Less than a hundred years later, however, Ptolemy of Alexandria, astronomer and the founder of scientific cartography, wrote of lands lying to the south of Rhapta where barbaric cannibals lived near a wide shallow bay and where, inland, one could find a ‘great snow mountain’. Mountains that wear a mantle of snow are pretty thin on the ground in Africa; indeed, there is only one candidate that is permanently adorned in snow, and that, of course, is Kilimanjaro.
How exactly Ptolemy came by his information is unknown, for he almost certainly never saw Kilimanjaro for himself. Nevertheless, based on hearsay though it may have been, this is the earliest surviving written mention of Africa’s greatest mountain. It therefore seems logical to conclude that the outside world first became aware of Africa’s tallest mountain in the years between the publication of the Periplus in AD45, and that of Ptolemy’s work, sometime during the latter half of the second century AD.
<< History of Kilimanjaro | The outsiders arrive >>