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Geography, Climate, Geology & Ecology of Mount Kilimanjaro

This snow-capped volcano standing at 5,895 meters (19,340 ft) is the tallest mountain in Africa, the 3rd highest point in the world (a member of the Seven summits) and the world’s largest free-standing mountain.

It is located in the Northeast of Tanzania, East Africa almost on the Equator, approximately 340 km south of the 0-degree latitude. It is situated in Mount Kilimanjaro National Park south of the Kenyan border.

Mount Kilimanjaro is a strati-volcano made up of 3 distinctive volcano cones. That is:

The tallest and most prominent of the 3 volcano cones is Kibo (4,895m) which also features the summit of Kilimanjaro, Uhuru peak. Mawenzi (5,149m) is the 2nd tallest cone of the 3 cones and Shira (3,962m) is the shortest, most eroded and oldest cone.

While Kibo is a dormant volcano that could erupt again in the future, Mawenzi and Shira are considered extinct volcanoes that last erupted millions of years ago.

Over the years, Kilimanjaro has lost most of its glaciers, ice fields and snow and it has been predicted that it will all be gone by 2040 because of the warm climate and drier conditions on Kilimanjaro.

Due to its significant height, Kilimanjaro Mountain displays prominent climate / ecological zones;

  • Cultivation zone at the mountains base characterized by warm climate and farmlands
  • Rain-forest zone that is characterized by lush green forests, abundant rainfall, dense vegetation and varied wildlife species.
  • Moorland zone that is characterized by heath and moorlands, sparsely distributed vegetation.
  • Alpine desert zone characterized with limited vegetation and rocky terrains.
  • Arctic zone characterized by high winds, extreme cold temperatures, little to no vegetation as it is often covered in ice and snow.

The weather on Kilimanjaro Mountain can be really unpredictable. Climbers are always advised to be fully prepared for all conditions at any time of the day.


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