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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Top 10 Highest Mountains In Africa


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Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest peak, with three volcanic cones: Shira, Kibo, and Mawenzi. It is a dormant volcano in Tanzania, with a summit elevation of 5,895 meters (19,341 feet). The highest mountains In Africa with the tallest peaks are mentioned below.

When one thinks of Africa’s geography, the searing Sahara desert and the Serengeti’s undulating plains and savannas immediately spring to mind.

As it turns out, the African continent is home to some of the most breathtaking mountains in the world, rivaling the Swiss Alps in terms of beauty, the gorgeous Rocky Mountains in terms of craggy, snow-capped peaks, and even Mt. Everest in terms of climbing prestige.

Numerous mountains on our top ten list are volcanic in nature, while others are the product of earth’s crustal plate ruptures.

While some are climbable with perseverance and a day’s supply of supplies, others require specialized equipment and substantial climbing experience.

A handful of these mountains are buried in devastated, war-torn areas where daily existence is threatened by political instability. Each has an engrossing tale to share.

Before we begin, it is important to recognize that there is valid confusion around the use of specific language.

When it comes to the term “mountain,” it appears to be used very liberally interchangeably with the phrases “peak” and “summit.”

However, for geological accuracy’s sake, these names are separate, with each having a distinct meaning:

  • Mountain – A geological, or land feature that rises 1,000 feet (300 meters) above the immediately surrounding area.
  • Peak – A point on a mountain that is higher than other local points (one way to think of this is if you need to descend to reach another peak, you were standing on one, to begin with).  A mountain will very often have multiple, if not numerous, peaks.
  • Summit – The highest point on a mountain.  Every summit is also a peak, but not every peak is a summit.

Additionally, there are other ways to categorize mountains according to their elevation. Numerous lists are compiled only on the basis of altitude, regardless of whether a mountain is genuinely a mountain or merely a named peak.

In this perspective, the following list lists genuine mountains having a prominence of fewer than 1,300 feet (distance from peak to lowest immediately surrounding terrain) (about 400 meters).

1. Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Kibo peak, 5,895 meters

Highest Mountains In Africa | I LOVE AFRICA
  • Name: Kilimanjaro
  • Elevation: 19,341 feet (5,895 meters)
  • Mountain Range: Kilimanjaro Mountain Range
  • Country: Tanzania
  • Difficulty of Ascent: Rated as Walk-Up

Mount Kilimanjaro is number one on our list of highest mountains in Africa, serving as the poster child for numerous African tourism brochures and campaigns, and for good reason.

Mount Kilimanjaro is an awe-inspiring spectacle rising above northeast Tanzania’s plains and grasslands. It is one of the world’s tallest freestanding mountains, towering above the Tanzanian horizon for kilometers.

The top of Mount Kilimanjaro is composed of three principal peaks, all of which are volcanoes; the tallest is Kibo (dormant), followed by Mawenzi (dormant) and Shira (dormant) (extinct).

Kilimanjaro, as native Tanzanians commonly refer to this mountain, is Africa’s representative in the Seven Summits, a group of the world’s highest peaks on each of the seven continents.

Kilimanjaro is over 2,000 feet higher than Mount Kenya at 19,341 feet. It is also enormous in size, reaching over 25 miles wide and occupying approximately 500 square miles at its base.

From base to summit, Mount Kilimanjaro is divided into five climatic zones: rainforest, heathland, moorland, alpine desert, and arctic.

Climbing Advice

Each year, tens of thousands of adventurers and tourists converge on Kilimanjaro with the goal of reaching the summit.

Due to the mountain’s enormous popularity, the trail system is well established, with six primary routes beginning at the base and ascending to a circular path comprised of two loops.

These circuits connect to smaller paths that are utilized to complete the ascent to the summit.

The journey from the base to the circular trail is not technically difficult (i.e., no special climbing gear is required), but it is strenuous physically.

Apart from its unmistakable grandeur, this is one of the reasons Kilimanjaro is so well-known; its summit is more accessible than those of surrounding mountains such as Mount Kenya, which need climbing expertise and specialized gear such as crampons and anchors.

While many climbers reach the circular trail beneath the summit zone, only a select few make it to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, which is more than three and a half miles above sea level.

Acclimatization to altitude is a significant task (only 10% of summit efforts succeed), and altitude sickness can begin at levels exceeding 4,000 feet.

2. Mount Kenya, Kenya

Bastian peak, 5,199 meters

Highest Mountains In Africa | I LOVE AFRICA
  • Name: Kenya
  • Elevation: 17,047 feet (5,196 meters)
  • Mountain Range: Mount Kenya Mountain Range
  • Country: Kenya
  • Difficulty of Ascent: Rated as Technical Climb

Mount Kenya is number two on our list of highest mountains in Africa.

Africa’s second-highest peak is an extinct volcano. It is dominated by two snow-capped peaks, Batian and Nelion.

Despite its proximity to the tropics, Mount Kenya receives significant snowfall each year. Indeed, unlike the majority of other mountains of comparable scale in Africa, Mount Kenya plays a critical role in the region’s ecosystem.

It serves over seven million people in Kenya with clean drinking water. While the majority of this is accounted for by annual rainfall and snowmelt, there is concern that once-mighty glaciers and ice banks will soon vanish.

Additionally, Mount Kenya is home to an astonishing variety of wildlife, woods, and vegetation, and has been designated an African World Heritage Site to aid in conservation efforts in this area.

Mount Kenya, like many other East African mountains, has varying altitude zones. Dense woods, wide meadows, and open areas make up the sub-alpine zone, which is home to elephants, buffalo, lions, leopards, antelope, and other creatures.

Climbing Advice

Africa’s second-highest peak Mount Kenya is a prominent climbing and mountaineering site. It is often regarded as a more difficult trek than the mountain at the top of this list.

It is possibly the most technically difficult climb in east Africa, if not the entire continent. Climbers and mountaineers can choose from a variety of different routes to the peak, some of which require rock, snow, or ice climbing abilities.

Regrettably, global warming and climate change are transforming the landscapes of many of the world’s mountains, including Mount Kenya.

Where once colossal glaciers and seemingly permanent ice formations provided world-class ice climbing possibilities, these features are rapidly vanishing.

Timing estimates vary, but another ice age may very probably be required to replace glacial ice on African mountaintops.

3. Mount Stanley, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo

Margherita peak, 5,109 meters

Highest Mountains In Africa | I LOVE AFRICA
  • Name: Stanley
  • Elevation: 16,794 feet (5,119 meters)
  • Mountain Range: Rwenzori Mountain Range
  • Country: Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda
  • Difficulty of Ascent: Rated as Scramble

Mount Stanley is the mightiest of the Rwenzoris and ranks third on our list of highest mountains in Africa.

Together with Mount Speke (fourth) and Mount Baker (fifth), these three peaks form a towering triangle that encircles the Bujuku Valley below.

Margherita and Alexandra, two prominent twin summits, as well as other minor peaks, mark the summit.

The presence of massive glaciers millennia ago changed the entire region. The Bujuku Valley today occupies the site of a large glacier.

The Rwenzori range’s six highest peaks were previously capped by glaciers, but only the three highest have visible glacial ice, and only Mount Stanley retains any significance.

According to some estimates, all of the Rwenzori glaciers will have gone away by 2025.

The constant mist that shrouds practically all of the Rwenzori mountains, particularly Mount Stanley, contributes to the region’s peacefulness, from valleys to summits.

Mount Stanley would undoubtedly enjoy greater recognition, prominence, and visitation if not for the two prominent mountains that hold the second and first places on this list.

Climbing Advice

Mount Stanley provides unique challenges to trekkers aiming to reach the Rwenzori mountains’ highest summits due to being the only true glacier-capped peak in the Rwenzori range.

A climbing rope is required, and suitable ice climbing gear is recommended, mostly due to the possibility of major crevasses in the ice that must be crossed.

According to some stories, reaching the peak, whether from Uganda or the Democratic Republic of Congo, is exceedingly difficult, frequently requiring days of trekking through dense jungles and marshes.

Once at the base of the mountain, however, pathways are well marked, and huts and shelters are located at various heights along the range.

4. Mount Speke, Uganda

Mount Speke, 4,890 meters

Highest Mountains In Africa | I LOVE AFRICA
  • Name: Speke
  • Elevation: 16,043 feet (4,890 meters)
  • Mountain Range: Rwenzori Mountain Range
  • Country: Uganda
  • Difficulty of Ascent: Rated as Scramble

Mount Speke is number four on our list of highest mountains in Africa.

Africa’s fourth highest peak is also the second-highest in the Rwenzori mountain range. The summit of Mount Speke is formed by four peaks; Vittorio Emanuele, Ensonga, Johnston, and Trident.

Trekking between peaks is perilous due to the razor-thin ridges and deep gorges with high walls that connect them. To claim that you have ascended Mount Speke places you in a very reputable company.

Mount Speke’s particular problems are shaped by the same forces that preserve the mountain’s delicate, yet thriving, ecosystems at lower elevations.

The Rwenzori mountain range is located within the globe’s equatorial belt. As such, it is vulnerable to seasonal monsoon rains, which offer vital water to flora and fauna but create slick, slippery, and hazardous climbing conditions.

Regrettably, political instability in the Democratic Republic of Congo and, at times, Uganda has made adventurers reconsider their plans.

In order to curb kidnapping and terrorism in the region, climbers have reported climbing up the slopes of Mount Speke with AK-47-wielding escorts.

The standard argument is that the escorts are there to protect against wildlife, yet the implication is that the animals are unimportant.

Climbing Advice

Whereas reaching Mount Speke previously needed considerable snow and ice climbing equipment, that obstacle no longer exists, as you would be hard-pressed to discover any significant ice patches.

The terrain is mostly rocky, with some sections requiring your whole attention.

Nonetheless, the technical requirements are minor, and according to one source, the entire ascent could be completed “in tennis shoes… if the mud isn’t too severe.”

5. Mount Baker, Uganda

Mount Baker, 4,844 meters

Highest Mountains In Africa | I LOVE AFRICA
  • Name: Baker
  • Elevation: 15,892 feet (4,844 meters)
  • Mountain Range: Rwenzori Mountain Range
  • Country: Uganda
  • Difficulty of Ascent: Rated as Basic Snow/Ice Climb

We break into the top five on our list of highest mountains in Africa with Mount Baker, which is not far from Mount Emin at number six.

The Rwenzori mountain range has three of Africa’s five highest peaks.

According to legend, when Ptolemy visited the region centuries ago in quest of the Nile’s source, he was so taken aback by the sight of these mountains that he dubbed them the “Mountains of the Moon.”

The entire Rwenzori mountain range, like Mount Ras Dejen (number nine on our list), is an officially declared African World Heritage Site.

As is the case with the majority of Africa’s larger mountains, the ecosystems found on the mountainous slopes below the alpine tree line support an extraordinarily diverse range of flora and fauna, many of which are uncommon and regrettably threatened.

Climbing Advice

Mount Baker’s harsh and jagged geological features are similar to those of the other Rwenzoris, as the entire range is made up of fault-block mountains formed by fractures in the earth’s plates forcing enormous pieces of crust and rock upward or downward. This is the most popular of the Rwenzori mountains for climbers, as numerous trails run alongside stunning alpine lakes.

Depending on the route selected, narrow ridgelines and deep crevasses can present substantial problems to those trekking to the summit, while the highest peaks retain some ice formations.

6. Mount Emin, Democratic Republic of Congo

Mount Emin, 4,798 meters

  • Name: Emin
  • Elevation: 15,741 feet (4,798 meters)
  • Mountain Range: Rwenzori Mountain Range
  • Country: Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Difficulty of Ascent: Rated as Technical Climb

Mount Emin is number six on our list of highest mountains in Africa and is also the sister mountain to Mount Gessi in the Rwenzori range, separated by a deep, narrow valley that runs north-south.

Mount Gessi is located on the Ugandan side of the valley, while Mount Emin lies on the Democratic Republic of Congo’s side.

This mountain is named after the late 1800s explorer Mohammed Amin Asha, who traversed extensive swaths of the continent.

Mount Emin was first climbed by Italian adventurer and renowned mountaineer Prince Luigi Amedeo, Duke of Abruzzi (also a member of the royal House of Savoy), who is recognized for ascending a large number of mountains around Africa.

Mount Luigi di Savoia is named after him in the Rwenzori range as a monument to his achievements in Africa.

Climbing Advice

Mount Emin, the northernmost peak in the Ruwenzori range, poses a formidable challenge to even experienced climbers.

Its twin peaks, Umberto and Kraepelin, are bordered by jagged formations, narrow ridges, and sheer rock walls.

Climbers are encouraged to bring class 5 climbing equipment such as rope, crampons, and protection apparatus to guard against a potentially lethal fall.

As is the case with Mount Gessi, the glaciers that originally covered the peaks have melted, but patches of ice (and thus crevasses) remain.

7. Mount Gessi, Uganda

Mount Gessi, 4,715 meters

Highest Mountains In Africa | I LOVE AFRICA
  • Name: Gessi
  • Elevation: 15,469 feet (4,715 meters)
  • Mountain Range: Rwenzori Mountain Range
  • Country: Uganda
  • Difficulty of Ascent: Rated as Scramble

The Rwenzori Mountains National Park, located on the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, is home to five of the highest mountains in Africa.

Mount Gessi is named after Italian explorer Romulo Gessi, who is also credited with locating the source of the Nile River. It is located in the Rwenzori Mountains National Park’s northern section.

Mount Gessi, like many of the other African mountains on this list, contrasts lush, green ecosystems teeming with fauna and plants at lower elevations with jagged, volcanic forms at higher elevations.

This mountain, like others in the Rwenzori range, historically boasted significant glacial ice at its summits, which is fast vanishing as a result of global warming and climate change.

Established pathways and the availability of guides from indigenous groups make planning and booking this expedition relatively simple.

The mountain’s shelters and cabins make overnight stays more comfortable, and the top is accessible from both the Ugandan and Democratic Republic of Congo sides.

Climbing Advice

Because the entire Rwenzori range has a rainy environment, many walkways and rock surfaces are slick or coated in slippery moss.

Although no specialist equipment is required (the ice has mostly melted away), even on more well-trafficked trails, a climbing rope is a must.

The route becomes more difficult as you gain height, with jagged formations and extremely sheer slabs of rock.

8. Mount Meru, Tanzania

Socialist peak, 4,562 meters

Highest Mountains In Africa | I LOVE AFRICA

Mount Meru is a popular destination for mountain climbers trying to acclimatize their bodies to the rigors of climbing up its more famous neighbor.

It is located in northern Tanzania’s Arusha National Park. Mount Meru is a volcano (opinions differ on whether it is active or dormant at the moment), and its most recent significant eruption occurred 8,000 years ago.

Mount Meru’s location within one of Tanzania’s national parks ensures that visitors get a close-up view of the area’s wildlife, which includes buffalo, giraffes, and elephants.

Because of the dangers, these creatures represent to hikers, armed rangers accompany adventurers as they ascend Mount Meru’s slopes.

Mount Meru presents striking variations in ecosystems and geological features to its tourists.

The bottom half of the mountain (up to 9,500 feet/2,900 meters) is covered in lush rainforests, which gradually give way to more jagged, rocky features characteristic of volcanic volcanoes.

Those that ascend Mount Meru (Socialist Peak) are rewarded with a breathtaking view of the volcano’s crater.

Climbing Advice

Mount Meru is every bit as gorgeous and majestic as “that other mountain” in Tanzania, according to all accounts.

However, due to its lower visitor popularity, it is not nearly as congested, making it a great site for climbing aficionados.

The routes are well marked, and the hiking is not too strenuous until you reach the summit, at which time a few tricky spots require cautious navigation.

However, along the journey, you’ll get once-in-a-lifetime sights of African wildlife, waterfalls, and stunning views of Tanzania.

9. Mount Semien, Ethiopia

Ras Dashen peak, 4,550 meters

Highest Mountains In Africa | I LOVE AFRICA
  • Name: Ras Dejen (also Ras Dashen)
  • Elevation: 14,872 feet (4,533 meters)
  • Mountain Range: Simien Mountain Range
  • Country: Ethiopia
  • Difficulty of Ascent: Rated as Scramble

Mount Ras Dejen is number nine on our list of highest mountains in Africa and the highest point in Ethiopia, a country on the African continent’s eastern coast. It is a section of the Simien mountain range in northern Ethiopia and is one of the park’s primary attractions.

The towering granite cliffs and craggy peaks of Mount Ras Dejen are strikingly contrasted by adjacent vast valleys.

This region, which was formed between 20 and 30 million years ago as a result of volcanic activity, is renowned for its incredible biodiversity.

However, the hazardous situation of some of its animals and vegetation contributed to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) designation of the park as an African World Heritage Site in 1978.

Particularly concerning were the falling numbers of the Walia ibex, which is found only in the Simien mountains area.

Fortunately, this endangered species is making a comeback, owing largely to a coordinated conservation effort that began with the park’s designation as a World Heritage Site.

Climbing Advice

While hiking to the summit of Mount Ras Dejen requires physical fitness and health, technical climbing abilities are not required.

The route from the base to the summit can be completed in half a day at a steady pace.

The hike concludes with some scrambling through fairly jagged rock, but the reward is well worth the effort, as a panoramic vista of what appears to be the entirety of Ethiopia awaits.

10. Mount Karisimbi, Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda

Mount Karisimbi, 4,507 meters

Highest Mountains In Africa | I LOVE AFRICA
  • Name: Karisimbi
  • Elevation: 14,786 feet (4,507 meters)
  • Mountain Range: Virunga Mountain Range
  • Country: Democratic Republic of Congo/Rwanda
  • Difficulty of Ascent: Rated as Scramble

Mount Karisimbi is number ten on our list of highest mountains in Africa and is located in the Virunga mountain range, which runs along the boundary between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda.

The Virunga Mountains are volcanic, with the highest peak being Mount Karisimbi, a stratovolcano. There are no less than eight volcanoes in the Virunga volcanic area, many of which retain craters on their summits.

Mount Karisimbi is located within Volcanoes National Park, which is world-famous for its deep alpine forests, which are home to mountain gorillas.

Dian Fossey, an American mountain gorilla conservationist and scientist created the Karisoke Research Center in this area in 1967, and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund continues her incredible work half a century later.

As is the case with a large number of the mountains on our list, an armed park ranger, guide, or porter is either strongly advised or required by local legislation.

While natural beauty abounds, there are risks to be aware of, some of which are tied to indigenous fauna and others to human-caused events such as war or political unrest.

Climbing Advice

Numerous scheduled excursions up Mount Karisimbi include gorilla watching activities and are hence dubbed gorilla trekking.

A direct ascent to the summit normally takes two to three days, beginning early in the deep forest at the mountain’s base and ending at intermediate heights (8,000 to 12,000 feet/2,400 to 3,600 meters) before reaching the summit on the third day.

While adding a gorilla hike significantly increases the expense of the trip, it may be the opportunity of a lifetime, as it may be the last chance to view a mountain gorilla up close. The gorillas seen in zoos are lowland gorillas, a distinct species.

Closing Remarks

If there is one thing that all ten of the mountains on our list have in common, it is the critical nature of thoroughly researching your African mountain trip and scheduling your itinerary with a trustworthy agency, whether in the United States or Africa.

Climbers must be accompanied by guides or porters on the majority of the mountains on this list. With appropriate planning, you can embark on a once-in-a-lifetime experience.


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