Africa is the second largest continent in the world and has a rich mix of climates and geographical features. The mountains in Africa are legendary, especially the stunning Mount Kilimanjaro. Africa makes up almost a full fifth of all the land on Earth. And even though most people think about the stunning grasslands of Africa and the unique animals that live on those grasslands, the mountains of Africa are just as impressive. There are many mountain ranges that stretch through the countries in Africa.
10 Mountains In Africa
The Atlas Mountains are probably the most well-known mountains in Africa. However, there are many more mountain ranges and subranges to be found in Africa. Some of the other well-known mountains in Africa include the Ethiopian Highlands, the Nuba Mountains, the Rwenzori Mountains and the Virunga Mountains. Some of the most famous peaks in Africa are:
Located in: Tanzania
Height: 19,341 feet
Nearby City: Moshi
Known For: Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the most famous mountains in the world. People come to Tanzania from all over the world to climb it. It’s the tallest mountain Africa and the tallest freestanding mountain in the world. The mountain itself is 25 miles wide. The stunning views from the summit will take your breath away if you can make it to the top.
One of the most memorable things about Kilimanjaro is that when you climb it you will get to experience a wide variety of geography all on the same mountain. At the base of the mountain you’ll be in a tropical environment but by the time you get to the top you’ll be in an Alpine winter wonderland.
In order to climb Kilimanjaro you don’t need a lot of climbing experience because the ascent isn’t particularly steep. However, the altitude can be a real problem from people who aren’t fit or haven’t trained for this climb. And you should definitely work with a guide company to help with the logistics of the climb.
Located in: Kenya
Height: 17,057 feet
Nearby City: Nairobi
Known For: Mount Kenya is a dormant volcano almost directly on the Equator. It’s slightly shorter than Mount Kilimanjaro but some climbers say that Mount Kenya is actually harder to climb than Kilimanjaro. There are there peaks on Mount Kenya that were caused by glaciers cutting off parts of the mountain when they melted and shifted. It’s thought that originally this mountain was over 23,000 feet tall but lost elevation when the glacial cap melted.
If you climb Mount Kenya you’ll go through several distinct zones. The base of the mountain sits in grassland and plains that have been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. But as you climb you’ll find yourself in a dense forest of cedarwood and bamboo. The next band you will hit will be a unique zone of vegetation that is only found on Mount Kenya. The plants in this band are a mix of African and Alpine vegetation. And further up will be snow and ice as you hit the top alpine band.
Located in: Republic of Congo and Uganda
Height: 16,761 feet
Nearby City: Entebbe
Known For: Mount Stanley has been mentioned throughout history going all the way back to the Ancient Greeks. Writers from early centuries mentioned the “Mountain of the Moon” referencing Mount Stanley. Because this mountain is covered in snow and ice it is white capped all the time which must have looked very strange to ancient peoples living in the tropical heat and humidity far below the mountain. Mount Stanley is one of the most stunning mountains in Africa because it really does look like it’s shrouded in silver all the time.
Mount Stanley used to be the site of the largest ring of glaciers left in the world but several of those glaciers are now gone. The summit of Mount Stanley wasn’t reached by climbers until the early 1900s and it’s barely been explored since. The thick vegetation of the rain forest, protective indigenous tribes, and other problems make it difficult to safely climb this mountain. But travelers to the national park where the mountain sits can still marvel at the beauty of Mount Stanley.
Located in: Tanzania
Height: 14,967 feet
Nearby City: Arusha
Known For: Mount Meru is less than 50 miles from Mount Kilimanjaro and it’s also a dormant volcano. It’s very common for people that are planning on hiking Mount Kilimanjaro to hike Mount Meru first as a warm up and to get acclimated to the weather and elevation. Just like with any of the mountains in Africa you should hike with a guide or with a group of people and not solo.
Hiking up Mount Meru is an absolute delight for anyone that loves animals and wants to get up close to some of the amazing animals that are native to Africa. There are many different kinds of animals that live on Mount Meru.
You will likely start to see wild animals immediately after you begin a hike up Mount Meru because there are so many different types of animals that live on the mountain. There are more than 400 different types of birds that call Mount Meru home including falcons and crowned eagles. And if you make it up to the plateau where the Momella lakes are you could see giraffes, white colobus monkey, buffaloes, elephants, baboons and flamingos.
Mount Ras DeJen
Located in: Ethiopia
Height: 14,927 feet
Nearby City: Debark
Known For: Mount Ras DeJen is the largest of a string of mountains in African known as the Ethiopian Highlands. Together these mountains create a dramatic ridge line around a raised plateau that is more than 3,000 years old. The entire Ethiopian Highlands area is called the “Cradle of Civilization”. Visiting this area can be a life-changing experience.
Climbing Mount Ras DeJen or any of the mountains in the Ethiopian Highlands is something that hikers will remember for the rest of their lives. The climbs are not that difficult, but it’s a good idea to take your time so that you can really take in the sights and sounds all around you as you climb some of the most ancient mountains in the world.
There are some very rare species of animals and birds that you can see which are native to these mountains. You could see the very rare Lamergeyer bird, which is a type of vulture. Or Ethiopian wolves, ibexes, and Gelada baboons as you are hiking here.
Located in: Rwanda and Republic of Congo
Height: 14,786 feet
Nearby City: Goma
Known For: Mount Karisimbi is a dormant volcano that sits on the border between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda in Africa. This mountain is one of the most unique mountains in Africa because legendary animal researcher Dian Fossey set up her Karisoke research center between Mount Karisimbi and Mount Bisoke, which is next to it. The purpose of the Karisoke research center is to study the behavior of mountain gorillas.
With a permit you can hike Mount Karisimbi alone or with a guide. You can also participate in one of several different types of hikes designed to see the mountain gorillas and other wildlife that live on the mountain. Even if you are not specifically taking an animal-focused tour you may encounter gorillas when you are hiking.
The hike to the summit can be a challenge, especially in the tropical heat and humidity. If you’re not used to being in a tropical climate you should spend a few days acclimating yourself before taking on this kind of hike. Once you reach the summit don’t linger. The elevation can start to make it uncomfortable to breathe after about 30 minutes. Unless you are a very experienced hiker it’s best to hike the mountains in Africa with local guides.
Located in: Kenya and Uganda
Height: 14,176 feet
Nearby City: Mbale
Known For: Mount Elgon is one of the stunning mountains in Africa to climb. It’s an extinct volcano but it has a massive crater that must be seen to be believed. It has one of the largest calderas, or craters, in the entire world. This volcano is also one of the oldest in the world. Geologists estimate that it’s at least 24 million years old.
For most guided hikes it takes about five days total to climb the mountain, explore the crater and soak in the hot springs inside the crater, and hike back out. It’s mandatory to use guides if you’re going to hike Mount Elgon. The best times to do this hike are during the dry seasons in the area which are January through March, and then also in June and July. If you’re hiking on Mount Elgon make sure that you take a side trail to Sipi Falls, an area where five waterfalls converge to form one of the prettiest waterfalls on the planet.
Located in: Morocco
Height: 13,671 feet
Nearby City: Imlil
Known For: Toubkal is the highest mountain in the Atlas Mountain range that stretches through Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. It also forms the border between the Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines. Toubkal and all of the Atlas Mountains have huge deposits of minerals. The stunning views from the top of Toubkal and the challenge of climbing this mountain make it one of the most popular mountains in Africa to climb. Visitors from all over the world come here to test their strength and endurance against the climb to the summit of Toubkal.
There is a requirement that all hikers who attempt to climb this mountain must have a local guide with them at all times. This is for personal safety as well as hiking safety. Often hikers will stop in the small village of Imlil to stock up on supplies and enjoy some great food from local vendors before finding a campsite at the base of the mountain for the night. It’s customary to start the trek to the summit well before dawn. That way hikers can reach the summit and get back down to their base camps before the sun sets.
Located in: Ethiopia
Height: 13,517 feet
Nearby City: Debre Tabor
Known For: Mount Guna is an extinct volcano that also is the source of water for the entire region around it. Streams from Mount Guna the source for the Gumara River, and the Rib River, among others. Those rivers flow into Lake Tana to create the largest source of freshwater in the entire region.
Hiking up Mount Guna is not difficult, so even people who don’t have a lot of hiking experience should be able to handle a climb to the summit. The paths are relatively clear but it’s a good idea to have a guide with you to bushwhack if necessary. Once at the top you will get stunning views of the grass plains below and the waterfalls and streams that flow down and provide water for the region. Your guide will probably stop in the Awra Amba village where you can get water and supplies and experience some local culture and hospitality.
Located in: Ethiopia
Height: 13,451 feet
Nearby City: Bahir Dar
Known For: Mount Choqa is one of the few mountains in Africa that doesn’t sit in the middle of dense forest. This mountain is surrounded by grass plains and farms which provide unique views from the top of the mountain. Mount Choqa is also not far from Lake Tana, which is one of the oldest lakes in the world. Lake Tana is the source for the Blue Nile and is revered for the part it played in the creation of civilization.
If you’re hiking Mount Choqa after you visit the summit it’s worth taking an additional hike to see Lake Tana and the waterfalls in the area that feed into it.
10 Tallest Mountains In Africa
- Mount Kilimanjaro
- Mount Kenya
- Mount Stanley
- Mount Meru
- Ethiopian Highlands
- Mount Karisimbi
- Mount Elgon
- Toubkal, Atlas Mountains
- Mount Guna
- Mount Choqa
Highest Point In Africa
Mount Kilimanjaro -19,341 feet
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/HPS-Digitalstudio
Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.