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How Will The Cable Car on Mount Kilimanjaro Promote Tourism in Tanzania

In the thriving wilderness is much to see for Tanzania safari tourists ranging from flora to fauna. One of the popular destinations is Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest point at 5,895m (19,341ft), above sea level and for many mountain climbers, this is the Holy Grail of peaks to conquer. The popular Tanzania tour activity here is hiking, an activity that lasts several days. Hiking Mount Kilimanjaro has for long been an active safari in Tanzania with tourists taking up the challenge spending days on the hike to get to the peak, with many smiling to such a great conquer. Of recent, however, the government of Tanzania has overly involved itself in controversy by planning a cable car to make it easier for tourists to visit the upper reaches of Africa’s tallest and the world’s highest freestanding mountain.

Constantine Kanyasu, Tanzania’s Deputy Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, points out to Reuters that about 50,000 tourists climb Kilimanjaro each year, and the thought process is that a cable car could increase those numbers by about 50 per cent. The trails can be steep and altitude sickness is not uncommon, so for anyone with physical disabilities and who still wants to experience the behemoth mountain on their Tanzania safaris, the cable car system could be a solution.

“We are still doing a feasibility study to see if this project works,” Kanyasu said to Reuters. “There are two companies, one from China and another from a Western country that have shown interest,” Kanyasu says the government is currently exploring business plans, potential investors, profitability, and environmental and engineering issues. Neither a firm location for the cable car nor a length has yet been finalized, but the first indicators are that it will be built along the Machame Route known for its scenic beauty.

Here’s where naysayers argue that flora and fauna will suffer and may not ever recover if it is destroyed to make way for the cable line.

Controversially, Loishiye Mollel, a spokesman for the Tanzania Porters Organization, says visitors normally spend up to a week climbing the mountain. He is among those who adamantly do not want the cable car project, as it could possibly reduce the number of Kili’s climbers, which in turn could potentially and devastatingly cut incomes and tips of those who work as porters and guides. With the Cable car, therefore, things will change as tourists will come to the area, ride the cable car, and then leave, taking their dollars with them.

“One visitor from the U.S. can have a maximum of 15 people behind him, of which 13 are porters, a cook and a guide. All these jobs will be affected by a cable car,” Mollel says, pointing out that up to thousands and thousands of porters work in the area between Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru just north of Arusha. “We are of the view that the mountain should be left as it is.”

Victor Manyanga, a longtime Tanzania tours guide, stated that the cable car service would promote mass tourism at the expense of Kilimanjaro’s ecology, and also added that “The Machame itinerary along which the cable car will be constructed is the birds’ migratory route and electric wires will definitely harm them.” This means more Kilimanjaro visiting tourists and less Tanzania birding safari tourists.

Mark Gale of Rennes, France, has begun a petition on Change.org to keep Kilimanjaro “cable car-free.”

He wrote on his petition and stated “It has been said that the cable car will allow physically challenged and aged tourists . . . to experience the thrill of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro,” “However, that is not true. I climbed last month at 53 years old and it was an amazing experience putting one foot in front of the other and living on the mountain; there is no thrill in taking a taxi to the top of a mountain. The oldest person to hike Mount Kilimanjaro was 86 years 267 days, the youngest just 7 years old, and there [have] been many physically challenged hikers who have succeeded in reaching the summit.”

Mount Kilimanjaro National Park

Taking pride in being the highest point in Africa 5,895m (19,341ft), Mount Kilimanjaro is within the East African region in the country of Tanzania south of the equator. In Tanzania, the mountain rises in the Kilimanjaro region northeast of the country near Moshi town, protected within Kilimanjaro National Park.

Mount Kilimanjaro is a stratovolcano on the parent range of the Eastern Rift Mountains about three million years old with its last eruption between 150,000-200,000 years ago. Kilimanjaro Mountain is the highest free-standing mountain in the world. The mountain has three (3) distinct volcanic cones hiked by tourists on mountaineering safaris in Tanzania which are Kibo, Mawenzi and Shira. Kibo is the highest peak at 5,895m with Uhuru peak as the highest summit on Kibo’s crater rim, Mawenzi is 5,149m (16,893ft) and shira is 4,005m (13,140ft) with a broad plateau at 3,800m (12,500ft). Mawenzi and Shira peaks are extinct whereas Kibo is dormant and could probably erupt again; it’s the largest cone more than 15m (24km) wide. Mawenzi and kibo are separated at 4,400m (14,400ft) by a saddle plateau.

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