Climbing Kilimanjaro attracts thousands of climbers every year to Mt Kilimanjaro - the Roof of Africa. Located in Tanzania, it is the highest mountain in Africa and the highest free-standing mountain in the world at 5,895 metres (19,341 feet). The Kilimanjaro climb has been popular among the hikers since it is one of the 7 summits that do not require advanced climbing skills.
Mount Kilimanjaro is located within Kilimanjaro National Park giving climbers an opportunity to spot wildlife - primarily on the first day of your Kilimanjaro trek. Although climbing Kilimanjaro is challenging with one of the most rapid accents, with the right level of training and preparation, it can be conquered safely by every category of climbers. The routes though have excellent acclimatization profiles miking it one of the easier climbs as compared to other high altitude treks.
There are seven main Kilimanjaro routes - Machame Route, Marangu Route, Rongai Route, Lemosho route, Shira Route, The Northern Circuit and Umbwe route. There is also the Western Breach, an advanced and technically challenging route meant for experienced trekkers only. Not all companies offer this route to climb Mt Kilimanjaro. The eighth Kilimanjaro route, Mweka, is used for decent only. There are two key things to consider when selecting a route on Kilimanjaro:
Below are highlights of the 4 major routes.
Machame Route - Popular and well profiled:
Difficulty - Relatively difficult but shorter.
Success Rate - High
Distance - ~49 kms
Days – 6 to 7 days. Both options include a climb high, sleep low acclimatisation day.
Popularity – Most popular Kilimanjaro route with 40-50% of the total traffic
Landscape - The route is very scenic, providing climbers with incredible views and varying landscapes.
Price – Relative cheap
Marangu Route - Coca-Cola Route; Only route with hut accommodation:
Difficulty - Relatively easy
Success Rate - Low because of less acclimatisation opportunities
Distance - ~64 kms
Days – 5 to 6 days. Recommended that climbers take an extra day to acclimatise at Horombo Hut
Popularity – Oldest and 2nd most popular route because of hut accommodation available instead of camping. There are 60 bunk beds each at Mandara and Kibo Huts, and 120 bunk beds at Horombo Hut.
Landscape - Only route with the same ascend and descent trail – thus can become crowded and there is not much variety in settings comparatively.
Price – Cheapest
Rongai Route - The only northern starting point:
Difficulty - Relatively easy
Success Rate - Medium
Distance - ~65 kms
Days – 6 to 8 days. Does not offer trekkers good options to climb high and sleep low.
Popularity – Least traffic due to its remote setting
Landscape - Because this is the only trail starting from the Northern, Kenyan side of Kilimanjaro it offers trekkers a relatively unspoilt wilderness experience. Possibility of encountering wildlife like antelope, elephant and buffalo are high, it is less likely to rain and climbers get clear, unclouded views of the mountain.
Price – Expensive
Lemosho Route - Remote Western side route to Mount Kilimanjaro:
Difficulty - Relatively difficult
Success Rate - High
Distance - ~56 kms
Days – 6 to 8 days. Good for acclimatization, especially on the longer itineraries.
Popularity – Very less traffic until it merges with Machame route on Day 4
Landscape - The Lemosho Route is relatively new. It starts on the Western side of Mount Kilimanjaro at the Londorossi Gate, is still very wild and you may get lucky and spot large antelope, buffalo and even elephants
Price – Expensive
You do not need to be super fit for climbing Mt Kilimanjaro. However, for the Kilimanjaro trek, you do need a decent level of training and preparation. You will be trekking ~5-7 hours a day (summit day being a lot longer at 12-14 hours). Preparing for these treks through practice hikes, aerobic exercises like running, swimming and cycling, and leg and core exercises help you to strengthen the muscles so that you are prepared to climb in thin air.
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Yes you can book online with us. We also get you the availability of seats in scheduled departures that you can join. However, you can always go privately with your group or solo. To book, click on the trip to open its details webpage and book directly from there. Alternatively, if you want any customization or would like to extend your tour with a safari, send us the details by clicking on get availability, and we will help you out. Note the useful benefits of booking with us: 1) You book at exactly the same price as you would when paying the operator directly. Mostly it is even cheaper as we DO NOT charge credit card payment fees of 4.5% like many operators do. 2) We require only a 10-15% refundable deposit to reserve your trek. The rest can be paid in cash on arrival. Of course, we send out a booking confirmation and details via email. 3) SAFETY - we understand if you have reservations about paying such a large sum immediately. Also plans may change. The above policy of charging only a small refundable deposit amount has been put into place by working closely with the operators for the benefit & ease of mind of you, our guests. So, go ahead and book, we have your back and are always approachable.
Machame Route - Popular and well profiled. Difficulty - Relatively difficult but shorter Success Rate - High Distance - 49 kms Days – 6 to 7 days. Both options include a climb high, sleep low acclimatization day. Popularity – Most popular Kilimanjaro route with 40% of the total traffic Landscape - Crosses stunning places with varied scenery like Shira plateau, Barranco and Lava tower. Great acclimatization profile. Relatively cheaper. Recommended for – Fit beginners to experienced hikers looking for scenic route within affordable budget. Price – US$1480 - US$1670 Marangu Route - Coca-Cola Route, only route with hut accommodation. Difficulty - Relatively easy Success Rate - Low because of less acclimatization opportunities Distance - 64 kms Days – 5 to 6 days. Recommended that climbers take an extra day to acclimatise at Horombo Hut. Popularity – Oldest and 2nd most popular route because of hut accommodation available instead of camping. There are 60 bunk beds each at Mandara and Kibo Huts, and 120 bunk beds at Horombo Hut. Has 38% of the total crowd. Landscape - Not very diverse scenery as compared to Machame or other routes. Same path up and down. Huge crowds. 5 day itinerary leaves less time for acclimatization and lower success rates. Camping is not allowed. Recommended for – Beginners looking for easy, cheaper and shorter climbs. This is the easiest route & ascending profile is gradual and painless. Price – US$1200 - US$1400 Rongai Route - The only northern starting point. Difficulty - Relatively easy Success Rate - Medium Distance - 65 kms Days – 6 to 8 days. Does not offer trekkers good options to climb high and sleep low. Popularity – Least traffic due to its remote setting. Landscape - Because this is the only trail starting from the Northern, Kenyan side of Kilimanjaro it offers trekkers a relatively unspoilt wilderness experience. Possibility of encountering wildlife like antelope, elephant and buffalo are high, it is less likely to rain and climbers get clear, unclouded views of the mountain. Recommended for – Beginners looking for easier, gentle gradients & quieter treks. Ascent and descent on opposite sides. Price – US$1620 - US$1790 Lemosho Route - Remote Western side route to Mount Kilimanjaro. Difficulty - Relatively difficult Success Rate - High Distance - 56 kms Days – 6 to 8 days. Good for acclimatization, especially on the longer itineraries. Popularity – Very less traffic until it merges with Machame route on Day 4. Landscape - The Lemosho Route is relatively new. It starts on the Western side of Mount Kilimanjaro at the Londorossi Gate, is still very wild and you may get lucky and spot large antelope, buffalo and even elephants. Recommended for – Fit beginners to experienced hikers looking for scenic route with less crowd. Not for budget conscious climbers as it is relatively expensive given that the starting point is far from Moshi. Price – US$1720 - US$1820
With so many choices that can be found online, it would be a surprise if this question did not come to your mind. When you go with AlienAdv for an adventure holiday, you are guided by expert locals who love to show their regions and cultures like they would to friends. We collaborate with them for this reason, their experience in hospitality and their highly rated services. At AlienAdv, we believe that in order to sustain tourism in beautiful parts of this world, we must give back to the local community. By doing so, we empower the locals to maintain the factors that attract the tourists to these places. Thus by having such recommended guides on our website, we ensure top notch tourism with benefits for the indigenous community.
Climbing Kilimanjaro comes with obvious risks. It is important that you get adequate insurance for your Kilimanjaro trek. Most standard travel insurance policies will not cover high altitude treks. So make sure you include high altitude trekking and adventure sports in your insurance.
Please consult your doctor for details regarding vaccinations before visiting Tanzania. Below is a list of recommended vaccinations:
Yes you can. In case you feel that you won’t be able to complete the climb, in physical danger or suffer from altitude sickness, you can return from the trek. The porters will help you to descend from the mountain.
Tipping is expected while climbing Kilimanjaro. It denotes your appreciation of the team that assisted you during the climb. It is also a direct way in which you can influence positively the local community. The usual norm is to tip 10-15% of your total hiking expenditure among the guide(s), porters and cooks. It varies by the number of people in a group and the duration of your hike. The following are popular rates the group as a whole is recommended to tip per staff member:
You are expected to carry only your own day pack, which should be able to sustain every day you until you reach camp. You do not need to carry your personal backpack - it will be carried by a porter. The porters can carry approximately 30lbs (15kg) of your luggage and anything over is chargeable. What you need in your day pack will depend on your priorities, but will generally include drinking water, basic medical kit, camera, waterproof and warm layers, a pair of gloves and hat and snacks.. You can leave the rest of your luggage that you don’t need during the trek in your hotel.
Weather at Kilimanjaro fluctuates rapidly and it can become very cold. The hike covers four climatic zones and therefore layering of clothes is key to staying warm and comfortable as you ascend. A list of stuff to bring is fairly lengthy and can be seen in detail in one of our activity pages above. Your trekking operator will also give you a complete list of things to bring on the trek once you book. However for clothing – a base thermal layer, mid fleece layer and a jacket is great. You will also need a good pair of hiking boots and gloves. Hiking poles are helpful, especially while descending. Rain gear is essential. The tents and mattresses will be provided by your tour operator. You will need to carry your own sleeping bags, toiletries, sunscreen, and small snacks like dry fruits and energy bars. You can also rent a lot of the equipment from your operator. Certain documents and medicines are also recommended to be kept. Keep aside some extra cash for tipping the guides. See our FAQ on tipping practices on Kilimanjaro.
There are hut facilities for hikers on the Marangu route. Though there is no electricity, there are facilities of a dining room and separate toilets in the huts. On other routes, trekkers camp all the way up! Full service camping in alpine tents with portable pit toilets is provided by the tour operators. Public toilets are set up at every campsite and portable private toilets are available upon request at an extra cost by some operators. They also take care of the food and water supplies during the hike. You are given hot water bowls to wash their hands and faces every morning, if possible. Special dietary requirements can be catered to if requested in advance. There are dining tents with chairs and tables usually setup where all meals are served.
The typical day begins early hiking Kilimanjaro. Your porter will bring you a bowl of hot water for your morning wash. Breakfast is then served in the dining tent. After having the breakfast, we set off for the hike. About mid-day you stop in a nice place to eat the packed lunches that were prepared by the cook that morning. The length of the afternoon hike varies from day to day depending on the distance and difficulty of the trail between campsites. Generally, you will arrive at the next campsite by mid to late afternoon so that you have time to explore around camp and enjoy the beautiful sunset before dinner. Every day expect to hike 4-7 hours depending on the route chosen. On the summit day however, it usually take 11-14 hours of walking. These times are based on physical ability of the group as well as the altitude (the higher you go, the slower you move)
You shouldn’t rush during the trek - People acclimatize at different rates, so make sure that you are properly acclimatized before going higher. Take your time. Pace is a critical factor on all routes. You will hear many guides chanting “Pole, Pole”, meaning “Slow, Slow” in Swahili every day. Take small breaks and keep yourself hydrated. Try to drink at least 3-5 liters of water per day. Avoid tobacco, alcohol and other drugs including sleeping pills. Eat more carbohydrate rich food than just fatty food. Choose a long route itinerary. Seven day or more route itineraries give you the best chance to acclimatize. Before your trip maintain a good work/rest cycle. Avoid heavy exercising and last minute stress. Diamox is drug known to be effective against minimizing symptoms of altitude sickness. Please consult your doctor about this.
Since the Kilimanjaro trek is a high-altitude trek (the highest altitude reaches 5895m), it poses the risk of AMS or Altitude mountain sickness. It is caused by the failure of the body to adapt quickly enough to the reduced level of oxygen in the air at an increased altitude. There are many different symptoms but the most common are headaches, light-headedness, nausea, loss of appetite, tingling in the toes and fingers, and a mild swell of ankles and fingers.
Kilimanjaro hike comes into the category of challenging hikes although no technical skills are required to climb it. The difficulty also varies by the route you choose. Quicker ascents in some make acclimatising more difficult than in other routes. You need a decent level of physical fitness for this hike. If you attempt to climb Kilimanjaro without the proper training you may not enjoy the trek as much as you would have with adequate training. The best way to train for Kilimanjaro is to strap a pack on your back and go hiking as much as possible. By doing so your feet and joints will become accustomed to the constant walking you will face on the trek. Basic cardiovascular exercises at the gym, such as running and cycling help a lot.
Yes, most people who visit Tanzania require a visa. You can apply for the tourist visa at the Tanzanian embassies and consulates in your country of residency. Some embassies offer the application form online, but the application process still takes time. US passport holders pay USD100 for standard single, double and multiple entry visa. Canadian passport holders pay USD 75. EU citizens and most other nationals pay around €50. And yes you must have permit and all climbers, regardless of route or guides, must use a guide and porters, no exceptions.
There are two main trekking seasons on Mount Kilimanjaro – January-March (colder and quieter) and June-October (warm and busy). February and October are the most preferred months due to clear skies and calm weather. December is fast becoming a popular season, despite being very cold on the summit. Though Kilimanjaro can be climbed all year round, the rainy months of April, May, November are not ideal for trekking. Rongai route generally receives less rain and is preferred during these months. The weather in Kilimanjaro can change very quickly, so it is advisable to bring proper layered clothing and rain gear.
The is a question that bugs travelers most. And a plethora of information that can be found on the internet adds to the problem. At AlienAdv, we think that the most suitable operator for you will depend on certain factors such as your travel dates, your group size and whether you want to go on a safari or not. For example, different operators with similar quality of service may provide different pricing due to already scheduled groups on certain travel dates. The norm is that the larger the group size is, the cheaper the price you get. In a similar manner, combining a safari with the same operator may lead to a cheaper overall price than adopting two separate operators for the climb and safari respectively. The best way to know is to send your estimated travel dates and group sizes to AlienAdv and let us provide you the best advice based on up-to-date information that we have. There maybe other factors influencing your choice as well such as maximum size of group, the pay to porters, the treatment of staff, the quality of equipment, etc. Do note that we also have this information and will gladly provide a comparison to suit your needs.
I found alienadv.com by chance. These guys were top notch from the start answering all questions with incredible precision and with just the right amount of detail. Their advise and professionalism is worth experiencing ....they are so good! So, we found the right operator for climbing Kilimanjaro and safari. On the ground the guys were as good as we had hoped for. I will write a seperate review for them, but all thanks to Ankit for all his time and effort. I will be back soon!
We had a small group of 4 and the AlienAdv.com and Popote team (our ob-ground operator) really went over and above to make our experience a positive one. When we first arrived we where greeted at the airport, driven to an upgraded hotel and quickly made to feel very welcome. Upon checking our equipment we needed to get a few extra bits and they where able to provide us with them for a small fee. On the mountain we where surprised by the amount of people it took to set up and lug the camp (16 people in total from the guides to porters). Popote where organised and ensured we where comfortable (as possible) each set of the way, even bringing a portable toilet which was very convenient. We had regular nightly check up to see our heart rate and blood oxygen levels that I didn't expect but thought was a good idea. Food was surprisingly good, we never felt hungry with many hot meals and they catered for vegetarians too. On summit day they worked on a 1 to 1 basis with clients to guides and the extra help defiantly helped our group, we all got up the top in good sprits. I would defiantly recommend this company and team. Thanks again for the successful experience.
AlienAdv provided my friends and I with an excellent experience on our climb of Kilimanjaro. The staff was very helpful in planning the trip. We only had a limited window of time to do the trip, and AlienAdv was very helpful in finding a trip that not only worked for us, but also were able to help us plan a safari at the end as well! I highly recommend them!
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