Mountains of the World Mt. Kilimanjaro

About the history and height of Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa, account of expedictions and climbing adventures.



Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest mountain at 19,340 ft., is located in Tanzania (formerly Tanganyika). Geographically in Kenya, it was specifically included in German territory as a birthday present from Queen Victoria to her nephew Kaiser Wilhelm.

"The Mountain of Cold Devils" presents an incredible vertical progression of climate and vegetation ranging from equatorial to polar conditions, topped by an ice cap 200 ft. thick. A huge, extinct volcano visible for 200 mi., it takes seven days to walk around.

Also called Ngaje Nga ("House of God"), it was first seen by foreigners in 1848 by two German missionaries, Johannes Rebmann and Ludwig Krapf. Krapf achieved safety against the notoriously hostile natives by means of his umbrella, which he would point at them and open suddenly. The report of a snow-covered mountain so near the equator was ridiculed for 34 years, until a Scottish explorer confirmed it.

The first ascent was made by the German Dr. Hans Meyer and his Alpine guide in 1889. The mountain was immortalized by Ernest Hemingway in his short story "The Snows of Kilimanjaro." Nowadays, it is frequently climbed, and is the highest mountain on earth with a "tourist route" that anyone with strong legs and good lungs can cover in five days.

On the summit is a bronze plaque which reads: "We, the people of Tanganyika, would like to light a candle and put it on top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, which would shine beyond our borders, giving hope where there was despair, love where there was hate, and dignity where before there was only humiliation."

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