Africa's 10 highest summits

There are plenty of lists online of the highest mountains in Africa - some include small subsidiary summits that are barely summits, such as Point Lenana on Mount Kenya, while some have glaring omissions such as Mawenzi on the slopes of Kilimanjaro.

Incidentally the Tanzanian government doesn’t recognise Mawenzi as a mountain, despite its 849m prominence (which is more prominence than Lhlotse, the 4th highest mountain on earth), as it would mean that Kilimanjaro is not free standing - rendering its claim as the highest free standing mountain as untrue. Any consistent and reasonable definition of a free standing mountain will either render Kili as not free-standing, or not the highest. But I digress.

Process of identification: using satellite survey data for the continent, I have run the numbers on every summit on the continent with at least 200m prominence and 500m elevation. All summits above 2800m were further subjected to a requirement of at least 7% prominence relative to height, 7% being the standard used in the Himalaya and the Andes. As a reasonableness test, I then compared my top 10 to a number of online top 10 lists and did research on any peaks they listed that weren’t on my list. Satellite data isn’t always perfect, and definitions are subjective - so naturally not everyone will agree with my list.

Here’s my list of the 10 highest mountains in Africa:

  1. Kilimanjaro (Tanzania) 5895m, prom: 5883m
  2. Mount Kenya (Kenya) 5199m, prom: 1899m
  3. Mawenzi (Tanzania) 5149m, prom: 850m
  4. Mount Stanley (Rwenzori - DRC/Uganda) 5109m, prom: 3951m
  5. Mount Speke (Rwenzori - Uganda) 4890m, prom: 730m
  6. Mount Gessi (Rwenzori - Uganda) 4806m, prom: 615m
  7. Mount Baker (Rwenzori - Uganda) 4790m, prom: 474m
  8. Mount Emin (Rwenzori - DRC) 4776m, prom: 498m
  9. Ras Dashen (Simien - Ethiopia) 4620m, prom: 3997m
  10. Meru (Tanzania) 4566m, prom: 3170m

Incidentally I have run this for the top 50, but I am struggling to find names for 26 of them, which is why I have limited the above to the top 10.


Impressive work & awesome list indeed!

Of course it provokes bragging of how many of those mountains listed one has climbed, more that anything else.
Personally I score 3 out of 10 only… hardly something to brag about!
Hence a new list emerges: Africa’s highest summits of each country… Now I could list 4 more… But really is this what climbing mountains is about?
Having watched “14 Peaks” just the other day, it makes me wonder even more.
Why are we really climbing mountains? Is it for the joy? Is it for the pain? Is it for the [bragging] glory? Is it for personal justification? Is it to measure our own strength? Is it to find our soul & mind?
…or is it just like George Mallory’s words: “Because it’s there”?

I seriously wonder.

In the meantime, I pack my bag and plot a route and climb, because I come home a different man!

That’s 2 more than I’ve done. I hope to do Meru next year, although I doubt I will complete the full list.

I can’t speak for everyone else - but to me its because the world makes sense when I’m on a mountain. As Messner put it “no one one a mountain ever questions the meaning of life”.

As far as lists go - my current project is the 24 mountains in SA with at least 1km topographic prominence (I’ve done 8 so far). The logic of this project was that it will take me to all the biggest mountain ranges of SA (ironically aside from the Drakensberg - but I’ve hiked there more than anywhere else). Sometimes a list like that is great for forcing oneself to go to obscure places and climb rarely hiked peaks. I would never have climbed Saronsberg or Sebrakop if it wasn’t for this list.