How does climbing the tallest free-standing mountain and highest peak in Africa sound? Crazy? Adventurous? To climb Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is on many people’s bucket list, but not everyone will be able to summit to Uhuru Peak, which sits at a whopping 5,895 meters (19,340 ft).
Climbing Kilimanjaro is a challenge and a half to accomplish, but there is a great sense of satisfaction and achievement waiting for all those who reach the top. Planning and preparing for your climb up Kilimanjaro in advance is a must!
Here’s all the essential information, including frequently-asked-questions, for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.
Whether you are a novice hiker or an advanced trekker, there’s a Kilimanjaro trek suitable for you. There are six to seven predominant Kilimanjaro trekking routes, which we’ll discuss in more detail below.
Now, here are some of the most popular Kilimanjaro routes to choose from.
There are 6-7 main Kilimanjaro routes to reach the summit at Uhuru Peak. The main Kilimanjaro routes are Machame, Lemosho, Shira, Rongai, Northern Circuit, and for experienced trekkers, the Umbwe route.
Each Kilimanjaro route varies in both length and difficulty, so consider this when booking your tour.
The Machame route, aptly nicknamed the Whiskey route, is quickly becoming the best Kilimanjaro route, as it offers an additional challenge for eager trekkers than other options. Also, the Machame route is more scenic as it takes you up steep switchbacks and through a dense section of the rainforest.
If you’re wondering how long is the Machame route, then know you should plan for at least six to seven days. Just be aware that seven days or longer is preferable, especially as you will want to acclimate appropriately in order to avoid altitude sickness. Adding a day helps with acclimatization, such as on this slower-paced, 7-day Machame route.
The Lemosho route is known for being the route-less-travelled option to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, but not for long! As more and more trekkers come to challenge themselves on the mountainsides, the Lemosho route will quickly become one of the most popular routes, especially seeing that it offers unparalleled 360-degree views on all sides of Mount Kili.
So exactly how long is the Lemosho route? It is recommended to plan for at least seven days on the Lemosho Route, but a slower pace is better, as it allows more time to acclimatize. Check out this slower-paced Lemosho route itinerary.
Travel Tip: With the increasing number of visitors each year, Kilimanjaro National Park is struggling to offset the impact trekkers are having on the mountain, soil conditions, and local flora. Your registered tour company will be able to offer more insight on what to do and what to avoid doing along the Kilimanjaro routes, but in general, stay on marked trails, pack out all trash you pack in, and trek mindfully.
Best time to climb Kilimanjaro
The best time of year to climb Kilimanjaro will fall under the two ideal trekking seasons: the colder months from January-March and the drier, warmer months from June-October. Both offer unique experiences of Mount Kilimanjaro, so how and when you decide to go will eventually come down to your schedule and preference.
When it comes to planning your climb up Kili, it is wise to book a Kilimanjaro tour in advance from a reputable tour company. We at 10Adventures Tours partner with some of the best local guides all over the world, and have great options for trekking tours around Kilimanjaro. We work with reputable companies that consider your personal safety and limitations, provide required trekking and camping equipment (of good quality), porters, skill level, best routes, scenic vistas, and more.
There are hundreds of Kilimanjaro tour companies operating and competing for the market share, but there are only a dozen or so that you should trust with your life and money. With such a saturated market, choosing the right company can be difficult, which is why we are pleased to work with great tour operators at 10Adventures Tours!
Tip: Only book with tour companies who respect and fairly pay their staff and porters. A good way to check for this is to verify if your Kilimanjaro tour company is on the partner program list of the International Mountain Explorers Connection (IMEC) and also on the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project (KPAP).
Frequently asked questions about climbing Mt Kilimanjaro
Here are the most FAQ’s about climbing Mount Kilimanjaro that are helpful to know when planning your trip.
How much does it cost to climb Kilimanjaro?
Most Kilimanjaro tours varies depending on your chosen route and length of your trek. However, for a reputable tour company, you can expect to pay anywhere between about $2,000 and $5,000 USD. A higher price tag doesn’t guarantee better service, so be sure to stick to your research.
How long does it take to climb Mount Kilimanjaro?
Knowing how long it takes to climb Kilimanjaro is one of the first to-dos when planning your trip. Many of the popular routes will take a minimum of six days, but this varies. In general, it is preferable to add a day or two in order to adjust to the altitude. Also, if you’re going to Tanzania, it makes sense to combine a climb of Kili with a safari, beach holiday or perhaps a bike ride. This ride from Kili to Ngorongoro Crater is spectacular!
How hard is it to climb Kilimanjaro?
The difficulty levels for climbing Kilimanjaro vary depending on which route you take and your personal fitness level. Most trekkers find climbing Kilimanjaro at the moderate-very difficult level on the trail rating system. The biggest factor is how your body handles altitude. Kilimanjaro peaks out at 5,895m (19,340’), which makes even simple trekking much more difficult.
Training to climb Kilimanjaro
Knowing how to prepare to climb Kilimanjaro is equally as important as the actual training in preparation for the climb. Training is essential for everyone, but will vary depending on your personal health and fitness. In general, it is recommended to train by engaging in frequent challenging hikes months prior to your climb.
Who was the first person to climb Mount Kilimanjaro?
The first people to successfully climb Mount Kilimanjaro were Hans Meyer and Ludwid Purtscheller in 1889.
How many people climb Kilimanjaro each year?
Estimates range from 35,000 to 50,000 people, with that number expected to increase in the coming years.
Where do you fly into to climb Kilimanjaro?
The best airport to fly into to climb Kilimanjaro is the Kilimanjaro International Airport (JBO), located southwest of the Mount Kilimanjaro National Park. The nearest town in Moshi.
Should I book a Tour to climb Kilimanjaro?
The easiest way to climb Kilimanjaro is to book a tour before you leave. Planning the logistics, ensuring there is space at camps and hiring all the necessary guides and porters is a lot of work, and you should budget a few days at minimum if you want to do it once you arrive in Moshi. You’ll also need to be more flexible with your dates if you book your trip once in Moshi. As with all tours, book your Kili trek with a reputable tour operator to maximize your chances for success.
Is Kilimanjaro a hike or a climb?
You need no technical mountaineering skills for many of the routes that climb Kilimanjaro, which is good to know, especially for beginners. You do not need any mountaineering expertise in order to navigate a Kilimanjaro trek. While it’s only a hike, it is at high altitude, and the trail can be challenging, requiring the use of hands in some places.
How fit do I need to be to climb Kilimanjaro?
Due to the changes in altitude and switchback trails winding up the mountain, it’s advisable to have a decent, moderate level of fitness. Physical fitness isn’t the determinator for success however, as both a 7-year old and an 89-year old have been known to successfully summit Kilimanjaro. Rather, a successful climb is determined by your overall health, your body’s ability to adapt to altitude, and most importantly, a positive attitude.
How many different climates does the Kilimanjaro trek cross?
You will cross at least 5 sub-climates to reach the summit. Mount Kilimanjaro is a world of its own, as a free-standing mountain it has no neighbors. Yet, on its own it stands tall and proud with a ring of perpetual snow and ice at the top. To reach it, you must trek across several different climate zones, from hot, dusty desert all the way to the arctic ice at Uhuru’s Peak. So pack wisely, and pack light, as there are weigh-in stations along the Kilimanjaro trek in order to control foot traffic and regulate how much climbers can carry.
How can I maximize my chances of summiting Kili?
Choosing a trusted Kilimanjaro tour operator is your best chance at success. Of the many people attempting to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, estimates suggest that only 65-70% will actually succeed at summiting. Many people underestimate the challenge of climbing Kilimanjaro. But with the right tour operator, those chances go upward of 90%. Since the market is competitive, be sure to do your research in choosing a trusted Kilimanjaro tour operator who will both challenge you, but keep your health and safety a priority.
Ultimately, climbing Kilimanjaro is a once in a lifetime achievement for most people. While getting to the top of Kili is no easy feat, it is a remarkably satisfying experience for any who attempt it!