This year has thrown a lot of curveballs. While the tourism industry still reels from the global pandemic that has brought travel to a halt, we in Tanzania just got thrown another, a wildfire on Mount Kilimanjaro. The fire broke out on 11th October; dry conditions at this time of the year and tough winds made it quite challenging to contain.
The Mount Kilimanjaro Fire has now been successfully extinguished thanks in part to our Tanzania Association of Tour Operators, through which we at Pristine Trails and other members fundraised monies needed for supplies such as food, water, and tools to aid 100s of volunteers battling to contain the fire. A further thank you to the coordinated effort of various stakeholders such as the Ministry of Tourism, Tanzania National Parks Authority, Tanzania Fire Department, and volunteers including guides, porters and many citizens from neighboring villages.
While there were no human casualties, the Mount Kilimanjaro fire razed and destroyed 12 huts, 2 toilets and solar units at Horombo Huts along the Marangu route. It has been estimated that the fire has destroyed a total area of 28 square kilometers.
Mount Kilimanjaro is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its world-renowned ecological system with endemic plants and dozens of animal species. Unlike parks like Serengeti, where fire management is practiced on the grass plains, this is not done on Mount Kilimanjaro. One of our trekking guides, Erick Elinea, who once worked on the mountain as a cleaning and maintenance staff, did say that fires happen from time to time on the Kilimanjaro mountain, but they are usually of a small scale and quickly contained. This definitely added to the list of calamities that have been brought in 2020 and we are so thankful that more damage was not done.