Mount Kilimanjaro May Get a Controversial Cable Car
If you’ve always wanted to enjoy the view from the top of Mount Kilimanjaro but don’t quite have the motivation or stamina to actually climb it, you might be in luck. In a controversial announcement, Tanzania is considering installing a cable car on the mountain — potentially along the popular Machame trekking route — making it easier to reach the top of the 19,000-foot mountain. In a country where tourism is incredibly important to the economy, the goal is to encourage casual climbers and tourists to visit the mountain, and increase the number of visitors to Kilimanjaro’s upper slopes by 50 percent.
Right now, around 50,000 people spend a week on the mountain attempting to reach Uhuru Peak each year . A cable car system, however, would make the mountain accessible to thousands more who otherwise wouldn’t be physically capable of tackling an intensive hike.
“We are still doing a feasibility study to see if this project works,” Constantine Kanyasu, Tanzania’s deputy minister for tourism, told Reuters. “There are two companies, one from China and another from a Wester country, that have shown interest.”
While the proposal is bound to upset mountain climbing purists, environmentalists are also worried about the impact of a cable car system and increased tourism on the mountain’s ecosystem. The Tanzania Porters Association also opposes the cable car, believing that it will result in job losses and reduced income. Presently, 15 locals are employed for each climber on the mountain, and encouraging an easier, alternative method of reaching the top could put those people out of work. There are also concerns that a cable car would simply tarnish the otherwise natural view.