The Height of Mount Kilimanjaro

It may surprise you to hear that Mount Kilimanjaro's height has changed several times.
Well, maybe the actual height of Kilimanjaro hasn't, but the offical figure for it has. Even today there are several numbers to choose from for the altitude of Kilimanjaro.

5895 m, 5893 m or 5892 m

Read how it came to that and then take your pick!

Establishing the Height of Mount Kilimanjaro

Official height of Mt. Kilimanjaro, 5895 mSign at Uhuru Peak, stating the official height of Mt. Kilimanjaro.

It all started in 1889, when Dr. Hans Meyer on his third attempt finally became the first person to conquer the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. (It should take another 20 years before a second climber would climb the full height of Kilimanjaro.)

Well, when Hans Meyer returned from his climb he went on to tell the world that he had climbed to 19,833 ft or about 6045 m. We do know that that height is exaggerated. The colonial authorities in Germany adjusted the figure to 5892 metres and that was the official height of Kilimanjaro until 1952.

That year Kilimanjaro was mapped by British cartographers. The new official Mt. Kilimanjaro altitude was 5895 metres or 19340 ft.

This is the Kilimanjaro height written on the sign at Uhuru Peak itself. And it is also the figure that you will find in most resources and information materials about Kilimanjaro, including this website.

Except, the UNEP/WCMC (United Nations Environment Programme/World Conservation Monitoring Centre), in their official fact sheet about Kilimanjaro National Park, states the height of Kilimanjaro as 5893 metres...

A new height for Mount Kilimanjaro?

Since 1952 technology has obviously improved somewhat. So a team of specialists re-measured the height of Kilimanjaro in 1999, using the newly available GPS technology. GPS technology that had made Mt. Everest shrink a few metres. And Mt. Kilimanjaro met the same fate... 

5892.55 metres was the result. Kilimanjaro had shrunk by 2.45 metres.

Technology evolves fast, so 2008 the exercise was repeated. And wouldn't you know it, GPS and gravimeter methods tell us Kilimanjaro is now only 5,891.8 metres high! (19,330 ft).

It is reasonable to assume that this latest reading is the most accurate.

What is not clear is whether the height loss is a result of actual shrinking or just the result of the less accurate technology available in previous years. Maybe a combination of both.

Clear is, so far everybody is still referring to Mount Kilimanjaro as being 5895 metres high.

If that Kilimanjaro height is good enough to appear on the UNESCO world heritage listing for Kilimanjaro National Park, then it is good enough for me. I shall go with the flow...

  • Official Mount Kilimanjaro height: 5895 m - 19340 ft - used by nearly everyone.

  • More accurate Mt. Kilimanjaro height: 5892.55 m - 19332 ft - used for example in the UNEP/WCMC fact sheet.

  • Latest Mount Kilimanjaro height: 5891.8 m - 19330 ft - according to Kilimanjaro 2008 Precise Height Measurement Expedition.

The Height of Kilimanjaro's Two Other Peaks

  • Mawenzi: 5,149 m or 16,890 ft (the third highest peak in Africa after Mount Kenya.)

  • Shira: 3,962 m or 13,000 ft

More Kilimanjaro Facts

What it takes to climb Kilimanjaro

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