The Kilimanjaro Region
Kilimanjaro Region

The Kilimanjaro region, located in the North Eastern side of Tanzania is one of the five most developed areas in the country. Tanzania has 31 administrative areas. Kilimanjaro Region, which is called Mkoa wa Kilimanjaro in Swahili, is one of them. The city of Moshi is the regional capital and biggest city. The region had a population of 1,640,087 according to the 2012 national census. This was less than the 1,702,207 people who were expected to live there before the survey. The area had the 24th highest average yearly population growth rate in the country from 2002 to 2012. With 124 people per square kilometre, it was also the eighth most heavily populated area. The Chagga, the Rombos (also called Warombos), and the Pare of the Pare Mountains are the most well-known groups in the Kilimanjaro area.

This part of Tanzania is part of the Northern Tourism Circuit. Mount Kilimanjaro is in Kilimanjaro National Park. The Pare Mountains, Lake Jipe, and Lake Chala are also in Mkomazi National Park. Kenya is to the north and east of the region. The Tanga Region is to the south, the Manyara Region is to the southwest, and the Arusha Region is to the west.

How Kilimanjaro Region got its name

Swahili people nearby the coast called the mountain “Kilima Ndsharo” (or “Dscharo”), which means “The Country of Dschagga,” as early as the 1800s. Rebmann said that the mountain’s Swahili names mean “Great Mountain” and “the Mountain of the Caravans” in 1848 and 1849. He was talking about the mountain that people could see from far away and used as a guide. He and Krapf found that different groups of people in the area used the word in different ways. For example, the Taita shortened the coastal Swahili word to “Ndscharo.” The Kamba name for it was “Kima ja Jeu,” which means “Mountain of Whiteness.” It was called “Ol Donyo Eibor,” which in Maasai means “White Mountain.” It was just called “Kibo” by the Chagga people, especially the Kilema and Machame. Rebmann spelled Kilimandscharo as “Kilimanjaro” in German from 1848 to 1849. By 1860, the name had been changed!

Districts of the Kilimanjaro Region

Kilimanjaro Region is comprised of one city and six districts, each governed by a council. The districts are as follows:

  1. Moshi District: This district has a population of 509,431 (2017 estimates) and is home to the city of Moshi, which serves as the capital of the region. The district had a population of 466,737 according to the 2012 census.
  2. Moshi Municipal: A part of Moshi District, Moshi Municipal has a population of 201,150 (2017 estimates) and had a population of 184,292 according to the 2012 census.
  3. Hai District: With a population of 229,791 (2017 estimates), Hai District is known for its diverse population and vibrant communities. The district had a population of 210,533 according to the 2012 census.
  4. Siha District: Siha District has a population of 126,953 (2017 estimates) and is known for its scenic landscapes and agricultural activities. The district had a population of 116,313 according to the 2012 census.
  5. Rombo District: Known for its rich cultural heritage and natural beauty, Rombo District has a population of 284,834 (2017 estimates). The district had a population of 260,963 according to the 2012 census.
  6. Mwanga District: Mwanga District, with a population of 143,466 (2017 estimates), is characterized by its lush greenery and traditional way of life. The district had a population of 131,442 according to the 2012 census.
  7. Same District: Same District is known for its diverse landscapes and vibrant communities. It has a population of 294,487 (2017 estimates), compared to 269,807 according to the 2012 census.

In total, the population of Kilimanjaro Region was 1,790,113 according to 2017 estimates, compared to 1,640,087 according to the 2012 census.


Climate The weather is very changeable in the Kilimanjaro region, even during the same day. One minute it can be warm and sunny, and the next minute cooler with rain. The wind can go from a lightning-speed gale to dead calm within minutes. Let’s just say the only predictable thing about Kilimanjaro weather is that it is very unpredictable. Temperature decreases as you go higher; it also varies largely depending on the time of day and the specific area on the mountain. At the beginning of the trek in the rainforest zone, you may experience temperatures of around 40-50 degrees during the day, and 50 degrees in the evening/morning. Daytime temperatures at the summit can range from 20 degrees down to extremely low, depending on the specific location and time of the climb. Precipitation also varies drastically depending on the specific area of the mountain. The southwesterly side of the mountain receives much more rain than the north and east, and the summit may receive snowfall at any time of the year.

Mountainous Terrain

Hazardous land and soil type cover 37% of the region, characterized by steep, unstable surfaces where mass movement is common and major gully erosion occurs. Most land use is subsistence hillside small-holder agriculture and over-cultivation is widespread in the high potential zones. This often leads to accelerated soil erosion and increasingly precarious land use. 48% of the region is classified as having high potential land use, but only 18% is cultivated due to many areas being unsuitable for agriculture and an unequal land distribution. Only 17% of land in the KMR is gazetted forest, though in theory forest land is state owned. These forests play an essential role in the hydrology of the region and traditional methods of forest management are no longer suitable given the dramatic increase in population in the region. In many areas the complexity and fragility of the mountain terrain mean that a sound, scientifically supported form of land management has never been established.

Considerable variations in altitude occur in the Kilimanjaro Region. It ranges from 550m to 5,900m above sea level and over the extent of only a few kilometres as the crow flies, the rise is precipitous. The whole of the region can be considered as most broken and hilly. Above 2,750m, 75% of the land area is at a gradient of over 20%. This terrain obviously offers significant difficulties to development, in terms of both high cost of road construction and limited land available for agriculture. It also has implications for the movement and settlement of people and for water drainage patterns. These in turn have serious long-term consequences for land stability, and susceptibility to natural hazards, particularly in steep valleys and on hill slopes. These have implications for land use and land management in the region.


The Chagga people have utilized this diversity in climate by establishing banana and coffee “shambas” on the mountain’s lower slope, and growing maize on the upper slopes. This is in distinct contrast to other crops grown in the region, which are largely subsistence oriented. Erosion resulting from the cultivation of Kilimanjaro has been a concern for decades. This is due to an increase in the number of plants grown for commercial purposes, and a resulting shift away from the traditional Chagga fallow system. As the population increases, more land will be used for cultivation, further accelerating the rate of erosion. Commercial crops are grown on steeper slopes; combined with a lack of protective vegetation, this also accelerates erosion.

Kilimanjaro is affected in various ways by altitude and geography, but perhaps the most influential factor is the climate. The mountain has a profound effect on the local and regional climate. Near the base of the mountain, Chagga farmers have established banana and coffee plantations. At higher elevations, the land is used for grazing livestock. Near the summit, the land is left untouched. The mountain’s heaviest and most consistent precipitation occurs on its southeastern slope. This creates an extremely arid area to the leeward side of the mountain, resulting in the vast Amboseli plain.


The national wildlife of Tanzania has many facets. In the populated and cultivated areas, there are a great many social birds such as weavers, hornbills, and Egyptian geese. The many game reserves and national parks have a resident population of mammals with an average of 2,000 to 3,000 types of birds. The large national parks of northern Tanzania have many animals and birds. The best time to see them is during the dry season from June to October when the animals congregate more toward the permanent water sources. At this time of the year, the resident population includes wildebeest, zebras, hartebeest, gazelles, and the large predators: lion, leopard, hyena, and cheetah. The elephants are mainly found in the northern parks, but they do move through the other areas quite often. The rhinoceros was once abundant in the northern parks, but it was unfortunately hunted to extinction in the 1970s. In the small crater highlands, about a two-hour drive from Moshi, there is a remote and unknown game reserve called the West Kilimanjaro Game Controlled Area. This area has a very healthy population of elephants and other mammals.

National Parks

The area of the Kilimanjaro region is home to some of the most fantastic and beautiful wildlife parks in the world. The national parks that are in the region itself, Amboseli, Kilimanjaro National Park and Tsavo, are unique from each other and offer the visitor different perspectives of what Africa is about. Amboseli is approximately 390 square kilometres in size and is situated 240 kilometers to the southeast of Nairobi. It is renowned for its large herd of over 900 free-ranging elephants. The park is also an ecosystem made up of five different habitats and a swamp. It’s one of the best places in Africa to view large herds of elephants up close. Other animals that can be viewed in the park are buffalos, black rhinos, impalas, lions, cheetahs, hyenas, giraffes, zebras, and wildebeest among other African animals. The bird species recorded in the Amboseli area are over 400.

Endangered Species

The Eastern Arc mountains and the Albertine Rift are two other areas of Tanzania that host highly endangered species. It is only in the last few decades that researchers have discovered that the Eastern Arc mountains host a high amount of endemic species, which are highly endangered due to the decline in habitat protection. The same can be said for the Albertine Rift, which has the highest population density in Africa. The increased demand for resources has led to heavy deforestation in these areas, which contributes to habitat loss and poaching. An example of a species at the brink of extinction in the Albertine Rift is the Saadani lion, which numbers only around 100 today.

The most famous endangered species in the region is the mountain gorilla, which has been on the critically endangered list since the 1990s. The gorillas are protected in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Both of these parks are situated in the Virunga Mountains, which is a chain of volcanoes that range through the Uganda-Rwanda-DRC border. It is said that the mountain gorillas in these parks are the only great apes that are increasing in population. This is due to successful conservation methods and community participation programs. Other endangered species of the Virunga Mountains include the golden monkey, the chimpanzee, and the forest elephant. The conservation of these species is crucial due to the region’s biodiversity being negatively affected by the First and Second Congo Wars and other conflicts in the 21st century. This has caused an increase in the poaching of gorillas and other animals to provide food for fighters and rebel groups.


You will find bird watching a rewarding experience while in the Kilimanjaro region. There are over 400 species of birds that have been recorded, many of which are not found in the national parks. In the forest around the mountain, birders can seek the Usambara eagle owl, the white-eyed slaty flycatcher, and the scaly francolin. All of these are only found in the Usambara mountains. In the savannah, birders can search for the chestnut-coiled sparrow lark, the red capped lark, and the pangani longclaw. All of these are only found in Tanzania and Kenya and are considered globally threatened species. It is also possible to see the bee-eater and the hoopoe, birds which signal the proximity of the Maasai and steppe terrains. Lastly, anyone visiting a lake or river in the Kilimanjaro plain will be able to see their share of water birds, such as many types of ibis and egrets, fish eagles, and kingfishers. This wide variety of habitats and the concentration of rare or globally threatened species make bird watching in the Kilimanjaro region an appealing and diverse activity.

Culture and History

The German colonial period in Tanzania began in the late nineteenth century, and the effects of German rule can still be seen today. The Germans were initially attracted to Tanzania because of the wealth of natural resources, and Kilimanjaro was a perfect location for a colony due to its temperate climate. The Germans established a great deal of infrastructure in the area, including a railway and road system, much of which is still used today. They also introduced a number of crops to the region, including coffee, which is still a major cash crop on Kilimanjaro. Germany fought in World War I against the British in East Africa, and they ultimately lost and were forced to leave Tanzania. This period in history has had a lasting effect on the Kilimanjaro Region, and there is still a great deal of evidence of German occupation. Today, Tanzania is a member of the British Commonwealth and has ongoing relations with Britain. Many people in the Kilimanjaro Region feel that the British would be a better alternative to the current political situation, and there is some feeling of superiority towards the British due to the fact that they successfully removed the Germans from Tanzania.

During the course of the nineteenth century, there was a great deal of upheaval and change in the Kilimanjaro Region due to the advent of the slave trade and the subsequent incursion of German colonialists. During this period, many indigenous groups were forced to move from their lands due to Arab slave raids between 1850 and 1870. It was during this time that many Chagga moved from the lower slopes of Kilimanjaro to higher elevations in order to escape the slavers.

Still relatively untouched by modern Western influence, the Kilimanjaro Region is home to several indigenous tribes. The largest tribe in the region is the Chagga, who are known for their extensive knowledge of the land and agricultural practices as well as their industriousness. The Chagga have always been sedentary and they live on the fertile slopes of Kilimanjaro, a perfect area for their mixed economy of farming, including bananas, coffee, maize, and beans. Also located on Kilimanjaro and the neighboring Pare and Usambara mountains are the Maasai. The Maasai are a semi-nomadic group who are believed to have come to Tanzania from the north in the fifteenth century. The Maasai are an enigmatic group who are known for their colorful dress and their age-old customs and traditions. The Maasai have maintained their lifestyle and their distinct identity better than most indigenous groups in Tanzania and are the second largest tribe in Tanzania. Both the Maasai and the Chagga have turned to the tourism industry in order to improve their standard of living and to increase development in their respective areas. The other tribes in the Kilimanjaro Region include the Sambaa (or Shambala), who are a more agrarian group and are located primarily on the Usambara mountains, the Pare, the Mbugu, and the Kwere who are also located in the same area, and the Zigua and the Taita who are primarily located in coastal areas with some presence in the Kilimanjaro Region. These indigenous tribes have a wealth of history and culture, and many are still living in an age-old manner.

Indigenous Tribes

The Sambaa tribe has an extraordinary history and their move to form into a tribesman culture is credited to a paranormal foresight. Due to the Chagga extending over the lower regions of Pare Mountains, they required more area for advancement and it incited a long war in the middle of them and the Pare, which brought about the crushing of the Pare tribes. This compelled the Pare to search for asylum in Usambara Mountains and others to abandon the region.

The Pare tribe, who are found mostly around the southern slants of the mountain, are individuals of Bantu plunge. They are patrilineal and they are known to have moved to the Kilimanjaro region around the 1600s. Ndengereko, who recently moved on the lower regions of Pare Mountains, the Zigua, the Alagwa, and the Taita, are the notable a percentage of the Pare tribes. They are peanut producers who experience a semi-roaming lifestyle. Like the Chagga, the Pare made their region by crushing the backwoods and they turned into agrarians.

Every family has a little animal dwelling place for their bovines and dairy creatures on the base of the mountain and will have a few miles hike up to their banana and espresso ranches. The Chagga used to invest energy in their timberland homesteads just amid the blustery season and would live at home on the fields amid the dry seasons.

The Chagga are the most established native tribe in the Kilimanjaro region. They are logical cultivators and are known for transforming the verdant inclines of the mountain into farmland. They have an effective beneficial society often known as “Know Me”. This is a casual game plan in which a man helps someone else cultivate his territory, with the understanding that the lenders will send some help at reap opportunity to the individual who is helping them now. “Know Me” frequently cultivate together.

Colonial Influence

Post-World War II, the area experienced rapid development. This came mostly in the form of modernization and the integration of the Chagga people into the greater Tanzanian economy. Towns and cities in the Kilimanjaro area experienced great economic growth as a result of the world economy increasing the price of coffee. This was a great windfall to the Chagga people, as they had extensively adopted coffee farming. Schools and health centers became more widespread, and the people of the Kilimanjaro area were gradually adopting a more modern lifestyle. However, this has had negative repercussions in recent times. The global economy’s instability in the coffee market has led to a less effective cash crop. As a result, the Chagga people have been seeking alternative forms of income and lifestyles. This period since the 1980s has seen great growth in the tourist industry in the Kilimanjaro region. Primary and tourism centered around Mt. Kilimanjaro have become the two most common forms of income for native Chagga. This new form of economy has required yet another lifestyle transformation, and Chagga are becoming ever more intermingled with the greater Tanzanian way of life.

Beginning in the late 19th and early 20th century, Germany took control of the Kilimanjaro region and established both missionary centers and colonial administration headquarters in the area. During this time, the native Chagga people were subjected to heavy labor exploitation, as well as military conscription. Due to pressure from the British after World War I, the area was ceded to the British Empire, and a similar exploitative process occurred for the native populace. This time period is famously depicted in the writings of Ernest Hemingway and Elspeth Huxley, both of whom resided in the area. It was not until after World War II that the native peoples of the Kilimanjaro area began to see any substantial changes in their ways of life.

Tourism in the Kilimanjaro Region

Mt. Kilimanjaro can be climbed at any time. However, you are more likely to see the summit during the dry season of December to February and slightly less so, during July and August. It is during the rainy seasons that the mountain is often wrapped in thick cloud. This combined with the fact that the routes can become very muddy, makes climbing much tougher, and hypothermia becomes a real risk at the higher altitudes.

With growing interest in eco-tourism and the challenges posed by long treks across the world’s highest peaks, Kilimanjaro has become a major destination for mountaineers and trekkers from around the world. Around 25,000 climb the mountain annually. That said, it should be noted that reaching the summit is neither a mountain climb nor a trek, and is best considered a hike. Virtually no technical skill is required, nor is any special mountaineering equipment. There is no need for crampons, ropes, or ice axes. What it does require is the utmost determination since the effects of altitude can hit anyone, regardless of age or fitness, and the overall success rate is under 65%.

As one of the world’s most famous tourist destinations, most visitors entering the Kilimanjaro region are interested in reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro – the highest mountain in Africa. Mount Kilimanjaro is a wonder of nature and the crown of Tanzania. It is located in the Kilimanjaro Region and is the highest mountain in Africa. It stands at 19,341 feet above sea level. Every year, it attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world: some who attempt to reach the summit; others who seek to simply view this great mountain and observe the various interesting natural habitats surrounding its lower slopes. These include the montane forest belt, cultivation zone, the Afro-alpine and high-altitude desert zones.

Mount Kilimanjaro

At 19,340 feet, Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest point and it is the highest “free-standing” mountain in the world. This colossal mountain is composed of three cones: Kibo, Mawenzi, and Shira, all of which are now extinct. Mount Kilimanjaro is an stratovolcano, which basically means that it is built up of many layers of hardened lava, tephra, pumice, and volcanic ash. This kind of volcano is characterized by its steep profile and periodic, explosive eruptions. 360,000 people climb Kilimanjaro annually, making it the most climbed mountain in the world. The mountain is an awesome sight and one of Africa’s major landmarks. Its massive snow-capped summit rises high above the dusty African plains. The huge abundance of life in the area of the mountain contrasts sharply with the icy summit, but makes the mountain all the more beautiful. Unfortunately, however, due to global warming, scientists predict that one of Kilimanjaro’s most fascinating features, the glaciers that reside in Kibo’s crater, may all but disappear in the near future. So, the best visit the glaciers while you still have the chance!

Safari Adventures

Safari has become a major drawcard. The northern part of the KINAPA and the western approaches to the National Park are popular areas to go game driving. Good roads, all-year availability of water, and picturesque landscapes make wildlife viewing in this part of the country an attractive experience. The main game drive circuits follow the West Kilimanjaro, Nale Moru, Lake Chala, Kikelelwa, and Machame areas. At higher altitudes (which means colder conditions and possible fog) around the Shira Plateau and Barranco, there are roads, but the area is really only suited to the keen and fit trekkers who also want a taste of a different type of safari experience. At lower altitudes, such as the various zones of forest around the Park and on the lower slopes of the mountain, there are numerous other areas offering attractive walking safari. This type of safari can be arranged through the Park’s fees, and proper sundries should be paid directly to TANAPA and carried out in the company of armed TANAPA and NCAA rangers. Note: for climate zone-specific customs, fascinating itineraries, and specialist info, there is an excellent color booklet.

See our safaris from the Kilimanjaro region

Local Cuisine

Other traditional dishes include ‘nyama na kisamvu’ (meat and pumpkin leaves), ‘nyama na mchicha’ (meat with greens), ‘corn on the cob’ and ‘kuku wa kupaka’ (swimming chicken). Currently, the most popular national dish is ‘nyama choma’ (barbecued meat) often served with chips and kachumbari. BBQ joints are widespread around the country, the most famous in the Kilimanjaro region being ‘Chagga Grill’. It is also worth noting that a local brew known as Mbege goes well with the local cuisine.

Method: Skin and cut bananas into chunks, slice tomatoes and onions. Fry the meat in the pot until golden brown. Remove the meat, fry the onions in the same oil, add the meat back into the pot and sprinkle salt on the meat. Continue frying the meat until the onion turns golden brown. Add the tomato pieces and fry for a few minutes. Add tomato puree, and then mix the bananas and fry for 3-4 minutes. Add the water and simmer until the bananas are soft and there is a good sauce. Serve hot.

Ingredients: 8 ripe bananas, 2 onions, 1.5 lbs of meat, 2 big tomatoes, 2 tbsp. tomato puree, salt/pepper, 2 cups water.

The Chagga culture has a rich culinary tradition centered around the main staple, bananas, served roasted, boiled, or mashed. One of the traditional Chagga dishes is ‘machalare’ or “Ng’ande”, a banana stew, served with meat, beans or green vegetables.

Notable People from the Kilimanjaro Region

Freeman Mbowe

Here are some notable individuals from the Kilimanjaro region:

  1. Barnaba Classic: Musician known for his contributions to the Tanzanian music industry.
  2. Scholastica Kimaryo: International civil servant, journalist, and life coach.
  3. Elieshi Lema: Renowned writer known for her literary works.
  4. Freeman Mbowe: Prominent politician in Tanzania.
  5. Lucas Mkenda: Musician celebrated for his talent and contributions to Tanzanian music.
  6. Cleopa Msuya: Third Tanzanian Prime Minister who served the nation.
  7. Flower Msuya: Scientist known for her contributions to the field.
  8. Nathaniel Mtui: First Tanzanian historian who made significant contributions to Tanzanian history.
  9. Nandy: Popular musician recognized for her musical prowess.
  10. Maua Sama: Musician known for her impact on the Tanzanian music scene.
  11. Leonard Shayo: Scholar and mathematician esteemed for his academic contributions.
  12. Bruno Tarimo: Accomplished boxer representing Tanzania on the international stage.
  13. Irene Tarimo: Scientist recognized for her work and contributions to her field.

Nandy - Musician Faustina Charles Mfinanga


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