Hikes on top of a mountain often come with a cliché of being on top of the world. Yet, a perpetually covered in snow summit of Kilimanjaro will definitely make you feel you’ve reached the top of the world. Albeit the top of Africa. At 5,895 meters above sea level, Mount Kilimanjaro stands as the highest peak in Africa and the tallest freestanding mountain on Earth. With its captivating views and wildlife encounters, the mountain offers a unique and inspiring journey. It is a physical and mental challenge, as you will learn new things about yourself on the trek. Based on your needs, you can choose one of the six official routes. Some routes are longer than others but all offer a truly unforgettable journey. But the best part is - you don't need to be an experienced climber to successfully climb Kilimanjaro, all you need is a good attitude, determination and a moderate level of fitness. There are many different companies that offer packages to guide you safely to the top.
Best Time To Go
Top of Africa, World’s tallest freestanding mountain, one of the Seven Summits, variety of scenery, amazing views, unforgettable experience and powerful memories
What You Need to Know Before Climbing Kilimanjaro?
Climbing Kilimanjaro consists of walking for 10 to 14 kilometres every day for five to seven days so be prepared for sore muscles and potentially blisters. Try to do some training for the trek by going on long hikes and walks and completing regular cardio workouts. The climb becomes increasingly difficult as you ascend due to the increase in altitude.
Acclimatizing to the altitude is a very important process that your body needs to go through in order for you to reach the summit safely. Symptoms of acclimatization include headaches, nausea and fatigue. These are normal symptoms of your body adapting. If your body doesn't acclimatize you may get altitude sickness from ascending too quickly which is very dangerous. So be sure to take it slow and make sure that you drink plenty of water to keep hydrated. Ensure that you have the necessary gear to help you make it to the top. Your boots should be comfortable and preferably worn in, so buy that new pair and wear it before arriving in Tanzania.
The temperatures on Kilimanjaro vary and get increasingly colder as you get closer to the summit. Ensure that your clothing choices are suited for a wide range of temperatures and weather conditions including rain, wind and snow. Getting proper thermal clothing items and layering your clothes will help keep you warm on the climb.
Pros And Cons
- It is an incredible achievement to have successfully climbed Kilimanjaro
- You will be able to take some spectacular photographs to accompany the unforgettable memories made on the journey
- You will meet new and fascinating people along the journey
- Encounter and learn about the diverse wildlife in the different ecological zones of the mountain
- It is one of the few places on Earth where it is said that you can really walk through 4 seasons in just a couple of days
- Climbing Kilimanjaro can be dangerous. Altitude sickness can be fatal if not treated immediately
- The journey can be difficult and painful. It is a challenging and gruelling climb and the symptoms of acclimatization, such as headaches, can make the journey very uncomfortable
- If traveling with a local operator, ensure that your guides and porters are paid well, but it is advisable to choose an international tour operator
Best Time To Climb
Good times to climb Kilimanjaro would be from May through to October and from mid-December to early March. This is when the mountain is in dry seasons. There are two distinct rainy seasons, which bring a lot of rainfall on the mountain making it more difficult to climb.
There is a long rainy season from April to May and then a shorter one from November to December, so it is best to avoid booking your climb during these months.
However, January-February and August-September are much more popular and many people and groups book their treks for this time so try to book one of the quieter, less popular routes to avoid the crowds.
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Kilimanjaro Climbing Via Lemosho Route - 7 days
The seven day Lemosho variation is preferred over the six day option because it breaks up day two into two days, providing better acclimatization and a more gradual ascent. On the seven day route, we walk from Forest Camp to Shira Camp 1 on day two, a reasonable altitude gain of 2,000 feet. Then on day three, we continue from Shira Camp 2 to the little used Moir Hut, at 13,800 feet. Overall the exposure to this altitude will help prepare the body for higher altitudes coming on the following days. However, the treks from Barranco to Barafu, followed by the summit day are unchanged from the six day Lemosho variation. This schedule is still very tough, though the extra day on the mountain on the seven day route will help climbers deal with the exhausting itinerary better than those who opted for the six day route.
Trekking On The Mt-Kilimanjaro Machame Route
Your 7 days machame route climbing start for driving you from Moshi to the Mount Kilimanjaro National Park Gate it takes about 45 minutes. After paper work the journey start passing through the village of Machame which is located on the lower slopes of the mountain. After arrival at your hotel in Moshi, you will rest. And later there will be a meeting with your guide for briefing about your trek and Mt Kilimanjaro. After finish to the briefing he will check all your mountain gears to see if you have all equipment, and if you will miss some of them he will take you to rent the missing gears.
Kilimanjaro Climbing Via Rongai Route
Rongai Route 7 Day Itinerary begins at the remote, northern side of Kilimanjaro, near the Kenyan border. We hike through a true wilderness area towards the jagged Mawenzi Peak, then cross a barren desert saddle, before climbing up Kibo’s eastern crater wall. The Rongai route is a more gradual ascent, and is therefore preferred by those with little or no backpacking experience, but is equally enjoyable for even the most hardened trekkers. As mentioned above, an additional acclimatization day on Day 5 is added. During this day, we will do additional acclimatization hikes around and up to the saddle towards Camel’s Back.
Kilimanjaro 6 Day Machame Route
This is probably the most beautiful route up Kilimanjaro. All your equipment and supplies are portered and a cook prepares all your meals. Where accommodation on the Marangu route is in huts, the Machame route offers strictly tents only. This makes Machame (also referred to as the “Whiskey route”) better suited to the slightly more adventurous hiker, however rewarding him with a scenic splendour such as not seen on the Marangu route. From late afternoon sunsets at Shira, to the misty revelations of Kibo at the great Barranco Wall, the Machame route offers the adventurous hiker a stunning scenic “slide show” over 6 days. The Machame route is normally completed in a minimum of 6 days. There is an added benefit to this, as you are afforded the most valuable commodity on the mountain – acclimatisation. The Machame route takes you high to Lava Tower (4630m) on the day 3 and brings you down by nearly 700m for an overnight at Barranco camp (3950m). This is the secret to successful acclimatization.
7 Days Climbing Kilimanjaro Machame Route
Climb Kilimnjaro via the Machame route! This 7-day route provides great acclimatisation and high summit success rates!
Kilimanjaro Climbing Via Marangu Route - Serengeti and Ngorongoro
Marangu Route is also known as the “Coca Cola” or “tourist” route. It is the easiest and shortest route to the summit. This is also the only route with the comforts of sleeping huts at every camp site with solar lights and comfortable beds. The huts are communal, and the bunks have a sponge mattress and pillow. There are 60 beds at both Mandara and Kibo Huts and 120 beds at Horombo Hut. Bathrooms and running water are available at the two lower huts. Mens’ and ladies’ latrines are available at the last camp but are very basic. All climbing groups, often from several countries around the world, share meals in dining huts providing a jovial and energetic atmosphere. This route is usually done in 5 days but can be done in 6 days for better acclimatization. The extra day can be spent resting at Horombo or climbing the small peak of Mawenzi.
Best Routes Up Kilimanjaro
How long it takes: 6 – 8 days
What to expect
This is the most scenic route up Kilimanjaro, as it takes you through different habitats – from heath, to alpine meadows and finally to the freezing zone near Uhuru Peak. You will then pass through the rainforest in your descent, enjoying the breathtaking views.
This route is less travelled, even though it provides plenty of time to acclimate to the various elevation levels, which means that you are less likely to suffer from Acute Mountain Sickness or encounter too many hikers on your way!
How long it takes: 6 – 7 days
What to expect
This popular route wraps around Kilimanjaro from the south and southeastern sides, offering beautiful sunsets at Shira, and exquisite views of Mount Meru.
The 6-day trek is recommended only for those with a good level of fitness and mountain trekking experience. There is a higher chance of Acute Mountain Sickness, because the route assents to the over 2,000m and the altitude gain that takes place in only 24 hours.
The 7-day route on the other hand, is suitable for all those who wish to climb Kilimanjaro, as the acclimatization is much more gradual.
It might be best to avoid this route in April, May and November, as the rains will likely have eroded much of the path.
How long it takes: 5 – 6 days
What to expect
This route is uniquely popular for the permanent communal huts that provides a more comfortable sleeping than option than the other routes. This routes provides you will marvelous views of the Mawenzi and Kibo peaks.
The 6-day program is recommended for first-time trekkers, as it has provides better acclimatization. While the 5-day program is suited for experienced mountain trekkers, who are able to handle the altitude changes better.
How long it takes: 6– 7 days
What to expect
This route offers a gentler climb, with a more comfortable acclimatization, even though it will take you past Mawenzi, the second-highest point in Tanzania, to the highest peak: Uhuru (5,895m).You will get to enjoy a great view of the rainforest below.
The route is perfect for trekkers who have some high altitude experience.
How long it takes: 6– 7 days
What to expect
Due to its steep, challenging slopes, this scenic route is the least traveled of them all.
This is the shortest route as it has a short acclimatization period which gives it the highest risk factor for Acute Mountain Sickness. It starts in the tropical rainforest, and joins the Barranco Camp at 3,800m. Although it is undoubtedly very taxing on the body, it allows you to see beautiful mountain terrains with varying habitat and vistas.
This route is not recommended for inexperienced trekkers, and should only be used by those with some climbing experience.
How long it takes: 9 days
What to expect
This is the longest route to the summing, Uhuru Peak, and therefore the one with the best acclimatization period, which makes the climb easier than via any other route.
Norther Circuit ascends through the rainforest in Shira Plateau, approaching along the western slopes. It continues through the northern massif of Kilimanjaro, to end up on the eastern slope. The 270° arc of this route allows you to see the varying aspects of Kibo Volcano, making this the most popular photography route.
Getting There And Safety
Going on an adventure in Africa comes with obvious risks. We recommend you get travel insurance for all safaris in Tanzania. Make sure your insurance has full medical coverage, emergency air evacuation, repatriation and the standard travel insurance for cancellations, delays and luggage cover.
Check World Nomads’ travel insurance calculator to see the cost of the safari trip cover.