Mountain Information

Weather, Climate & Vegetation Zones
Experience the forest, the desert and the snow within a space of a few days! Very few places on earth offer such diverse vegetation and seasons in such a short amount of time! You will be accompanied by a range of flaura (flowers), fauna (animals) and avifauna (birds) en-route. There are two main seasons where there are fewer numbers of climbers due to the weather, including the long rains between mid-March to May and short rains in the second half of November. However the weather on the mountain is very unpredictable and you could be faced with showers during the drier months and no rain during the rainy seasons!

Snow Zone: characterised by arctic conditions – freezing cold at night and burning sun during the day. Oxygen is about half that at sea level and there is little atmosphere to protect you from the sun’s radiation.
Temperature range: -21º Celsius to 0º Celsius        Weather: snow, possible blizzard
Flora: Helichrysum newii
Fauna: Spiders and other insects
Avifauna: None

Alpine Desert Zone: where summer is everyday reaching up to 40º Celsius and winter is every night with temperatures that fall to 0º Celsius. This area receives very little water and plants find survival difficult here.
Temperature range: 0º Celsius to +40º Celsius       Weather: possible extreme winds
Flaura: Asteraceae
Fauna: Spiders, insects, mice
Avifauna: Streaky seedeater, crowned eagle, augur buzzard

Heather & Moorland Zone: overlap each other and most precipitation here is in the form of fog. This area receives very little water and plants find it very difficult to survive here.
Temperature range: +8 º Celsius to +30º Celsius       Weather: fog
Flaura: Erica excelsa, erica arborea, protea caffra kilimandscharica, kniphofia thomsonii (red hot poker), helichrysum species, mariscus, philippia trimera, senecio kilimanjari
Fauna: Four-striped grass mouse (Rhabdomys pumilio), climbing mouse, the mole rat
Avifauna: White-necked raven, alpine chat, streaky seedeater, alpine swift, malachite sun-bird

Rainforest Zone: which receives the most rainfall and supports a great variety of flaura and fauna
Temperature: +18 º Celsius to +26º Celsius        Weather: possible rainfall
Flaura: Camphor wood, fig, podocarpus, juniper trees, olive trees, ferns, old man’s beard, llex mitis, Impatiens kilimanjari, viola eminii and Impatiens pseudoviola.
Fauna: Blue monkeys, colobus monkey, olive baboons, civets, leopards, mongoose, aardvark, honey badger, porcupines, bushbabies, genet and tree hyrax
Avifauna: Ross’s Turacao, hornbills, mouse birds, trogon, robin chat, bulbul

Lower Slopes: which includes cultivated land, grassland, populated human settlements, grazing of live stock.
The Great Rift Valley was long in forming; only reaching its present form between 2 to 1 million years ago. Where Kilimanjaro was to stand there was a gently undulating plain with a few old eroded mountains. A million years ago the plain buckled and slumped. Fractures and faults allowed molten rock from below the earth’s crust to find routes to the surface; volcanoes emerged and the plain became dotted with cones and craters. The splitting and sinking of the land created a huge basin, the Kilimanjaro Depression. At least three volcanoes vented forth, Ol Molog, Kibongoto and Kilema which built up an enormous ‘ridge’, 100 km long, 65 kms wide and 3000 m height. These heralds of the coming Kilimanjaro can still be found about 30 kms away.
750,000 years ago, Kilimanjaro began to grow out of and over the fractures, lava coming from three main centres, Shira, Kibo and Mawenzi. Their cones grew over thousands of years, reaching about 5,000 m in height. 500,000 years ago, Shira collapsed into a caldera and became inactive. Kibo and Mawenzi continued, their lavas intermingling, reaching 5,500 m. Then Mawenzi died and rapidly eroded. Kibo continued to grow, producing several more lava flows. The most extensive eruptions, 360,000 years ago, produced black lava that filled the old eroded Shira caldera, fanned out over the Saddle and the base of Mawenzi and flowed far to the north and south. This lava, known as rhomb porphyry lava, is distinctive because of its dark colour and embedded rhombic or diamond shaped crystals 450,000 years ago, Kilimanjaro ceased growing. Kibo peak was then about 5,900 m and from this time the whole mountain began to shrink. Eruptions continued intermittently and during the periods of dormancy erosion sculpted the form of the mountain, leaving the peaks and spires of the hard core of Mawenzi, and the gentle plateau of Shira. Kibo flattened and subsided into concentric terraces and cones while being repeatedly covered and uncovered by glaciers. Some 100,000
years ago a huge landslide carried away some of the summit and created the huge Kibo Barranco. Volcanic activity became sporadic. Many parasitic vents erupted, leaving a band of distinctive cones and craters running across Kilimanjaro in a south-east to north-west direction. Finally, Kibo had a last gush of activity, which formed the present caldera, the flows of the Inner crater and the Ash pit. Glaciers returned and the mountain eroded into its present shape. Forests grew on the well-watered lower slopes, and vegetation gradually claimed what it could of the rest of the mountain as streams steadily wore creases in the aging massif. Weathering continues to shape the mountain and Kibo appears to be losing its glacial ice cap
Humans or their ancestors were probably gathering plants, foods and hunting animals around Kilimanjaro throughout the mountain’s history. Although nothing of great antiquity has been found on the mountain there is plenty of evidence of ancient human occupation at nearby sites throughout the Rift Valley.

Stone bowls and rings, made from local lava, have been found on the western slopes of Kilimanjaro. Also found in the area are obsidian flakes and tools, pottery fragments and a stone axe. Similar stone bowls from elsewhere have been dated as more than 2000 years old and one can only guess that the stone bowl makers left the mountain before arrival of more recent peoples. Most of the artefacts found on Kilimanjaro can be traced to the Wachagga people who immigrated into the area some 250 or more years ago. The Wachagga were agriculturists and they soon settled down to farming Kilimanjaro’s slopes, using the abundant water from the forest, making dams and irrigation furrows, building ‘forts’ and in many ways leaving their mark on the landscape.

While African peoples have known and used Kilimanjaro for hundreds of generations, the first recorded references to the mountain were made by foreigners. Oddly enough, even though Kilimanjaro is huge and close enough to the trading caravan routes to be a key landmark for outsiders, there seem to be very few historical records. Arab and Chinese traders travelled along the coast of East Africa for many centuries and must have known about Kilimanjaro, but there is only one reference to a great mountain west of Zanzibar from China, 6 or 7 centuries ago. The situation changed with the arrival of European missionaries and explorers.
Kilimanjaro Timeline

Year: Event:
100 AD The first records of a “great snow mountain” in Africa by Claudius Ptolemy a Greek (in Egypt) known to be a mathematician, geographer, and astrologer.
1849 Johann Rebmann, a Christian Missionary is credited with bringing Kilimanjaro to the attention of Europe in his published article, although it was received with great skepticism.
1861 On 14th July Richard Thornton, a British geologist a long with Baron Carl Claus von der Decken, a German, verify previous claims of Mt. Kilimanjaro and reach 2550m in their attempt.
1889 Hans Meyer and Ludwig Purtscheller, along with their guide Yohana Lauwo, Jonathan Mtu and porters are known to be the first humans to reach the highest peak, which they named as the “Kaiser Wilhelm Peak”.
1890 Tanganyika becomes a German colony andKilimanjaro was known to be the highest mountain in Germany for a period of time!
1906 Fritz Jaeger and Eduard Oehler are the first two individuals to complete the Machame route
1912 What is known as Mandara Hut was planned and built
1913 Mandara Hut built
1914 Clary von Ruckteschell, the first woman on the mountain
1920 The Kilimanjaro region comes into the British rule.
1921 Gillman’s point is named
1926 Dr. Donald Latham finds a desiccated leopard approximately 500 meters away from Gillman’s point on the Marangu route, therefore this site is named as Leopard Point.
1927 Sheila G. McDonald is the first woman to reach the highest peak
1932 The first cabin on Kibo hut is built
1961 Tanganyika becomes independent
1962 Kaiser Wilhelm Peak is renamed as Uhuru Peak
1972 Norweign Agency with the local workers constructs the huts on Marangu route, a five year project.
1977 Kilimanjaro National Park is opened by the President Julius K. Nyerere
1984 Shah Tours & Travels Ltd are born!
1989 UNESCO declares Mount Kilimanjaro as a world heritage site
2005 After a few deaths the Western Breach Wall is closed for climbers, as the rocks become unstable to trek on and additionally fall onto tents in the Arrow Glacier Camp.
2007 Western Breath Wall is reopened for tourists, although not recommended due to safety reasons
2009 – 2013 Celebrities such as Martina Navratilova, Cheryl Cole, Gary Barlow, Roman Abramovich, DJ Chris Moyles, Jessica Biel, Denise Van Outen, Fearne Cotton, Kimberly Walsh, Ben Sheppard, Alesha Dixon, Ronan Keating, Duncan Bannatyne, Ray Lewis all attempted the highest mountain in Africa
2012 Shabu Hussain from Canada, the first blind man to conquer Kilimanjaro with his wife and the Shah Tours Team
2013 Maksim Giorgi Goncharova from Russia, aged 5 years, is the youngest person in history to reach Gilman’s Point, his trek organised by the Shah Tours Team