Climb Kilimanjaro

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.

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  • Highlights

    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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Best Routes Up Kilimanjaro

See the overview of all Kilimanjaro routes in the tabs below.
Lemosho Route

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!

Machame Route or Whiskey Route

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.

Marangu Route or Coca-Cola Route

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.

Rongai Route

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.

Umbwe Route

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.

Northern Circuit

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

Travel Insurance

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.

Level Of Fitness
You can have a moderate level of fitness and make it to the summit. You need to be able to do 5-7 hours of walking for a couple days back to back. You can train and prepare for this by hiking and walking in the boots you will be wearing for the actual climb. The summit will be the toughest part and will require a lot of determination.
Climb Length
It takes 6-8 days depending on which route you take. Shorter climbs have a lower success rate, so it is recommended to take at least 7 days for your journey.
It is strongly advised to get vaccinations for Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid, Diphtheria and yellow fever. You should consult with your local medical practice before travelling. You should also take an anti-malarial drug.
What To Pack
You will need good walking boots, thermal socks, waterproof trousers, thermal underwear, fleece and thermal shirts, waterproof jacket, down jacket, gloves, sunhat, sunglasses, beanie, neck gaiter/scarf, headlamp, batteries, sleeping bag, rucksack, thermal water bottles, personal hygiene items, first aid kit, trekking poles and your camera.

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For more details about getting to Tanzania see our Tanzania Safari - Complete Travel Guide.

For details about visas see our Tanzania Safari - Complete Travel Guide.
Drinking Water
Tap water is not considered safe in Tanzania, so it would be advisable to always use bottled water or bring water sanitation tablets with you. These will come in handy for using water to brush your teeth.