Kilimanjaro towers at 5,895 m/19,340 ft above sea level. It is the highest free standing mountain in the world and the "Roof of Africa".
Mt Kilimanjaro is one of the most popular travel attractions on the continent. Over 40,000 people visit it every year. The reasons for its popularity are simple. It's an incredibly beautiful trek where a climber doesn't require technical climbing skills. To reach the summit, one needs only a healthy average fitness level. This is why many people begin their Seven Summits journey with Mount Kilimanjaro.
At the same time, future climbers shouldn't be taking it lightly. The air in the summit zone has half the oxygen of the air at sea level. Thus, following proper acclimatization is essential to avoid altitude sickness. One also needs the help of a professional climbing crew. They will guide your team, arrange the camps, carry equipment, and ensure safety along the way.
We wrote this guide to help climbers prepare for their once-in-a-lifetime Kilimanjaro adventure. All the recommendations below are the results of our years of Kilimanjaro experience. Over this time we at Royal Climb and Safaris have organized Mount Kilimanjaro hiking trips.
Kilimanjaro climbing routes: overview
- Best for beginners – Marangu or Machame Routes
- Spectacular scenery – Lemosho or Machame Routes
- Beginners with a budget – Marangu Route
- For moderate hikers – Machame or Lemosho Routes
- Expert hikers – Umbwe Route
Facts to know before your Kilimanjaro hike
- Height 19,340 ft/5,895 m
- Type Dormant volcano
- The closest airport Kilimanjaro International Airport
- Peaks Kibo, Mawenzi, Shira
- Climate zones Cultivated, Rainforest, Moorland, Alpine, Arctic
- Last major eruption 360,000 years ago
- Mountaineering skills Not required; Average fitness level
- First ascent 1889, Hans Meyer and Ludwig Purtscheller
Popular questions about Kilimanjaro
Where is Mount Kilimanjaro located?
Mount Kilimanjaro National Park is in northern Tanzania, East Africa. It is just three degrees south of the equator. While some of the most iconic panoramic shots of Mt. Kilimanjaro have been captured from the Kenyan side, all trailheads lie in Tanzania. Therefore, tourists can only climb Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. The closest airport is Kilimanjaro International Airport. Many Kilimanjaro expeditions begin in Moshi, the capital of the same region.
When is the best time to climb Kilimanjaro?
Late December to early March and mid-June to late October are the best times for a Kilimanjaro climb. This is when the Kilimanjaro weather is nearly ideal.
Although other months have rain, it doesn't mean there are constant heavy showers. Typically, rains begin in the latter half of the day. This allows trekkers a significant window of clear weather every day during the rainy season. There are also days without any rain. Royal Climb and Safaris offers discounted climbs during the wet season.
How tall is Mount Kilimanjaro?
Uhuru Peak, the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, stands tall at 5,895 meters (19,341 feet). Yet, this doesn't mean you'll be starting your climb from the very base. Most hotels near Kilimanjaro are at an altitude of 700-1,000 meters above sea level. The trailheads begin at elevations of 1,600 meters and above.
Due to its altitude, Mt Kilimanjaro is among the few places in East Africa to see snow. The snow-capped peak of Kilimanjaro is truly a sight to behold!
We believe that after seeing it, Ernest Hemingway decided to name his famous story "The Snows of Kilimanjaro." The title refers to the distant peak of Mount Kilimanjaro. It represents the unattainable, and the purity of idealist motives. In the story's conclusion, the protagonist dreams of being taken to the summit of Kilimanjaro, symbolizing redemption.
How long does it take to climb Kilimanjaro?
The time it takes to climb Kilimanjaro depends on the route chosen. Most expeditions last 6 to 8 days. An experienced hiker with prior acclimatization usually climbs Kilimanjaro through an accelerated 5-day program. If you stay overnight in the crater, Kilimanjaro climbs can take 9 days or longer.
Preparing and training for Kilimanjaro
- How should I train for Mount Kilimanjaro climb?
Maintaining a reasonable level of fitness is crucial to climb Kilimanjaro. However, summiting Kilimanjaro doesn't require athletic prowess. A healthy average would be adequate. As a guideline, we suggest assessing whether you can comfortably hike 8-10 km (5-6.2 mi). If you can do it, then you are fit enough to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.
A great exercise for hiking Kilimanjaro is running. Keep training until you can confidently jog 4-5 km (2.5 - 3.1 miles). Good training programs are available at the Nike Running Club app.
Swimming is an excellent complement. Swimming strengthens your entire body and improves your heart and lung endurance. This makes it a great addition to running. The first primarily focuses on leg endurance. Swimming takes it further by engaging the arms, core, and legs at the same time. Water buoyancy is also good for people who want to protect their joints while exercising.
Finally, it is great if you have any rural areas nearby with rough hiking trails. Aim for longer ones, ideally in the 10-15 km (6-10 mi) range. Remember, most of the Kilimanjaro hike will be uphill. So, training over longer distances in the countryside will prepare you for the Roof of Africa.
You may also check our Kilimanjaro training plan. It's useful for building your stamina and fitness for the climb.
I am an athlete. Is there anything I should keep in mind while climbing Mount Kilimanjaro?
Fit climbers often hike Kilimanjaro too quickly. They don't take enough time to acclimatize at lower elevations. Many reach camps faster than the rest of the group. The fast pace increases their risk of getting mountain sickness.
Climbing Kilimanjaro preparation goes beyond physical fitness. It's also a test of discipline and a steadfast commitment to the acclimatization plan.
When are the rainy and the dry seasons in Tanzania?
Tanzania has two rainy seasons and two dry seasons. The short rainy season begins in early November and lasts until late December. It is followed by the dry season, which lasts until mid-March. Then the season of long rains begins, ending in mid-June.
You should consider the northern slopes to climb Kilimanjaro during the rainy season. According to the data we received from the Tanzania Meteorological Authority, this part of the mountain receives five times less rainfall. Good Kilimanjaro routes to choose from are Rongai, Northern Circuit, and Marangu.
One should also remember that the period from June to October in East Africa is marked by cold nights. At the high altitudes of Kilimanjaro, the nights will be pretty chilly. Make sure you have everything from our packing list.
What is the food like on a Kilimanjaro climb?
On a Kilimanjaro trek with Royal Climb and Safaris , every climber receives a balanced diet designed specifically for the mountain environment. Our specialized menu is rich in calories and carbs to provide you with ample energy.
For breakfast, we serve porridge, pancakes, fruit, eggs, sausages, and toast with jam. Lunch or dinner options include delicious soups like butternut, tomato, leek, vegetable, and beef, potato dishes, spaghetti, chicken, stews, fresh vegetable salads, and avocado. All meal courses are served with delicious sauces and dressing. For dessert, we have mangoes, bananas, pineapple, and oranges. They give you important vitamins and minerals. Coffee and tea are always available in the camp.
We also have extended meal plans for vegetarians, vegans, and gluten-free climbers. We will do our best to accommodate other diets also.
Throughout the trek, our guides will frequently pause for tea with biscuits. Nonetheless, climbing Kilimanjaro demands considerable energy. Hence, we recommend you bring snacks such as energy bars, dried fruits, and high-calorie treats. It's preferable to purchase these at home. There might be a much broader variety of such products available in your country compared to Tanzania.
What should I pack for a successful summit?
We offer tents, thick sleeping mattresses, tables, tableware, chairs, and other equipment. However, you must bring your own hiking gear. This includes boots, a sleeping bag, duffle bags, pants, trekking poles, and other items from the packing list.
When you climb Mount Kilimanjaro, the temperature changes a lot. It can be as hot as 25°C/77°F and as cold as -15°C/5°F. It is essential to bring clothes for all kinds of mountain weather.
If you want to travel light or don't want to buy gear, you may rent equipment from Moshi town
|Languages spoken||Swahili & English|
|Currency used||United States Dollar (USD)|
|Area (km2)||5,895 m above sea level and about 4,900 m above its plateau base|