Climbing Kilimanjaro is a privilege. It’s a once in a lifetime experience that requires physical strength, mental determination, and the sheer will to succeed, and only those who have made it to the summit of Uhuru Peak will be able to explain the elation and sense of achievement one feels when watching the sunrise over Africa.
Mount Kilimanjaro is challenging climb, but one that offers untold rewards, and while it has become more commercialised in recent years, it has retained much of its natural beauty by limiting construction on the mountain and offering only basic camping facilities on most of its routes. But things are set to change.
According to reports in The Exchange, IPP Media, and eTurbo News, there are controversial plans to build a new cable car on Mount Kilimanjaro as part of a government strategy to boost tourism and attract international visitors aged 50-years plus who feel they are too old or too unfit to climb Africa’s highest freestanding mountain.
Plans for the Kilimanjaro Cable Car were released by Constantine Kanyasu, the Deputy Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism in Tanzania, who explained that the cable car would encourage more ageing tourists to visit Mount Kilimanjaro and experience the variety of nature and wildlife on offer. Instead of hiking to the top of the mountain on a 6 to 8-day expedition, visitors will have the opportunity to take a “day trip safari” and enjoy a bird’s eye view without so much as breaking a sweat.
According to Kanyasu, initial work on the cable car is already underway, with AVAN Kilimanjaro hiring Crescent Environment and Management Ltd to conduct an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment.
News of the cable car has caused uproar amongst local tour operators, mountain guides, and porters who fear that the new ‘tourist attraction’ could leave up to 250,000 unskilled workers unemployed. It could have a huge negative impact on families whose sole source of income comes from the mountain, and it could greatly affect the migration of birds that migrate along the planned cable car route.
Many believe that the only way one should reach the ‘Roof of Africa’ is on foot, and I’m inclined to agree. A Cable Car on Kilimanjaro will not only deny employment to thousands of local workers, but it could lead to further exploitation that will leave Mount Kilimanjaro as overcrowded and congested as Machu Picchu.
As someone who has been very lucky to climb Kilimanjaro not once, but twice, I could never support such an abomination and hope that this cable car news is nothing more than a rumour. But I’m interested to hear what others have to say. What are your views on the Kilimanjaro Cable Car? Drop us a line and let us know!