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Kilimanjaro, the ascent of
Africa's tallest mountain:
one week above the clouds

18/06/2022
Laurent Lefèvre

An ascent made in September 2018 by the Machame route: an itinerary achievable in seven days by a trail that starts from the Machame Gate (southwest of the volcano) and rises between mounts Shira (the first peak formed by volcanic activity) and Kibo, before accessing the summit (Uhuru Peak culminating at 19,340 feet via the Stella Point located at 18,885 feet). This slide show highlights the different landscapes crossed to the summit: low plains, mountain forest, high altitude moorland, alpine desert and threatened ice cap.

Located in Tanzania, on the border with Kenya, in the eastern branch of the Rift Valley of East Africa, Kilimanjaro is the largest isolated volcanic massif in the world. Lying on the equator and visible for miles, it dominates the nearby plains overlooking the savannah.

With an endangered ice cap, its snow-capped peak – « as wide as all the world, great, high, and unbelievably white in the sun » (Ernest Hemingway, The Snows of Kilimanjaro) – is at the center of Kilimanjaro National Park. Covering an area of approximately 75,575 hectares, this protected area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The slopes of Kilimanjaro have a wide variety of vegetation zones that one passes through before the ascent during the days of approach to the summit, which allows one to acclimatize to the altitude gradually: low plains, mountain forest, high altitude moorland, alpine desert and ice cap at the summit.

Kilimanjaro has a large variety of forest types over an altitudinal range of 3000 m containing over 1200 vascular plant species. Although there are relatively few endemic species – with the notable exception of the the ragwort or plant of the Senecio genus – the biodiversity is exceptional.

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