In Swahili language this dead volcano is called 'The shining mountain'.
The mountain’s highest point is Uhuru Peak, Swahili for freedom. It remains unclear where the name “Kilimanjaro” actually comes from. Conflicting evidence suggests that the Chagga people living upon its slopes never actually used this word, though in Swahili, Kilimanjaro breaks up into Kilima (hill/little mountain) and Njaro (white/shining). So, Shining Mountain.
Mount Kilimanjaro is crowned in glacier. The mountain dictates its own weather patterns and water flows. It provides home to thousands of species of flora and fauna and contributes to the livelihood of tens of thousands. The very contours of Mount Kilimanjaro set into motion a flurry of folklore, stories, and interesting factoids.
Here are some fun facts about the classic trekking challenge – Mt Kilimanjaro!
- Mt. Kilimanjaro is the tallest freestanding mountain in the world at 19,341 feet.
- Kilimanjaro unique is that despite its proximity to the equator, it is crowned with ice. The glaciers have existed here for more than 11,000 years. They used to be more than 300 feet (100 m) deep and extended 6,500 feet (2,000 m) from the mountain top. However, due global warming and long-term climactic cycles, the ice has been vaporizing at an alarming rate.
- Kilimanjaro has three volcanic cones, Mawenzi, Shira and Kibo. Mawenzi and Shira are extinct but Kibo, the highest peak, is dormant and could erupt again. The most recent activity was about 200 years ago; the last major eruption was 360,000 years ago.
- At 81 meters (265 feet), the entandrophragma excelsum was recently discovered on Kili’s slopes. It’s the sixth tallest tree on Earth and is 500-600 years old. This exceptional growth is due to Kilimanjaro’s incredible, nutrient-rich volcanic soil and precipitation.
- Something else that flourishes around the lower slopes of the mountain is one of our beloved treats: coffee. Tanzanian coffee is considered by many to be the world’s best, and most of the beans are grown in the volcanic soils and higher elevations of Kilimanjaro’s foothills. Be sure and grab a bag!!
- In 1889, German geographer Hans Meyer and Austrian mountaineer Ludwig Purtscheller became the first people on record to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro.
- In 1973, the mountain and its six surrounding forest corridors were named Kilimanjaro National Park in order to protect its unique environment. The park was named a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage site in 1987. A variety of animals live in the area surrounding the mountain, including the blue monkey.
- The fasted verified ascent of Mt. Kilimanjaro occurred in 2001 when Italian Bruno Brunod summitted Uhuru Peak in 5 hours 38 minutes 40 seconds. The fastest roundtrip was accomplished in 2004, when local guide Simon Mtuy went up and down the mountain in 8:27. This is an unfathomable feat of human endurance
- A disabled South African, Bernard Goosen, has twice scaled Mt. Kilimanjaro in a wheelchair with limited support, once in 2003 (9 days) and then in 2007 (six days). INCREDIBLE.. isn't it!!
- Approximately 25,000 people attempt to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro annually. Approximately two-thirds are successful. Altitude-related problems is the most common reason climbers turn back.
While climbing this mountain, your fitness level doesn’t affect your body’s ability to acclimatize. Many fit athletes still experience acclimatization issues. You can, and should, train for your climb, but you can’t “train” for altitude. Incredibly fit people can experience difficulty, and people who have never hiked before might feel fine. This is because your reaction to altitude relies on two factors: your genetic makeup (studies have shown that populations living at high altitude, like the Nepalese, have different lung capacities, blood oxygenation, and red blood cell counts than lowlanders), and the amount of time you leave for acclimatization.
You can go anytime but do it sooner rather than later.