History of Kilimanjaro

Mount Kilimanjaro History

Formation of Mount Kilimanjaro

It was around one million years ago when the plains were unstable, cracking from the powerful force of movements deep within the earth. The Kilimanjaro depression was created as a result of this violent activity. The inner force formed the volcanoes Ol Molog, Kibongoto and Kilema along a 100 km (60 miles) long ridge that reached 3000 m (9.843 feet) in height.

750.000 years ago

The formation of Mount Kilimanjaro started around 750.000 years ago, when it had three large volcanoes: Shira, Kibo and Mawenzi. Over many thousand years Shira eventually collapsed and started to extinct. Mawenzi was much longer an active volcano, but also his end was similar, started to extinct and erode. The last one and the most active was Kibo. It continued with massive eruptions around 360.000 years ago. It was releasing black lava and covering Shira’s caldera with it. That’s how we got the area called Saddle at the base of Mawenzi.

First humans near Kilimanjaro

It is certain that humans lived near the mountain for centuries. They never discovered extremely important archeological site, but they did find some rings, bowls made from obsidian, dark volcanic glass on the western slopes of the mountain. Mountain is considered to be about 750 000 years old, yet it has only really captured the attention of modern man in the last 150 years.

First published note

The first published note on the existence of Kilimanjaro was written by Greek Ptolemy over 18 centuries ago. The next known reference ‘to the great mountain west of Zanzibar’ was written by a Chinese trader 6 to 7 centuries ago. Johann Rebmann, a Christian missionary to the area in 1849, is credited with bringing Kilimanjaro to the attention of Europe – not surprisingly he was not immediately believed when he published his account of a snow capped mountain near the equator.

Attempts to conquer

Shortly thereafter, a number of unsuccessful attempts were made by various explorers to conquer, map and explore Kilimanjaro. It was only in 1889 that Dr Hans Meyer and Ludwig Purtscheller finally reached Kilimanjaro’s highest peak with the assistance of a huge team of guides, porters and advisors. It took them almost 6 weeks to reach the summit. Interestingly enough, it has been reported that in 1989 (100 years later) one of Dr Meyer’s guides was still alive and well at the age of 118 years.






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