Kilimanjaro Trekking is popular. It’s probably the most popular high altitude trek in the world.
The reason for Kilimanjaro popularity is obvious:
It is the highest mountain in the world that you can simply walk up. You need no ropes, no special climbing equipment, and no previous experience.
But that doesn’t mean it’s a walk in the park!
What it takes to Kilimanjaro Trekking
Mount Kilimanjaro is located in northern Tanzania in East Africa, not far from the border to Kenya.
With a height of 5895 meters (19340 ft) Mt. Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and the highest free standing mountain in the world (i.e. it’s standing there all by itself in a plain, it’s not one peak of many in a mountain range.
To Kilimanjaro Trekking you have to do some planning and some preparation.
Planning and preparation are crucial to
the success of a Kilimanjaro Trekking
And when I say success, I mean not only your chances to reach the summit. Planning and preparation will determine how you experience the whole trek, from start to finish.
Will you love it from the first minute to the last, enjoy the challenge, and cherish the memories for the rest of your life? Or will it be a dreadful slog all the way…
You only climb Kilimanjaro once. Don’t waste the experience of a lifetime. Let’s make sure you get this right!
How to Trek Kilimanjaro – Planning
You need to make three major decisions before you can Trekking Kilimanjaro:
- You have to decide on a date.
- You have to decide on the climb route and length (how many days/nights).
- You have to decide on a trekking agency/climb operator.
- Deciding on a date to Trekking Kilimanjaro
The best times to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro is the driest months of the year, especially Jan, Feb and Aug, Sep. But any time between Jan—mid March and June—October offers reasonable chances of good weather on Kilimanjaro.
- Deciding on a climb route and the duration of your Kilimanjaro climb
There are several kilimanjaro trekking route They vary in length and difficulty. All except one require you to camp. If you choose Kilimanjaro trekking Marangu route your accommodation is in huts and camping is not allowed.
Five days is the absolute minimum duration for a Kilimanjaro trekking , six is better. If kilimanjaro climbing Machame route six days is the minimum, seven days is recommended.
Taking an extra day for acclimatization will greatly improve your chances to reach the summit. There are longer treks available for those who can afford them.
- Selecting your trekking agency/climb operator
Mount Kilimanjaro is protected by the Kilimanjaro National Park. Access is restricted and the steep Kilimanjaro park fees make a Kilimanjaro climb rather expensive.
But before you go hunting for a cheap Kilimanjaro climb routes , read the page about the true cost of climbing Kilimanjaro.
You can only climb Kilimanjaro with a registered guide/kilimanjaro trekking agency. A good climb operator will supply guides, a cook, porters, food, water, and camping equipment if you are camping.
There is no need, indeed no opportunity, for you to worry about the details. You don’t need to carry anything but your day pack, you don’t need to cook or put up your tent or anything. You just choose your Kilimanjaro trekking tour operator.
Most people book their Mount Kilimanjaro trekking from overseas. For the majority of climbers this is certainly recommended over selecting a climb operator in the last minute when you get there.
The selection of Mt. Kilimanjaro tours to choose from is overwhelming. The quality varies wildly, from irresponsible “cowboy” outfits to luxury climb operators who just about carry you to the top.
What you should be looking for is a quality and responsible operator who also treats their staff well. Do NOT pinch pennies on Kilimanjaro. Do NOT climb Kilimanjaro with a lower end budget operator.
How to Climb Kilimanjaro – Preparation
You need to do some preparation before you can climb Kilimanjaro:
- You need to book your flights.
- You need to organize your visa.
- You need to get the required vaccinations.
- You need to buy or rent the necessary equipment.
- You need to get yourself into shape.
- Booking your flights
If you book your Kilimanjaro trekking from overseas then your trekking agency will likely also organise your Kilimanjaro flight for you. If not, then you have to do that.
The closest airport to Mt. Kilimanjaro is, yep, Kilimanjaro trekking Airport . Kilimanjaro Airport is situated half way between Arusha and Moshi, and most people land there.
Mt. Kilimanjaro itself is closer to Moshi. Many trekking agencies are located there, though you also find a good number in Arusha. Arusha is also the “safari capital” of Tanzania and the gateway to Ngorongoro, Serengeti, Tarangire etc.
If you are planning an extended Tanzania trip you may also want to fly to/from one of the other main airports in the area: Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar or even Nairobi
- Organizing your visa for kilimanjaro trekking
You need a visa to enter Tanzania and a passport that’s valid for at least another 6 months.
If your country of residence does have a Tanzanian embassy, phone them or check their website to find out how to obtain your visa.
If your country does not have a Tanzanian embassy, you can buy a visa upon arrival in Tanzania.
- Getting your vaccinations
You may also need a yellow fever certificate and there are a number of other vaccinations recommended for kilimanjaro trekking . Some of them need to be started months in advance, so talk to your doctor soon.
Depending on your travel plans you may also want to take anti-malaria medication. Talk to your doctor about it
- Organizing the necessary equipment for kilimanjaro trekking
If you booked with a quality operator then quality camping equipment is included in the price.
Many Kilimanjaro climb operators also offer other gear for rent, gear that you may not want to purchase for one time use only or may not want to lug around Tanzania on an extended trip.kilimanjaro trekking
Equipment you can often rent includes walking poles, sleeping bags, insulation pads, down jackets, and high quality rain gear.kilimanjaro trekking
Beyond that you will also need very good quality, thermal under and upper layers of clothing, gloves, warm hat, good sunglasses, sunscreen for the lips too, a day pack, rain protection for everything, water bottles/camel back and more.
Most importantly you need high quality hiking boots and they need to be well broken in!
Here is a list of essential Kilimanjaro equipment for kilimanjaro trekking and here are more tips unpacking.
- Getting yourself into shape
Mt. Kilimanjaro is a popular climb because Kili requires no special expertise or mountaineering equipment. In fact, it is not a climb, it’s a hike. You can walk all the way to the top.
That sounds easy but isn’t!
Read about training for Kilimanjaro trekking and beating altitude sickness on Kilimanjaro trekking . The more you can do in the time leading up to your Kilimanjaro climb, the better.
Kilimanjaro may not require special mountaineering experience, but long distance trekking and hiking experience sure helps! It also helps if you are used to camping out and roughing it, because you will certainly have to rough it when you climb Kilimanjaro…
Only about 50% of the people who climb Kilimanjaro make it to the top. Don’t let that put you off! There are operators who boast with client success rates of 80% to 90%, and they aren’t lying. (Ok, some may exaggerate a bit, but with the right preparation it is possible to tackle Kili with a higher than 90% success chance.)
In nearly all cases of failed summit attempts the reason for failure is altitude sickness. Before you climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, read up on beating altitude sickness on Kilimanjaro trekking .
Whether you reach the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro is not a matter of luck, not of age, not of previous fitness or experience. It’s entirely up to you. You need to be willing to do the research and to invest the time and money it takes.