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Tallest Mountain in Africa Mount Kilimanjaro

Mt. Kilimanjaro

Mt. Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa.  Uhuru Peak is it’s highest point and rises to an altitude of 19,341 feet above sea level. Mount Kilimanjaro is composed of three distinct volcanic cones: Kibo 19,341 feet, Mawenzi 16,893 feet, and Shira 13,000 feet.

Mount Kilimanjaro is a giant stratovolcano that started forming a million years ago, when lava spilled from the Rift Valley zone. Two of its three peaks, Mawenzi and Shira, are extinct while Kibo is dormant and could erupt again any time. The last major volcanic eruption has been dated to 360,000 years ago, while the most recent activity was recorded only 200 years ago. Although the mountain is dormant, Mount Kilimanjaro has fumaroles that give off gas in the crater on the main summit of Kibo. Scientists discovered  in 2003 that molten magmas is just 1,310 feet below the summit crater. Several collapses and landslides have occurred on Kibo in the past, one creating the area known as the Western Breach.

There are six different trekking routes in which you can climb Mt Kilimanjaro.  Marangu, Rongai, Lemosho,Shira, Umbwe and Machame. Of all the routes, Machame is rthe most scenic of them all, but is a steeper route up the mountain, but the trek can be done in six or seven days. Rongai is the easiest but least scenic of all the routes with the most difficult summit night and the Marangu is also pretty easy, but accommodations are in shared huts with all other climbers. As a result, this route tends to be very busy, and ascent and descent routes are the same way.

People who wish to climb to the summit of  Mount Kilimanjaro are advised to be sure to don their research and ensure that they have all the equipment needed and physically can handle the climb. Though the climb is technically not as challenging as when climbing the high peaks in the Himalayas or  the Andes, the altitude, low temperature, and occasional high winds make this a very difficult and dangerous climb. Acclimatisation is essential, and even then most experienced climbers can suffer some degree of altitude sickness. Kilimanjaro summit is well above the altitude at which pulmonary edema or HAPE can occur, or cerebral edema HACE can take place. All trekkers will suffer some discomfort, which includes shortage of breath, hypothermia and headaches.

Some climbing clubs have criticized the Tanzanian authorities for charging fees for each day spent on the mountain. It was once argued that having to pay this fee encouraged trekkers to climb fast to save time and money. This being said the Tanzania National Parks Authority several years ago made minimum climb durations for each route. These regulations prohibit climbs of fewer than five days on the Marangu Route, and a minimum of six days for the other five sanctioned routes.

The Tanzanian Medical Services  have recently expressed their concern with tourists that see Kilimanjaro as an easy climb, but this is not the case. Many people that visit Tanzania have been told the best way to reach the summit is to join a group, they are never told of the physical demands they will encounter on their trek.Only 30 percent of people that attempt the climb succeed to the summit.

Many people estimate that more people have die trekking up Kilimanjaro than Mount Everest but Everest is attempted by significantly fewer climbers. Most of the deaths are porters which succumb to hypothermia.  Trekkers fall on steep portions of the mountain, and rock slides have also killed climbers. The Arrow Glacier was closed because of this reason many years ago, but in 2007 it was reopened but at your own risk.

If you have decided that Mount Kilimanjaro is where you want to spend your next vacation and make the trek to the summit my advice would be to be sure you read up and investigate how,what,when and with who you should make this lifetime adventure.

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