Climbing Kilimanjaro

So you probably have a lot of questions, like "When is the best time to climb Kilimanjaro?" "Which route should I choose?" How difficult is Kilimanjaro? " "How long does it take to climb Mount Kilimanjaro? "What are the routes on Kilimanjaro and how do I choose one? " For these and more read more here. Climbing Kilimanjaro is an event in your life that will live with you for ever. It is an adventure of the soul through some of the most beautiful scenery. It does not require any technical expertise, but does require lots of determination. So if you are committed, landing on this page is a good place to start.    

which route is right for you?

There are 7 different routes to trek to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro. Which one you choose will be based on a number of actors; your fitness, prior experience with high altitude, if you enjoy camping or prefer huts, is you want a quiet route, if you want the shortest route or the most scenic.



It is also known as the “Coca Cola Route. 

Accommodation is in shared dormitory style mountain huts. As a result of its shorter duration, accommodation and ascent profile, it is a much busier path.

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The ascent profile of Rongai is similar to the Marangu and considered to the second easiest route. Like Marangu, it is a slow and gradual climb up to Kibo. 

Accommodation is in tents 

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Also known as the Whiskey route it is one of the steeper but more scenic routes up the mountain.  The route takes six days to complete.

Accommodation is in tents 

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Shira Route starts on the western side of the mountain.  It heads across the Shira plateau, joining up with the Lemosho and Machame. The rest of the route is the same as for the Machame Route.

 Accommodation is in tents.

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The Lemosho route is a good eight day hike for those who have not trekked much at high altitudes and want a slower pace. It does have a longer approach route through.

The benefit of the  extra  day helps with acclimatisation

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The ascent profile of Umbwe is fast and steep and not recommended for people who are not used to fast ascent climbs

Accommodation is in tents 

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The Northern circuit offers a more remote less travelled route to Uhuru Peak. It does offer more of a 360 degree taste of the various eco zones of the mountain but also starts at a higher altitude.

Accommodation is in tents 

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short treks

The Kilimanjaro Express Treks, short treks or day hikes afford you the opportunity of trekking only part of the journey to either Mandara or Horombo Huts and getting a unique taste of trekking on this magnificent volcano. You can spend time hiking with family members who are heading to summit and then head down.

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Is Kilimanjaro a technical climb?

No. Kilimanjaro is a trekking peak in that you essentially hike or trek to summit. No technical expertise is required, nor use of rope etc. There are sections on the mountain which require a scramble up rocky areas, dependant  on which trekking path you follow.                    

How Hard is it to climb Kilimanjaro?

The word climb is something of a misnomer as no technical gear is used but considering the altitude gained it is classified as a climb. Any person with moderate hiking skills who is fit and healthy can summit the mountain.

However, the summit night can be hard going as you ascend 1500m in anything from 5.5 to 9 hours. Apart from that, after the summit you need to descent 3000m in 16-18 hours making it challenging. So while you don’t need to be a super athlete or have prior climbing experience it is important to be active and committed to training prior to the climb.

How long does it take to hike Kilimanjaro?

The shortest number of days required to climb to Uhuru Peak is on a 5 day Marangu route, totally 7 by the time you have added on arrival and departure days. However, it is not advisable to do it over 5 as the ascent is very quick and  the overall success rate, low. It is better to do the trek over a minimum of 6 or 7 days to increase your chances of success.  Most hikers add an extra day to acclimatize helping them achieve a higher Kilimanjaro Success Rate.

Will we have access to fresh running water at camps?

There are several streams on the   trail and porters will collect water from them. The cook then boils this water for you to fill you water bottles  for your days hike. You can also use purifier tablets in stream water or add it to your boiled water however it can also have an effect on the diamox and make you feel nauseous. The higher you climb the less water there. On the Machame trail, for example, the last water point is at the Karanga Valley, the lunch-stop before Barafu; on Marangu, it’s just before the Saddle. For this reason it is essential that you carry enough bottles for at least two litres.

When is the best time or months to climb Kilimanjaro?

The warmest months with the clearest trekking days, are from mid to late December, January, February, September and October. The rains often come in April and the start of May with the possibility of some snow. June through to August are superb trekking months, though evening temperatures tend to be colder. The wettest months are November and early December, where snowfalls are likely. Note however, that as this is a mountain it is not impossible to get sporadic snow or rainfall at odd times throughout the year, although the snow normally only falls above 4800m.

Which is the best route to follow to climb Kilimanjaro?

There are 7 summit routes; namely, Marangu, Rongai, Lemosho, Shira, Umbwe and Machame. Of all the routes, Machame is by far the most scenic albeit steeper route up the mountain. The Rongai is the easiest camping route and the Marangu is also easier but accommodation is in huts. As a result, this route tends to be very busy and ascent and descent routes are the same. Both of the latter have lower prospects to acclimitise by the climb high sleep low principle unless one adds on extra days. The Northern Circuit, approaches Kibo from the west, crossing the caldera of Shira Volcano before turning north to follow the trail through Moir Valley and around the northern side of Kilimanjaro.

The Shira, Lemosho and Machame all meet up before Lava Tower (day three), and then with Umbwe at Baranco Camp (end of day three). Marangu, Rongai and Northern Circuit all meet up at Kibo Huts.

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How Bad is the Barranco Wall?

The Barranco wall is along the Machame Route, Shira Route, Lemosho Route and Umbwe Route. Is it a “wall” – well no it is not, in the sense that a wall is pretty much vertical which Barranco is not. It consists of a rocky path that zig zags up the rock section of the mountain. Yes it is steep, let us not deny that fact, but do-able? Definitely!

The wall itself is only 843 ft tall (257 meters) so in terms of distance, it could certainly not be classified as endless. It is a climb? Once again, no it is not.

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How hard is it to hike to Everest Base Camp compared to Kilimanjaro?

Most people think Everest Base Camp is higher than Kilimanjaro but surprise surprise, it is not. Base camp of Everest (or rather Kala Pathar – the little hill you climb up above base camp) is actually 5545m, whereas Kilimanjaro summit is 5895m.

People also think it is a tougher hike than Kilimanjaro, but Kilimanjaro is actually regarded as tougher by those who have done both.

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How will the altitude affect me on Kilimanjaro?

This is a really difficult one to answer directly - "how will I cope with the altitude". To be honest, this is an ' unknown' factor as no-one can predict how your body will cope at altitude. People who have been to altitude many times in the past without problems, may on one climb suddenly develop problems. There are many factors that play a role. The only way to help combat this, is to take all of the necessary precautions, and walk slowly, pole pole. Choosing a path like Machame where you get to follow the principle of "climb high, sleep low" is also advisable.                    

How much does it cost to climb Kilimanjaro?

The Kilimanjaro National Park fees are something that nobody can escape and are a large portion of your climb cost. For a six day/five night camping trek you pay about $800 in fees alone!  So on average a climb will cost you between $1450 and $2800 depending on the number of days, number of people and the route that you take. There are some operators  who will quote you $1000 for a trek - ask yourself, what are they skimping on and who is going to suffer as a result. You? Your safety? The porters?

Where can I get climbing Insurance for Kilimanjaro?

If you are going hiking or climbing or trekking then you need extra cover for your activities. Hiking and Climbing have become popular for many adventure seekers looking to add a climb up Kilimanjaro or a trek to Everest Base Camp, Annapurna or even Island Peak to their list of amazing adventures. But any climb to high altitude carries with it a number of risks and having the correct and good trekking insurance is an absolute must. We recommend two different groups depending on whcih contry you reside in. For further details, click on the icon

Why is Machame considered steeper than other routes?

The bulk of the volcanic activity for Kibos eruption happened to the west of the mountain making Machame and Umbwe steeper and more rugged. Umbwe is actually the steepest

Is Rongai an easier route to take?

Rongai is one of the easier routes as it is both gradual and steady. However, the Rongai Route does not have a great climb high sleep low profile which makes it arguably more difficult than the Machame or Lemosho routes. The 7 day trek option is highly recommended as it allows for better acclimatization.

read some of our blog posts on Kilimanjaro

how bad is barranco wall

How Bad is the Barranco Wall? These are the type of catch phrases you will read about on many sites that describe or talk about the famous Barranco Wall. So is it really that bad and do we need to fear it?
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How hard is it to hike to Everest Base Camp compared to Kilimanjaro? Most people think Everest Base Camp is higher than Kilimanjaro but surprise surprise, it is not. Base camp of Everest (or rather Kala Pathar – the little hill you climb up above base camp) is actually 5545m, whereas Kilimanjaro summit is 5895m.Continue reading 

Keeping Kilimanjaro Clean

With 40,000 to 50,000 pairs of feet hiking their way up the slopes of Kilimanjaro every year en route to summit, it is not surprising that the mountain is taking the brunt of our human footprint. If the old saying, “leave only your footprints behind” held true, we would not need to worry about the effect of tourists on the environment. Sadly this is not the case.  
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Let us remind ourselves when we climb this sleeping beauty that Kilimanjaro is not stratovolcano for nothing, for beneath her seemingly calm demeanour lies a hotbed of activity.
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Well the answer is quite simple – snuggle up with all of your batteries at night or as soon as the temperatures drop. Packing a spars pair of warm thermal and mohair socks will go a long way to creating a nice warm package for all of your batteries. Continue reading 


When I first climbed Kilimanjaro with my Dad in 2002, we were told that by 2020, all of the glaciers will be gone. It struck me this morning on my morning run, that we are now IN 2020 and the question is, have all of the glaciers gone. 
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Most people will have bought the bulk of their gear and buying gear for others can be tricky. And add to that the cost of gear so it really depends on what they already have plus your budget! If you have an open budget then a good down jacket can never go wrong. In truth, … Continue reading 

training for High Altitude?

Altitude is much like elevation only it refers to the distance measured above a specific planetary point, and in most places, this is the distance above sea level. So if we live at the sea, how do we train for high altitude? Getting technical about O2 and altitude At sea-level, the concentration of oxygen in … Continue reading 


You have trained for months to Climb Kilimanjaro. You have gathered all of your gear. You have flight tickets, all services booked, passport in hand and ready to fly. But have you bought Travel Insurance? Yes it is not just a buzz word that agents use to try to get you to part with your … Continue reading 

What do I buy A FRIEND FOR Kilimanjaro?

Most people will have bought the bulk of their gear and buying gear for others can be tricky. And add to that the cost of gear so it really depends on what they already have plus your budget! If you have an open budget then a good down jacket can never go wrong. In truth, … Continue reading 

What not to miss when you Climb Kilimanjaro

–“Top Tips for a Successful Climb,” “Things your need to know to Climb Kilimanjaro,” “What to expect on Kilimanjaro.” They all speak about the altitude, the cold, the lack of oxygen, the need for fluids, how to dress and the …
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hiking vs trekking

The terms seem to be used interchangeably on many websites and travel books. It becomes even more confusing when some companies sell their boots as 'trekking boots' and then proceed to state that they can be used on long hikes. And when is a walk a trek and when is it a hike? It becomes … Continue reading 

blind climbers on kilimanjaro

“Look no further! You’ve found the luckiest bloke in the world.” These were the words of Wayne Sticher, proud participant of the High Sight Expedition to the highest mountain in Africa.

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Being equatorial, the temperatures on Kilimanjaro from one month to the next do not vary substantially on the mountain as they do e.g at the base. However, Tanzania does have two wet seasons. The first is the long rains which normally run from March through to May, and then a short rainy season in November, … 
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these boots are made for walking

Kilimanjaro, the Inca Trail, Everest Base camp or a simple short hike on local trails. We all dream of these amazing places and for some of us, turning those dreams into a reality is like a brand new lease on life.

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