Kilimanjaro is the world’s highest free standing, snow-covered equatorial mountain. Now charted and climbed; stories of her resident man-eating spirits are relegated to the realms of folklore.
But Mount Kilimanjaro continues to preserve a mysticism that defies all recent knowledge of her slopes. Images of the towering snow-covered cone rising majestically from fertile green foothills have become a powerful motif of Tanzania’s extraordinary extremes. Few could deny a very distinct sense of awe when the cloud clears to reveal a glimpse of the towering peaks, shining bright in the equatorial sun.
Kilimanjaro represents a powerful life force for the local Chagga people and all those who have made their lives around this mountain, providing rich volcanic soils for agriculture and an endless source of pure spring waters.
One of the most amazing aspects of the mountain in the present day is the accessibility of its peak to climbers with no mountain climbing equipment or real previous experience of scaling such heights. Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain that regular tourists can climb, although it remains a considerable feat of human endurance!
The breathable oxygen at the top is less than half the amount than is common at sea level, and climbers cover at least eighty kilometres on nothing but their own two feet over the five days it takes to reach the top and return.
The number of climbers has escalated to over a thousand a year during the last century, quite a development since Hans Meyer made history as the first European to scale the highest point of Kilimanjaro in 1889. The increasing numbers each year have made it necessary for the National Park to insist that all climbs are pre-booked, and passes are no longer issued at the last minute at the park gate.
Although it is possible to simply trek a route to the pinnacle of Kibo without relying on professional climbing equipment, it remains a hard and serious endeavour that requires a level of physical fitness, stamina and a realistic awareness of the potentially damaging effects of high altitudes.
Many tour operators request that clients consult a doctor before attempting to scale the mountain, and have a physical check-up for overall fitness.Mount