MOUNT KILIMANJARO NATIONAL PARK, TANZANIA
Africa's tallest peak (Roof of Africa), and world's tallest free standing mountain.
Safari-goers throughout Kenya and Tanzania can often spot the singular tower of Mt. Kilimanjaro rising into the sky, a symbol of Africa’s majesty. The highest peak on the continent and tallest freestanding mountain in the world, Kilimanjaro is at once, beautiful, dangerous, and haunting in its grandeur.
Most anyone can attempt a climb, as one doesn’t need technical skills to ascend. But Kilimanjaro’s extreme elevation of 5896 m (19,341 ft), strong winds, and sometimes freezing temperatures, can defeat hopeful trekkers who try to summit the iconic volcano.
Still, it’s the dream of many – about 25,000 intrepid souls every year have visions of themselves conquering Kili’s iconic peak… and lots of them do make it to the top.
Actually, the great mountain offers several peaks from its three volcanic pinnacles, the highest and best known is Uhuru Peak at the top of Kibo. And though Kilimanjaro is a dormant volcano, if one stands atop Kibo and looks into its crater, there are still unmistakable traces of sulfurous smoke rising from its core.
Unlike the other national parks, the Kilimanjaro experience is primarily about the land, specifically, the magnificent mountain rising from the surrounding farmlands. There is still wildlife at the lower levels but as you ascend, you’ll leave the animals and even much of the vegetation behind, as you rise to one of the highest spots on the planet.
The Way Up Kilimanjaro
There isn’t just one way up this big hill but seven official routes. The shortest, the Machame, can be completed in six days, but several of the Northern Circuit routes take seven or more days.
It is generally thought that the longer the route and the more time to acclimate to the high elevations, the better the climber’s chances are to stay healthy and make a successful ascent.
Although no special technical equipment is required for the climb, care should be taken to procure good boots, a water-proof parka and sleeping bag. Booking your trip with a reputable outfitter will ensure you have the appropriate gear.
Begin In The Forest
Though your journey will hopefully end up in a snowy, barren summit, you’ll begin your adventure in a thickly vegetated lowland forest. Don’t forget, you’re near the equator!
Here’s your best chance to view wildlife like buffalo, monkeys, elephants, eland, and occasionally leopard.
As you climb, the forest will give way to open moorland, clear skies, and plenty of sunshine. The routes are not too steep but you may feel the effects of the thinning oxygen.
A Highland Desert
At about 4,000 m (13,000 ft) you’ll definitely notice the difference in the oxygen level and a marked change in your surroundings as the previous flora is replaced by sparse lichen and mosses.
Continuing on past 5000 m (16,400 ft), the air is thinner still and you’ll need to take breaks. But as you cross over the patches of ice and rocky, barren moonscape, you’ll make that final push to the top of Africa – Kilimanjaro’s grand summit.
Below you are vistas stretching out through Kenya and Tanzania, a world away from your hard-earned triumph. You’re now part of a special club – those who can say they have conquered Kilimanjaro!
Survey: Mt. Kilimanjaro National Park
The park itself was established in 1977 and is one of Tanzania’s most popular. Of course, intrepid souls have been climbing Kili since the 19th century.
Though the park is not large – just 1,688 sq. km (652 sq. mi) it holds one of Africa’s and the world’s natural wonders.
A contradiction of climate and location, the park is only 200 miles from the equator in northern Tanzania. But ascending to its summit climbers will find glaciers and a barren moonscape.
This is Kilimanjaro
A towering massif of legend and awe, Kilimanjaro is synonymous with the mystery and splendor of Africa. If you prepare yourself properly for the climb, with the right gear, time to acclimatize, and an experienced outfitter, you’ll create a moment in your life you’ll treasure forever.
KILIMANJARO CLIMBING FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS WITH EXPERT ANSWERS
Kilimanjaro is climbable all year round.
The best months to climb, however, are July to October and December to February, as these are the warmest and driest months respectively.
July, August and September tend to be the busiest months on the mountain.
Another factor to take into consideration is the full moon. Summiting Kilimanjaro on a cloudless evening with the moon as your guide instead of headlamp is without a doubt an unforgettable experience. Also imagine seeing the glaciers glitter in the moonlight – absolutely stunning!
You can also embark on a combined Kenya & Tanzania safari and explore Kenya’s incredible wildlife parks like Masai Mara, Amboseli, Lake Nakuru, Tsavo East, Tsavo West, Ol Pejeta, Meru National Park, Samburu National Reserve e.t.c.
After safari, you can also treat yourself to a magical laid-back beach vacation to Zanzibar beach, Diani beach, Mombasa, Malindi, Watamu and Lamu Island.
A straightforward answer to that question is NO! It is illegal to explore Kilimanjaro independently without a guide. Unlike many other treks, it is not possible to just turn up at the foot of Kilimanjaro with a backpack and camping gear and head up the mountain.
Furthermore, Mount Kilimanjaro is not an easy climb, so climbing it with experienced guides is a must not only from a legal point of view but also for your safety.
Yes, at our our Mountain climbing base hotel in Moshi Tanzania, we have a wide array of mountain climbing equipment for hire at competitive prices.
We will send you a comprehensive equipment checklist, including items available for hire, upon inquiry. Prices are for the duration of the climb, not per day, and costs can be paid in USD$ cash at your briefing. All equipment is of good quality, however, we advise bringing your own walking boots, socks, and base layer clothing, as these will inevitably be a better fit than items you hire.
Mount Kilimanjaro requires no technical climbing skills and is considered a “safe” mountain. However, climbing Kilimanjaro exposes your body and mind to a number of challenges. On your way to the top, expect to hike about 4-7h per day and around 10-13h on summit day.
The third challenge for your body (beside the hiking and the high altitude) are temperature fluctuations and camping below 0 degrees celsius. Once the sun sets, temperatures go down quickly below 0.
MARANGU ROUTE: The Marangu or main route is by far the most popular way to the summit. The ascent is more gradual and no professional equipment is required. The accommodation on the way up and down is provided in mountain huts with all the basic necessities. There are 60 bunk beds each (for 60 people each) at Mandara Hut (2700m) and Kibo Hut (4700m), and 120 bunk beds (for 120 people) at Horombo Hut (3720m) which is also used for descent. Climbers are supplied with mattresses and pillows, but sleeping bags should be brought along. There are communal dining halls, washrooms and toilets.
It usually takes 5 days/4nights for the round trip. The trek can also be taken in 6 days/5 nights to add acclimatization with an extra day at Horombo Hut. The supplementary cost for an extra day is indicated separately as an option.
MACHAME ROUTE: This is probably the most scenic route up Kilimanjaro. The accommodation on the way up and down is strictly camping (mobile tents) only. This trek is strenuous and may be better suited to more adventurous hikers. The Machame route is normally completed in a minimum of 6 days/5nights on the mountain.
RONGAI ROUTE: There is only one route over on the north eastern side of the mountain, Rongai, which is usually a five night climb. This lesser known track may not be quite as spectacular as the western routes, but it does usually have far lower traffic than the other five night routes. This route retains a sense of unspoilt wilderness and offers a different perspective on Kilimanjaro by approaching it from the north.It is generally considered to be the easiest of the quality routes on the mountain. Rongai is the best route for people who are looking for a decent quality experience and are perhaps not absolutely confident about their fitness.
UMBWE ROUTE: The Umbwe route, which is based in the south, is a 6-day / 5-night tour and is said to be the most scenic and difficult one offered on Kilimanjaro. The first two days are extremely steep, muddy and generally strenuous making it only suitable for well-trained mountaineers. An acclimatization day is rarely offered on the standard programme, but can be added whereby giving the climber an extra day in the Karanga Valley. The descent trail is the same as the Mweka Route.
LEMOSHO(SHIRA) GLADES ROUTE: The Lemosho Glades route is perhaps the least used initial ascent route on Kilimanjaro, partly because of its remote location and likewise the difficult roads leading to the trailhead. The road to the trailhead is only accessible by 4-wheel drive vehicles and can be impassable during wet periods. The trailhead is at relatively high elevation, and thus we start slow and easy on this route. Buffalo and elephant sightings are possible on the first day trekking through the forest, and the trail is often overgrown from lack of use.
The route is the longest distance to trek up Kilimanjaro, so fitness certainly plays a role in the enjoyment and success of this trek. The Lemosho (Shira) route takes 7 days / 6 nights on the mountain. Overall, the distance covered and the intensity of the final few days make this trek a good choice only for the experienced hiker. The many changes of scenery and spectacular hike across the Shira Plateau make this trek truly special. There are no huts on this route, the accommodation is in mountain tents.
Each route has its own benefits and drawbacks. The Marangu Route is most popular with beginner trekkers, as it is one of the easiest – but you’ll also find it busier than some of the other routes. The Umbwe Route is one of the most difficult, and shouldn’t be undertaken unless you have mountaineering experience.
Why Marangu Route is the easiest and best route for beginners:
The Marangu route is one of the most popular routes to the summit of Kilimanjaro. This could partly be as a result of the fact that it is the least expensive route, or perhaps the fact that it is possible to do the Marangu route in 5 days, thereby getting to the summit one day earlier compared to the Machame route, that takes 6 or 7 days and is nicknamed Whisky Route – for being a tough climb, but with impressive views and a variety of habitats.
Due to a shorter acclimatisation period, it might not be the best option though.
What to consider when choosing your Kilimanjaro climbing route:
When you come to choose your Kilimanjaro route, there are several factors you need to take into consideration. The first of these is acclimatisation – some routes climb more steeply, making altitude sickness more of a risk. The next is the difficulty of the route, in particular the summit night – its success rate gives you some indication of this. The accommodation options and how busy the route is are something to take into consideration. Finally, there’s how scenic the route is – a decent view really enriches the hiking experience.
Children under the age of 10 are not allowed to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. The highest a child can go on Kilimanjaro is 3,100 meters (10,170 feet). Most of the routes on Kilimanjaro reach that elevation by the second day of the climb.
This rule is enforced by the Tanzania National Parks Authority (TANAPA). They will not allow a child under 10 to climb unless under special circumstances. If you desire your child to climb, you must have approval from TANAPA before arriving in Tanzania. Few children have received this special permission.
Who is the Youngest Person to Summit Mount Kilimanjaro?
Several children under the age of ten have requested special permission to climb Kilimanjaro, and were granted right(s) to do so.
Coltan Tanner – from Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA – holds the place as the youngest person to summit Mount Kilimanjaro.
Who is the Oldest Person to Summit Mount Kilimanjaro?
Anne Lorimor – from Arizona, USA – is the oldest person to have climbed to Mount Kilimanjaro’s summit. She was 89 years and 37 days old when she stood on top of the continent of Africa.
This was actually Lorimor’s second time climbing Mount Kilimanjaro – she first climbed when she was 85 years old – setting the record for oldest person to summit at that time. Another climber, Angela Vorobeva, from Russia climbed and had beat Lorimor’s record.
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.
PEAKS ON MOUNT KILIMANAJARO:
Kibo is the tallest of the volcanoes. It rises above two other peaks: Shira to the west and Mawenzi to the southeast. Kibo is dormant, while Shira and Mawenzi are extinct. Scientists expect no volcanic activity anywhere on Kilimanjaro in the foreseeable future.
Mawenzi is the second-highest peak on Kilimanjaro, standing at 16,890 feet. Trekkers get a great view of Mawenzi toward the end of the journey because the most popular summit routes snake up the eastern side of the mountain.
Shira is the shortest “peak” at roughly 13,000 feet in elevation. It was once higher but collapsed to its current height thousands of years ago, creating the bowl-shaped Shira Plateau. Each of our preferred routes, except the Umbwe Route, trek the Shira Plateau within the first 3 days of the climb.
CRATERS & CLIFFS ON MOUNT KILIMAJARO:
At roughly 15,200 feet in elevation on the western side of mountain, the 300-foot Lava Tower looms. The rock formation was created by a volcanic vent long ago. Trekkers with technical mountaineering skills and equipment used to climb Lava Tower, but park officials have since banned the practice. Now, it’s simply a favorite sight for trekkers on the mountain.
The Barranco Wall:
Trekkers still climb this 800-foot cliff that rises over the Barranco Valley to the southwest of Uhuru Peak. The Barranco Wall is simultaneously one of the most difficult and one of our guests’ favorite portions of the climb. Machame, Umbwe and Western Approach trekkers use their hands and legs to “scramble” up the rocky slopes – no technical equipment or expertise required.
You may see a few different glaciers while you trek around the rim of Kibo. The first will likely be the Rebmann Glacier, which is part of the Southern Icefield. Keep an eye out when you pass Stella Point on your way to Uhuru Peak. If you’re lucky, you’ll see this wall of ice standing in the distance down the mountain opposite the crater. You likely won’t get that close to it, though.
If you have your heart set on a close encounter with one of the few glaciers in Africa, Furtwängler is your best bet. This wall of ice is a short distance from Crater Camp inside the caldera on top of Kibo.
POINTS ON MOUNT KILIMANJARO:
This where the Rongai, Marangu and Grand Traverse trails reach the eastern side of Kibo’s rim at roughly 18,650 feet.
This where the Umbwe, Machame and Western Approach routes reach the rim of Kibo at about 18,885 feet. Stella Point is closer to the summit than Gilman’s Point. Trekkers reaching Kibo’s rim from Gilman’s Point will trek to Stella Point on the way to Uhuru Peak.
This is the end of your journey – the summit of Kilimanjaro and the “Roof of Africa” where the iconic summit sign is. It is the highest point on Kibo’s rim.
Don’t underestimate how tough Kilimanjaro is. Too many people do, and don’t make it to the top!
Depending on your current fitness, we suggest that you start your physical training at least two or three months prior to the climb.
Remember, the fitter you are, the more enjoyable the whole experience will be for you.
On the day before the trek (arrival day) and the day after the trek (departure day), we stay in a comfortable hotel in Moshi. It has lovely views as well as lovely rooms and facilities to match.
During the climb, you sleep in three-person, four-season dome-style mountain tents, two people per tent. If you’d like a tent of your own, you’ll need to pay a single-person supplement.
Our tents are modern and have an outer flysheet and large vestibules where you can store your equipment during the night.
Tipping is highly appreciated at the end of safari/ hiking:
Tips will vary depending on the length and complexity of the trip, the number of staff on the trip and the number of clients on the trip. Generally, groups like to meet together before the end of the trek to discuss how much they would like to tip each staff member based on their individual trek experience.You should prepare an envelope after your trek for your tip money at the Springlands Hotel.
You can use US dollars, Euros, TZ Shillings or a combination of these. The envelope will be submitted to mountain coordinator.
The following are daily rates for each climber recommended to tip per staff member:
- Per Chief Guide: $15- 20 Per day
- Per Assistant guide: $10- 15 Per day
- Per Cook$10 Per day
- Per Porter: $8-10 Per day
NB: THESE ARE JUST GUIDELINES AND TIPS CAN BE GIVEN TO SAFARI STAFFS/MOUNTAIN CREW ACCORDING TO SERVICES PROVIDED.
For Marangu Route, you will have:
- 1 guide and 1 cook for each 8 climbers,
- 1 extra assistant guide per each
- 3 climbers, 2 porters per climber
For all Kilimanjaro routes except Marangu you will have:
- 1 climber: 1 guide, 3 porters, 1 cook
- 2 climbers: 1 guide, 6 porters, 1 extra assistance guide, 1 cook
- 3 climbers: 1 guide, 9 porters, 1 extra assistance guide, 1 cook
- 4 climbers: 2 guides, 9 porters, 1 extra assistance guide, 1 cook, 1 waiter
On the first day of your climb, you are likely to lose signal before reaching the gate and will not regain it until day two. From then onwards, for most routes, you will find the signal at some point, and sometimes even in camp. On the Rongai route and Northern, Circuit reception can be more limited and tends to be via Kenyan networks, as the routes pass close to the border.
At the base of the mountain, average temperatures are 70 to 90°F (21 to 32°C) throughout the year. On the summit, temperatures range from -10 to 23°F (-23 to -5°C) with windchill. Weather is changeable, and you should be prepared for these extremes. Your guide will help you decide on appropriate clothing in a detailed daily briefing.
Please ensure you have sufficient Medical Cover for the duration of your trip and in particular to cover you while doing the Kilimanjaro Climb. Africa Kenya Safaris recommends WORLD NOMADS . Check them out: https://www.worldnomads.com/travel-insurance
Trekking poles have a number of benefits, especially if you have trouble with your knees or hips. There is scientific evidence they reduce the forces on your body, especially when walking down steep hills. Poles improve power and endurance when walking uphill, as energy output is distributed over more muscle groups. They help with balance on uneven trails and improve posture, which in turn can help with breathing.
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