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What Legend has to say about Mount Kilimanjaro
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What Legend has to say about Mount Kilimanjaro

Mount Kilimanjaro Story From ancient Ethiopian emperors to modern US presidents, Mount Kilimanjaro’s majestic snowcapped peak attracts adventurous from all over the world. According to legend, the first person to ascend Mount Kilimanjaro was King Menelik I, supposedly the son of King Solomon and Queen of Sheba. He ruled the Axumite Empire in what is now northern Ethiopia in the 10th Century BC and fought battles in present-day Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, and Tanzania. As an old man, returned with the spoils of war, he camped between the peaks of Kibo and Mawenzi, at a height of 4500 meters, (14,760ft). Feeling that death was drawing near, he told his followers that he wished to die as a King. He, his warlords, and slaves, laden with jewels and treasure, climbed to the crater, where he died. The legend relates that one of Melelik’s offspring will return to the mountain, climb Kibo and find the King and his jewels.

Among these will be the Seal of Solomon, a ring that will empower the wearer with the wisdom of Solomon. The legend was so firmly believed by the Abyssinian Christians that when the Revd Dr. Reusch (a missionary who spent many years in the Kilimanjaro area, and who later became president of the Mountain Club of East Africa) reached the summit in 1926, many were deeply skeptical that he had reached the top as he found no trace of the long-dead King. Although news of the snowcapped mountain was first mentioned in European literature in 1848 by another missionary, Johannes Rebmann, no serious attempts at exploring Mount Kilimanjaro were made until 1861 when it was attempted by Baron von der Decken and Richard Thornton.


The first successful ascent of the Mountain was eventually made by Hans Meyer and Ludwing Purtscheller on 5 October 1889. Since then, many have reached the summit. Africa’s highest mountain has attracted the rich and famous, and adventurers, including such unlikely people as the former US president Jimmy Carter and Australian supermodel Elle Macpherson. Remarkably, wildlife can survive at this high altitude - John Reader, filming on the mountain in 1983, saw elands, buffalo, jackals, and wild dogs on the Shira plateau, The explorer Wilfred Thesiger describes being tracked by five wild dogs at a height of 5,750 meters (18,865ft). Perhaps the most famous was the frozen specimen of a leopard discovered by Dr. Donald Latham on his 1926 ascent. This gave its name to Leopard’s Point on the crater rim. For some, just climbing Africa’s highest mountain hasn’t been enough. In 1962, three French parachutes drop by landed in the crater. 


Others have successfully reached the top on a motorbike or bicycle. Several people have paraglided from the summit - on one occasion a paraglider was blown off course, and was promptly arrested as a spy. In 2014, 30 cricket players and officials went to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro to play the World's highest cricket match in the flat crater below Uhuru Peak. Such wacky feats are no longer permitted by the park authorities, but there are now regular expeditions to the summit by wheelchair users and people with various disabilities.

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