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Kilimanjaro: Fire breaks out on Mount Kilimanjaro

According to Kilimanjaro National Park officials, the fire broke out on October 11. This was confirmed by the Tanzania National Parks communications manager Patrick Shelutete. Mount Kilimanjaro has 3 volcanic cones: Kibo, Mawenzi and Shira. It is the highest mountain in Africa and the highest single free-standing mountain in the world: 5,895 metres above sea level and about 4,900 metres above its plateau base. Kilimanjaro is a huge tourism money spinner for Tanzania, hosting thousands of visitors and climbers from around the world, annually.

Communities living near the peak were said to have tried to extinguish the flames, but the altitude of the fire made it difficult, according to local media. It was not immediately clear how the fire started.

A fire broke out on Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro on Sunday, the country’s National Parks service said on Twitter.

An initial image showed flames on the mountain, showing an orange blaze about midway up Africa’s highest peak, with the Tanzania National Parks service saying that “efforts to extinguish it are still ongoing.”

Local newspaper The Citizen said communities situated near the peak were trying to put out the flames, but the altitude of the fire made battling the blaze difficult.

At 5,895 meters (19,341 feet), Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest free-standing mountain in the world, formed by a dormant volcano near East Africa’s Rift Valley.

Kilimanjaro and Tourism

Mount Kilimanjaro attracts over 35,000 climbers a year, plus 5000 day visitors, Most of these visitors are North Americans and Europeans who book their tours.  The local arrangements are generally made by Tanzanian tour agencies, which charge about $1200 for a 7-day Kilimanjaro package, including the first and last nights in a hotel (UNWTO 2010). In addition to the Tanzanian agency╩╝s fee, tourists also spend on average $170 on tips and souvenirs, etc. So the average visitor climbing Kilimanjaro contributes $1370 to the Tanzanian economy. According to Mitchell out of that amount, almost half (47%) goes to the National Park authority ($60per day for the entry fee, $40 per day for the camping fee and $20 for compulsory rescueinsurance). The rest consists of wages and tips (18%), profit for Tanzanian tour agencies(16%), accommodation (6%), food and drink (6%), souvenirs and other services (4%), andtransport (3%). Each group of climbers has at least one guide and one cook, and each climber has at least three porters, in accordance with MKNP regulations. It is estimated that the average annual income from Kilimanjaro treks, including both wages and tips, is $1830 for guides, $842 for porters and $771 for cooks. This is far higher than the average national income of about $300 per person, despite the fact that the climbing season is of limited duration.With 35,000 climbers paying on average $1370 each, the local economy thus receives about $50 million a year. Of that amount, it is estimated that 28% directly benefits the poor. 90% of all the food and drink comes from local farms and markets. 50% of all spending on souvenirs goes to local craftsmen,16% of all hotel costs are paid to ordinarystaff. Even a small share of the hefty National Park fee supports local community projects (over $1 million in 2006). However, the most significant impact is for guides, cooks and porters, the majority of whom are from local Chagga farming communities. It is estimated that each year, trekking tourism provides 400 jobs for guides, 500 for cooks and about 10,000 for porters.

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