The 10 highest mountains in Africa are comparatively clearly distributed over three mountain regions in the eastern half of the continent near the equator. Two of the four highest top peaks in Africa rise to over 5000 meters in the Kilimanjaro mountains, which belong to the East African state of Tanzania. In Tanzania’s neighboring state of Kenya, the Mount Kenya massif, which also belongs to the small group of African 5000s, impresses with Batian as the highest peak. The next largest among the 10 highest mountains in Africa can be found in the Ruwenzori Mountains, which extend in the border area of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (until 1997: Zaire).
Tanzania’s giant mountains in Kilimanjaro
The world-famous Kilimanjaro mountain range, which stretches over almost 5,000 square kilometers in the north of Tanzania, is one of the most photographed natural beauties on the African continent. The volcanic massif, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is estimated to be 2.5 million years old. The Kilimanjaro massif experienced its last major volcanic eruption about 300,000 years ago. However, volcanic forces continue to work in the lava area below the surface.
Since a minor eruption around 1700, the highest peak of Kilimanjaro, the 5895 m towering Kibo (Kiswahili: “The Bright One”, has been considered extinguished Tanzania also known as “Uhuru Peak” (“Liberty Peak”). Until then, this highest point in Africa was called “Kaiser Wilhelm Peak” as a result of long past German colonial rule to reach the long saddle ridge with the neighboring summit Mawenzi (“The Dark One”).The glacierless Mawenzi, like the Kibo in its upper area, characterized by geology of frost debris, is Africa’s fourth highest mountain at 5148 m and is considered almost unconquerable by mountaineers.
Kenya’s symbolic massif Mount Kenya with the Batian
The Mount Kenya massif (Maasai: “Kinyaa” = “black and white mountain”) rises in central Kenya about 150 km northeast of Nairobi in the immediate vicinity of the equator.
Like the Tanzanian Kibo, the extinct volcanic massif Mount Kenya, from which the state of Kenya got its name, fascinates with its extremely rare glacier zones near the equator between the towering peaks, of which the Batian is the highest. At 5199 m, the Batian is not only the highest Mount Kenya mountain, but also the second highest peak in Africa such as K 2 and Dufourspitze, one of the “Seven Second Summits”, the group of the second highest mountains in the world, which can be conquered as particularly demanding by mountaineers seven continents.
In the center area of the Mount Kenya massif, which is around 100 square kilometers in size, rise above the tree line at 3,200 m with the peaks named Nelion (5189 m) and Lengana (4985 m) and the Pigott (4958 m) three other top ten mountain giants in Africa.
The four Ruwenzori representatives of the 10 highest mountains in Africa
Like Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya, the Congolese-Ugandan border mountains Ruwenzori have become part of the UNESCO World Natural Heritage because of their ecological importance. The mountain range is named after the name for “rainmaker” in the Ugandan Batoro language. Mount Stanley, which rises exactly on the border of Uganda and DR Congo, with its double peak Margherita Peak (5109 m) and Alexandra Peak (5019 m) is considered the highest mountain in the mountains and the highest non-volcanic mountain in Africa.
Like Mount Stanley, the next highest Ruwenzori mountains, Mount Speke (4890 m), Mount Baker (4844) (both Uganda) and Mount Emin (4789 m) (DR Congo), are named after European explorers. Mount Emin got its name from the Prussian African explorer Eduard Schnitzer (Mehmed Emin Pascha) (1840 -1892). All of the giant mountains of the Ruwenzori Mountains rising above the tree line of 4000 m still had large glaciers until the beginning of the 20th century. Since then, its scope has decreased dramatically. The Mount Emin glacier has already completely disappeared, only Mount Stanley still has glacier regions of greater importance.