Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro | Hiking Safari Tanzania
Climbing Kilimanjaro is on many people’s bucket lists. As you reach the peak, it seems like you’re on top of Africa, with the whole continent at your feet. And, best of all, most individuals reach the crater rim with little more than appropriate attire, a modest mindset, and a strong resolve.
Africa’s snow-capped behemoth rises from the savannah to an almost arrogant 5,895 meters. Since Mount Kilimanjaro is a stratovolcano, it has three peaks: Kibo (5,895 meters), Mawenzi (5,149 meters), and the Shira plateau (3,962 meters). The volcano is still somewhat active today. Shira and Mawenzi aren’t going to put on a show since they both died over a million years ago, but sleeping beauty Kibo is still capable of some activity. Its cone has been spotted burning and emitting ominous rumbling sounds from deep inside its core throughout the last century.
Tips for Successfully Climbing Kilimanjaro Choose an Approach Route
Most days spent climbing Kilimanjaro are no worse than any other day spent trekking at home. Yet, there are a number of reasons that make this a very difficult undertaking.
First and foremost, you will be trekking for at least 7 days straight. This puts a significant load on all of your muscles and joints.
Second, as you rise, the oxygen concentration of the air quickly decreases. This implies you’re gaining less and less power with each breath. Each breath at the peak has around half the quantity of oxygen that you would typically have.
Finally, although most days are not challenging, summit night is incredibly demanding, with a climb of about 1500m, a fall of over 3000m, and an average of 16-18 hours of trekking. To be successful, you must be in the finest physical shape of your life. We provide thorough training suggestions for climbing Kilimanjaro. Cardiovascular strength, leg muscular strength, and flexibility are the most important components. Try to go out and spend some long days hiking at least twice in the weeks leading up to your climb. And don’t forget that the largest difference between those who succeed and those who fail is frequently just mental toughness.
Keeping hydrated and eating sufficient
You will expend around 4000 calories each day while you climb Kilimanjaro. This is almost twice your usual consumption. You will burn far over 6000 calories on summit night. And, as mountaineers say, you must fuel your ascent! Hence, even if you’ve lost your appetite due to the effects of altitude, you must continue to eat. Our meals are meant to be varied and delicious, but you must eat even if you don’t feel hungry. Choose a variety of foods that you prefer before traveling to Tanzania. Carry a variety and enough supply. Even if you like Mars Bars, you may discover that after the third one in a row, they are no longer as appealing.
Drinking enough water is even more vital than eating. It is quite simple to get dehydrated in the cold, dry air. Dehydration symptoms are quite similar to altitude sickness symptoms. It is fairly unusual for someone to descend just to discover that all they needed was a lot of water. Every day, you will be given 2 liters of water. There will also be a limitless supply of hot beverages for breakfast and supper. You must continue to consume alcohol. If your urine is yellow, you are dehydrated and should drink extra water. Try to take for yourself in this manner on Kilimanjaro.
Proper gear begins with your feet. Do not show up for your climb with a brand-new pair of boots. Check that your boots are fully worn in and comfy. After your feet, make sure you take care of your head. On the lower slopes, you’ll need something with decent sun protection. A particularly warm beanie or maybe a balaclava is required for summit night. On particularly chilly evenings, they may serve as a nightcap.
Lastly, consider clothing layers. The daily temperature change might reach 35 degrees Celsius. Rather than depending on a single jacket, layering is the best approach to deal with this. We also highly advise wearing gaiters and mittens. Kilimanjaro is incredibly dusty, and filthy footwear is really unpleasant. We have yet to find a pair of gloves that are really warm enough for summit night, so bring mittens or over-mittens.
A four-season sleeping bag, trekking poles for the descent, a headlamp for the night ascent, a comfortable day pack, and enough high-factor sunscreen are also essential. We propose the following Kilimanjaro packing list, which you may examine right now!
Acclimatization should be done with caution.
The single most common reason for failure to reach the summit is a lack of proper acclimatization. We have a lot of information on how to prevent altitude sickness and acclimate, but there are three crucial items to remember. First, take it gently. No matter how fit you are, going too fast increases your chances of developing altitude sickness. Our guides will constantly tell you to “Pole Pole,” which means “slowly, slowly” in Swahili. If you can’t have a conversation comfortably while driving, you’re traveling too fast.
The second issue is hydration; the very major difficulties induced by altitude are caused by pressure fluctuations. This is especially dangerous in the lungs, where fluid from your blood seeps into your lungs, causing pneumonia-like symptoms. It also occurs in your skull, when fluid travels from your brain into the space between your brain and your skull, resulting in pressure headaches. If you are dehydrated, you increase your chances of having this condition.
Finally, think about taking Diamox. This is a medication that has been shown to help the body acclimate to the altitude more quickly. It is not, however, a cure, and you may get unwell while taking it. It is, however, a safe strategy for most individuals to lower their chance of becoming unwell. Diamox may only be obtained via a doctor’s prescription. He may examine your suitability directly.
Route of Mount Kilimanjaro
Something to think about while planning your route:
THE NUMBER OF DAYS TO TRAVEL
You’ll most likely only climb Kilimanjaro once, so do it correctly. The easiest method to do this is to choose a journey that provides for adequate acclimatization time to safely reach the top. The amount of days you take is the single most crucial element in whether or not you reach the top. The park’s minimum stay is five days, which equates to 3.5 days to the top. Just approximately half of people who embark on 5-day expeditions reach the top. We average six days for the approximately 50 climbers we take up the mountain each year. We often provide eight and nine-day excursions that involve sleeping adjacent to the glacier at Crater Camp. When the ratio of summit success rates to the number of days spent on the mountain is compared, the findings are startling.
The following are the average summit success rates:
· 5 days: 65%
· 6 days: 75%
7 days: little more than 80%
8 days: 90%
9 days or more: over 95%.
Taking additional days has a big influence on summit success rates.
There are seven first approach paths, which are outlined below in counter-clockwise order from west to east:
Lemosho Glades – Beginning from a secluded trailhead and rising for two days through woodland and heather to reach the western border of the huge Shira plateau. This path may be followed up the Northern Circuit, Western Breach, or Machame/Southern Circuit routes. It takes 7 or more days to climb Kilimanjaro through the Southern Circuit, which is the most popular way. It is best done in 9 or more days via the Northern Circuit, which offers a full journey from West to East across Kilimanjaro. The route to the Lemosho trailhead is particularly problematic seasonally (in the rainy seasons of April/May and November/December), so much so that in bad weather automobiles often cannot reach the trailhead and climbers must begin the ascent on a muddy 4×4 track. This road may be congested at peak hours, particularly on weekends. Since the first camp is so tiny, it might seem cramped with a few trekkers and all of the porters.
Shira/Morum Barrier Route – This route begins high (above 12,000’/ 3,500m), but on longer climbs gives the opportunity for easy/gentle trekking from the start of the ascent, as well as avoiding other visitors, particularly when taking the secluded northern circle route. While starting at Morum Barrier Gate gives you the option of continuing on the Southern Circuit, Northern Circuit, or Western Breach, the Northern Circuit is best done in 8 or more days. This is the route we use for our 8-day group walk across the Northern circuit. We like this route above all others because of its wilderness feel and little foot traffic.
Machame Route – by far the most popular and busiest route overall, generally completed in 6 or 7 days through the southern circle before rising to the summit by the east facing Mweka (Barafu Camp) approach to the crater rim at Stella Point. It’s also beautiful and rustic. Ideally completed in 7 days. That was quite challenging to do in 6 days.
The Umbwe Way is the quickest and most direct path to Kilimanjaro’s summit, but it is also the most difficult in terms of terrain and slope. This route is best completed in 6 or 7 days through the Western Breach, although it may also be completed by the Machame/Southern circuit route.
The Marangu Trail, sometimes known as the ‘Coca Cola’ Route, begins in the southeast and winds through heavy woodland, heather, and moorland before reaching the saddle between Mawenzi and Kibo, then up to Gillman’s point before skirting around the south crater rim to Uhuru Peak. This journey requires pre-booking and deposits (to reserve the huts). From 5+ days, best accomplished in 6 days.
Rongai Route – An route from the arid northeast (Kenya side), up to the sides of Mawenzi (Kilimanjaro’s most easterly volcano), then on into the vast expanse of the desert saddle between Mawenzi and Kibo, and ultimately up to the summit via the Marangu Route. Starting at 5 days, but best completed in 6 days. The Marangu Route descends Rongai, making for a lengthier final day than other camping options.
The Northern Circuit Route is the longest route on Kilimanjaro, a nine-day trip that begins by ascending the Lemosho route on the mountain’s western side up onto the Shira Plateau before reaching the Lava Tower, then heads north and circumnavigating the main summit massif in a clockwise direction before connecting with the Rongai route. The summit is then reached from the mountain’s eastern flank, and the descent is made through the southern Mweka path.
This is also known as the Grand Traverse or the 360 Trail, as it provides the whole Kilimanjaro experience, including all ecosystems and views of the mountain from all sides. The lengthier trek provides great acclimatization as well as breathtaking scenery with views over the southern sides, western forests, northern plains to the Kenyan border, and parched eastern slopes. The pathways are rather peaceful and less traveled.
We supply the following safety equipment on kili treks: Oxygen for emergency usage – For parties of 2-6, two kits (360L medical oxygen bottles, each with a regulator and two nasal cannula masks) are given. We give three complete O2 kits for groups of seven or more climbers.
Hyperbaric Chamber – a portable altitude chamber carried on every journey for emergency usage.
AED (Automated External Defibrillator) Is optional for most treks but required on treks that involve a night at Crater Camp.
Stretcher / Litter – Each journey includes a completely sturdy steel-framed litter.
First-aid / Trauma & Medicine Kit – completely filled according to Wilderness First Responder rules, including medication instructions. For parties of 9 or more, two first-aid kits are carried.
Pulse-oximeter – During dinner time, the head guide examines, assesses, and records these statistics for each climber.
VHF handheld radios – Three VHF radios are carried on each trip to provide speedy communication between the head and assistant guides at the rear and front of the party, as well as the camp manager. Each radio comes with an additional battery.
All guides carry mobile phones for regular connection with our headquarters in Arusha.
Satellite phone – carried by the head guide at all times for usage in emergencies (in areas with limited or poor mobile network). Each satellite phone comes with an additional battery. This enables us to communicate promptly during an emergency, no matter where we are.
The medical equipment porter remains with the group at all times to ensure that the safety equipment is always handy and ready to use. Every group receives a second medical equipment porter, enabling us to share oxygen and other duplicate emergency supplies.
The head guide conducts a thorough safety briefing before the journey, addressing expectations, dangers, safety equipment, and proactive safety.
Climbing helmets are required for all climbers and workers (on Western Breach only).
Climbing rope (50M x 10mm dynamic) for use as a head guide for laying hand lines (on Western Breach only).
Ice axes are carried by all guides and are used to carve steps on the snow (on Western Breach only).
Commonly Asked Questions
Rainfall at Kilimanjaro’s foot (cm)
The quick answer is that you should visit between May and October, or between December and March. You may also learn more about the Kilimanjaro weather.
Simply stated, the monsoon season on Kilimanjaro is lengthy in April and May and short in November. Every day during these times, there is a strong possibility of rain. Outside of these times, the weather is often dry and clear.
Of course, most people prefer to climb when the weather is dry, so if you select one of these two times, you may expect to encounter a large number of other climbers. To counteract this, use one of the less traveled routes. At this time of year, the Northern Circuit is an excellent alternative. If you prefer to climb when it is less crowded or during one of the wet seasons, choose the Rongai route. It is under the rain shadow of Kilimanjaro and is substantially drier all year.
Difficulty of Mount Kilimanjaro
Mount Kilimanjaro will take experienced climbers 5 to 6 days to reach the summit. Yet, it is important to recognize that, although the voyage is shorter than others, this does not imply that it is any simpler. Mount Kilimanjaro, in reality, is quite tough due to its short trip.
You climb swiftly up the mountain, which means your body must quickly adjust to the changing environment. As a result, you may have intense mountain sickness, and if you are unprepared, you may have to turn back to seek assistance.
What level of fitness is required to climb Mount Kilimanjaro?
We have assisted many first-time climbers in reaching the peak of Kilimanjaro safely. You must be physically healthy enough for “weekend walking” and capable of spending 5-7 hours on your feet for two days in a row. Other than being physically healthy, you will need to take care of yourself and be really determined.
The greatest preparation for climbing Kilimanjaro is to put on your boots and run as many kilometers as you can before your ascent. Most days will be rather pleasant if you follow this advice. Summit night is a difficult experience no matter how fit you are. You’ll climb for 8-10 hours and descend for 6-8 hours.
What kind of training do you propose for me to be ready for my climb?
We usually respond to this issue by suggesting that you should go out and do as much hill walking as you can. Nothing prepares your body better for climbing Kilimanjaro than some lengthy walks of 7-8 hours on weekends.
A more technical response is that you should focus on four components of fitness.
The first is just cardio. When you rise, the oxygen in the air decreases, forcing your cardiac system to work overtime. Prepare for this by engaging in any strenuous cardiac workout. We are great supporters of High Intensity Interval Training, which involves working hard for a brief amount of time and then resting.
The second factor is leg strength. Repeated days of climbing put a lot of pressure on the legs, thus leg workouts like squats come in handy.
The third factor is endurance. You must keep going and going on summit night. Attempt some lengthier workouts that need genuine endurance, such as a lengthy cycle or a long day of hill walking.
Finally, don’t forget about your flexibility, since many injuries are caused by a lack of flexibility. Remember to stretch both before and throughout your ascent. More thorough information on training to climb Kilimanjaro may be found here.
How are the restrooms on Kilimanjaro?
Kilimanjaro’s public restrooms are deplorable. Luckily, private restrooms are now common on all Kilimanjaro climbs. Under a little tent, there is a chemical toilet. Our personnel keeps everything clean and sanitary. Much better than the lengthy drop public restrooms.
How do you treat your team? Are you a kpap member?
We take excellent care of our employees and guides. KPAP acknowledges this ( the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Program). Our most current KPAP audit report is available here.
KPAP does an excellent job of ensuring porters are treated decently on the mountain. It is not just about salaries, but also about food, clothes, tents, and tipping rules. Unfortunately, far too few Kilimanjaro guides are members of KPAP. We have been an active member of KPAP since our first ascent of Kilimanjaro. On all of our climbs, there is a KPAP porter to guarantee that we always treat porters with respect.
What exactly is altitude sickness?
Altitude sickness (AMS) is induced by ascending to heights where the air pressure is significantly lowered. http://www.altitude.org/air pressure.php has a fantastic little calculator. This demonstrates how this occurs.
As you reach the peak of Kilimanjaro, the air pressure is 49% of what it is at sea level. The first result is that each lungful of air contains half as much oxygen as it would ordinarily. This makes any physical activity very difficult. Slowly, slowly, slowly is the key.
Low pressures have the second and most harmful consequences on the areas of the body where fluid and air contact. The two most significant are found in the skull and lungs. Low air pressure causes fluid to enter the lungs and the space between the brain and the skull. This produces pneumonia in the lungs, when your lungs fill with water. It produces severe headaches in the brain. Both of them have the potential to be fatal.
The good news is that we carefully organize our ascents to reduce the danger of you developing AMS, and we have well-tested emergency methods for preventing altitude sickness.
What is the difference between an open group and a private climb?
Private Kilimanjaro climbs are your own own tailor-made experience. They provide you with complete freedom and the best possibility of success. Just choose your day, route, and any of our customized choices. Ideal for a group of friends or a charitable organization. Maybe for a pair celebrating a special birthday or anniversary. Upgrades to private climbs start at £100 per person, depending on party size.
An open group is ideal if you prefer the companionship of others while climbing Kilimanjaro. Our group climbs take place every week throughout the main climbing season, which runs from June to October and December to March. They are restricted to a maximum of 12 climbers to ensure that you have the greatest opportunity of reaching the peak. Our monthly open group full moon climbs are very popular.
How will the meal taste?
Our chefs on Kilimanjaro produce incredible meals. What they can do on a mountain is incredible, and everyone praises about our meals. This is critical since staying hydrated and eating healthy is one of the most significant components in success. Further information on our Kilimanjaro meals may be found here. If you have particular dietary needs or are a vegetarian, please let us know when you book so that we can create an appropriate cuisine for you.
How will I wash my hands while climbing?
Every morning and evening, you will be given a basin of hot water to wash your hands in. In addition, a big supply of baby wipes for cleansing hands throughout the day is highly recommended. However, when it becomes really cold higher up the mountain, you may get away with a “pits and bits” wash, which a baby-wipe is ideal for. Remember that everything you bring up the mountain must come down, so bring a garbage bag to transport old wet wipes.
Is there an age limit for climbers?
The Kilimanjaro Park Authority does not let climbers under the age of 12 on the peak. There is no upper limit; our oldest summiteer was 75. You should be aware, however, that minors under the age of 16 are not permitted to join an open group. This is partly because we believe that children under the age of 16 need the more individualized attention that can only be provided on a private vacation. However, taking children on a climb with them has occasionally elicited unfavorable response from adults.