Mount Kilimanjaro By: Anna van Niekerk


Mount Kilimanjaro is located in Tanzania in the Kilimanjaro National Park. The park is in the North Eastern area of Tanzania near the Kenyan/Tanzanian border. It's about 200 miles north of the equator.


The mountain is not only the largest free-standing mountain in the world but also the largest mountain in Africa. The mountain covers an impressive 388,500 hectares of land. It has a snow capped top with three main peaks. It is very rocky with lots of plant life.

How It Formed

Mount Kilimanjaro was formed over 3 million years ago. It is a stratvolcano. It formed from fault movement along the great Riff Valley. As the plates under it dropped and basalt rock magma erupted through the surface of the ocean. The debris and magma made layers each time the mountain erupted. The lowest peak, Shira, erupted half a million years ago and is now considered extinct. The other 2 peaks have stayed dormant and havn't erupted for centuries but they could erupt at any moment. Researches believe that Kilimanjaros glaciers formed 11 000 years ago, when the mountain went through a very cold time and allowed snow to accumulate.

A diagram showing how Mount Kilimanjaro was formed.
Animal Life

Animals are closer to the bottom Forrest zone of the mountain than anywhere else on the mountain. Further up the mountain are fewer animals. The most common animals on the mountain are the four-striped grass mice, the blue monkey, the colobus monkey, the white-necked raven and the malachite sun bird. The malachite sun bird is considered to be the most gorgeous bird on the mountain. Some of the most rare sightings in the Forrest zone are leopards, olive baboons, civets, mongooses and also the bush pig. Near the cultivated zone bushbabies are more easily heard than seen. They come out at night and jump around the trees. Above 2800m there is barely any animals around other than grey and red duikers, elands and bushbucks. Buffaloes and lions are occasionally seen on the Shira plateau.

Below are some pictures of the animal life on Mount Kilimanjaro.

Plant Life

In the Forrest zone there is heavy rainfall. It's vegetation is dominated by banana trees, coffee bushes and many other plants and/or crops. The rainforest zone is rich with plant life and has the widest variety of flowering plants. The moorland and heather zone has less vegetation with few plants such as groundsels, lobelias, heather and tree moss. The alpine or high desert zone has no trees and very few plants. Common plants in this zone include sage grass, moss and thistle. In the arctic or summit zone there is barely any plant life due to intense sunlight, thin air, snow and ice. The most common plant and flowers on the mountain are proteas, hibiscuses, groundsels, everlastings, red-hot poker and the mountain gladiolus.

Below is some pictures of the plant life in Mount Kilimanjaro.

Climate and weather

The weather on Mount Kilimanjaro is almost impossible to tell. It ranges from very hot to bitter cold. On the base of the mountain, the Forrest zone, it is about 21 to 27 degrees Celsius. From here the temperatures decrease as you go higher up the mountain. At the summit/arctic zone it ranges from 15 to -20 degrees Celsius. Due to the mountains height it creates its own weather, so you must be prepared for the hottest weather and the coldest weather.

Below are some pictures of all of the different zones.


Many people visit Mount Kilimanjaro yearly. It is a great experience to have and many people like to see all the plants and vegetation. People take many photos of their journey and often make a diary of what they see and think. When people hike up the mountain they can stay in huts along the route. Even though 50% of people who start the hike are able to make it to the top it is also just as a fun going half way up. Nobody is allowed to live on the Mountain as it is on a national park.

  • 35 000 people visit/hike Mount Kilimanjaro a year.
  • The oldest person to climb to the top was an 85 year old man.
  • The mountains snow caps have lost more than 80% of their mass since 1912.
  • Almost every kind of ecological system is found on the mountain.
  • The youngest person to climb Mount Kilimanjaro is a 7 year old girl.
  • Bernard Goosen made it up the mountain twice in a wheelchair.

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