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Kibo Peak – The Crown Volcanic Cone of Kilimanjaro

Mount Kilimanjaro is a popular mountain located in Tanzania, boasting the title of the highest free-standing mountain in the world and the highest on the African continent. It comprises 5 unique ecological zones, all within one mountain, from the base to the summit. These zones include the bushland and farmland zone, montane forest zone, moorland and heath zone, alpine desert, and the Arctic zone.

Mount Kilimanjaro is made up of three main volcanic cones: Kibo, Mawenzi, and Shira. While Mawenzi and Shira are extinct, Kibo could potentially erupt again in the future, with ongoing gas emissions at the crater and occurrences of minor landslides and collapses.

Kibo Volcanic Cone

Kibo Peak is the highest of the three main volcanic cones atop Mount Kilimanjaro, making it the ultimate goal for mountain climbers summiting Mount Kilimanjaro. Kibo’s highest point, Uhuru Peak, stands at an elevation of 5,895 meters. Mawenzi’s highest point is Hans Meyer at 5,149 meters, and Shira’s highest point is Johnsell at 3,962 meters.

Uhuru Peak, at an elevation of 5,895 meters above sea level, is the highest point in Africa. Kibo is the youngest of the three volcanic cones. Both Kibo and Mawenzi began erupting about 1 million years ago, with the youngest dated rocks at Mawenzi dating back 448,000 years, and the last major eruption at Kibo occurred 150,000 to 200,000 years ago.

Kibo features five main lava formations, including phonolite lava flows, Porphyritic tephripholonite, Aphyric phonolite lavas, Tephriphonolite lava, and phonotephrites. The summit of Kibo remains ice-capped throughout the year, although it was entirely covered by an ice cap in the 1980s. This ice cap has since split into individual glaciers, which could disappear by 2060 due to climate change.

Kibo and the second-highest peak, Mawenzi, are connected by an 11-kilometer saddle at about 4,500 meters. Kibo exhibits a typical volcanic cone shape with escarpments. Approximately 100,000 years ago, a portion of Kibo’s crater collapsed, leading to the formation of the Great Barranco and Western Breach.

Within Kibo’s crater, there is an inner cone, and within the inner cone lies Reusch Crater, named after Richard Reusch, a Tanzanian who climbed the mountain 25 times out of 65 attempts in his lifetime. The ash pit at Reusch’s crater is 350 meters deep. There are over 250 parasitic cones on the northwest and southeast flanks of Kibo.

Kibo can be reached by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro using one of the seven well-established routes: the Shira route, Lemosho route, Rongai route, Machame route, Marangu route, Umbwe route, and Kilema route.

Hikers intending to hike Mount Kilimanjaro should pack plenty of drinking water, waterproof hiking boots, energy-giving snacks, a hat, sunglasses, insect repellents, sunscreen, garden gloves, headlamps, and other necessary items.

The best time for hiking Kibo is during the dry seasons of June to August and December to February when the hiking trails are not muddy and slippery. The weather is favorable for photography, providing spectacular views during the dry season.


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