Did you know Mount Kilimanjaro, or simply Kilimanjaro, is a volcano? Yes, this stunning mountain is a dormant volcano, and 5,895 meters, or 19,341 feet above sea level, has remained dormant for more than 360,000 years. In addition to its dormancy, Kilimanjaro is the largest free-standing mountain in the world.
First climbed successfully by Hans Meyer, Ludwig Purtscheller, and Yohane Lauwo, a Chagga mountaineer, in 1890, Kilimanjaro lies in the beautiful continent of Africa, specifically in the Republic of Tanzania, a country lying on the eastern coast of Africa.
After its first climb, this tallest mountain in Africa has been a popular destination for climbers worldwide for its easy climb doesn’t require much climbing experience and mountain gear. However, with a height of, Kilimanjaro can be difficult if you are susceptible to altitude sickness.
Made of three different cones: Kibo, Mawenzi, and Shira, the elevation of Kilimanjaro has always been debated. So, continue reading this article as we break down the height of Kilimanjaro and give you information regarding the burning question: how tall is Kilimanjaro?
How tall is Kilimanjaro?
The height of Kilimanjaro can be a tricky question because when we talk about Kilimanjaro’s height, we talk about its height up to a point known as Uhuru Peak. Uhuru Peak, the top of the largest crater of Kilimanjaro, is 5,895 meters or 19,341 feet tall, above sea level.
However, if we talk about the height of Kilimanjaro above its plateau base, this gorgeous mountain is 4,900 meters or 16,100 feet high.
The Three Cones of Mt. Kilimanjaro
One cannot mention Kilimanjaro’s elevation by mentioning its famous three cones. Unlike other mountains, the beautiful Mt. Kilimanjaro doesn’t have a perfect triangular structure with a single peak. But it has three different cones. The three cones of Mt. Kilimanjaro are Kibo, Shira, and Mawenzi.
Although it is common knowledge that Kilimanjaro is a dormant volcano, did you know there is still an active cone on it? Don’t worry. It will not erupt soon, but it might in the future. As a reference, a major activity on this mountain cum volcano was seen just 200 years ago. The name of the relatively active cone of Kilimanjaro is Kibo. Kibo is also the highest volcanic cone of Kilimanjaro. However, Kibo’s other two neighboring cones are relatively dormant.
Kibo, the highest cone of the stunning African mountain, lies 5,895 meters or 19,341 feet above sea level. You can reach this somewhat active cone via the Kili climbing route. You can bask in the stunning view of Ash Pit and Kilimanjaro glaciers from the famous Kibo Cone. In addition, another hidden gem on the southern slope of Kibo is called Barranco Wall.
Mawenzi is the second-highest cone of Kilimanjaro, and it stands glimmering at a height of 5,149 meters or 16,893 feet above sea level. Located on the mountain’s eastern side, Mawenzi Peak can be seen vividly from the Mawenzi Camp.
One interesting thing about Mawenzi is that you require a special permit granted by the Kilimanjaro National Park Authority. Also, while you need a permit to climb Kilimanjaro from any route for the Mawenzi peak, you must pay an extra special Mawenzi climbing fee. Also, climbing to this peak is very hard and requires a great technical route.
With its almost poetic name, Shira is the shortest of the three of Kilimanjaro’s volcanic cones, which stands at a height of 4,005 meters or 13,140 feet. This peak has also experienced a recent eruption which unfortunately destroyed its adjacent rims. However, now it has taken a flat plateau-like appearance. Also, the plateau is popularly known as Lemosho Glades.
You can reach this peak from the Northern and Lemosho routes. Also, this peak provides a beautiful view of the surrounding from the point.
The Heated Debate on Kilimanjaro Height And Elevation
Mount Kilimanjaro’s height has always been a hot topic that often meets many different answers when you google it. So, people often need clarification about the actual height of Kilimanjaro.
Before you climb any mountain or even prepare yourself to know the heights of mountains worldwide, you must know the real and actual elevation of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Do not worry. We are here to provide just that.
History of Mount Kilimanjaro Elevation Before 1952
Hans Meyer and Ludwig Purtscheller were the first European guys to reach the top of Kilimanjaro. In addition, a Chagga mountaineer called Yohane Lauwo was also the first to reach the top on 6 October 1889.
Before Tanzania was part of German East Africa, Kilimanjaro was known as Kilima-Ndscharo. Then, after Hans Meyer successfully climbed the dormant mountain, he renamed it as Kaiser-Wilhelm-Spitze or Kaiser Wilhelm Peak. However, when Tanzania became independent and became known as the Republic of Tanzania, the mountain was known to be Kilimanjaro and its peak was called Uhuru Peak. Uhuru means freedom in Swahili.
Talking about the history behind it, before 1952, when Tanzania was under German East Africa, the height of Kilimanjaro was considered 5,892 meters or 19330.71 feet, a stark difference from the current official height of Kilimanjaro which is 5,895 meters or 19,340 feet. This height was assigned to Mount Kilimanjaro by German cartographers under the dreaded colonialism.
History of Mount Kilimanjaro Elevation After 1952
But in 1952, amazing British cartographers, people who make maps or study maps, again decided to measure the elevation of Kilimanjaro and found it to be 5,895 meters or 19341 feet, the current recorded height of Kilimanjaro, as used by mountaineers and trekkers worldwide.
However, interestingly, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has decided to go against the height estimated by British cartographers and suggested that the height of Kilimanjaro is 5,893 meters or 19334 feet. Well, the UN likes to go their way, don’t they?
Elevation Gains While Climbing Kilimanjaro
Elevation gain is an interesting topic when we discuss climbing Kilimanjaro because various routes of climbing Kilimanjaro give you different elevation gains. However, the one constant while using any route to climb Kilimanjaro is that any trailhead you begin your ascend journey from will be designated by Kilimanjaro National Park Authority (KINAPA).
We have classified these elevation gains in correspondence with the days you will take to reach the summit. So, here we go!
The 7 Days Route
The seven-day climbing route of Kilimanjaro is also known as the Machame Route. The approximate distance you will scale during the climb from Machame Route is 64 kilometers or 39 miles. Your total elevation gain during this climb will be 4,891 meters or 16,044 feet, while your total elevation loss during this route will be 5,020 meters or 16,444 feet.
The seven-day route starts from Machame Trailhead, 5720 feet or 1740 meters above sea level, and ends at Uhuru Peak. The Machame Trailhead is known for its stunning coffee plantation sites.
The 8 Days Route
The eight-day route of climbing Kilimanjaro is pretty straightforward. Also, this route is known as Lemosho Route, where you will travel approximately 76 km or 47.2 miles. So, it is a little longer than the Machame or the Seven days route. And your elevation gain and loss will be 4,818 meters or 15,807 feet and 4,858 meters or 15,938 feet, respectively.
The 8-day route to climb Kilimanjaro starts from Londorossi Gate, 2360 meters or 7740 feet above sea level, and ends at Uhuru Peak, 5,895 meters or 19,341 feet above sea level.
The route is filled with scenic beauties where you can see many natural relics. From the Uhuru peak itself, you can view Furtwängler Glacier, Bismarck Towers, the ash pit, and many other sights of interest.
The 9 Days Route
The Lemosho route can also be nine days if you wish to prolong your time to ascend the mountain. During this route, your distance will be approximately 76 kilometers or 47.2 miles, while your elevation gain will be 4,818 meters or 15,807 feet. However, take your time with the extent of elevation gain because, in this journey, you will also experience an elevation loss of 4,858 meters or 15,938 feet.
Like the eight-day route, your climbing adventure will begin from Londorossi Gate and end at Uhuru Peak.
The difference between the eight-day and nine-day routes is that they are geared towards more experienced climbers who wish to rest their nights on the famous crater floor after reaching Kilimanjaro’s summit. Also, unlike the Machame or the seven-day route, the Lemosho route is technical and demands some experience in the trekking and climbing department.
Apart from the Lemosho and Machame routes, various other Kilimanjaro climbing routes have varying elevation gains. For example, the Rongai route begins from Nalemuru Gate, 1,950 meters or 6,400 feet above sea level, and is the only route to climb Kilimanjaro from the north side. The elevation gain you will experience during this climb is 3,945 meters or 12,940 feet.
Then, there is the Marangu Route, also known as the Coca-Cola route. Considered one of the easiest routes to climb Kilimanjaro, this route starts from Marangu Gate, 2700 meters or 8860 feet above sea level. The total elevation gain at the Coca-Cola route will be 3,195 meters or 10,480 feet.
Lastly, there is the Umbwe Route, the hardest route to ascend the summit of Kilimanjaro. This route is, however, the shortest route to reach the Western Breach and the Southern Glacier. Although the hardest, it is the shortest route to trek Kilimanjaro and begins at 1,600 meters or 5,250 feet above sea level. The elevation gain you will experience during this route will be 4,295 meters or 14,090 feet.
Finally, the elevation gain you will experience if you climb Kilimanjaro from the Northern Circuit is 3,795 meters or 12,541 feet.
The Tallest Mountain On The African Continent
The African continent is not only famous for its wildlife, the never-ending Savannah, and the ferocious lions but it is also known worldwide for its stunning Kilimanjaro. Kilimanjaro, meaning “Mountain of Whiteness” or “Shining Mountain,” is the tallest mountain in Africa.
But being the tallest is not the only greatest thing about Kilimanjaro. It is the tallest free-standing mountain in the gorgeous African continent. However, did you know that Kilimanjaro is the tallest free-standing mountain not only in Africa but all over the world? Yes, you heard that right.
So, what in the world is a free-standing mountain?
Well, if you know mountains, they all come in a bunch with other adjacent mountains surrounding them. Take the Himalayas of Asia as an example. That is a mountain range that consists of more than a hundred mountains. Mount Everest lies in the Himalayan range; therefore, Mount Everest is not a free-standing mountain.
However, on the other hand, Kilimanjaro doesn’t come from a family of mountains or belong to any mountain range. It stands tall and mighty, where the elevation of Mt. Kilimanjaro is 5,895 meters, or 19,341 feet above sea level.
Standing Above Lush Forests
Also, there is another interesting fact about Kilimanjaro. It doesn’t stop now, does it? Unlike other mountains in the world in chilly places packed with snow and loss of vegetation after reaching a certain altitude, Kilimanjaro stands atop a lush tropical forest. It is also the only part of the Seven Summits’ group surrounded by rainforests with ferns, trees, and various monkeys.
However, as you move along the elevation of Kilimanjaro, it does snow and gets chilly and cold. After all, it is a mountain and has to live up to its expectations. But, the level of the snow cap has been shrinking thanks to rising climate change.
Against Everest And Everest Base Camp
If we talk about any mountain in the world, it is an unwritten rule that we need to compare it with Everest. After all, this is the Trek Ebc, isn’t it? First things first, Everest lies in Asia, while Kilimanjaro is in Africa.
Also, Everest is taller than Kilimanjaro, with a height of 8,848.86 meters or 29031.69291 feet. However, Kilimanjaro’s height is 5,895 meters or 19,341 feet.
Now, let us talk about elevation gains focusing more on elevation gain differences between Kilimanjaro and Everest.
So, you start your Everest climbing journey from Lukla, 2,860 meters or 9,383 feet above sea level. Then, you will probably march toward Everest Base Camp (EBC), 5,364 meters or 17,598 feet above sea level. However, the elevation of Kala Patthar, 5,644 meters or 18,517 feet above sea level, is the altitude most people find difficult to ascend. But if you wish to get a nice view of Everest, you must reach Kala Patthar.
The elevation gain you will experience on your journey toward EBC is 2,784 meters or 9,134 feet.
The Prominence of Kilimanjaro
Prominence is a new word that is often confused with elevation. If we have to use simpler terms to know the meaning of prominence, then we can say that it is the height of a mountain compared to its surrounding land. So, how is it different from elevation, then?
Well, if we talk about elevation, it is the height of a place, in this case, a mountain, compared to the sea level. So, the prominence of Mount Kilimanjaro is 4,900 meters or 16,100 feet, while its elevation is 5,895 meters or 19,341 feet.
You see, the base of Kilimanjaro is 1,000 meters or 3280.84 feet above sea level, and Kilimanjaro is 4,900 meters or 16,076.12 tall when compared to its base, which is in the shape of a plateau.
The striking difference between Kilimanjaro’s prominence and elevation is its distance from the Indian Ocean. The distance from the Indian Ocean to Kilimanjaro is 5,695 km or 3538.709 miles.
So, this is all about Kilimanjaro’s height. A stunning mountain and an ancient volcano, the Kilimanjaro isn’t only a destination for potential climbers or trekkers but an opportunity to learn about Africa’s rich natural biodiversity, culture, and landscape.