Talk about mountains in Africa and I can almost guarantee that the first mountain that will come to mind is Mount Kilimanjaro. Whilst this is the largest mountain in Africa, it certainly isn’t the only mountain worth knowing. With the jagged peaks in the Ruwenzori range that rise up to form the Congo/Uganda border, to dormant volcanoes that carry the scars of an explosive history; read on to discover Africa’s top 10 highest mountains. School’s in session.
1) Mount Kilimanjaro
Mount Kilimanjaro stands at a height of 5,895m whilst watching over the Kilimanjaro National Park, with no other satellite summits surrounding it. Kilimanjaro is easily (699m to be exact) the highest mountain in Africa and also takes the prize as the world’s largest free-standing mountain with its three dome-like summits named ‘Kibo’, ‘Mawenzi’ and ‘Shira’ all of which have been created from the volcanic activity on this mountain thousands of years ago.
It’s a sleeping giant, with lava activity bubbling away just 400m beneath the characteristic black rock that has been spat out from the volcano as molten hot lava, before solidifying to only add to this mountain’s enormous scale. Considered a dormant volcano as the last volcanic activity on this mountain was over 200 years ago when lava poured out of the highest summit, Kibo.
“The fastest recorded ascent up Kilimanjaro… an amazing 6 hours 42 minutes and 24 seconds”
The fastest recorded ascent up Kilimanjaro was made by Swiss runner and mountain guide Karl Egloff, who pipped legendary mountain runner Killian Jornet’s (record holder of the fastest ascent of Mount Everest) time of 7 hours and 14 minutes, to make the summit in an amazing 6 hours 42 minutes and 24 seconds. These kind of times are made even more extraordinary when you think that it takes the regular climber around 5 to 9 days to make the ascent, as they tackle the 3,535m of ascent required to reach the summit.
Being the tallest in Africa also makes Kilimanjaro one of the esteemed ‘Seven Summits’ – the highest mountains on each of the world’s seven continents. Climbing all of them is regarded as one of the most notable challenges in mountaineering.
2) Mount Kenya
The highest mountain in Kenya and the second highest mountain in Africa, Mount Kenya is a cluster of volcanos that lay just 20 kilometres north of the equator, meaning that the sun rises and sets at pretty much the same time all year round – giving a full 12 hour day, 365 days of the year.
Sir Halford Mackinder was the first to reach the summit of Mt. Kenya, along with two of his companions on 13th September 1899. After crossing a large ice sheet that they later named the Lewis glacier, this turned out to be the largest glacier on the mountain. Mount Kenya is one of the few areas that can offer snow near to the equator, but this will soon be changing. The glaciers situated on the northern sides of the mountain are receding at an alarming rate, with scientists predicting that there won’t be any glaciers left on Mount Kenya from 2050 onwards. Worryingly, millions of people are reliant on these glaciers for their source of freshwater which will soon dry out.