African flag
Kilimanjaro statistics

Map of Africa
Mt. Kilimanjaro shown on map of Africa
(map courtesy of CIA World Factbook)

Kilimanjaro, a massive dormant volcano, is the highest and most famous mountain in Africa. Located in northeastern Tanzania, not far from the border with Kenya, one version of local history suggests the mountain was a ‘gift’ from Queen Victoria of England to her grandson, the German emperor Wilhelm, in 1886.

In any case “Kibo”, a high, rounded crater rim, rises some 19,340’ above the surrounding east African savannas with Uhuru Point at its apex. A retreating equatorial glacier rests on the otherwise sandy summit plateau.

Since Kilimanjaro is an enormous terrain feature -- it sprawls more than 30 miles across its base - there are a variety of routes on the mountain. Marangu, the easiest, is by far the most popular and correspondingly crowded. It’s possible to climb by the other routes, however.

JPC Summit--March 15, 1997


The Tanzanian government mandates that climbers hire local guides and porters (as a source of revenue for that poor country). Since I was a ‘one man expedition’, I was able to coax my ‘team’ to conduct a traverse of the mountain.

We ascended the steep and less frequented Machame route, through the Western Breach (apparently closed by the Tanzanian government after a January 2006 rock slide killed several climbers) and descended the Umbwe route through the village of Kifuni.

Remarkably, we did not see any other teams or climbers until after summiting and well into our descent on the last day of the week long journey.

View of crater glacier from summit
Visiting local village



Alpine Desert around 14,000 feet

Porters ascend through rainforest

Team rest break in clouds

Just after dawn above crater glacier


Making friends with Rhino

Mom elephant prefers not to have child photographed
© 2006-2008 by James P. Clarke.  All rights reserved.