Why do almost 40,000 people attempt to climb the world's highest free standing mountain Kilimanjaro each year?
Here are ten good reasons to climb Kilimanjaro:
1. Technically Kilimanjaro is the easiest mountain of The Seven Summits to climb. The Seven Summits are the highest peak on each of the seven continents. You do not need previous experience of mountain climbing or any special technical skills. The youngest person to have reached the summit was six years old, and the oldest was aged 84 years and 71 days. This does not mean that it is safe to climb Kilimanjaro. On average 10 people lose their lives every year trying to reach the top, primarily due to altitude sickness. In September 2010, the 22 year old Spaniard Kilian Jornet set the record for the fastest ascent. He spent 5 hours, 23 minutes and 50 seconds to reach the summit.
2. Kilimanjaro is geographically remote, yet easy to reach. The mountain is located in Tanzania, just South of the Equator. You can fly non-stop from Europe to Kilimanjaro Airport, near the town of Moshi. There is only one hour time difference between mainland Europe and Tanzania.
3. Kilimanjaro is a designated national park and all tour operators that arrange trips to the mountain are subject to strict rules and regulations to keep the nature clean and protect the sensitive flora and fauna. It is a requirement that all waste should be taken down from the mountain. There are seven different routes to the top, but despite the high number of people on the mountain every year, the National Park has managed to preserve the beautiful wild nature.
4. Kilimanjaro is one of the greatest natural wonders of the world. A snow-capped mountain, close to the Equator, with lush green forests, surrounded by dry savannah. An ascent of Kilimanjaro takes you through all climate zones from tropical to alpine climate in a week, showcasing dramatic changes in vegetation from day to day. Kilimanjaro is also an "Island in the Sky".
The remoteness of the mountain has fostered a breeding ground for strange and unique life forms that are found only a few other places on the planet, such as the unique elephant flower and the bizarre Kilimanjaro tree.
5. Kilimanjaro is a study in climate change. In his book "An Inconvenient Truth" Al Gore showed pictures of the rapidly shrinking glacier on the peak of Kilimanjaro. Experts have calculated the glacier to be about 11,700 years old, but unfortunately it is expected to melt away over the next 20-30 years. A team of researchers is constantly monitoring the ice melt, to better understand how climate changes are affecting our planet.
6. The high number of tourists that are trying their luck on Kilimanjaro every year, contribute to a thriving local economy. On an annual basis the tourists generate about 20 million US$ for the local community. Tourism provides many local jobs and the money ends up in the pockets of guides, porters, kitchen helpers, hotel staff, local food producers, merchants, equipment shops, hotels and not least the local tour operators who sell trekking and safari tours to the tourists.
7. Kilimanjaro has also inspired an entire continent into a fight for freedom. Kilimanjaro belongs to Tanzania, the first nation in Africa that achieved independence from a colonial imperialist. During the colonial period, the country was called Tanganyika and during the independence struggle in 1959, the President to be Julius Nyerere said: "We will light a candle on top of Kilimanjaro which will shine beyond our borders and give hope where there is despair, love where there is hate, and dignity where before there was only humiliation. " The highest point on Kilimanjaro is called Uhuru Peak. "Uhuru" is Swahili and means "freedom".
8. Many climb Kilimanjaro to challenge themselves or to live out a lifelong dream to climb Africa's highest mountain at nearly 6,000 meters. Other people ascends the mountain to mark an important life changing experience, eg. A passed examination, a new job, that they have retired or as a common achievement on their honeymoon.
9. Many climb Kilimanjaro to draw attention to a worthy cause or to raise money for charity. Amongst others, Bernard Goosen ascended Kilimanjaro in a wheelchair in 2003 and 2007, to show the world that disability need not be a limitation to reach the summit of Africa's highest mountain.
10. Kilimanjaro is a place where many people find inspiration for a new beginning and get more zest for life. When you stand on top and look out over Africa you see the world in a new and different way. What before seemed impossible in your life suddenly becomes manageable and achievable.
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