Joseph Thomson

Name ID 618

See also

Amin, Mohamed; Willetts, Duncan and Marshall, Peter Journey Through Tanzania
Page Number: 168-9

Sighting of Kilimanjaro.

It was 13 years before Rebman�s sighting [of Kilimanjaro in 1848] was confirmed by the German Officer Baron Karl Klaus von der Decken and the young British geologist Richard Thornton. Von de Decken climbed to about 14,000 feet and experienced a fall of snow. Thornton made many observations of the mountain and estimated accurately that it stood about 20,000 feet above sea level. Six years later the missionary Charles New managed to reach the snowline. Then in 1884 the naturalist Henry Hamilton Johnston made an intensive study of the flora and fauna.

Extract ID: 655

external link

See also

Internet Web Pages
Extract Author: Dr Brendan Whyte
Extract Date: 2004

Review of book about Keith Johnston

Undaunted by this [Paraguayan] misadventure, in 1878 Keith managed to secure the leadership of what would be the last R.G.S.-sponsored African expedition, an attempt to discover a viable route for a road from the East African coast inland to the great African lakes. Captain James Frederick Elton, the vice-consul at Zanzibar from 1873, had set out on a similar mission, but had died on the return leg of his expedition to Lake Nyasa in 1877. Keith was to be accompanied by the 21-year-old Joseph Thompson, but the two did not get on, Keith's quiet scientific intelligence exasperated by his companion's gung-ho attitude.

After spending time in Aden, and then several months in Zanzibar outfitting the expedition, Keith and Thompson set off from Dar Es Salaam on 19 May 1879. On 28 June, only 40 days later, and less than 150 km from Dar Es Salaam, Keith was dead from dysentery, leaving the 150-man expedition in the hands of the bewildered 21-year-old Thompson. Thompson, subsequently the first European to traverse Masailand, went on to become an African explorer to rank with Livingstone and Stanley, even though he also died young, at 37. Keith Johnston meanwhile has been almost forgotten.

Extract ID: 5545

See also

Map and Guide to Tanzania
Page Number: 04j
Extract Date: 1880-1884

In the south

The Scot Joseph Thomson ventured into the Ruvuma area in 1880, the French Giraud went South to Zambia via Tukuyu, and Smith entered Mozambique in 1884 via Kilwa.

Extract ID: 4013

See also

Else, David Trekking in East Africa

The first European to record a sighting of Meru

The first European to record a sighting of Meru was the German explorer, Karl von der Decken, who reached this area in 1862. The mountain was later seen and described by other explorers, including Gustav Fischer in 1882, and Joseph Thompson the following year. In 1887, the Austro-Hungarian Count Samuel Teleki and members of his team penetrated the dense forest on the lower slopes and reached a point where the trees thinned out enough for them to see Kilimanjaro, which they planned to climb later in their expedition. The first ascent to the summit of Meru is credited to either Carl Uhlig in 1901 or Fritz Jaeger in 1904.

Extract ID: 631

See also

Fosbrooke, H.A. The Early Exploration of Kilimanjaro: A Bibliographical Note
Page Number: 09
Extract Date: 1883

Joseph Thompson

More than ten years pass till numerous attempts between 1883 and 1889 culminated in the final conquest of Kilimanjaro.

Joseph Thompson who visited the area in 1883, didn't really attempt an ascent. He describes in his book Through Masailand (1885,pp.144-147) how he started on a one-day expedition from Moshi (Mandara's) without camping equipment in April 1883 ; by 9 a.m. he was at 5,000 feet and by 1 p.m. at 9,000 feet, where he turned back after 7 hours climbing, being reluctantly compelled to desist and give up my intention of penetrating above the forest region. Thompson then left. Chaggaland and travelled through what is now Kenya, giving us the first description of the north face of Kilimanjaro (op. cit pp. 209-214). He comments on the lack of population on the northern .slopes, which he attributes to "Its extremely precipitous nature, there being no projecting platforms, and no streams".

Extract ID: 4552

See also

Dundas, Charles Kilimanjaro and its People
Page Number: 20c

next to attempt the ascent in 1883

Joseph Thomson was the next to attempt the ascent in 1883, and though he failed to penetrate higher than 9,000 feet, his observations gave the first geological study of the mountain.

Extract ID: 3540

See also

1885 Publishes: Thomson, Joseph Through Maasailand: To the Central African Lakes and Back

Extract ID: 3081

See also

nTZ Feedback
Extract Author: Lisa Matthews
Page Number: 2003 02 20
Extract Date: 20 Feb 2003

Lisa Matthews - Through Maasailand

I would like to know if you have an electronic copy of "Through Maasailand" by Joseph Thompson. I am doing research on the Maasai and would like to read this pivotal text in Maasai history.

Thank you in advance.


Lisa Matthews

Cultural Survival

Education Program


You are in luck. There is a web site at Which contains the full text of the Thompson Book at:

The site hasn't been updated for some time. And I've sometimes been unable to access it because it runs out of data transfer quota. But if you get in, you will also find copies of several interesting Maasai related documents, including

An Administrative Survey of the Masai Social System by H. A. Fosbrooke from Tanganyika Notes and Records, December 1948, Number 26.

Vocabulary of the Enguduk Iloigob by Revd. James Erhardt

Maasai Agreement 1904

Maasai Agreement 1911

High Court Judgement - Maasai Land Case 1913

Die V�lkerst�mme im Norden Deutsch=Ostafrikas, Kapitel VI., Die Masai und Wandorobbo von Max Wei�. Pp., 317- 410. Verlag von Carl Marschner, Berlin, 1910.

Although I'm sure you may already have access to some of these.

Extract ID: 4122