CLIMBING KILIMANJARO QUESTIONS AND ROUTES

Climbing Kilimanjaro is one of those events in your life that will live with you for ever. It is a journey of the soul through some of the most beautiful scenery. It does not require any technical expertise, but does require lots of determination.

Shrouded in mystery, the name Kilimanjaro has varying interpretations, from "Mountain of Greatness" to "Mountain of Caravans." There is a word in Swahili, ' kilima' which means top of the hill and an additional claim is that it comes from the word "kilemakyaro" which, in the Chagga language, means "impossible journey". Some argue that the word ' njaro' refers to a demon of the cold. But whatever the meaning, the image of Kilimanjaro is that of a large, looming mountain, situated on the equator, yet covered in ice.

Get answers to frequently asked questions to Climb Kilimanjaro.

No it is not. 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 route you follow.
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 changes of success.
Although Kilimanjaro is classified as a ' trek,' it has a very fast altitude gain.  It requires physical fitness and stamina and most importantly, mental fitness. Your legs will get you up the first 4-5 days but for your summit night, it is often mental  strength that will get you to the top - (assuming of course that you are not affected by altitude, sickness or pure fatigue). A good exercise and training program is essential. The climb should not be undertaken lightly, after all, why spend the money if you are not willing to prepare yourself physically as well?
This really depends on the operator you travel through. The parks Kilimanjaro Park authorities do not ask for any medical information on the climbers when permits are purchased. Some operators request the clients complete a medical form, others do not. We require that all of our clients complete a medical form and based on the answers, we may request a letter from your medical practitioner. People suffering with conditions such as severe asthma e.g. should not climb. Regardless, anyone attempting the climb, or any climb for that matter, should ensure that they are medically fit, and convey any medical conditions to the operator they book with.
This is one of the most often asked questions - "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 route like Machame where you get to follow the principle of "climb high, sleep low" is also advisable.

There are certain essentials that are needed for most climbs and Kilimanjaro is no different.  The best way to draw up your list is from the base up, i.e. thermal underwear, then hands and feet (gloves, socks etc). Then boots which must be waterproof with good ankle support, trekking pants, trekking tops, short and long sleeve, thermal jacket, outer shell jacket which likewise is windproof and water proof, hat, scarf, beanie, balaclava. Then consider sleeping, i.e. sleeping bag, mat etc. Most companies supply sleeping mats so check before you buy one. Then, the last items to add are personal items like toiletries, camera, medicines, water bottle, backpack, camera etc.

Most companies will supply you with a comprehensive list for your trek, as do we. If you arrive to Kilimanjaro and are missing items, you can normally rent most gear. Do not, however, reply on buying your gear on arrival.

Unfortunately this is something every trekker has to consider.  Anything from a stomach bug to altitude sickness can quickly stop a trekker in their tracks. If you are ill and need to turn back or even too tired to continue, a porter will walk off the mountain with you and your gear. If you are too sick to walk, then part of your fee includes evacuation by teams already on the mountain and employed by the Parks authorities.

Yes you do. We (Nomadic Adventures) do not allow anyone to climb with us unless they have adequate travel insurance. Adequate, means you must be covered for

1) trekking or hiking - this may sound strange, but many insurance list that as an exclusion.

2) altitude up to 6,000 meters. Most travel insurance providers do not include this under their standard cover and often limit it to 3500m or less.

3) Sprains strains and physiotherapy - yes, many insurers exclude this, though ironically, this is what you will most likely need cover for. 4) personal accident - this is the horrible part of insurance. Yes, you need to be covered in the case of death. We are often told by clients - "if anything happens to me, just leave me there." It is not that simply. Bodies need to be brought home or laid to rest overseas, and this can run into thousands of dollars, creating a huge burden on family members.

We will assist in helping you provide good cover.

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 acclimatise by the climb high sleep low principle unless one adds on extra days. The Northern Circuit, approaches Kibo volcano 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. For a quick overview of the different routes we have a quick reference panel on the right of the screen. For a detailed look at the different routes, click onto Kilimanjaro Trekking Routes.

There are so many good books written on Kilimanjaro it is hard to choose. Some of the ones we suggest are:-

1) Kilimanjaro: The Trekking Guide to Africa' s Highest Mountain by Henry Stedman

2) The Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway is a short story about a writer who is on safari in Tanzania

3) Kilimanjaro: To the Roof of Africa by Audrey Salkeld.

A link to Mount Kilimanjaro National Park website

Those who have climbed Mount Kilimanjaro know that the porters are the heart and soul of your trek. Without their hard work and strength we would not be able to fully experience the magnificence of Kilimanjaro. A link to the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project

 

 Kilimanjaro query

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Overview of other routes
 6 - 7 days trekking
 40 minutes drive to Machame Gate
 Scenic but steep
 Good for acclimatisation
 Starts in forest and joins Lemosho and Shira routes
 Summit via Barafu Hut and Stella Point
 Sleep in Tents
 Descend via Mweka Route
Machame Route
 6 - 7 days trekking
  3 hour drive to Park Gate
  Scenic and quiet
  Good for acclimatisation
  Starts in forest and joins Lemosho and Machame routes
  Summit via Barafu Hut and Stella Point
  Sleep in Tents
  Descend via Mweka Route
Shira Route
 7 - 8 days trekking
 3 hour drive to Park Gate
 Scenic, quiet, longer approach
 Good for acclimatisation
 Starts in forest and joins Machame and Shira routes
 Summit via Barafu Hut and Stella Point
 Sleep in Tents
 Descend via Mweka Route
Lemosho Route
 6 - 7 days trekking
  4 hour drive to Park Gate
  Very quiet
  Need to add a day for acclimatisation
  Starts near Kenyan Border
  Route joins Marangu Route
  Summit via Kibo Hut and Gilman's Point
  Sleep in Tents
  Descend via Marangu Route
Rongai Route
 5 - 6 days trekking
  30 minutes drive to Marangu Gate
  Busy route
  Less scenic - same ascent and descent
  Need to add a day for acclimatisation
  Route joins Northern Circuit and Rongai Route
  Summit via Kibo Hut and Gilman's Point
  Sleep in Huts
  Descend via Marangu Route
Marangu Route
8-9 days trekking
  4 Hour drive to Shira Gate
  Very Quiet
  Less scenic but longer approach
  Start higher but route is good for acclimatisation
  Route joins Rongai and Marangu Routes
  Summit via Kibo Hut and Gilman's Point
  Sleep in Tents
  Descend via Marangu Route
Northern Circuit Route
 5-7 days trekking
  40 Minute drive to Umbwe Gate
  Very Quiet
  Very steep and fast approach
  Poor chances for acclimatisation
  Route joins Shira, Lemosho and Machame Routes
  Summit via Kibo Hut and Gilman's Point
  Sleep in Tents
  Descend via Mweka Route
Umbwe Route
 Kilimanjaro Short Treks
These treks are designed for people with less time available or who do not want to go for summit. They range from 1 to 4 days on the mountain
Kilimanjaro Short Treks
 Mt Meru
Mt Meru is a great pre-acclimatisation trek before Kilimanjaro or a stand alone trek. These treks are 3-4 days
Mt Meru page

There are several options to add on a safari tour in either Tanzania or Kenya after your Kilimanjaro trek. The shortest safari is 3 days up to around 9 or longer if you prefer.
Safari Tours


Frequently Asked Questions