Thinking about climbing Kilimanjaro? The Kili bug has bitten you and here you find yourself researching your Kilimanjaro climb whenever you have a moment. We know exactly how it feels. It’s a yearning for the Roof of Africa. An unstoppable hunger for conquering Uhuru Peak and a craving for the raw adventure that a Kilimanjaro climb comes with. We at Bookatrekking.com, together with our local partners in Tanzania, help hundreds of climbers on their way to Uhuru Peak every year. In this blog, we share the best tips from us, our partners and our customers on climbing Kilimanjaro.
Last Updated: November 2022
When you are climbing Kilimanjaro you will make it to a point at a height of 5.895 meters altitude above sea-level. It has been the tough guy for the last 3 million years. For the last 130 years, the mountain has been making the lives of climbers extremely difficult, but so worthwhile. With the right preparations and having the right questions answered you can make it to the highest summit on the African continent. Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the Seven Summits and although it is considered to be one of the easier ones, climbing it is by no means a walk in the park. Are you ready to climb Kilimanjaro? This is all you need to know.
Every year, we help hundreds of climbers on their way to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. Via this link you can view all our options for climbing Kilimanjaro.
Climbing Kilimanjaro and COVID-19: Is the Mountain Ready?
Kilimanjaro is always ready, but is it possible to climb Kilimanjaro in times of Covid-19? Nicholas Vollgraf and Fabio Bianchetti, students at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland, did it in august 2021. "We realized that right now is a good time to climb Kilimanjaro. We were a bit flexible about the possibility of flights being canceled, there would be a lot of social distance on the mountain, and we knew it would be uniquely quiet," Fabio says. And it was definitely quiet: "In some camps, we were the only ones, and when you see how many toilets there are, you realize how special it is to be alone. Also on Uhuru Peak, on summit day, we were completely alone. All in all, we only saw three other groups on Kilimanjaro."
Fortunately, the world looks different nowadays. More and more people are finding their way to Kilimanjaro, but what about the Covid-19 restrictions?
According to Noel Ernest of Enosa Expeditions, tourism is slowly recovering. Tanzania is ready to welcome you with open arms! Everything is prepared for tourism in the north of Tanzania, around Kilimanjaro, and in the largest national parks such as the Serengeti. "Tourism is one of the only sources of income in Northern Tanzania. Unfortunately, the government has not given us much financial assistance and partly because of this, the whole region has been hit very hard.’’ Also during the climb, the health of climbers is proactively monitored. "We did that, of course, already when it comes to altitude sickness. COVID-19 is now being added. On our expeditions we take temperature meters with us.‘’
How Long Does it Take To Climb Kilimanjaro?
We know you can’t take all the leave in the world and it is very likely that you are trying to squeeze a Kilimanjaro climb into your much-deserved week’s break from work. Technically this is possible, but if you want to make it to Uhuru Peak we would advise against cutting it short. Once you are on your way to climb Kilimanjaro, you might as well take it easy. Life is already short and climbing Kilimanjaro could be a once in a lifetime adventure. Why wouldn’t you enjoy it?
Climbing Kilimanjaro can take anything between 5 and 9 days. We hear you asking: “Why do it in 9 days if you can do it in 5 or 6 days?” Well, the answer to that question is not that simple if you have just started looking at your options for climbing Kilimanjaro. It all comes down to acclimatization. The guys who choose to climb Kilimanjaro in 9 days have the best chances to actually make it to the top.
The guys who do it in 5 days may get super nauseous half-way and will be pushed to cut things short. These guys have chosen the Marangu Route, and although they have had the privilege of staying in huts, their acclimatization wasn’t really text-book best practice. If you want to have adequate acclimatization and minimize the risks of Altitude Mountain Sickness (AMS), you shouldn’t be going for the fastest way up.
Take the slower one. If you see a 6-day version of the Machame Route and you compare it to the 7-day version, don’t look at the price. No, look at the duration. 7 days beats 6 days. If you ignored this advice and you find yourself vomiting at Stella Point, then remember what we said. Also, the Lemosho Route is a fantastic choice in terms of acclimatization if you are looking at options for climbing Kilimanjaro.
On Bookatrekking.com you will find a diverse offer of routes, days and prices for your Kilimanjaro climb offered by our local partners. Curious? Click on this link and see all options!
Where is Mount Kilimanjaro?
Don't confuse Mount Kilimanjaro with other famous mountains in Africa like Mount Kenya or the Atlas in Morocco. You can find Mount Kenya in Kenya and Mount Kilimanjaro is standing tall in Tanzania, in East Africa. The mountain is one of the seven summits (the highest peaks on each of the seven continents) and rises 5,895 meters or 19,340 feet above sea level. It is the tallest freestanding mountain (not part of a mountain range) in the world.
How High is Kilimanjaro?
Throughout history, there have been different heights of Kilimanjaro. Officially, Kilimanjaro has a height of 5,895 meters. In feet, Kilimanjaro has a height of 19,340 ft. Right? Yes, but again, there have been different heights in the past and if we are supposed to believe modern GPS technologies, the mountain isn't that high. The most recent GPS reading on Kilimanjaro was in 2008 and the results showed out that Kilimanjaro is in fact not that high: 5,891.8 meters (19,330 ft).
But did you know that Kilimanjaro also ranked as a 6000-er for a while? Yes, if we were supposed to believe Dr. Hans Meyer, who finally successfully ascended Kibo on his third attempt, the mountain was 19,833ft or about 6045 meters. However, the German authorities corrected his measuring and as a result, Mount Kilimanjaro had a height of 5892 meters or 19,331 ft for a very long time. That means that already in the 19th century the measuring was almost just as precise as the most recent GPS measuring attempt. In 1951 this altitude was corrected by British cartographers and since that moment Kilimanjaro officially is 5,895 meters (19,340 ft) tall.
Best Time to Climb Kilimanjaro
If you are wondering what the best time is to climb Kilimanjaro then you should know that your options are wide open. Mount Kilimanjaro does not have closing times and you can basically start your climb at any time of the year. There are of course peak seasons and low seasons and if you are looking for the best time to climb Kilimanjaro, then you should know that most people choose to head for Kibo, Mawenzi, and Shira from January to March and from June to October. The first peak season of the year, from January to March, comes with higher chances of seeing snow on the summit. From June to October, you might not see snow, but you will definitely see a whole lot more people. This is because of the fact that many people from Northern Europe and Northern America decide to spend their summer leave in Tanzania.
If neither of those timeframes is interesting to you, you can decide to climb Kilimanjaro in the low season. The wet months are March, April, and November. Note that during the wet season the lower slopes of Kilimanjaro can be quite muddy. If you are looking for the perfect route for these months, you should highly consider the Rongai Route.
This route ascends Kilimanjaro from the Kenyan side and sees less rainfall. It is also less technical. The seasons for climbing Kilimanjaro are determined by trade winds and the actual conditions during your ascent are controlled by the different climate zones that you can find on Kili. If you want to know about trade winds, rainy seasons and dry seasons, you should check out our blog post about the best time of year to climb Kilimanjaro.
How Much Does it Cost to Climb Kilimanjaro?
Climbing Kilimanjaro is not a cheap affair but if you know what all goes into a Kilimanjaro climbing expedition, you will understand that it can definitely be done affordably. Kili is actually one of the most affordable ones of the Seven Summits. If you want to climb Mount Everest for example, you are looking at around 40.000 USD.
Fortunately, trekking to Everest Base Camp is not that crazy expensive. There are quite a few things that you have to take into consideration when you are doing the financial planning of your Kilimanjaro ascent. First of all, you have to fly to either Mount Kilimanjaro International Airport, to Arusha, Nairobi or Dar es Salaam.
Depending on where you are flying from and your travel class, this can be the bulk of your cost. Next, you will need accommodation in Moshi or Arusha. Then you have to consider the route that you choose. This is where the hidden costs pop up. There are park fees, food for yourself, your porters and your guide(s), the number of days on the mountain, rescue fees, conservation fees, camping fees, and hut fees. Read more about the park fees for Kilimanjaro National Park.
Via Bookatrekking.com you can book a Kilimanjaro climb from 1100 GBP / 1500 USD for the Machame Route to 2150 GBP / 3000 USD per person for the Northern Circuit. Included are tents, sleeping mats, guide(s), porters, hot meals, park fees, airport transfers and more. Accommodation in Moshi is not included but can be booked on request. Flights to Kilimanjaro airport are also excluded. Here you can find the complete offer of Bookatrekking.com.
Kilimanjaro Tipping Ceremony
It is normal to tip your guides and porters when you come down from the mountain. For this, they organise a tipping ceremony. Although these tips will not be the dealbreaker, you have to them into consideration. Expect to pay an additional 200 USD. It can be more and it can be less. Here you can find an extensive tipping guide for your guide(s), cook(s) and porters.
All in all, for your entire Kilimanjaro climb, you should expect to pay around 3500 USD to 5000 USD or 2500 GBP to 3500 GBP for the entire expedition including flights, hotels before and after, the climb, and tips. Want to know more?Read this blog post about the costs of climbing Kilimanjaro.
How Hard Is It To Climb Kilimanjaro?
We will be the last persons to tell you that climbing Kilimanjaro is easy. For the last 130 years, Kilimanjaro has made the lives of climbers difficult. Some climbers were sucked up and spit out and had to trot right back to where they started. Climbing Kilimanjaro can be hard. But you can make it easy. One way to make it easy is to be here, to read this piece, to do your homework adequately. Research your route options, know everything about acclimatization and get the right trekking and climbing gear packed.
If you are very old or super young, you will probably have it difficult when climbing Kilimanjaro. Having said that, the youngest climber of Kilimanjaro is only 6 years old. If you are very much overweight or very disabled, you can probably also forget the idea of making it to Uhuru Peak. There are absolutely exceptions and our trekking experts can help you to find a tailored Kilimanjaro climbing expedition but know what you are getting yourself into if you are not the average Joe. Average Joe? That’s right. An average Joe can definitely make it to the summit of Kilimanjaro.
It all comes down to the magic words pole pole which means slow slow in Swahili. The fittest guys tend to be haraka haraka which is definitely too fast. Make sure your cardiovascular system is healthy, you have done your lunges and squats, and most importantly: That you have done a healthy dose of hiking in the build-up to your climb. Stamina is another deciding factor. If you need some inspiration to get your headspace right for climbing Kilimanjaro, then we can suggest reading these inspirational quotes for hiking and trekking. Write your favorite ones down and keep them aside for when the going gets tough on the way to Kibo.
Earlier we said that Kilimanjaro is for the Average Joe. True, but there are exceptional examples of people who set themselves apart from the Average Joe. Ultra-runner Kilian Jornet made it from Umbwe Gate to Uhuru Peak in 5 hours, 23 minutes and 9 seconds. Ester and Martin Kafer ascended Kilimanjaro when they were respectively 84 and 85 years old. Kyle Maynard climbed Kilimanjaro without arms and legs. He crawled to the summit of Kilimanjaro. It turns out that climbing Kilimanjaro is only as hard as you make it yourself.
Best Route for Climbing Kilimanjaro
By now you already know that climbing Kilimanjaro is not a walk in the park. You have also learned that the longer you take, the more likely you will be successful. For a large part, the formula to success boils down to the route you choose. If you are thinking of climbing Kilimanjaro there are six routes to choose from: Lemosho Route, Machame Route, Marangu Route, Northern Circuit, Rongai Route and Umbwe Route. Are there any other routes? The Shira Route is another route, but after the Lemosho Route was created, this route is pretty much dead. Why? Because the Lemosho Route is the acclimatization route. Longer days on the mountain, climb high / sleep low and better scenes. Earlier we already mentioned that the Rongai Route is a great option for the rainy days and that the success rates for the Marangu Route are not great.
This is a pity because many people who think of climbing Kilimanjaro think the Marangu Route is the best option. They call it the Tourist Route or the Coca-Cola Route after all, right? Yes. But those huts on the route are not that well equipped and you might actually be better of sharing a tent with your best friend than sleep dormitory-style in one of the Marangu huts. If you consider the double-layered sleeping mats and the expedition tents that porters carry for you on other climbing routes, the Marangu Route is really not that great.
The Machame Route, also known as the Whisky Route, is also a good option. It is wildly popular as well, and that makes that the prices of trekking expeditions on the Machame are relatively low. The Northern Circuit knows a longer time on the mountain. with nearly 90 kilometers of hiking, it is definitely the longest walk in the park.
Northern Circuit climbers enjoy the highest success rates and the most beautiful views of the mountain. If you ask us the Northern Circuit Route is the best route to climb Kilimanjaro. But, if you don’t want to spend too much time on your legs, we would say that the Northern Circuit shares first place with the Lemosho Route. When you are asking us for the best, most efficient route for climbing Kilimanjaro, we can only recommend the Lemosho Route. Here you can read more about the Lemosho Route.
Tips for Climbing Kilimanjaro from Experience Experts
You are not the first and you won't be the last to climb Kilimanjaro. Others have inspired you to climb Kilimanjaro and you will be inspiring others to do the same. It's not easy to find tips from people who are not trekking experts, trekking company managers or mountaineers who feature in documentaries. We have gathered some people who did the same thing you are about to do. People from all walks of life who decided to climb Kilimanjaro.
Alia Datoo - "It's not about the summit"
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Based in Nairobi, Alia is the founder of Women Who Hike Africa, an organization that strives for getting more people onto the hiking trails and into the mountains. Recently she and some friends from her hiking community made it up to Uhuru Peak. An awesome feat but summiting wasn't the most important thing for Alia: "It's never about the summit. People tend to focus a lot on reaching the end of the hike rather than enjoying the journey in between the gate and the summit."
"For me, Kili represents a spiritual journey," Alia continues, "and along the way, I experience so many dramatic changes. It's a great time to shut off from the world and just reflect on life. They say, if you are the same person who comes down the mountain as the one who climbed it, you never really did climb that mountain. Stay focused on the present and don't think about how far you have come and how much further you need to go."
Christopher and Christina - *Don't give up!"
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World travelers Christina and Cristopher of Don't Forget The Aloe climbed Kilimanjaro in late September 2019. For the memorable Uhuru Peak shot they brought their Georgia Southern University flag along. Go Eagles! Chris and Christina live at sea level and they really take the risks of altitude sickness serious. "We took Diamox (Acetazolamide) from the first day until the last and we are so thankful that we did", says Christina. "The tingling fingers and heavier breathing as side effects were well worth not getting altitude sickness!
Also, there is dirt everywhere. Our bandanas, Hoo-Rags, were our lifesavers as they covered our face and blocked the dust. The biggest part of the climb aside from gear was the mentality. Your body can do so much more than your brain thinks it can, so do not give up! Keep focusing on putting one foot in front of the other, listen to your guides, and you will make it to the top."
Can You Climb Kilimanjaro Without a Guide?
No, you can’t. It’s as simple as that. Even if you are completely on your own and you have done all the major peaks in the rest of the world with ease, you can not climb Kilimanjaro on your own. By Tanzanian law, you must have at least two porters and a guide by your side. Fair enough, the guy who ran in little over 5 hours to Uhuru Peak wasn’t accompanied by porters or a guide, but by default, you can not climb Kilimanjaro without support staff.
If you think you should climb Kilimanjaro just to save on the price, then you should know that almost 70% of Tanzanians live below the poverty line. The fact that you are reading about climbing Kilimanjaro probably means that you could make a plan to rake together that little bit of extra money for a guide and porters.
Find a match for your Kilimanjaro climb. Check our offers and make your dreams come true!
What is the Cheapest Way to Climb Kilimanjaro?
It is possible to climb Kilimanjaro cheap. By now we have discussed the best routes, the total cost of a Kilimanjaro climb and the non-possibility of ascending Kilimanjaro completely solo. If you are looking for the cheapest way to climb Kilimanjaro then you have to forget about the high success rates of the Lemosho Route and the Northern Circuit and you must focus on the Machame and the Marangu Route. Especially the latter is an affordable option. You can book a 6-day version of the Marangu Route with Enosa Expeditions for less than 1500 EUR/USD. This includes everything you would normally expect on a Kilimanjaro climb transfers from the airport to your accommodation and the gate, guide(s), porters, cook(s), hot meals daily when on the mountain, treated and filtered water, hot water for washing, first aid kids, accommodation in huts, fees and a fair salary, food, and insurance for guide and porter(s).
Prices for the Machame Route are comparable and you will be staying in four-season mountain tents, sleepings mats will be provided and you can enjoy everything else that you would normally enjoy on a Kilimanjaro ascent.
Kilimanjaro Training - How to Train for Climbing Kilimanjaro?
If you are wondering about how to train for your Kilimanjaro climb, you can use these five steps to become the best version of yourself. Fitness is not as important as the right acclimatization, but it can definitely make things easier and help you on your way to Uhuru Peak. Check this blog post about Kilimanjaro training or stick to the following five points.
- Aerobic fitness: You best get moving as soon as you have your mind set on your Kilimanjaro climb. With the right aerobic fitness, you will have an improved heart rate, healthy muscles, and great lung capacity. Do power walking, running, hiking, trekking, cycling and/or swimming. Don’t worry. you don’t need to train for a marathon. One hour, 3 to 4 times a week is plenty of exercise.
- Endurance: When you are comfortable doing exercise a few times a week, you can fire it up by doing some longer sessions. The best thing you can do is walking long distances, at least once a week. If you can hike comfortably for a prolonged time, you are good to go.
- Gear: Don’t use your backpack and shoes that you purchased for your Kilimanjaro climb for the first time after your land. Break them in and use this equipment when you are working on point 1 and 2.
- Altitude: If you can, you can mimic the altitude by hiking and trekking in the hills and mountains. If you do not live in the right area for that, then don’t panic. The first two points are most important.
- Know your body: This is perhaps the most important part. If you are questioning your physical capabilities, you should perhaps go see a professional for monitoring. It is important to know your body, so you can notice any warning signs when you are on your way to the Roof of Africa. For the ultimate preparation, you can also go on a walking holiday to Austria, for example.
Kilimanjaro Kit List - What to Pack?
When you are preparing for your Kilimanjaro climb it is important to have the right bags, the right clothes, the right shoes or boots, the right gloves, the right headwear, the right sleeping bag and all the extras. If you are spending some extra time in Moshi or Arusha, then you can buy a lot of gear there, but don’t push your luck.
Good preparation is half the work. If you land in Moshi without having looked at our packing list for climbing Kilimanjaro, then you either have climbed Kilimanjaro before or you got it wrong. Don’t overpack, don’t bring jewelry, don’t bring a classic towel, jeans, or cotton t-shirts. Do it right and check out our packing list for Mount Kilimanjaro.
Combine Kilimanjaro Climb with Mount Meru or a Safari
We see a lot of people flying into Moshi, spending the afternoon in a restaurant, going to bed, waking up the next morning, climbing Kilimanjaro for a week, coming back and flying back home. When you don't have a lot of time, this is absolutely understandable, but if you have the opportunity, you should definitely stretch your time. You've spent a lot of money on those flights to Tanzania, so you might as well see what else there is to do in the area. If you're only spending an afternoon in Moshi, you might think that it is a bit of a sleepy town. But don't be mistaken, there is plenty to do to and we wouldn't call it killing time.
While in Africa you might as well do a safari. Right? Absolutely. If you want to get the most of your experience on African soil, you can combine the two. You can do this in, for example, Serengeti National Park, the Ngorongoro Crater, or Lake Manyara National Park. Although we may not have the options published on our website, our trekking experts know the best places and have some affordable safari options ready for you. Get in touch with our trekking experts and combine your Kilimanjaro ascent with a safari.
Climbing Mount Meru
If you have the legs and the time, you should definitely consider climbing Mount Meru. This is the perfect warm-up (or cool-down) for climbing Kilimanjaro. Meru is considered to be the little brother of Kilimanjaro and from here you can get great views of Kilimanjaro and the valley in between the two mountains. With 4,565 meters, Mount Meru is the fifth highest mountain of Africa. Mount Meru has very decent accommodation in the shape of the Miriakamba Huts and the Saddle Huts. Are you keen? Check out our Mount Meru climb blog post here.
Flights to Kilimanjaro
This is one of the first things you want to get sorted when you have booked your Kilimanjaro climbing package. When your dates are fixed, you can start looking at flights to Kilimanjaro. Together with some other essentials like a kit list, we have packed some information about cheap flights to Kilimanjaro in this helpful preparation blog post.
Where Do I Stay Before and After my Kilimanjaro Climb?
Basically all Kilimanjaro climbing packages come without accommodation before and after the ascent. Unless you want to have a full package with flights, hotels and all the other jazz, this is a good thing. It allows you to choose the accommodation that suits your needs and most importantly your budget. We often get asked for recommendations and because we know what we like, we shared them with you right here.
Your easiest airport to get to Mount Kilimanjaro is Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO). This airport lies between Arusha and Moshi. Although most people prefer to stay in Moshi, you can stay in either of these towns. Arusha is very handy when you, for example, want to climb Mount Meru first. Check our blog post about where to stay in Moshi for our recommendations.
Did you know that we can also help you with sorting out your accommodation? Our trekking experts have gone before you and know where to stay. Get in touch with our experts today!
Facts: Who Was the First Person to Climb Kilimanjaro?
In 1889 Ludwig Purtscheller and Hans Meyer from Germany were the first to summit Mount Kilimanjaro. Hans Meyer had already tried it before in 1887 but had difficulty making it past the ice. Ludwig and Hans were assisted by Yohani Kinyala Lauwo who was only 18 years old at the time. Yohani lived in Marangu, the village on the lower slopes after which the Marangu Route was named after. He had just lost his job in construction and was keen to help the two Germans out. Yohani made it to the age of 125 and led many more climbers to Uhuru Peak. He never resumed his career in construction.
Earlier failed attempts of ascending Kilimanjaro were in 1861 and 1862 by Baron Carl Claus von der Decken and Richard Thornton. In 1871 it was attempted by Charles New and in 1887 by Count Samuel Teleki and, on a separate occasion, by Dr. Abbot. The first woman to summit Kilimanjaro was then 22-year old Sheila MacDonald in 1927. It is said that her male companions gave up while she drank champagne to keep going.
Want to follow the footsteps of Sheila MacDonald? Check our offers and make it happen!
Where Do I Book My Kilimanjaro Climb?
Be cautious when you want to book your Kilimanjaro climb online. There are dozens of companies who offer their services online, but many are not transparent in their ways of handling your booking and their ways of treating their porters and guides. At Bookatrekking.com we have curated our partners and their offers carefully.
We only work with partners who take good care of their staff and the environment. At Bookatrekking.com they offer their lowest price so you can enjoy top customer service while booking with a local company.
Are you ready to climb Kilimanjaro? Check out our offers and make your dreams come true!
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