If you’re considering taking on the challenge of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, there are a few interesting facts you should know about the peak - we’ve compiled a list of our favourites. Hopefully they’ll prove inspiring and will help you on your way to the Roof of Africa.
1. There’s more than one way up
Yes, that’s right, there are, in fact, six routes to the summit of Kilimanjaro and two different trails leading back down. The ascent paths are Rongai, Lemosho, Shira, Umbwe, Machame and Marangu, while coming down you can follow either Machame or Mweka.
2. Kilimanjaro is a volcano
Although it’s often called a mountain, Kilimanjaro is actually a volcano and it has three cones. The largest is Kibo - with the highest point on its crater rim - as well as Mawenzi and Shira. The latter two are extinct, but Kibo is classed as dormant and could, therefore, erupt again.
3. It’s the highest freestanding peak in the world
As well as having the honour of being Africa’s tallest mountain, Kilimanjaro is also the tallest freestanding summit in the world - its highest point is 5,895 m above sea level.
4. Successful ascents…
Of the thousands of tourists who attempt to climb Kilimanjaro each year, only around 50 per cent are successful. This is due to a variety of factors, but one thing to bear in mind is that the longer your route, the more likely you are to make it to the top.
5. There are five ecosystems on Kili
As you trek up Kilimanjaro, you’ll pass through five distinct ecosystems, beginning in a cultivated belt of farmland and ending with an alpine desert. In between you’ve got the rainforest, heath land and moorland. All of this means your ascent will be incredibly varied in terms of the landscapes you pass through and the flora and fauna you come across.
6. Kilimanjaro’s glaciers are shrinking
The ice caps on Kilimanjaro’s highest slopes have diminished considerably in the last 100 years, with these glaciers having lost approximately 80 per cent of their mass since 1912.
7. It was first climbed in 1889
October 1889 was when the first successful attempt to reach Kilimanjaro’s summit was recorded, with German geologist Hans Meyer and Austrian mountaineer Ludwig Purtscheller making it to the rim of Kibo crater after six weeks of climbing. It wasn’t until 1909 that the feat was repeated.
8. Fastest ascent
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the fastest ascent of Kilimanjaro is an incredible five hours, 26 minutes and 40 seconds. This time was set by Frenchman Gerard Bavato in 2007. Equally impressive is Simon Mtuy’s record for the fastest unsupported ascent and descent of the mountain, with the Tanzanian completing the route in nine hours, 21 minutes and 47 seconds back in 2006.
9. Oldest and youngest
The oldest man to successfully reach Kilimanjaro’s summit is Richard Byerley, who achieved the feat at the ripe old age of 84 years and 71 days. At the other end of the scale, the youngest person to make it to the Roof of Africa is seven year old Aaryan Balaji from India. He completed the climb in February 2013.
10. Share your experiences
At the top of the mountain is a wooden box that contains a book. Within its pages are notes written by the thousands of people who have successfully made the climb to the summit of Kilimanjaro. You can add your thoughts on the experience and become part of the mountain’s history.