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Mount Kilimanjaro, with its three volcanic cones, Kibo, Mawenzi, and Shira, is an inactive stratovolcano in north-eastern Tanzania rising 4,600 m (15,092 ft) from its base (and approximately 5,100 m/16,732 ft fromthe plains near Moshi), and is additionally the highest peak in Africa at 5,892 metres (19,331 ft), providing a dramatic view of the surrounding plains. While the volcano appears to be dormant on the inside, events on top of the mountain draw global attention.
The top of Mount Kilimanjaro has seen a retreat of the most recent covering of glaciers, with the most recent ice cap volume dropping by more than 80%. While it is inactive, Kilimanjaro has fumaroles that emit gas in the crater on the main summit of Kibo. Scientists concluded in 2003 that molten magma is just 400 metres (1,310 ft) below the summit crater. Several collapses and landslides have occurred on Kibo in the past, one creating the area known as the Western Breach.
According to experts there have been no eruptions in living memory. Recent studies suggest the last eruptions on the mountain were between 150,000 and 200,000 years ago. The volcano is the highest in Africa and covers an area of 388,500 ha (960,004 acres), Although the volcano stands alone, it is a part of an east-west belt of volcanoes stretching over Northern Tanzania. It has three main concentric cones to the southeast in the mountain, but also has smaller parasitic cones. Also as a satellite cone, the main vent is blocked by cooled solidified lava, and the lava is then forced out through the sides of a volcano under immense pressure. To the west side of the mountain is the peak Shira (3,962 m or 12,999 ft), of which only the southern and western rims remain.
There are several routes by which to climb Mt Kilimanjaro, namely, Marangu, Rongai, Lemosho, Shira, Umbwe and Machame. Of all the routes, Machame is by far the most scenic albeit steeper route up the mountain, which can be done in 6 or 7 days. The Rongai is the easiest camping route and the Marangu is also easy, but accommodation is in huts. As a result, this route tends to be very busy and ascent and descent routes are the same. Caution signs at the Machamé trailhead Sign at Uhuru peak, indicating to climbers that they have reached the top. Persons wishing to climb Mt Kilimanjaro are advised to undertake appropriate research and ensure that they are both properly equipped and physically capable. Though the climb is technically very easy, the altitude and low temperature make this a difficult and dangerous trek.
Acclimatisation is essential, and even then most people suffer some degree of altitude sickness.About 10 climbers die from this each year, together with an unknown number of local porters - figures for these are guessed at between 10-20. Mount Kilimanjaro summit is well above the altitude at which high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE), or high altitude cerebral edema (HACE) can occur.
All climbers will suffer considerable discomfort, typically shortage of breath, hypothermia and headaches, and though most young, fit people can make the Uhuru summit, a substantial number of trekkers will abandon the attempt at a lower altitude. High altitude climbing clubs have criticised the Tanzanian authorities for charging fees for each day spent on the mountain. This can encourage climbers to climb rapidly to save time and money, while proper acclimatisation demands that delays are built in to any high climb.