She plays coyly with the eager visitor, hiding her majesty and beauty behind a cloud cover for most of the day. She rewards only those who are prepared to get out of bed early enough to see her peeking out from her veil of clouds, or if you are lucky, in the late afternoon just before sunset. Her name is Mount Kilimandjaro also known as mountain of caravans, roof of Africa, white or snow mountain and shining mountain. She lives three degrees south of the equator on the plains of East Africa where she towers like a lone sentinel over the town of Moshi.
Where is she?
There she is !
The sight of a single freestanding snow capped mountain was first reported by the missionary John Rebmann in the year 1848. It stands alone in the 756-square-kilometer Kilimanjaro National Park and is the highest mountain in Africa, rising 5,895 m from base to summit. Mount Kilimandjaro is a dormant volcano and forms part of the East African Rift Valley. Kilimandjaro has three distinct volvanic cones of which Kibo is the highest and most wellknown.
There are many legends surrounding this mysterious mountain. It is said that Queen Victoria that gave the mountain to Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany as a birthday present, causing the border between Tanzania and Kenya to be redrawn to include Kilimandjaro in Tanzanian terrritory. In fact the border was decided upon by negotiations between the two empires resulting in Mombasa being in the British empire and Kilimandjaro in the German.
The chaga people who live in the region saw this glorious mountain to a be the seat of God and therefore a place not to be approached.They named it the white mountain or shining mountain.The name mountain of caravans is derived from the early Arab traders who use the mountain as a beacon on their travels through the vast interior of the African continent.
It has been my wish to see Kilimandjaro or Kili as she is affectionately known by Tanzanian residents for as long as I can remember. Childhood memories include my dad telling us about the amazing mountain with its snowcapped peaks standing in the middle of the vast African plains and dreaming about one day seeing her for myself.
She was the reason for our visit to the small town of Moshi which nestles at the foot of Mount Kilimandjaro.Moshi grew out of a military camp established by Germany in 1893. The name Moshi means smoke in Kiswahili, referring to the fact that the town is at the base of a volcano or to the clouds that gather around Kilimandjaro.
We arrived at the Kilimandjaro Lodge situated just outside Moshi on a coffee plantation after a slow roadtrip of nine hours due to the many little villages, other traffic and road works we encountered along the way. The lodge is beautiful and possibly the best spot from which to view the veiled lady if and when she reveals herself. On arrival she was hiding behind her veil of clouds and I could almost not believe that the majestic mountain is just there.
However when she did make her appearance in the last light of the setting sun, it was a breathtaking and unforgettable sight.
We had supper outside with Kili providing the perfect back ground.
A beautiful sunrise over the surrounding foothills of Kilimandjaro.
We returned to Dar es Salaam refreshed and rested after a weekend spent walking in the beautiful countryside and visiting the nearby town of Arusha.