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Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro

When it comes to climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, good mental preparation goes a long way in helping you to get ready for the challenge, and as it's the highest mountain in Africa (on the border of Tanzania and Kenya) it's quite a challenge!

The more you know about Mount Kilimanjaro the better prepared you'll be. You'll find all you need below, including key facts and figures, weather on the mountain and when to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.

When to Climb Kilimanjaro

While it’s possible to climb Mount Kilimanjaro all year round, it’s best to avoid the rains between April to late May and mid October to late December.

January and February are good times to climb if you want a little more peace and quiet on the mountain, indeed if you climb by the Shira or Lemosho routes you are unlikely to see many other climbers until the 3rd or 4th day of your climb and if you climb via the Rongai route you may not see anyone the whole way to the summit.

July to September is without a doubt the busiest time on the mountain but affords slightly better weather for climbing. This difference in weather is small however so don’t let it dictate when you climb.

A Note on Summiting

If you decide to climb during the rains (and there’s nothing wrong with that), in early January or early June conditions on the summit can be a bit tougher. Expect the average temperature to be colder and there to be a lot of snow about. We advise that you take an extra day on the mountain if your climbing during the off season in case bad weather suspends your summit attempt.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Where is Kilimanjaro?

Kilimanjaro is located in Tanzania, Africa. It is unique not only for being the highest in Africa and one of the 7 summits but for having one of the highest stand-alone vertical gains of any mountain earth. It stands seemingly alone in the Tanzanian savannah.

Most climbers fly into Kilimanjaro airport and take a cab or bus to Moshi, Tanzania to meet up with their team or guide service. View Kilimanjaro on a larger map.

When is it usually climbed?

Being near the equator, it can be climbed most anytime of the year however the biggest consideration is the rainy season in the winter so summer is most popular with September being the prime month.

How long does it take to climb Kilimanjaro?

Mount Kilimanjaro routes and their variations take between five to nine days to complete. Although Mount Kilimanjaro is known as a "walk-up" mountain, you should not underestimate it and its risks. The overall statistics show that less than half of all climbers reach the summit.

I read that Kilimanjaro is an easy climb, really just a high-altitude hike. How hard is it?

If you are in great aerobic shape, it can be "easy" on a perfect weather day and on the normal routes. But as with most of the extreme altitude climbs, Kilimanjaro can have brutal summit weather with temperatures at 0F and if the winds are blowing, the wind chills can be very dangerous. Climbers die on KIlimanjaro.

Also, remember this is almost 6,000 meters, 20,000 feet so AMS is always a risk as is HAPE or HACE.

Is a Kilimanjaro climb dangerous?

Kilimanjaro is a relatively safe climb by the standard routes. However, there are always deaths on these big mountains. Kilimanjaro is no different.

The most common cause of death is probably altitude related and that is from going too fast and not taking the time to acclimatize. This is why selecting the proper guide service is critical.

How many people had summited and how many people had died trying?

It is estimated that 25,000 climb Kilimanjaro using the various routes each year. The summit rate is around 66% with cold summit days and altitude issues being the major reasons for not summiting.

I understand there is about 1 death each year thus it is relatively safe, however one climber was killed by lightning in early 2013.

How do you train for the climb?

We suggest the usual training regime of running, light weight and aerobic conditioning.

Is altitude a problem on this climb?

Yes! Anytime you are above 8,000' you can experience problems. Kilimanjaro is a serious high altitude mountain. Even though the normal routes are not technically difficult, the altitude takes it toll on climbers each year thus the 66% success rate.

Which routes are most popular?

There are five main routes that meander from the jungle through five microclimates to join the three final ascent routes to Kibo.

Both the Machame and Lemosho routes offer a more leisurely paced scenic climb. The Lemosho route is less crowded while the Machame route has a more difficult beginning but joins into the same route as the Lemosho. The Marangu climb is crowded since it follows a road part way.

There is a technical route, the Western Breach, but is is prone to rock fall and is considered extremely dangerous and not offered by most companies unless you are willing to take the risks.

Do I need a permit to climb?

Yes you must have permit and all climbers, regardless of route or guides, must use a guide and porters, no exceptions.

The Weather You'll Face on Your Climb

The weather on Mount Kilimanjaro is mostly good and reliable, providing 2 climbing seasons that coincide with northern Tanzania’s dry seasons.

It’s said that to climb Mount Kilimanjaro is to climb through 4 seasons in 4 days. There are few other places on earth where you can experience such diversity. Climbers experience all weather and scenery conceivable on Kili: from average temperatures of 20oC that can soar to 45oC in the highland desert and plummet to -25oC on the summit, climbing below cloud, through cloud and above cloud, climbing in tropical sun, rain and snow, climbing through a forest, over heather, across a desert and finally on ice fields to the summit.

Trust us you will need lots of film and memory cards for your camera to do this mountain justice.

Once you get above the forest, the mornings and evenings are cold until the sun fully rises. It's normal to wake up to frost on the ground and frozen water droplets on your tent. Throughout the morning, some cloud usually builds up, dissipating mid-afternoon. If your climbing through the cloud it can get chilly especially if there is a bit of wind building up.

For a lot of the day you will be climbing in and out of sunshine and when under the mid-day sun it gets very warm. On the higher slopes you sometimes get a few flakes of snow if your climbing close to the rainy seasons.

Rainy Season

There are two rainy seasons on Kilimanjaro, the long rains and the short rains. The long rains are from March to late May and the short rains are from Mid October to late December. In saying that Kilimanjaro can be climbed all year round.

Throughout the dry season there are still of course localized showers on the mountain so don’t forget the waterpPeaks even though they’re sporadic.

Temperature on Mount Kilimanjaro

On Mount Kilimanjaro the general rule of thumb for the temperature is a drop of 1oC for every 656 ft/200 m climbed.

This has led to the natural formation of five distinct vegetation zones of approx 1,000 m each on the mountain.

Preparing for Your Trek

Important information to consider whilst preparing for your Kilimanjaro climb.

What Do You Eat On the Mountain

Remember to tell your agency if you have any special dietary requirements – because both meat and nuts form a substantial part of the food on Kilimanjaro. One of the marvels of a trek on Kilimanjaro is the skill with which the cooks are able to conjure up tasty and nutritious food despite little in the way of equipment and ingredients.

They are also able obey almost any dietary restrictions, so that vegans, vegetarians, gluten and lactose intolerants and those with restrictions due to their religious beliefs are all accommodated. Just make sure you tell your company in advance of any dietary restrictions you may have.

A typical Kilimanjaro breakfast will involve eggs (boiled or fried), porridge, a saveloy (possibly with some tomatoes too), a piece of fruit such as a banana or orange, some bread with jam, honey or peanut butter and a mug or two of tea, hot chocolate or coffee.

Lunch on Kilimanjaro is usually prepared at breakfast and carried by the trekker in his or her daypack. This packed lunch often consists of a boiled egg, some sandwiches, a banana or orange, and some tea kept warm in a flask and carried by your guide. KINAPA are trying to stop trekking operators from making cooked lunches along the trail for environmental reasons.

At the end of the day’s walking, afternoon tea is served with biscuits, peanuts and, best of all, salted popcorn. The final and biggest meal of the day, dinner usually begins with soup, followed by a main course including chicken or meat, a vegetable sauce, some cabbage, and rice or pasta; if your porters have brought up some potatoes, these will usually be eaten on the first night as they are so heavy.

Kilimanjaro Commercial Complex
(New NSSF Building)
2nd Floor, Room No. 3F
Aga Khan Road
Moshi, Tanzania
P.O. Box 1785
Moshi, Tanzania
+255 755 337 828
info@thepeakofafrica.com
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