The Masai tribe in Kenia
The Masai tribe in Kenia

Kilimanjaro (5,896 m) is the highest massif in Africa, one of the highest single standing mountains in the world and belongs to the so-called ‘Crown of Earth’. It is situated south of the Equator in north Tanzania, close to the border with Kenya. The massif consists of three volcanic peaks: Kibo (5,896 m), Mawenzi (5,149 m) and Shira (3,962 m), as well as various smaller summits.

The proximity of the Indian Ocean has a significant impact on the climate, fauna and flora of the place. Climbing conditions are determined by the season, huge size, height and location of the mountain on open plains. Kilimanjaro lies in the territory of the Kilimanjaro National Park, which was created in 1973 (the first forest reserve and animal reserve was created there in 1921). Its area covers 756 square kilometres of equatorial rain forest, moors and alpine meadows, and also alpine deserts. In 1987 it was entered on the UNESCO List of World Cultural and Natural Heritage.

Kilimanjaro was first mentioned in the 2nd century. Local inhabitants called it “the Mountain of Bad Spirits” or, to honour the gods, “the Mountain of Light”. The Roof of Africa was “discovered” only in 1848 by Johannes Reimann, a German missionary, who climbed up the lowest slopes of the mountain and, through the Royal Geographical Society, informed the world about the existence of “a mountain covered with a cap of snow” in east Africa (the RGS first questioned the genuineness of that information). The exploration of Kilimanjaro commenced only in the 19th century when Tanganyica, where the Roof of Africa was at that time situated, became a German colony. The first to reach its top (1889) was a German professor, Hans Meyer, and Ludwik Purtscheller from Switzerland. In 1910, professor Antoni Jakubski, a zoologist, was the first Pole to reach the top of Kilimanjaro.

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