The origin of the name “Kilimanjaro” is not exactly known, but a number of theories exist. European explorers had adopted the name by 1860 and reported that “Kilimanjaro” was the mountain’s Kiswahili name.
In the 1880s, the mountain became a part of German East Africa and was called “Kilima-Ndscharo” in German following the Kiswahili name components.
In 1887, during his first attempt to climb Kilimanjaro, the German geology professor Hans Meyer reached the base of Kibo, but was forced to turn back, not having the equipment necessary to handle the deep snow and ice on Kibo.
The following year, Meyer planned another attempt with cartographer Oscar Baumann, but the mission was aborted due to consequences of the Abushiri Revolt. In 1989, the organizing committee of the 100-year celebration of the first ascent decided to award posthumous certificates to the African porter-guides who had accompanied Meyer and Purtscheller.
One person in pictures or documents of the 1889 expedition was thought to match a living inhabitant of Marangu, Yohani Kinyala Lauwo.
Lauwo did not know his own age nor did he remember Meyer or Purtscheller, but he remembered joining a Kilimanjaro expedition involving a Dutch doctor who lived near the mountain and that he did not get to wear shoes during the 8-day affair. Lauwo claimed that he had climbed the mountain 3 times before World War I.
Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa and fourth highest of the Seven Summits, is considered the tallest freestanding mountain in the world, rising 15,100 feet (4,600 meters) from base to summit. Kilimanjaro is also the most prominent mountain in Africa.
Kilimanjaro has been crowned by glaciers for over 10,000 years, but global warming means they’re disappearing little by little. Scientists think they could be gone as soon as 2060. Kilimanjaro is actually made up of three dormant volcanos: Kibo, Mawenzi, and Shira. Uhuru is located on Kibo.
Kilimanjaro is in fact a young mountain; roughly one million years ago there was probably a large river where it now stands. The formation of the Great Rift Valley two or three million years ago left deep fractures in the earths crust, and eventually many volcanoes broke through in the Kilimanjaro region.
The term Kilima-Njaro has generally been understood to mean the Mountain (Kilima) of Greatness (Njaro). This is probably as good a derivation as any other, though not improbably it may mean the “White” mountain, as I believe the term “Njaro” has in former times been used to denote whiteness, and though this application of the word is now obsolete on the coast, it is still heard among some of the interior tribes.
Kilimanjaro has a large variety of forest types over an altitudinal range of 3,000 m (9,843 ft) containing over 1,200 vascular plant species. Montane Ocotea forests occur on the wet southern slope. Cassipourea and Juniperus forests grow on the dry northern slope.
Subalpine Erica forests at 4,100 m (13,451 ft) represent the highest elevation cloud forests in Africa. In contrast to this enormous biodiversity, the degree of endemism is low.
However, forest relicts in the deepest valleys of the cultivated lower areas suggest that a rich forest flora inhabited Mt Kilimanjaro in the past, with restricted-range species otherwise only known from the Eastern Arc Mountains.