Kilimanjaro on Fire

Mountain

A large bush fire has engulfed the slopes of Kilimanjaro since Sunday, despite the efforts of more than 500 volunteers. The fire started in the Whona area, a rest centre for climbers. Whona lies between the Mandara and Horombo huts on Kili’s most popular ascent line, known as the Marangu route or more commonly, the Coca-Cola route.

According to VOA, the fire started accidentally when porters servicing a climbing group had a cooking fire that spread to the nearby grass and shrubs.

Tanzania’s National Parks Office said they were “taking all precautions necessary to ensure the safety of visitors,” but gave no details about which routes or camps are now closed to climbers.

Tanzanian firefighters, residents in the area, college students and volunteers have joined forces to fight the fire. The current state of the blaze is unclear, although winds dropped on Monday, improving the outlook.

The classic image of Kilimanjaro, as seen from Amboseli. Photo: Sergey Pesterev

At 5,895m, Kilimanjaro is the highest point in Africa and so one of the Seven Summits. In a normal year, approximately 50,000 people climb its slopes along one of several routes. Even in 2020, despite COVID-19, Tanzania is open to tourists, and some international groups have managed to enjoy its unusual solitude. In fact, it might have been lucky that the mountain was nearly deserted when the fire began, since no casualties have been reported.

Check the image gallery on Al Jazeera here.

About the Author

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides

Senior journalist, published author and communication consultant. Specialized on high-altitude mountaineering, with an interest for everything around the mountains: from economics to geopolitics. After five years exploring distant professional ranges, I returned to ExWeb BC in 2018. Feeling right at home since then!

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