Adventure Nature

Fascinating History of the 7 Highest Mountains in Africa

Mount Kilimanjaro
Written by Abraham Odhiambo

From the Drakensberg Mountains in South Africa to the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, there are dozens of mountain ranges in Africa. Panoramic vistas from volcanic peaks reward climbers who reach the very top, leading to the question, which are the 7 highest mountains in Africa?

Even though most people think about the stunning grasslands of Africa and the unique animals that live on those grasslands, the mountains of Africa are just as impressive. As it turns out, some of the most beautiful and eye-catching mountains are found in the African continent.

So whether you want to scale the highest peaks in Africa or combine a climb with wildlife viewing, here are the top 7 highest mountains in Africa.

1. Mount Kilimanjaro – Tanzania

Mount Kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro Mountain aerial view during scenic flight. Photo/ ABC7 New York.

Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa, reaching the highest summit at 5,895 metres. The mountain, which dominates the Tanzanian horizon for miles and miles, also happens to be one of the most famous mountains in the world. 

Mount Kilimanjaro is incredibly massive in terms of sheer size, occupying 500 square miles at its base and measuring approximately 25 miles across. Its summit consists of three primary peaks; Kibo, Mawenzi and Shira. Mount Kilimanjaro has five climatic zones from the base to the top: rainforest, heathland, moorland, alpine desert and arctic. 

You don’t need much climbing experience to climb Kilimanjaro because the ascent isn’t particularly steep. However, attitude can be a problem if you haven’t trained for some time. 

2. Mount Kenya – Kenya 

Mount Kenya, one of the 7 highest mountains in Africa, has an elevation of 5,199 metres. It is thought that the mountain was initially over 23,000 feet tall but lost elevation when the glacial cap melted. It has two primary peaks, which are typically snow-capped, Batian and Nelion.

Despite sitting near the equator, Mount Kenya receives substantial snowfall every year. If you climb it, you go through several distinct zones. The base sits in grassland and plains, but as you climb, you’ll find yourself in a dense forest of cedarwood and bamboo. Next, you will hit will be a unique zone of vegetation and further up will be snow and ice as you hit the top alpine band.

Mount Kenya

Mount Kenya. Photo/ AFAR Magazine.

3. Mount Stanley – Uganda And Democratic Republic of Congo

Mount Stanley is the third-highest in our list of the 7 highest mountains in Africa. The mountain, which has an elevation of 5,109 metres, has been mentioned throughout history all the way back to the Ancient Greeks. Writers used to refer to it as the “Mountain of the Moon” because it looked strange to ancient people, considering it is white-capped all the time. 

Mount Stanley is located in the vast Central African Ruwenzori Range, which forms the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo

4. Mount Meru – Tanzania 

With its summit reaching 4,562 metres, Mount Meru is the second-highest mountain in Tanzania and the fourth-highest in Africa. Mount Meru is located 60 kilometres west of Mount Kilimanjaro and is surrounded by the safari hot spot Arusha National Park.

Mount Meru

Mount Meru is one of the 7 highest mountains in Africa. Photo/ Kandoo Adventures.

The lower slopes of the mountain, which is actually a dormant volcano, are home to abundant wildlife, including monkeys and leopards, as well as over 400 species of birds. 

5. Mount Semien – Ethiopia 

Fifth on our list of 7 highest mountains in Africa is Mount Semien, which lies in the Horn of Africa. The Western Highlands in the Semien Mountains range from 1,500 metres up to 4,550 metres at the Ras Dashen peak. Climbing Mount Semien is something that most hikers remember for the rest of their lives. 

6. Mount Karisimbi – Democratic Republic of Congo And Rwanda 

At 4,507 metres, Mount Karisimbi is the tallest of the volcano chains in the Virunga Mountains located on the border between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. The chain makes part of the Albertine Rift, the western branch of the East African rift.

Mount Karisimbi

Mount Karisimbi. Photo/ Encyclopedia Britannica.

7. Mount Elgon – Kenya And Uganda 

Mount Elgon, located on the border between Kenya and Uganda, is the seventh-highest mountain in Africa. The highest peak of the mountain is Wagagai peak, 4,321 metres. Mount Elgon is an extinct shield volcano and has an extinct caldera which is one of the largest in the world. 

What are the 5 highest mountains in Africa? 

  1. Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania (Kibo peak, 5,895 metres)
  2. Mount Kenya, Kenya (Bastian peak, 5,199 metres)
  3. Mount Stanley, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo (Margherita peak, 5,109 metres)
  4. Mount Meru, Tanzania (Socialist peak, 4,562 metres)
  5. Mount Semien, Ethiopia (Ras Dashen peak, 4,550 metres)

What is the 7th highest mountain in the world? 

The Dhaulagiri is the seventh-highest mountain in the world at 8,167 metres. It is situated in Nepal and forms part of the Dhaulagiri mountain range. The mountains are separated by the Kaligandaki Gorge, the world’s deepest gorge.

What is the largest mountain in the world? 

Mount Everest’s peak is the highest altitude above the mean sea level at 8,848 meters. Mount Chimborazo’s peak is the furthest point on Earth from Earth’s centre.

What are the major mountains in Africa? 

  1. Mount Kilimanjaro
  2. Mount Kenya
  3. Mount Stanley
  4. Mount Meru
  5. Ethiopian Highlands
  6. Mount Karisimbi
  7. Mount Elgon
  8. Toubkal, Atlas Mountains
  9. Mount Guna
  10. Mount Choqa
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About the author

Abraham Odhiambo

Abraham Odhiambo is a writer with interests in nature, travel, African safari and sports. I'm pursuing a bachelor's degree in Media and Communication at Egerton University.

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