Fire blazes on Kilimanjaro above the Marangu Route’s Mandara Hut

A fire started on the south-eastern side of Kilimanjaro on Sunday evening. The fire occurred above the tree-line, to the north of the Mandara Huts. These huts are typically where trekkers on the Marangu Route at the end of their first night on the mountain.

Several of our guides were on Kilimanjaro attending a training course when the fire started, and were able to help firefighters  in the efforts to extinguish it. However, though they were able to bring the fire under control the next day, it restarted again and is still raging as I write this on Tuesday morning.

We also had a group of three climbers who successfully made it to the summit this morning. They were not on the Marangu Route but were on our very popular Alternative Lemosho Route. One of the Kilimanjaro Experts, Robert Masha, was able to capture this image from Hans Meyer Cave, which is on the other side of the Saddle from the fire.

Image of fire burning on Kilimanjaro's Marangu Route


While the photo is not the best and is, of course, very dark, those of you who know the layout of the mountain will know how far away that is, which gives you some idea of just how extensive the fire is.

There are no reports of any injuries or deaths caused by the fire, but the damage caused to the mountain is as yet unknown.

The cause of the fire is not known, though there has been an extensive dry spell in the region and the short rainy season has yet to arrive.  As is usual, there are also conspiracy theories circulating that the park authorities are somehow behind the fire, the suggestion being that they started the fire in order to improve the budget they receive from the authorities in the next financial year.

Fires are nothing new on Kilimanjaro, and often it’s man who starts them, either deliberately, as an act of arson, or by accident. Honey collectors, who deliberately start fires in order to smoke out the bees so they can get to the honey, are often blamed, though in recent years most of the fires have been above the tree-line, and thus above the territory where the honey collectors work.