Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest peak and there are talks that Tanzania might build a cable car to the summit. Constantine Kanyasu told Reuters that around 50,000 people climb the peak every year and a cable car would increase the number by 50 per cent.
“We are still doing a feasibility study to see if this project works,” he said. “There are two companies one from China and another from a Western country that have shown interest.”
Kanyasu said the government was looking at business plans, potential investors and profits. An environmental impact assessment will be carried out if the plan goes ahead. Guides oppose the plan as they’d lose clients who hire them to reach the top.
Loishiye Mollel, head of Tanzania Porters’ Organisation, said climbers are usually on the mountain for a week. “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,” he said. “We are of the view that the mountain should be left as it is.”
There are nearly 20,000 porters working between Mount Kilimanjaro and the nearby Meru (not the peak from the film Meru, but this one). Tanzania’s tourism revenues raised $2.43 billion last year, from $2.19 billion in 2017.
In the Alps, many peaks have cable cars, including the famous Aiguille du Midi cable car in Chamonix that reaches an elevation of 3,842 metres. In South Africa, a cable car reaches the top of the popular Table Mountain.
The difference between a cable car and a gondola is that you stand in a cable car and sit in a gondola and that a cable car is generally bigger. There are a number of gondolas in Canada that are used year-round, including the 4.4-kilometre Peak2peak Gondola in Whistler. It’s the only one in the world that connects two peaks. At the opening ceremony in 2008, several base-jumpers jumped from the middle of the gondola.
In Squamish, the Sea to Sky Gondola opened in 2013 despite a lot of local opposition. Once climbers realized they could access a large alpine area thanks to the speedy gondola, much of the animosity towards the lift was gone. Throughout B.C., ski gondolas take mountain bikers and tourists into the mountains at areas like Revelstoke and Golden. And in Banff, a number of gondolas run during the summer, including on mounts Norquay and Sulphur.