Adventure Nature

5 Major Mountain Ranges in Africa Worth Exploring

Atlas Mountains
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Written by Abraham Odhiambo

From the Atlas Mountains in North Africa and Ethiopian Highlands in Eastern Africa to the Great Escarpment in the South, Africa is home to major mountain ranges. As a result, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the continent has some of the most diverse and varied mountain ranges in the world.

Africa is the second-largest continent and boasts a rich mix of geographical features and climates. It is not only the birthplace of Homo Sapiens but also has some of the most ancient mountains worldwide. The mountains in Africa are stunning and legendary, a testament that the region is one of the most geographically diverse places on earth.

Snow is usually seen in the Southern African and African mountains on regular basis. Now without further ado, it’s time to look at the major mountain ranges stretching through the countries in Africa.

1. The Atlas Mountains 

The Atlas Mountains stretch from 1,600 miles (2,000 km) from Western Sahara through Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. It is the longest unbroken range in Africa and separates the Sahara from the Atlantic. It is famous for its highest peak in North Africa, Mount Toubkal, which has an elevation of 13,671 ft.

Atlas Mountains

Atlas Mountains. Photo/ World Atlas.

Known among the locals as ‘Idraren Draren’ (Mountains of Mountains), The Atlas Mountains is a dwelling zone for a unique array of plants and wildlife. It is dotted with Berber villages and riven with canyons and ravines.

2. Drakensberg Mountains 

The Drakensberg is a designated UNESCO World Heritage which is part of the Great Escarpment and runs 600 miles (1,000 km) from eastern South Africa to Lesotho. It reaches its greatest elevation – 2 to 3 kilometres within the border region of South Africa and Lesotho.

The Drakensberg, is without a doubt, one of the major mountain ranges in Africa. The mountain range offers some of the most awe-inspiring vistas on the continent as it is composed of stunning steep river valleys, sandstone cliffs, rich flora and ancient cave paintings.


Drakensberg Mountains. Photo/ Natural World Safaris.

It is also home to many nature reserves with waterfalls and abundant wildlife. Some of the iconic animals you can come across in the Drakensberg Mountains include Cape vulture, lesser kestrel, eland and reedbuck. 

3. Ruwenzori Mountains 

The Ruwenzori, also spelt Rwenzori and Rwenjura, are a range of mountains situated between the border of Uganda and DRC. The highest peak of the Ruwenzori, one of the major mountain ranges in Africa, reaches 5,109 metres. The range’s upper regions are permanently snow-capped and glaciated throughout the year. 

Also called the “Mountains of the Moon”, the Ruwenzori Mountains are most renowned for their vegetation, which is composed of meadows and tropical rainforests. Here, you’ll come across iconic plants such as giant groundsel, giant lobelia and moss.

Rwenzori Mountains

Ruwenzori Mountains. Photo/ Venture Uganda.

4. Ethiopian Highlands 

The Ethiopian Highlands is a rugged mass of mountains in Northeast Africa, Ethiopia to be specific. It is dubbed the “Roof of Africa” due to the fact that it is home to 80 per cent of Africa’s tallest mountains. Its highest peak, Mount Ras Dejen, reaches 4,872 feet (4,533 metres). 

The Ethiopia Highlands, one of the major mountain ranges in Africa, boasts a diverse landscape which includes meadows, montane grasslands, heathland and woodlands. The landscape is home to an impressive array of fauna and flora. 

5. Virunga Mountains

Also known as MufumbiroVirunga Mountains are a chain of volcanoes in East Africa. It is composed of eight major volcanoes, with six of them being dormant. They are found along the northern border of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The Virunga Mountains offer one of the most unique tourist attraction sites in Africa. It is home to the golden monkeys and the endangered mountain gorillas, which are now registered as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List.

Virunga Mountains

Virunga Mountains. Photo/ Nkuringo Walking Safaris.

What are the names of the major mountain ranges? 

  1. The Andes
  2. The Rockies
  3. The Great Dividing Range
  4. The Transantarctic Mountains
  5. The Ural Mountains
  6. The Atlas Mountains
  7. The Appalachian Mountains
  8. The Himalayas
  9.  The Atlai Mountains
  10. The Western Ghats

What are the five highest mountains in Africa? 

  1. Mount Kilimanjaro
  2. Mount Kenya
  3. Mount Stanley
  4. Mount Meru
  5. Mount Semien

What are the major mountain ranges in sub-Saharan Africa? 

  • Mount Kilimanjaro
  • Jebel Toubkal
  • Mount Kenya
  • Mount Meru
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About the author

Avatar of Abraham Odhiambo

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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