Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Mount Kilimanjaro

Elephants & Kilimanjaro, originally uploaded by Edgar Thissen.

This week, I decided that I'm going to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.

This was never in the original plan. I had searched the globe looking for a volunteer opportunity that spoke to me, and I recently decided on Africa, and more specifically on Tanzania. Tanzania is about half way up the continent of Africa, and sits on the east coast (right side) just under Kenya. There were a lot of attributes I loved about Tanzania, such as the culture and the friendliness of the people, but Tanzania also happens to be the site of the lower portion of the Serengeti, and Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa.

I didn't set out to climb the mountain, but it just seemed sort of ridiculous to me that I would spend so much time and effort traveling to the furthest reaches of the globe, end up sitting right at the front door of this amazing world treasure and not climb it.

Usually, when you see mountains, you will see a lot of them, because they form in ranges, but Kili is different. It was created not by earthquakes, but by a volcano that slowly built up the structure over millions of years. The result is what you see in the photograph -- the world's tallest freestanding mountain. At 19,340 feet, that also makes Mt. Kilimanjaro the tallest volcano in the world.

I have an interest in mountain climbing, and always wondered if one day I should climb Everest, or Mt. McKinley, which I watched for years as I grew up in Anchorage. Kilimanjaro seems like a great place to start, because it is not as technically demanding as the other major mountains. I'm going to have to inform the four families about this.

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