CLIMBING KILIMANJARO ROUTES AND ADVISE

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? "Climbing Kilimanjaro is an event 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. So if you are committed, landing on this page is a good place to start. Just 3 degrees south of the equator in Tanzania, Africa, and 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 Mount 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. 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.
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.
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 is is. On the Machame trail, for example, the last water point is at the Karanga Valley, the lunch-stop before Barafu; on Marangu, itís just before the Saddle. For this reason it is essential that you carry enough bottles for at least two litres.
Although Kilimanjaro is classified as a ' trek,' it has a very fast altitude gain. Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro requires physical fitness training and stamina and most importantly, mental fitness training. Your legs will get you up the first 4-5 days but for your summit night, mental strength 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 path 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 option 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." 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. If you need cover or simply a quote, follow the details herewith:. Once you have done your initial quote, you will need to upgrade your cover to include altitudes up to 6000m. Towards the bottom of the page you will see a section called, Options: Upgrade your cover. Click the link called 'View Adventure Sports Benefits'. A blue pop up screen will open. Look for the level of cover required for 'trekking to 6,000 meters' or 'hiking to 6,000 meters'. Depending on your country it is usually a level 1 or 2. Note: we are not insurance experts and it's your responsibility
to ensure you have correct and adequate cover. If you live in South Africa, we have other cover options

There are 7 summit routes; namely, Marangu, Rongai, Lemosho, Shira, Umbwe and Machame. Of all, Machame is by far the most scenic albeit steeper path up the mountain. The Rongai is the easiest camping route and the Marangu is also easier but accommodation is in huts. As a result, it tends to be very busy and ascent and descent 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 we have a quick reference panel on the right of the screen. For a detailed look, click onto Kilimanjaro Trekking Routes.

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?

There are so many good books written on Kilimanjaro. 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

Kilimanjaro National Park - UNESCO World Heritage Centre

Acute mountain sickness: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia

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


Book your Kilimanjaro Climb
Overview of other routes
6 - 7 days trekking
40 minutes drive to Machame Gate
Scenic but steep
Good acclimatisation
Starts in forest and joins Lemosho and Shira
Summit along Barafu Hut and Stella Point
Tents at night
Descend along Mweka
Machame Itinerary
6 - 7 days trekking
3 hour drive to Park Gate
Scenic and quiet
Good for acclimatisation
Starts in forest and joins Lemosho and Machame
Uhuru via Barafu Hut and Stella Point
Tents at camp
Descend on Mweka
Shira Itinerary
7 - 8 days
3 hour drive to Park Gate
Scenic, quiet, longer approach
Good acclimatisation
Starts in forest and joins Machame and Shira
Summit climb via Barafu Hut and Stella Point
Camp in tents
Mweka as descent route
Lemosho Route
6 - 7 days
4 hour drive to Park Gate
Very quiet
Need to add a day for acclimatisation
Starts near Kenyan Border
Route joins Marangu
Summit through Kibo Hut and Gilman's Point
Tents for accommodation
Descend along Marangu
Rongai Route
5 - 6 days
30 minutes drive to Marangu Gate
Busy route
Less scenic - same ascent and descent
Need to add a day for acclimatisation
Path joins Northern Circuit and Rongai
Summit via Kibo Hut and Gilman's Point
Sleep in Huts
Marangu route descent
Marangu Route
8-9 days
4 Hour drive to Shira Gate
Very Quiet
Less scenic but longer approach
Start higher but route has gradual acclimatisation
Route joins Rongai and Marangu
Kibo and Gilman's Point to summit
Tents at night
Descend via Marangu
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
Summit climb via Kibo and Gilman's
Camp in tents
Descend via Mweka
Umbwe Itinerary
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