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Kilimanjaro, with its three volcanic cones, Kibo, Mawenzi, and Shira, is a dormant volcano in Kilimanjaro National Park, Tanzania and the highest mountain in Africa at 5,895 metres or 19,341 feet above sea level (the Uhuru Peak/Kibo Peak).
Kilimanjaro is composed of three distinct volcanic cones: Kibo 5,895 m (19,341 ft); Mawenzi 5,149 m (16,893 ft); and Shira 3,962 m (13,000 ft). Uhuru Peak is the highest summit on Kibo's crater rim.
Kilimanjaro is a giant stratovolcano. Two of its three peaks, Mawenzi and Shira, are extinct while Kibo (the highest peak) is dormant and could erupt again. The last major eruption has been dated to 360,000 years ago, while the most recent activity was recorded just 200 years ago.
Although it is dormant, Kibo has fumaroles that emit gas in the crater. Several collapses and landslides have occurred on Kibo in the past, one creating the area known as the Western Breach.
It is unknown where the name Kilimanjaro originates, but a number of theories exist. European explorers had adopted the name by 1860 and reported that it was its Swahili name, with Kilimanjaro breaking into Kilima (Swahili for "hill, little mountain") and Njaro, whose supposed origin varies according to the theories—according to some it is an ancient Swahili word for white or for shining, or for the non-Swahili origin, a word from the Kichagga language, the word jaro meaning "caravan". The problem with all these is that they cannot explain why the diminutive kilima is used instead of the proper word for mountain, mlima. The name might be a local joke, referring to the "little hill of the Njaro" being the biggest mountain on the African continent, since this is a nearby town, and guides recount that it is the Hill of the Njaro people. A different approach is to assume that it comes from the Kichagga kilmanare or kileajao meaning "which defeats the bird/leopard/caravan". However this theory cannot explain the fact that Kilimanjaro was never used in Kichagga before in Europe in the mid-19th century.
An alternative theory is as follows: On November 10, 1848, the German missionary Rebmann wrote in his diary, "This morning we discerned the Mountains of Jagga more distinctly than ever." Jagga was the pronunciation of Chagga by Europeans. Kilimanjaro may also be the European pronunciation of the Chagga phrase that "Kile-lema-irho", meaning "we failed to climb it" in Kiuru, Kioldimoshi, Kimarangu, Kivunjo, Kikibosho, Kimachame and Kirombo, Kichagga in general. If so, name itself, Kile-lema-irho/Kilimanjaro, would have been the Chagga way of explaining to kyasaka (newcomers) when they asked about the shining mountain top of Kibo and Mawenzi Peak. Kibo peak is more visible from the Kibosho Area, and Mawenzi from Maranu.[citation needed]
The Ki- prefix in Swahili has several underlying meanings. The old Ka- diminutive noun prefix (found now only as Kadogo—a small degree), merged with the Ki class. One of its meanings was to also describe something unique of its kind: Kilima, a single peak, as opposed to Mlima, which would better describe a mountain range or undulating country. Several other mountains also bear this prefix, such as Kilima Mbogo (Buffalo Mountain), just north of Nairobi in Kenya. People with disabilities are also placed in this class, not so much as a diminutive idea; but a unique condition they possess: a blind or a deaf person, Kipofu and Kiziwi. This prefix "Ki-" in no way implies a derogatory sense. The name Kibo in Kichagga means "spotted" and refers to rocks seen on snowfields.
In the 1880s, the mountain, at that time spelled Kilima-Ndscharo in German following the Swahili name components, became a part of German East Africa after Karl Peters had persuaded local chiefs to sign treaties (a common story that Queen Victoria gave the mountain to her grandson Kaiser Wilhelm II is not true). When in 1889 Hans Meyer reached the highest summit on the crater ridge of Kibo, he named it "Kaiser-Wilhelm-Spitze" ("Kaiser Wilhelm peak"). That name was used until 1918, when after World War I the German colonies were handed over to the British empire. When Tanganyika gained its independence in 1961, this summit was named "Uhuru peak", meaning "Freedom peak" in Swahili.
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