Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain on the African continent, and the world‘s tallest freestanding mountain. Mount Kilimanjaro is also known as one of the world´s greatest natural wonders: a snow covered mountain positioned just 330 km south of the Equator, an ocean of green forest surrounded by dry savannah. The giant stratovolcano began forming a million years ago when lava spilled from the fracturing Rift Valley and built the mountain by successive lava flows. Two of its three peaks – Mawenzi and Shira – are extinct while Kibo, the highest peak is dormant and could erupt again.
The landscape on Mount Kilimanjaro is extremely beautiful. The mountain can be divided into five climatic zones, each with a very distinct fauna and flora. Walking from the tropical rain forests to the alpine desert regions on top seems like walking from the equator to the arctic pole within a couple days. Compared with the surrounding lowlands Mount Kilimanjaro displays of a dramatically different environment.
As a montane sky island Mount Kilimanjaro features an enormous biodiversity but little endemic species. Endemics include the giant groundsels in the bunchgrass tussock grasslands, and other plants specially adapted to sustain the extreme high alpine climate. Kilimanjaro has a large variety of forest types over an altitudinal range of 9,843 ft (3.000 m) containing over 1,200 vascular plant species.
Although located just south of the equator Mount Kilimanjaro is crowned by a permanent ice cap. But it´s current extension is just a small remnant of an enormous icecap which once crowned the majestic summit.