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Climbing Kilimanjaro

Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest peak in Africa and the tallest freestanding mountain in the world. It dominates the north-eastern marches of Tanzania and if you stand at its snow-encrusted summit, with an unrestricted view in all directions, you gaze upon a remarkable tract of land, its limits defined only by the curvature of the earth and the haze of distance, out to a distance of 125 miles.

Kilimanjaro is made up of three volcanoes: Kibo, Mawenzi and Shira. These main three vents emerged around 750,000 years ago and over thousands of years Shira was the first to die out. Shira presently is heavily eroded, an ancient caldera filled with lava and ash with a heavily eroded rim. Mawenzi contrasts starkly, with mile deep gulleys and heavily eroded steep sides. At 16,896 feet, Mawenzi is linked by a 7 mile saddle to Kibo, the youngest dormant vent. Kibo has not erupted in recent times although may have emitted ash around 300 years ago. Sulphur and steam are still emitted.

Despite being 3 degrees south of the equator, Kilimanjaro has numerous glaciers which have been a strong force in shaping Kilimanjaro, especially the youngest peak, Kibo. From pictures taken in 1912 compared to the present day it has been observed that Kilimanjaro has lost in excess or 75% of its ice cover, although the impressive ice cliffs on the northern and eastern side remain as do glaciers on the south and south western flanks. At projected rates, the ice could be lost forever by 2015 - 2020.

A journey up the slopes of Kilimanjaro takes you on a climatic world tour, from the tropics to the arctic. The grassy cultivated lower slopes turn into lush rainforest inhabited by elusive elephant, leopard, buffalo and antelope. Higher still, heath and moorland covered with giant heathers become surreal alpine desert and finally give way to ice, snow and magnificent beauty.  Frontiers Kathy Schulz climbed to Kilimanjaro's summit in December of 2004.  Read about her experience here.


Kathy Schulz Contact our Africa Department to discuss your own expedition to the summit of Kilimanjaro. Department Manager Kathy Schulz has been an agent for 24 years, with numerous trips to Africa under her belt. Complementing her safari experience in East and Southern Africa, she has summited Mt. Kilimanjaro, sailed off the coast of fabled Zanzibar, gone cage diving with great white sharks off the coast of South Africa, and most recently completed one of her dream trips, trekking for mountain gorillas in Rwanda and Uganda.

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