The Final Information to Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro

The view of Kilimanjaro in Tanzania from a nearby National park
Posted: 5/13/21 | Might 13th, 2021

Mountaineering Kilimanjaro is one thing atop the record of many vacationers’ bucket lists. Annually, the enduring mountain attracts 1000’s who spend days trying to achieve her snowy summit.

Since I’ve by no means hiked the mountain, I’ve invited my neighborhood supervisor, Chris, to share his ideas and recommendation that will help you get monetary savings and increase your probabilities of reaching “the Roof of Africa.”

Standing on high of Kilimanjaro at dawn was some of the superb emotions I’ve ever had. After every week of wrestle — together with climbing over 17 hours in a single day — I had made it to the frigid summit. For a couple of moments, I used to be the best individual on your entire continent. That was a really magical feeling.

Kilimanjaro holds a particular place within the journey world. It’s a type of actions — like Everest base camp, Machu Picchu, or the Camino — that pulls a sure type of traveler. The type who needs a problem, who needs to push themselves, to check themselves.

Whereas climbing Kilimanjaro has change into extra tourist-friendly through the years, it’s nonetheless a critical problem. Folks nonetheless get harm — and die — on the mountain each single yr. Solely 45–65% of people that begin the hike make it to the highest.

Nonetheless, with a little bit planning and preparation, you’ll be able to enormously enhance your probabilities of reaching “the Roof of Africa.” Right here’s the whole lot you should know to take advantage of your journey:

The Routes

People hiking along one of the many routes up Mount Kilimanjaro
There are six routes on Kilimanjaro, every one a unique size, with various levels of problem and differing success charges. The route you select will rely in your finances, how lengthy you could have for the journey, and the corporate you ebook your expedition with.

Right here’s an summary of the primary routes:

Marangu: That is “the Coca-Cola route,” named after the truth that there are huts alongside the best way the place you’ll be able to sleep and purchase matters — like a chilly Coke. It really has a low success fee, nevertheless, as folks underestimate the problem and decide to hurry to the highest in 5 days as a substitute of taking extra time to acclimatize.

Machame: That is the preferred route. When achieved in seven days, it has a hit fee of over 60%, therefore its recognition. It’s known as “the whiskey” route,” hinting at the truth that it’s a extra critical problem than the Coca-Cola route.

Rongai: That is the best route on Kilimanjaro. It’s a bit much less scenic and dearer (there aren’t as many finances operators right here), nevertheless it’s the one route that approaches from the north. It’s additionally a lot much less busy.

Shira: This route jumps into some high-altitude positive factors early on earlier than becoming a member of the Machame route. It’s difficult and dearer, because you begin within the west earlier than linking up with the primary route.

Lemosho: That is probably the most stunning route up the mountain, which is why I selected it. It presents a number of selection and loads of problem. It’s one of many dearer routes, nevertheless.

Umbwe: This route is de facto just for skilled climbers on the lookout for an excessive problem. It’s numerous scrambling and climbing versus common climbing.

No matter what route you’re taking, I’d counsel nothing lower than seven days. Don’t rush this journey. Though it is going to price more cash, the slower you go, the higher your physique adapts to the altitude, which is the #1 matter you are able to do to drastically enhance your probabilities of success.


The snowy path near the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro
As with all journey, there’s a variety of value factors obtainable. There are luxurious firms that may haul a full-size mattress up the mountain so that you don’t must sleep on the bottom, and there are tremendous low-cost firms that lower corners and certain don’t pay their porters pretty with a view to maintain prices low.

I counsel going for a extra middle-of-the-road firm for 2 causes:

First, they are going to have extra certified guides, so you’ll be able to study extra throughout your hike. These firms additionally often pay their porters pretty, so that you might be assured your crew is taken care of.

Second, you’ll know that the corporate isn’t chopping corners. There’s numerous competitors for Kilimanjaro treks, so you recognize if one firm is simply too low-cost to be true that they’re probably skimping on one thing. Since it is a once-in-a-lifetime journey, don’t be low-cost.

Costs vary from $1,000 to over $5,000 USD per individual. I wouldn’t ebook with any firm charging lower than $2,000 USD (I paid round $2,200 for my journey, earlier than tipping — see extra on that under), as something below that’s going to be bare-bones.

Bear in mind, folks get significantly injured on this mountain yearly, and round 10 are killed. Don’t lower corners! Pay for a good firm with good evaluations. Not solely will you get pleasure from your journey extra however you’ll really feel extra snug and be safer.

Discovering a Tour Firm

A tent on the ground near the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa
Since climbing with out porters is prohibited, you’re going to want to rent an organization to produce you with the whole lot you want: gear, guides, porters, paperwork, and the whole lot in between.

However there are tons of firms obtainable. How do you determine which to go along with?

Listed here are a couple of ideas:

1. Learn evaluations – When you’ve narrowed down your selections primarily based in your finances, look for an organization that has optimistic evaluations. Whereas on-line evaluations ought to all the time be taken with a grain of salt, they are going to make it easier to set up a primary impression. Maintain an eye fixed out for particulars in regards to the gear and meals offered.

2. Ask about their shopper/porter ratio – What number of different vacationers will you be going with? And what number of porters/guides/assistant guides might be included? You don’t wish to be caught in an enormous group the place you don’t get customized consideration you probably have questions or issues.

3. What’s their success fee? – What’s the firm’s success fee for the route you’re taking a look at? Whereas they will’t management the climate, they will do the whole lot of their energy to get their shoppers to the highest.

4. Are they a accountable firm? – The Kilimanjaro Porters Help Mission has an inventory of tour operators that meet their requirements for accountable and moral journey. Guide with an organization on this record to make sure that your porters are pretty handled. I didn’t learn about this record earlier than I went, and it’s one in every of my greatest regrets in regards to the journey.

5. Decide an organization with included lodging – Most firms embrace a free resort keep for the evening earlier than your trek and for the evening after (in addition to pick-up and drop-off). Ensure you select an organization that gives this, so you will get an honest evening’s sleep earlier than your hike and luxuriate in an actual mattress after your strenuous time on the mountain.

Intrepid Journey and G Adventures are two firms I’d suggest. They meet KPAP’s pointers and supply a wide range of treks with certified native guides. Begin your search with them.

A Notice on Tipping Your Guides

A Kilimanjaro porter carrying a large sack on his head
Along with paying the corporate you ebook with, additionally, you will must tip your crew of porters. My sister and I had a crew of 12 with us — only for the 2 of us! Porters to hold our gear, a cook dinner, somebody to hold (and clear) the bathroom, a waiter/assistant cook dinner, our important information, after which our assistant information. It takes quite a bit to get to the summit; you aren’t doing this alone in spite of everything!

On the finish of your journey, often when you’re nonetheless on the mountain, you’ll must tip your crew. This needs to be achieved within the native foreign money — which implies you’ll must get all that money earlier than you hike and carry it with you on the trek.

You’ll be tipping a certain quantity per day to every porter, a bit extra to the cook dinner, after which a bit extra to the guides. Breakdowns often look one thing like this:

  • Important information – $20 USD per day
  • Assistant information – $15 USD per day
  • Cook dinner – $12 USD per day
  • Rest room engineer – $5-10 USD per day
  • Waiter – $5-10 USD per day
  • Porters – $5-10 USD per day (every)

What I learn on-line beforehand acknowledged {that a} 15% tip is customary. So, for those who paid $2,500 USD to your journey than you’d tip a minimum of $330 USD to the crew. After I requested my information about this, he stated a standard tip was nearer to $1,000 USD…which is sort of a 50% tip.

As you’ll be able to think about, matters can get awkward if somebody is anticipating $1,000 USD and also you give them an envelope with simply $400 USD — and most groups will open the envelope when you’re standing proper there in entrance of them. It may well get a little bit uncomfortable.

Clearly, your porters need to be paid pretty. They’re doing extremely difficult work. When you can afford a beneficiant tip, they 100% deserve it. For minimal tipping pointers, I encourage you to observe the Kilimanjaro Porters Help Mission’s pointers.

13 Ideas for Mountaineering Kilimanjaro

Sunset over Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa
1. Be sure that your insurance coverage will cowl you
Most journey insurance coverage insurance policies have restrictions on how excessive you’ll be able to hike. That signifies that for those who get injured over a sure altitude, your coverage received’t apply.

World Nomads, for instance, covers as much as 19,685 ft on its Customary Plan and their Explorer Plan (I booked my protection by them for that cause). (Kilimanjaro is 5,895 m (19,340 ft) excessive.)

Irrespective of who you ebook with, ensure that you’ll be lined in any respect altitudes.

2. Practice prematurely
Each route on Kilimanjaro will supply its personal challenges. In an effort to meet — and overcome — these challenges, you should ensure you’re bodily match. Whereas most days on the path are comparatively simple, you do numerous elevation positive factors, and the final day can contain upwards of 17 hours of climbing in a 24-hour interval. I’m not saying you should be jacked, however you do wish to ensure you can deal with every week of strolling uphill.

3. Put together for a psychological battle
Kilimanjaro is simply as a lot of a psychological battle as it’s bodily one. Whereas the ultimate day is extremely bodily difficult, it’s additionally a psychological marathon. Mountaineering for as much as 17 hours, in freezing temperatures, within the pitch black, whereas additionally battling the altitude and the climate? That’s a recipe for catastrophe until you’ll be able to maintain your psychological fortitude.

4. Convey altitude remedy
The altitude actually does influence everybody in another way. I noticed folks lower than an hour from the summit who turned again due to it. I extremely suggest you convey and take altitude remedy simply in case. I discovered it tremendous useful. Your physician can provide you an summary of your choices and their uncomfortable side effects, however I took Diamox and didn’t actually undergo any altitude illness in any respect. Nonetheless, the facet impact was that I needed to pee continuously (which might be inconvenient for girls).

5. Convey a water filter
Your porter crew will ensure you have water throughout your hike. It’s collected from completely different areas on the mountain, boiled, after which served to you. For the reason that water is boiled, it’s completely secure. Nonetheless, it by no means hurts to be additional secure. Convey a filter like LifeStraw or SteriPen to make sure that your water is free from micro organism. Higher secure than sorry!

6. Guide an organization that features gear
When you’re an avid hiker, likelihood is you could have all of the gear you want. Nonetheless, bringing it with you to Tanzania is probably going extra problem than it’s price — particularly when you think about that you simply want cold-weather gear for summit evening, which takes up numerous house. For that cause, ensure you ebook an organization that has all of the gear you want: climbing poles, winter climbing gear for the summit, sleeping baggage, gaiters — the record goes on. Most firms embrace gear, nevertheless it’s all the time a good suggestion to double-check.

7. Convey snacks!
This one is tremendous vital to your psychological well-being. Whereas the cooks on the mountain are extremely gifted, I encourage you to convey snacks, so you could have a pick-me-up to sit up for. I introduced a number of baggage of cookies and candies, so I had a sugar increase in the course of the day for, in addition to one thing for camp. Simply ensure you save a bunch for summit evening as a result of that’s while you’ll want it most.

8. Pay additional for a bathroom
Most firms will cost additional for a conveyable rest room that may accompany you (it’s only a small journey rest room in a slender tent so you could have some privateness). It’s extremely fundamental however completely price each penny. The few bathrooms within the numerous camps are disgusting, so having your personal personal rest room tent is a worthwhile expense.

9. Keep hydrated
I drank 4-5 liters of water per day whereas climbing. I used to be actually consuming all day on daily basis. You’ll want a minimum of 3L on you in the course of the day, and the remaining you’ll be able to drink in camp. Which means you’ll want a 2-3L water bladder after which perhaps an additional 1L bottle. At all times ensure that they’re full earlier than you set off for the day — and ensure they’re empty by the point you get to camp. Staying hydrated is likely one of the most vital matters you are able to do to extend your probabilities of making it to the highest.

10. Break in your footwear
When you’re shopping for new climbing boots for this journey, ensure you break them in. You’ll need a minimum of one month of normal put on within the boots to ensure you don’t get blisters. Over time, I’ve seen some nasty wounds amongst vacationers who didn’t break of their boots for one hike or one other. Don’t make the identical mistake!

11. Go sluggish — after which go even slower
I’m a quick walker and a quick hiker, so this was difficult for me, nevertheless it’s tremendous vital that you simply take it slowly so you’ll be able to acclimatize. Your guides will continuously remind you of this —hearken to them! On summit evening, my pace was half a foot per stride (in comparison with my common stride of round three ft). The slower you go, the extra probably it’s that you’ll succeed.

12. Double-check your dietary issues
If in case you have an allergy or particular weight-reduction plan, ensure that the corporate is aware of. After which remind them — a number of occasions. I knowledgeable our firm 3 times that my sister is vegetarian and I’m vegan — and we nonetheless obtained meat on day one. Fortuitously, we obtained all of it sorted out and had an incredible cook dinner for our journey, however that might have gone sideways very simply. Kili is the final place you wish to be missing energy (or working to the bathroom!).

13. Convey additional batteries to your digicam
After 7+ days of climbing, likelihood is your cellphone and digicam might be useless. Convey an exterior charger and/or additional batteries to your digicam to be able to you’ll want to have juice for summit day. You don’t wish to get to the highest and never have the ability to snap some images!

Mountaineering Kilimanjaro: Incessantly Requested Questions

The view from the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro
How lengthy is the hike?
Hikes vary from 5 to 9 days often, relying on the route. The longer you’re taking, the better your hike might be, because you’ll have the ability to go sluggish and adapt to the altitude.

Are you able to get altitude illness on Kilimanjaro?
The altitude could cause complications and fatigue, so take it sluggish and produce altitude remedy simply to be secure. I took altitude remedy and by no means had any points. Nonetheless, I noticed quite a few folks flip again — even somebody who was simply an hour from the highest — due to the altitude. So take it sluggish, hearken to your information, and produce remedy simply in case.

How onerous is the hike?
It’s difficult. Most days aren’t significantly onerous, however there are some days that had been exhausting. You’ll wish to be bodily match.

Personally, I solely discovered summit day difficult. It concerned climbing all day, sleeping for a couple of hours, after which beginning for the summit round midnight. You hike at nighttime, and it’s extremely chilly (I had 5 layers on). After 20 minutes on the height, you head again down, which implies you hike upwards of 15-17 hours in a 24-hour interval. It’s exhausting however price it!

Do you want oxygen to hike Kilimanjaro?

What’s the finest month to climb?
The very best occasions to climb Kilimanjaro are from December to March and from June and October. That’s when it’s the driest.

How chilly is it on the high?
At evening, it could get as little as -20°C (-4°F) on the summit. It was frigid after I arrived on the high at dawn (my water bottle and water bladder had been frozen).

Why don’t folks achieve making it to the summit?
The primary causes folks don’t make it are the climate, altitude illness, and lack of bodily health. Ensure you prepare prematurely and produce altitude meds to spice up your odds of reaching the summit!


Mountaineering Kilimanjaro is an incredible, difficult, and rewarding journey. Whereas it isn’t low-cost and does takes some planning (and coaching), reaching the summit makes all of it worthwhile.

By taking the above ideas and recommendation to coronary heart, you’ll not solely get monetary savings and get extra out of your journey, you’ll drastically enhance your odds of succeeding in your trek, providing you with the chance to face on the roof of Africa and bask within the continents pure magnificence.

Guide Your Journey: Logistical Ideas and Tips

Guide Your Flight
Discover a low-cost flight by utilizing Skyscanner or Momondo. They’re my two favourite search engines like google and yahoo as a result of they search web sites and airways across the globe so that you all the time know no stone is left unturned.

Guide Your Lodging
You may ebook your hostel with Hostelworld. If you wish to keep someplace aside from a hostel, use as they constantly return the most affordable charges for guesthouses and low-cost motels.

Don’t Overlook Journey Insurance coverage
Journey insurance coverage will defend you towards sickness, damage, theft, and cancellations. It’s complete safety in case something goes incorrect. I by no means go on a visit with out it as I’ve had to make use of it many occasions up to now. I’ve been utilizing World Nomads for ten years. My favourite firms that supply the most effective service and worth are:

Able to Guide Your Journey?
Take a look at my useful resource web page for the most effective firms to make use of while you journey. I record all those I exploit after I journey. They’re the most effective in school and you may’t go incorrect utilizing them in your journey.

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