...as wide as the whole world, great, high, and unbelievably white in the sun, was the square top of Kilimanjaro.... ( Ernest Hemmingway ), The Snows of Kilimanjaro
Mt Kilimanjaro is a dormant volcano located in the Kilimanjaro National Park in the north of Tanzania and consists of three cones namely Kibo, Mawenzi, and Shira. The Uhuru peak on the Kibo-rim is at 5895m a.m.s.l. Africa’s highest point and also marks the world’s highest free-standing volcano mountain. Situated roughly only about 300km south of the equator, the region has no distinguishable seasons in terms of temperatures, but rainfall is more common during certain months. Mt Kilimanjaro (which is Swahili for Shining Mountain) with its permanent ice cap almost looks out of place in this tropical location. Sadly, this ice cap is rapidly receding due to global warming and may completely disappear within a couple of years’ times.
Kilimanjaro is a natural wonder in the sense that its slopes can be distinctly divided into six different ecological zones. The rich volcanic soil has attracted people to settle at, and cultivate the slopes up to about an altitude of 1800m. Above these cultivated areas, a lively rainforest stretches up to about 2800m. This rainforest receives an average of 2000mm annual rainfall which mostly falls during the monsoon of March to May and then also during October and November.
The forest then opens up to a heath landscape which stretches up the slope to a height of 3300m. Above this height, the landscape opens into a rocky moorland which stretches up to 4000m. From 4000m upwards, the vegetation becomes scarcer due to a dry, desert climate and big temperature differences between night and day. This region is called the Alpine desert and it stretches up to an altitude of 5000m. From 5000m upwards are the Summit region which is covered in snow and permanent glaciers.
The first ascent to the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro is credited to German Hans Meyer and Austrian Ludwig Purtscheller in 1889 with local scout Johannes Kinyala Lauwo as their guide. Lauwo has reportedly reached the summit nine times before the Meyer-Purtscheller expedition. The town of Moshi can be found at the southern foot of Mt Kilimanjaro. With a population of about
1,000,000, it is the capital of the Kilimanjaro region. Moshi is mainly populated by the Chaga and Maasai people. The Chaga is a tribe of Bantu origin, whose main activity revolves around agriculture.
Their main crops are Arabica coffee and bananas. The Maasai is traditionally a semi-nomadic tribe and pastoralists with cattle- and goatherds being their primary possessions. Maasai are one of the best-known African tribes internationally, with their brightly colored clothing and warrior jumping dances being especially recognizable. Moshi is a Swahili word meaning Smoke and the town is named so because of the clouds mostly covering the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro from this, the southern side.
The best months for Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro
Normally April and May are the months with long rains and should be avoided. November is usually short rains but it is not often raining all day. The best time for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is January to February and September. July to August can be colder and November to December can be wetter. January to March is the warmest months, almost clear of clouds each evening and morning. The success rates with our guides are outstanding compared to the overall success rates for all climbers who attempt to reach the top;