15 Highest Mountains In Africa

Semien Mountains in Ethiopia (2)

Mountain climbing is popular worldwide, with Africa being particularly recognized for its high peaks offering various routes and summits.

The grandeur of Africa‘s mountains rivals other famous ranges like the Rocky Mountains and Swiss Alps, with some peaks presenting climbing challenges comparable to Mt. Everest.

These mountains are admired for their beauty, biodiversity, and stunning views of the African plains, appealing to hikers, climbers, and nature enthusiasts alike. The following list presents the 15 highest mountains in Africa.

Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania

Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania
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Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak and one of the Seven Summits, is situated in Tanzania, reaching 5,895 meters (19,341 ft) above sea level. It is part of Kilimanjaro National Park and hosts several glaciers, including Africa’s largest ice field.

The mountain attracts climbers worldwide, serving as a significant water source for the region with rivers originating from its slopes. It also houses diverse wildlife, including the endangered Abbots duiker.

Mount Kilimanjaro is particularly popular for climbing during the dry season, typically from January to March and June to October, due to favorable snow conditions and less rain.

Mount Kenya

Mount Kenya
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Mount Kenya hosts diverse wildlife, including lions and leopards, and its vegetation varies with altitude and rainfall. Juniperus procera and Podocarpus species dominate the lower zone, Cassipourea malosana thrives in wetter regions, and bamboo and Podocarpus milanjianus prevail at higher altitudes.

Considered sacred by locals as the home of deity Ngai, Mount Kenya was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was first climbed by Johann Ludwig Krapf in 1849, followed by a partial ascent by Hungarian explorer Samuel Grof Teleki in 1887. Annually, around 15,000 people trek the mountain.

Mount Kenya is Africa’s second-highest mountain, an ancient volcano that once reached over 6,500 meters. Its valleys, formed by glacial erosion, extend from its peaks. The mountain also features glacial tarns and moraine features. Its highest peaks are Batian (5,199 m) and Nelion (5,188 m).

Mount Stanley in DR Congo

Mount Stanley in DR Congo - Source wikipedia
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Mount Stanley, Africa’s third-highest peak, is situated on the Uganda-Democratic Republic of the Congo border. Named after Welsh explorer Sir Henry Morton Stanley, it is part of the Ruwenzori Mountains National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The mountain offers two climbing routes: the Main Circuit and the Kilembe Route, both starting from Kilembe town and ascending the main peaks from the southeast. The routes converge near Kitandara Lakes.

Reaching the summit typically takes eight to nine days via either route. However, the Kilembe Route can be completed in a single day, depending on one’s physical condition and hiking skills.

Mount Meru in Tanzania

Mount Meru - Tanzania
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Mount Meru, Tanzania‘s tallest mountain and an active volcano, once had glacier coverage, with remnants of ice still present. It is situated in Ruwenzori Mountains National Park, hosting five of Africa’s highest peaks, and named after Italian explorer Romulo Gessi.

Accessible by hiking from Uganda or the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mount Meru was active for over 5,000 years before its last major eruption in 1910.

The Momella Route on Mount Meru’s eastern side ascends along the crater rim, offering a stunning view of the volcano’s crater at the summit. Although less popular than other Tanzanian mountains, Mount Meru is recommended for avid climbers.

Semien Mountains in Ethiopia

Semien Mountains in Ethiopia
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The Semien Mountains in Ethiopia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, host diverse wildlife, including the Gelada baboons with thick coats and the critically endangered Walia ibex with long, scimitar-like horns. The Semien jackal or wolf can also be spotted.

Situated in northern Ethiopia, the park spans 180 square kilometers, featuring varied rock formations and a plateau-like massif. It is also a haven for diverse bird species.

Ethiopia’s highest peak, Ras Dashen (4550 meters above sea level), is found here. The Semien Mountains’ landscapes rival the Grand Canyon in Arizona and are home to rare species like the Simien fox, Gelada baboon, and Walia ibex wild goat.

Virunga Mountains in DR Congo

Virunga Mountains in DR Congo - Source wikipedia
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Mount Mikeno, the highest peak in the Virunga Mountains (4437 meters), hosts critically endangered mountain gorillas within a volcanic national park in Rwanda. Hiking is required to appreciate the wildlife.

The Virunga Mountains, located in eastern Africa across the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, and Rwanda, are considered among the world’s most beautiful. Gorilla trekking is a popular activity in the region.

Mount Nyiragongo and Mount Nyamuragira are the highest and second-highest volcanoes, at 3,462 and 4,057 meters respectively. The oldest mountain, Mount Sabyinyo, stands at 3,634 meters.

The Bale Mountains in Ethiopia

The Bale Mountains in Ethiopia
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Bale Mountains National Park, located 400km southeast of Addis Ababa, encompasses Africa’s largest area above 3000m. It boasts the highest concentration of large mammals and endemic species, including moist tropical forests. The park is also home to Ethiopia’s second-tallest mountain, Tulu Dimtu (4,377m).

The Bale Mountains host native Ethiopian animals such as the mountain nyala, Menelik’s bushbuck, colobus monkey, and olive baboon. Various bird species, including the Abyssinian Ground Thrush, Abyssinian Antbird, and Wattled Ibis, inhabit the area, along with notable plant species like giant lobelia.

Mount Elgon in Uganda

Mount Elgon in Uganda - Source wikipedia
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Mount Elgon, one of Africa’s highest mountains, is a 24-million-year-old volcano in Uganda with a base of approximately 4,000km┬▓. It hosts over 300 bird species and holds spiritual significance for local communities.

Several hiking routes are available, such as the Sipi Falls hike starting at the Forest Exploration Centre and the Wanale Ridge hike on the Mbale side. The latter offers daylong treks through moorland or a longer route to the summit.

Mount Elgon’s lower slopes feature tropical montane forests and bamboo, while the upper slopes boast afro-alpine moorland and heath. Protected by national parks in both Kenya and Uganda, the moorlands showcase rare plant species, wildflowers in September, and birds like Jackson’s francolin, alpine chat, and white-starred forest robin.

Kollo Massif in Ethiopia

The Kollo Massif, hosting some of Africa’s highest peaks, is home to endangered species like the Gelada Baboons and Wyala ibex, both endemic and rare, with an estimated global population of 400, mostly residing in the Simien Mountains. The massif includes Mount Ras Dejen (14,927 ft) and Mount Batu (14,130 ft), surrounded by tropical savannas, grasslands, and oases.

Divided into highland and lowland areas, the Kollo Massif features 20 peaks above 4000 meters, including Ras Dashen, Africa’s fourth-highest mountain and Ethiopia’s highest. The national park’s landscape consists of gentle highland ridges ending in deep escarpments, offering panoramic views of lowland valleys from natural lookout points.

Lasta Massif in Ethiopia

The Lasta Massif in Ethiopia hosts one of the world’s highest mountains, standing at 4,533 meters, making it Ethiopia’s highest and Africa’s tenth-highest peak. Snowfall is common on its summit during cold evenings but rarely lasts long due to temperature fluctuations.

Located near Lalibela, the sacred Lasta Massif offers stunning landscapes, remote mountain churches, diverse wildlife, and insights into rural Ethiopian Highlands life. The main trekking route traverses an escarpment with breathtaking scenery, including the opportunity to hike Abune Yosef, Ethiopia’s highest peak.

The Lasta Massif forms part of Ethiopia’s Meket Escarpment, with its southern section covered by the Harenna Forest, spanning over three thousand meters and featuring moist tropical rainforest and an Afroalpine plateau.

Arsi Mountains in Ethiopia

The Arsi Mountains in Ethiopia are a significant range, reaching 3,080 meters in height. They host numerous monasteries, churches, and endemic animal and plant species, reflecting Ethiopia’s rich biodiversity and early Christian adoption.

Notable animals in Ethiopia’s mountains include the Ethiopian wolf, Gelada baboon, Walia ibex, Menelik’s bushbuck, thick-billed raven, wattled ibis, and rouget’s rail. The Arsi Mountains are crucial to Ethiopia’s geography and cultural heritage.

Guna Massif in Ethiopia

The Guna Massif, one of Africa’s highest mountain ranges, features peaks over a thousand feet high and is surrounded by the Simien Mountains, formed by ancient lava flows. This unique ecosystem hosts thousands of endemic species, leading to its nickname, the “African Alps.”

Ideal for hiking and trekking, the Guna Massif is located in Ethiopia’s Horn of Africa, with 50% of its landmass above 1,000 meters, extending into Eritrea and running parallel to the Red Sea, featuring numerous plateaus.

Toubkal Atlas in Morocco

Toubkal Atlas in Morocco (2)
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Toubkal, a mountain peak in southwestern Morocco’s Toubkal National Park, offers hiking trails, local culture, and nature experiences. Mount Toubkal, or Jebel Toubkal, stands at 4,167 meters (13,671 feet), making it North Africa’s highest peak. It is a challenging hike that can take two to three days.

The 146.7 square mile (380 square kilometer) national park features mostly arid terrain and diverse flora and fauna, such as juniper, green oak, cedar, wild boar, Barbary sheep, red fox, and royal eagles.

The park also houses Berber villages showcasing local culture. Be prepared for rain, especially during winter hikes.

Central High Atlas in Morocco

Central High Atlas in Morocco
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The Central High Atlas is a mountain range in North Africa, shaped by tectonic processes and featuring North Africa’s highest peak, Jebel Toubkal (4,167 meters). This peak can be reached in 2-3 days from Imlil, Morocco, via the Azzaden Valley, starting at Kasbah du Toubkal.

The region’s high exposure has led to extensive remote sensing mapping and modeling for understanding its salt-related rift basin and tectonic evolution.

The area is home to various animals, such as Barbary macaques, Barbary sheep, Barbary leopards, common genets, golden eagles, peregrine falcons, griffon vultures, Lataste’s vipers, and common frogs.

Mount Cameroon

Mount Cameroon - Source wikipedia
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Mount Cameroon, an active volcano in west Cameroon, is the highest point in sub-Saharan Africa at 4,040 meters. It has over 100 cinder cones and features tropical rainforests at its base and a sometimes snow-covered, barren summit. Hiking routes lead to the summit.

The region is home to diverse wildlife, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects, which may vary depending on altitude and proximity to inhabited or cultivated areas.

Conclusion

Africa offers numerous mountains for trekking, with Mount Kilimanjaro being the most famous and the highest peak on the continent. However, there are many other notable mountain ranges and peaks attracting adventurers and nature enthusiasts.

Tanzania, an East African country, is home to the Kilimanjaro range, which includes five peaks above 19,000 feet. Kilimanjaro is the tallest free-standing mountain globally, while Mount Kenya is Africa’s second-highest mountain.

In summary, Africa boasts diverse, beautiful, and spectacular landscapes, making it an excellent destination for mountain climbing.

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