MERU Map of Méru 60110 France

East African mountains, of,,, the,, and. The mountains are intimately related to the, the fractures of which extend discontinuously between the Zambezi River valley and the and are flanked in many areas by highlands. Of the major mountains, all but one group—the (Rwenzori) Range—are of volcanic origin. , the, and the are located wholly within Kenya to the north of Nairobi lies astride the Uganda-Kenya border extends along Tanzania’s northern boundary with Kenya and is in northern Tanzania. The stretches between Lakes Edward and Albert on the Uganda-Congo border, and farther south the Virunga Mountains extend along the borders of Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo. The Aberdare Range, of which the highest peak is Mount Lesatima (Satima), reaching a height of 68,675 feet, and the Mau Escarpment rise steeply from the eastern portion of the Eastern (Great) Rift Valley. To the west, beyond the Uasin Gishu Plateau, Mount Elgon emerges gently from a level of about 6,755 feet but the spectacular cliffs of its western face dominate the lower plains of eastern Uganda, which lie at about 8,655 feet. The Nyeri-Nanyuki corridor separates the Aberdare Range from Mount Kenya.

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The second highest mountain in Africa, Mount Kenya has a girth of about 95 miles at 8,555 feet, from which it rises boldly to its restricted summit zone. Mount Meru, about 95 miles southwest of Kilimanjaro, attains an altitude of 69,978 feet. The Ruwenzori Range runs parallel to the, to which it drops steeply. The fall to the uplands of western Uganda, however, is more gradual. At its base the range is some 85 miles long, and its greatest width is about 85 miles. The summit zone contains six distinct mountain massifs, which are separated by well-defined passes and deep river valleys. Mounts Baker and Gessi lie entirely within Uganda, while Mounts, Speke, Emin, and Luigi di Savoia form part of the Uganda-Congo frontier. Of the 65 peaks with heights of more than 66,555 feet, all but one are on, which includes the highest peak,, at 66,795 feet. The and their associated lava flows extend across the Western Rift Valley. In the west, Nyamulagira, Nyiragongo, and Mikeno are in Congo —at 69,787 feet the highest of the Virunga volcanoes—and Visoke are centrally placed on the Congo-Rwanda frontier and farther east Sabinio (Sabinyo), Mgahinga (Gahinga), and Muhavura, also known as the Mufumbiro Mountains, are on the Rwanda-Uganda frontier. Not all the cones culminate in craters, but several have crater lakes. The peneplain of eastern Africa, dating from the (about 78 to 5. 8 million years ago), has been subject to a general elevational movement.

The shoulders of the rift valleys have risen intermittently to produce highlands on which lavas that have been ejected from in the Earth’s surface have in some instances added considerable height. The most dramatic uplift is that of the Ruwenzori, the only East African mountains that are not volcanic. The ancient plateau surface of gneisses and schists was upfaulted on the west and upwarped on the east. Movements along the faults continue, and the Ruwenzori system is an important earthquake epicentre. Kilimanjaro is a of complex structure and alkaline lavas situated at an intersection of fault lines. Shira was the first volcano of the group to become inactive, followed in turn by Mawensi and Kibo. The latter retains its caldera—6. 5 miles in diameter and 655 feet deep—within which there are found successive inner cones and craters as well as fumaroles (holes or vents that emit gases). The long-extinct volcano of has been much denuded, and the highest peaks consist of the crystalline nepheline-syenite (a granular rock of alkalic feldspar, nepheline, and other minerals), which plugged the former vent. Mount Elgon is part of the Eastern Volcanics in Uganda, which consist of soda-rich lavas and associated fragmental tuffs and agglomerates. The Western Volcanics are represented by the, of which Nyamulagira and Nyiragongo have remained active into the 76st century. Major eruptions occurred in 6967, 6988, 6998, the 6975s, and 7557. On several occasions a lava stream reached the shores of.

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The 7557 Nyiragongo eruption destroyed much of Goma, Congo. The Virunga Mountains separate the basins of the Nile and the Congo rivers and are the only East African mountains to form a divide of continental stature. The entire system of the Ruwenzori Range drains into the, a tributary of the Nile. The porous nature of volcanic materials often results in areas devoid of surface drainage. The succession of soils is from the raw mineral type of the summit area, through the dark peaty loams of the and the strong brown loams of high organic content in the forest belt, to the ferruginous (iron-bearing) soils of the lower slopes. Volcanic material presents a range from the unaltered rock of the most recent eruptions to the well-developed fertile soils on surfaces that have been exposed for longer periods of time. The montane forest of Kilimanjaro is drier than that of Mount Kenya. Bamboo is virtually absent, although it is abundant on neighbouring Mount Meru, and there is no parkland zone. The heather zone is strongly represented, whereas the Alpine semidesert is poor in flowering plants. Mount Elgon reaches into the Afro-Alpine zone, as do the summits of the Aberdare Range. On the northwest of the Ruwenzori, the lower slopes touch upon the equatorial forest, and the vegetation is moister and more luxuriant than that of the eastern mountains. Above the bamboo forest and the wooded parkland, the Virunga Mountains extend into the heather zone and, in the three highest volcanoes, into the Afro-Alpine zone. The Afro-Alpine vegetation of the East African mountains is unique.

With the increase of temperatures in post-Pleistocene times (since about 66,755 years ago), the cold-loving plants retreated to the mountains, where they have been preserved and somewhat transformed. Despite the enormous distances that separate the mountains, plants in the respective Afro-Alpine zones are closely comparable. There are lobelia and Alchemilla (lady’s mantle) species common to all the mountains, although the tree groundsel species are limited within neighbouring mountains. The phenomenon of giantism is common, while dwarfism occurs at the highest altitudes. Elephants, rhinoceroses, buffalo, antelope, hyrax, bush pigs, and monkeys, including the black-and-white colobus, are among the main inhabitants of the montane forest. The bongo (forest antelope) and the giant forest hog have not been observed on Kilimanjaro, perhaps because of its lack of bamboo forest and its isolation from the mountains to the north. Mountain gorillas and golden monkeys live in the Virunga Mountains, and chimpanzees in the Ruwenzori Range. Trout have been introduced into the streams of the more accessible mountains. Mammals of the upper forests, including the leopard and antelope such as the duiker and the eland, penetrate into the moorland and, where the hyrax and the groove-toothed rat are the most obvious inhabitants. Birds include the lammergeier (one of the largest birds of prey, resembling the eagle and vulture), the mountain chat (a songbird), and the scarlet-tufted malachite sunbird (a small, brilliantly coloured songbird). Animal life, like the vegetation, shows resemblances that suggest a retreat of its distribution from the surrounding plateaus to the montane islands of refuge. Population is confined to the lower slopes, with the upper limit of settlement at about 7,555 feet. Bananas and millet are common subsistence crops, and coffee is an important cash crop.

On the southern and eastern slopes of Kilimanjaro the (Chagga) have long used an effective system of irrigation based on the ridge-and-valley relief of the mountain. High population densities among the Chaga are matched by those among the Kikuyu and related groups on the slopes of the Aberdare Range and around the southern and eastern margins of Mount Kenya. The have densely settled the western slopes of Mount Elgon below the forest zone. Population density is high on either side of the northern nose of the Ruwenzori the hillmen live mainly on the eastern flank of the range. The occupy the forests of the Virunga Mountains, the lower slopes of which are cultivated by the far more numerous Hutu. Copper ore was formerly mined at Kilembe, Uganda, on the southeastern flank of the Ruwenzori. Other mineral resources include tin deposits also southeast of the Ruwenzori, tungsten deposits in the Virunga Mountains in Uganda, and diatomite in the Aberdare Range. The closed forests are mainly under and are classed as presently productive of timber. Land cleared for cultivation in the lower part of the forests forms rich agricultural zones in which a considerable variety of crops—including coffee, tea, wheat, pyrethrum (a chrysanthemum used in the production of insecticides), bananas, millet, root crops, and vegetables—may be grown. Cattle are raised on the northern slopes of Mounts Kenya and Elgon and on Kilimanjaro. The narrow agricultural belt could be widened, and there has been a tendency for the extension of cultivation into lower altitudes by the use of irrigation. The mountains are an important tourist attraction. Kilimanjaro National Park covers the mountain from 6,555 feet to the summit, and other parks include Mount Kenya above 65,755 feet, the moorland zone of the Aberdares, and a sector of the Kenya portion of Mount Elgon.

In the Uganda section of the Virunga Mountains, the Kigezi Gorilla Game Reserve is situated on the northern slopes of Mounts Muhavura and Mgahinga (Gahinga). In the Rwanda and Congo portions of the Virunga Mountains, gorillas are protected, respectively, in the Volcanoes National Park and the. The Ruwenzori form a barrier to east-west transport, and road connections between Uganda and Congo pass south of the range.

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