Africa is a treasure of beautiful landscapes. It is one of the few regions that capture the essence of awe-inspiring beauty and geographical diversity. However, the continent is home to some of the highest mountains on Earth, over 4000 meters, and less explored than the Himalayas and Alps.
In this article, we will share with you the ten highest mountains in Africa, offering breathtaking views and incredible adventures.
The highest mountains in Africa
1. Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Highest Point: Kibo Peak (5895m | 19,341ft)
Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is, without a doubt, the crown jewel of African mountains. It is the highest mountain in Africa, standing at an impressive height of 5,895 meters. This majestic peak attracts adventurers from all corners of the globe, seeking to conquer its lofty summit.
Mount Kilimanjaro comprises three primary peaks: Kibo, Mawenzi, and Shira.
Kibo is the crown of this mighty mountain, offering hikers awe-inspiring panoramic views and bask in the glory of conquering Africa’s tallest peak. Arusha is the gateway to Mount Kilimanjaro. It is adorned with lush rainforests, making the journey to the summit an unforgettable experience. As climbers ascend through different ecological zones, it has five different climatic zones: rainforest, heathland, moorland, alpine desert, and Arctic.
The climb to Mt. Kilimanjaro isn’t technical; however, it is still physically challenging due to the height. Scaling Mount Kilimanjaro is a dream for adventure enthusiasts and outdoor lovers alike. With its rugged beauty, awe-inspiring landscapes, and challenging climbing routes, it offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Whether you are an experienced mountaineer or a passionate hiker, Mount Kilimanjaro invites you to push your limits and capture the breathtaking beauty of Africa’s highest mountain.
2. Mount Kenya, Kenya
Highest Point: Bastian Peak, 5199m | 19,341ft
Mount Kenya is the second-highest mountain in Africa, reaching an impressive elevation of 17,057 feet. It is a magnificent sight, boasting three distinct peaks: Batian, Nelion, and Point Lenana.
Situated within the Mount Kenya National Park, this mountain is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The park spans over 700 square miles and is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including elephants, buffalos, and various bird species.
One of the unique features of Mount Kenya is its belts of vegetation, which change as you ascend the mountain. The lower slopes are covered in lush montane forest, while higher up, you’ll find bamboo forests and extensive heathlands. Above 11,000 feet, the landscape transforms into an otherworldly moorland.
It is also a water source for millions of people. The mountain’s melting glaciers and numerous rivers provide water for more than two million individuals living in the surrounding areas.
3. Mount Stanley, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo
Highest Point: Margherita Peak, 5109m | 17,047ft
Mount Stanley is located in both Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is the third-highest peak in Africa, with an elevation of 16,794 feet (5,119 meters). It is part of the magnificent Rwenzori Mountain Range, which is famous for its rugged and scenic beauty.
Mount Stanley is known for its prominent twin peaks, Margherita and Alexandra. Margherita Peak, standing at 16,762 feet (5,109 meters), is the highest point in the range and the third-highest peak in Africa. Alexandra Peak, slightly lower at 16,558 feet (5,042 meters), adds to the mountain’s majestic allure.
Besides its impressive elevation, Mount Stanley holds cultural significance as the “Mountain of the Moon.” Its unique name reflects the beauty and mystery associated with this awe-inspiring peak.
These ecosystems support various endemic plant and animal species, making the mountain an ecological hotspot. It also serves as a water source for nearby communities, contributing to the livelihoods of local populations.
4. Mount Speke, Uganda
Highest Point: Vittorio Emanuele 4890m | 16,043ft
Mount Speke is the fourth-highest mountain in Africa. It is in the magnificent Rwenzori mountain range in Uganda. The mountain is named after John Hanning Speke. He was the British explorer who discovered the source of the Nile.
Mount Speke boasts multiple jagged peaks, with the highest peak known as Vittorio Emanuele, named after the Italian explorer. Standing at 16,043 feet (4,890 meters), Vittorio Emanuele offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes.
While climbing Mount Speke has become relatively easier in recent years due to the disappearance of most of its glaciers, the journey is still challenging. Trekkers must navigate through rugged terrain, including negotiating rivers, streams, and dense vegetation due to the high rainfall in the area. Proper training, preparation, and experienced guides are essential for a successful climb.
The ascent of Mount Speke not only provides a thrilling adventure but also offers an opportunity to witness the diverse ecosystems of the Rwenzori mountain range. From lush tropical rainforests to rocky ridges, climbers will encounter a multitude of unique flora and fauna along their journey.
5. Mount Baker, Uganda
Highest Point: Edward Peak, 4844m | 15,892 ft
Located in Uganda, Mount Baker is the fifth-highest mountain in Africa. With a height of 4,844 meters, it proudly stands within the majestic Rwenzori Mountain Range. Interestingly, the mountain was named ‘Mountains of the Moon’ by a Greek Merchant thousands of years ago because of its sparse, ice-coated slopes.
The fifth-highest mountain offers several popular and picturesque routes for climbers to embark on their journey to its summit. However, reaching the top is no easy feat, as the mountain presents challenging terrain and dramatic landscapes.
As trekkers make their way up Mount Baker, they will be greeted with steep inclines, rocky paths, and dense vegetation. The rugged terrain adds to the allure of the climb, providing adventurers with a true sense of accomplishment when they reach the summit.
You can reach from Hunwick’s Camp, which is about 3974m/13,038 ft. It will take you about four to six hours to ascend the 4.3 km journey to the top.
6. Mount Emin, Democratic Republic of Congo
Highest Point: Umberto Peak, 4798m | 15,741ft
Mount Emin is the sixth-highest mountain in Africa, located in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is part of the Rwenzori mountain range and stands at an impressive elevation of 4798 meters.
The ascent of Mount Emin is a challenging endeavor, as it features rugged and difficult terrain. Climbing this majestic peak requires experience, technical skill, and physical endurance. The mountain presents climbers with steep slopes, icy glaciers, and unpredictable weather conditions, making it a formidable undertaking.
Mount Emin is closely connected to its neighboring peak, Mount Gessi. These two mountains are often referred to jointly as the Emin-Gessi complex. Mount Emin was named after the renowned explorer Mohammed Amin Asha. The first documented ascent of Mount Emin was achieved by Italian explorer Prince Luigi Amedeo, the Duke of Abruzzi, in 1906.
To climb the peak, you’ll need to trek through the Ugandan side’s- the Mugusu Valley. You’ll need ropes, crampons, and other protective gear to reach the summit.
7. Mount Gessi, Uganda
Highest Point: Lolanda, 4715m | 15,470ft
Mount Gessi is another prominent peak located in the northern portion of Rwenzori Mountains National Park, straddling the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Standing at an impressive elevation of 4,715 meters, Mount Gessi is a notable and renowned part of the Rwenzori Mountain Range.
The name comes from Romulo Gessi, an Italian explorer who played a significant role in mapping the course of the White Nile. As one of the highest mountains in Uganda, Mount Gessi offers a challenging climb, attracting experienced mountaineers; however, it is a bit less technical climb than others.
The rugged and difficult terrain of Mount Gessi presents climbers with steep slopes, glaciers, and unpredictable weather conditions. Its proximity to other notable peaks, including Mount Emin, contributes to the allure of this region, commonly referred to as the Emin-Gessi complex.
The Duke of Abruzzi made the first documented ascent of the mountain.
8. Mount Meru, Tanzania
Highest Point: Socialist Peak, 4566m | 14,980 ft
Mount Meru is the second-highest mountain in Tanzania and the eighth-highest in all of Africa. Located 60 kilometers west of the iconic Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Meru is a dormant volcano that sits within the boundaries of Arusha National Park.
The mountain’s lower slopes are a treasure trove of diverse wildlife, making it a paradise for nature enthusiasts and wildlife photographers. One can spot elephants, buffalos, giraffes, zebras, and antelopes roaming freely in their natural habitat. The montane forest that covers these slopes is also home to a wide variety of bird species, boasting over 400 recorded species, making it a haven for birdwatchers.
Climbing Mount Meru presents an exciting and rewarding challenge for adventurers. The trek to its summit is less crowded than Mount Kilimanjaro, offering a more secluded and authentic experience. The ascent typically takes around 3-4 days, taking climbers through a range of stunning landscapes, including grasslands, moorlands, and rocky outcrops.
The mountain is popular for acclimatization before trekking to Mount Kilimanjaro as it is 1000 meters lower than Kili. However, the trek is physically challenging because of the steeper ascent and barren ridge.
Mount Meru and its surrounding Arusha National Park offer a unique and unforgettable experience for those seeking adventure and natural beauty in Tanzania’s stunning landscapes.
9. Mount Semien, Ethiopia
Highest Point: Ras Dashen Peak, 4533m | 14,872ft
Mount Semien is the 9th highest mountain in Africa. It is located in the Simien Mountains range in northern Ethiopia. Standing at an impressive altitude of 4,550 meters, it holds the distinction of being the highest point in Ethiopia.
Mount Semien is renowned for its sheer rock cliffs, jagged peaks, and breathtaking vistas. Its rugged and dramatic landscape is a sight to behold, attracting adventurers and nature enthusiasts from around the world.
What sets Mount Semien apart is not just its lofty stature but also its significance as part of the Simien Mountains National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This protected area is home to several endangered species, including the Walia ibex, a unique species of mountain goat found only in this region. The park is a critical habitat for these endangered animals, playing a vital role in their conservation.
Caution: it is reported by several trekkers that the park guides beg for money and equipment. They are not adequately trained.
10. Mount Karisimbi, Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda
Highest Point: Karisimbi, 4507m | 14,787ft
Mount Karisimbi is located on the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. It is a majestic stratovolcano rising to a height of 4,507 meters (14,787 feet).
Situated within the spectacular Virunga Mountain Range, Mount Karisimbi offers a unique and unforgettable experience for adventurers and nature enthusiasts alike. The mountain is part of the renowned Volcanoes National Park, which is renowned for its dense alpine forests, rich biodiversity, and, most notably, its population of endangered mountain gorillas.
Reaching the summit of Mount Karisimbi is a challenging yet rewarding feat, providing unparalleled panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes. With its pristine wilderness and remarkable ecological significance, Mount Karisimbi is a true testament to the remarkable beauty of Africa’s mountains.
It takes seven hours to climb to the summit.