Mount Kilimanjaro Height

Located in Tanzania (East Africa), Mount Kilimanjaro is the African continent’s tallest / highest mountain and dormant volcano with a height of 5895m or 19,341ft above mean sea level (AMSL) considered the ‘rooftop of Africa’.

Considered as the ‘rooftop of Africa’ and the world’s largest free standing mountain Kilimanjaro is extremely achievable / walkable for the beginner trekker as no technical equipment or experience required to reach its peak. Kilimanjaro attracts tens of thousands of trekkers each year who travel through forest, heather, moorland, alpine desert and arctic conditions (almost as if you are walking from the equator to the arctic) to reach the highest point on the central volcanic cone (Kibo); Uhuru peak.

Height of the three volcanic cones of the Mount Kilimanjaro Massif

Kilimanjaro is composed of three major volcanic cones towering out of the massif (compact group of mountains).

Kibo Kilimanjaro

Shira (extinct) – The lowest of the three at 4005m or 13,140ft around the western Kilimanjaro National Park area. On western approaching routes (e.g. Lemosho, Shira) which are 7 days or more you may have the possibility of climbing to Cathedral Point on the Shira Peak at 3872M or 12,703ft. The Shira peak is suspected to originally have been over 5000m (or 16,400ft) before volcanic activity caused it to form into a caldera (collapsed volcano) and leaving behind one of the highest plateaus in the world. Today Shira is a cathedral like landscape suspected to be formed by further fractures in the ground after volcanic activity and further eruptions from the neighboring Kibo peak causing extensive damage to the Shira caldera.

Mawenzi (extinct) – The second highest of the three at 5149m or 16,893ft and prominent jagged pinnacles and ridges on the Eastern park of Kilimanjaro National Park. On Eastern approaching routes (e.g. Rongai, Marangu) you will not miss the jagged peaks towering out of the mountain range. On Rongai treks which are 6 or more days you may even spend a night at the base of this extinct volcanic cone at the Mawenzi Tarn Lake campsite. Although many get close to Mawenzi, generally this peak is not summited due to the technical ascent and difficult approach to reach the peak. If you do ever dare to climb this un-traversed peak you will need special permission from the National Park Authority and proof of previous technical ascents or advanced mountaineering. The Mawenzi and Kibo peaks are separated by a saddle shaped plateau through an alpine desert zone that many will cross before reaching their base camp on these eastern approaching routes.

Kibo (dormant) – The tallest, largest and most famous of the three cones; Kibo, towers a whopping 5895m or 19341ft above mean sea level and is the primary volcanic cone in the center of Kilimanjaro National Park between the Shira and Mawenzi peaks. One doesn’t need to enter the Park to see this huge peak as you can (on a clear day) see Kibo towering in the distance from Arusha, Moshi and surrounding areas. Kibo is the most popular peak to ascend and the goal for anyone aiming for the highest point in Africa. All routes will eventually lead to the top of Kibo (Gilman’s point, Stella point or Uhuru peak) with three primary approaches taking you to the end goal; via Barafu camp, Kibo Huts or the Western breach which is a section of the crater rim that is estimated to have collapsed around 100,000 years ago. Those who have previously camped at extreme altitudes may also venture into the Kibo crater where the highest camp on Kilimanjaro (Crater Camp at 5730m or 18,800ft) for a truly exciting night at a this high altitude and venture deeper into the approx 2.5km or 1.5mi caldera and to the Reush Crater and Ash pit.

Is 5895m or 19,341ft the real height of Kilimanjaro?

The maximum height (Above Mean Sea Level) of the largest point on Mount Kilimanjaro (Uhuru Peak) generally is defined as 5895m or 19,341ft based on the British Ordnance Survey performed in 1952.

Kilimanjaro Uhuru Peak 5895m

5895m or 19,341ft is the height we publish throughout our website / itineraries and also the common height you see on the internet as well as the sign post found on the peak itself although subsequent and earlier measurements and techniques have produced slightly different results.

Some other estimates are:

1889 - 6010m or 19718ft – Hans Meyer, 1891 – The first recorded person to ascend to the peak of Kilimanjaro estimated the height to be slightly above today’s estimate.

1921 – 5930m or 19455ft – Klute F,1921 – As part of a photogrammetric survey performed between 1904- 1906.

1952 – 5895m or 19,341ft – British Ordnance Survey – The industry standard and most used height when referring to the peak of Kilimanjaro

1998 - 5892m or 19,330ft – Saburi et al, 2000 – An accurate GPS survey was conducted at Uhuru Peak

2008 – 5891m or 19,327ft – KILI2008, 2009 – A further GPS survey to improve the accuracy of the height and suggested to be the most accurate estimate.

Of course technology has improved since the first ascent by Hans Meyer in 1889 (or the mountain may be shrinking!) and we believe 5891 or 19,327 to be the most accurate estimate of Mount Kilimanjaro’s height.

Fourth highest of the 'Seven Summits'

Mount Kilimanjaro is the fourth highest of the seven summits (seven highest mountains on each of the traditional continents). Many desire to climb all and Kili is considered one of the best to start with as reaching it’s peak requires no technical equipment or experience. It can almost be called ‘easy’ compared to some of the more technical approaches elsewhere in the world however it should always be noted that there is no easy way to climb a mountain.

Mt Everest - Seven Summits

The Seven Summits (highest elevation to lowest elevation) based on the ‘Messner’ version:

  1. Mount Everest (Asia, Himalayas Mountain range) - 8849m or 20,032ft
  2. Aconcagua (South America, Andes Mountain range) – 6961m or 22,838ft
  3. Denali (North America, Alaska Mountain range) – 6194m or 20,322ft
  4. Kilimanjaro (Africa, no mountain range) – 5895m or 19,341ft
  5. Mount Elbrus (Europe, Caucasus Mountain range) – 5642m or 18,510ft
  6. Mount Vinson (Antarctica, Sentinel Mountain range) – 4892m or 16,050ft
  7. Puncak Jaya (Australasia, Sudirman Mountain range) – 4810m or 15,781ft

Height of the vegetation zones of Kilimanjaro

Various vegetation zones cover Africa’s highest mountain Kilimanjaro due to the huge variance in altitude, weather and precipitation. We usually say a trek on Kilimanjaro (whichever direction you approach it from) is like walking from the Equator to Arctic in just a few days.

Vegetation Kilimanjaro Scenecios

The various vegetation zones fall into the following primary categories:

Zone 1- Lower slopes

Around most of the mountain's lower slopes you will see evidence of human use, particularly grazing of livestock or cultivation. This has totally changed the natural vegetation patterns and what used to be scrub, bush and lowland forest is now grassland or cropland. On the northern and eastern sides which are too dry for cultivation, one can still see some of the former lowland vegetation. The lower slopes of Kilimanjaro receive water that fell as rain in the forest zone, and then percolated through underground channels. It is this water and the fertile volcanic soil that supports the densely populated settlements.

  • Coverage: 20%
  • Altitude: 800m to 1800m (2600ft to 6000ft)
  • Precipatation: 500mm or 20" per year on the plains. 1800mm or 70" per year at the forest boundary.
  • Temperature: +15oC to +35oC
  • Flora: Camphor wood, fig, podocarpus, juniper trees, olive trees, ferns, old mans beard, llex mitis, Impatiens kilimanjari, viola eminii and Impatiens pseudoviola.
  • Fauna: Blue monkeys, colobus monkey, olive baboons, civets, leopards, mongoose, servals, aardvark, honey badger, porcupines, bushbabies, genet and tree hyrax
  • Avifauna: Ross's Turacao, hornbills, mouse birds, trogon, robin chat, and bulbul.

Zone 2 - Rain forest

This is the richest zone on the mountain. A wide band of extremely beautiful montane forest encircles the whole of Kilimanjaro and it is worth a visit even if you are not climbing to the peaks. 96% of the water on Kilimanjaro originates in this forest zone. Much of the rain that falls on the forest is absorbed by the thick carpet of leaves and then percolates through the soil and the porous lava rock, to emerge as springs lower down the mountain.

Because of the dampness of the forest and the altitude, there is frequently a wide band of clouds around this zone, especially between 2500-3000 m. Protected from the sun by clouds, the moisture cannot easily evaporate so there is high humidity, dampness and fog drip. Nights can be cold when it is clear and day time temperatures ranging around 15-20oC.

  • Coverage: 21%
  • Altitude: 1000m to 2800m (6000ft to 9200ft)
  • Precipatation: 1000mm or 40" per year on the western / northern sides. 2000mm or 79" per year on the southern and eastern slopes.
  • Temperature: +15oC to +30oC
  • Flora: Camphor wood, fig, podocarpus, juniper trees, olive trees, ferns, old mans beard, llex mitis, Impatiens kilimanjari, viola eminii and Impatiens pseudoviola.
  • Fauna: Blue monkeys, colobus monkey, olive baboons, civets, leopards, mongoose, servals, aardvark, honey badger, porcupines, bushbabies, genet and tree hyrax
  • Avifauna: Ross's Turacao, hornbills, mouse birds, trogon, robin chat, and bulbul.

Zone 3 - Low alpine

The Heath and moorland are overlapping zones. Temperatures can drop to below 0oC. Most precipitation here is from the fog and mist at this altitude. This low alpine zone can be divided into two communities: heath and moorland. The climate is usually cool and clear except for mist and fog at the forest boundary. Above 3000 m frost becomes regular and sunshine can be intense (causing sunburn for the unprotected); surface temperatures during the daytime.

  • Coverage: 19%
  • Altitude: 2800 to 4000m (9200ft to 13200ft)
  • Precipatation: 530mm or 21" per year on the upper limit of this zone and 1300mm or 51" per year on the edges of the forest
  • Temperature: +8oC to +20oC
  • Flora: Erica excelsa, erica arborea, protea kilimandscharica, kniphofia thomsonii (red-hot poker), helichrysum species, mariscus kerstenii, philippia trimera and senecio kilimanjari.
  • Fauna: Four-stripped grass mouse, harsh-furred, climbing mouse and the mole rat.
  • Avifauna: White-necked raven, alpine chat, streaky seed-eater, alpine swift and malachite sun-bird.

Zone 4 - Alpine desert

This is the alpine zone where it is 'summer every day, winter every night'. There is intense radiation, high evaporation and huge daily fluctuations in temperature. Nights are bellow 0oC and in the daytime it can be as high as 40oC in direct sun. Water is scarce and there is little soil to retain any moisture.

  • Coverage: 20%
  • Altitude: 4000m to 5000m (13200ft to 16400ft)
  • Precipatation: Less than 200mm or 8" per year.
  • Temperature: 0oC to +40oC
  • Flora: Asteraceae
  • Fauna: Lions (Shira Plateau or Rongai route), elephants, grey and red duikers, elands, bushbucks. Leopards, wild dogs, giraffes and buffaloes take day trips to this altitude.
  • Avifauna: Mountain augur buzzards, crowned eagle and lammergeyer

Zone 5 - Ice cap / Arctic zone

This area is characterised by arctic conditions - freezing cold at night and burning sun during the day. Oxygen is about half that at sea level and there is little atmosphere to protect you from the sun's radiation. There is virtually no liquid surface water. Rain enters the porous rock immediately, but the rest of the moisture is locked up in snow and ice.

  • Coverage: 20%
  • Altitude: 5000m to 5895m (16000ft to 19431ft)
  • Precipatation: Less than 100mm or 4" per year.
  • Temperature: -21oC to 0oC
  • Flora: Helichrysum newii
  • Fauna: Spiders and other small insects
  • Avifauna: None

Height of Kilimanjaro National Park gates and trail heads

All of our full treks eventually lead to the summit, all eventually taking you to 5895m or 19,341ft. There are multiple routes starting or ending from the below gates or altitudes with the approximate gain to the peak indicated in brackets.

Kilimanjaro Park Marangu Gate

  1. Marangu gate – 2720m or 8294ft (+3175m or 11047ft to Uhuru peak)
  2. Machame gate – 1790m or 5873ft (+4105m or 13468ft to Uhuru peak)
  3. Lemosho (and Northern circuit) gate – 2100m or 6890ft (+3795m or 12451ft to Uhuru peak)
  4. Morrum barrier (via Londrossi gate) – 3405m or 11,171ft (+2490m or 8170ft to Uhuru peak)
  5. Rongai (Nalemoru) gate – 2020m or 6627ft (+3875m or 12714 ft to Uhuru peak)
  6. Umbwe gate – 1640m or 5380ft (+4255m or 13961ft to Uhuru peak)
  7. Mweka gate (descent only) – 1630m or 5350ft (Not currently possible to ascend to Uhuru peak via this route)
  8. Kidia gate (proposed new route) – Unknown (Not currently possible to ascend to Uhuru peak via this route)

Planning a trek

Need some help planning a Kilimanjaro trek?

Please visit our dedicated section below to find out more about private or group treks, when to climb, getting to Kilimanjaro / Tanzania, visas, documents, choosing a route, training for your climb, health and vaccines, Kilimanjaro packing list, hiking boots, rental equipment, tipping, insurance, money:

What to expect

Want to find out more about what to expect from a Kilimanjaro trek with Shah Tours?

Please visit our dedicated section below to find out more about your mountain crew, safety on the mountain, AMS and mountain sickness, food, drink, equipment, comfort upgrades, toilets and bathrooms, emergency oxygen, communicating on the trek, weather, park rules and luggage:

Why us

Why choose Shah Tours for your Kilimanjaro trek?

As one of Kilimanjaro's oldest and longest serving Kilimanjaro operators, we are one of the best providing: 35+ years experience, family owned and operated, high quality equipment and fleet, responsible and externally monitored, superior & experienced guides, safe, secure and reliable with over 2000+ happy clients each year:

FAQs and blog

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