Is Kilimanjaro hard to climb?
Climbing Kilimanjaro does not require any technical skills or special equipment, just some physical fitness and determination. People from all walks of life, from a 7 year old child to an 89 year old woman, have successfully summited. But the challenge should not be taken lightly. You need to understand what lies ahead. Rest assured, you will find the answers to all your questions here – at Asili Explorer
Mount Kilimanjaro or just Kilimanjaro with its three volcanic cones, Kibo, Mawenzi, and Shira, is a dormant volcano in Tanzania. It is the highest mountain in Africa and the highest single free-standing mountain in the world, with its summit of 5,895 metres (19,341 ft) above sea level and at about 4,900 metres (16,100 ft) high from its plateau base. Kilimanjaro is also the fourth most topographically prominent peak on Earth. The first people known to have reached the summit of the mountain were Hans Meyer and Ludwig Purtscheller, in 1889. The mountain is part of Kilimanjaro National Park and is a major climbing destination. Because of its shrinking glaciers and disappearing ice fields, the mountain has been the subject of many scientific studies.
Also called the Roof of Africa or the Crown of Tanzania, Mount Kilimanjaro is both Africa’s highest mountain and the world’s tallest free standing peak. Standing at 5,875 metres above sea level, Kilimanjaro is also unique as it is located just 330km from the equator.
Mount Kilimanjaro consists of three volcanic summits. Shira (3,962 m) the oldest of the three summits is already extinct. Mawenzi (5,149 m) and the youngest Kibo (5,895 m) are dormant and could erupt again.
When to climb Kilimanjaro
The best month for climbing are January, February, and September – when the weather is warmer, the skies clearer, and the threat of rain less. June, July, and August are also fine weather-wise, although they tend to be colder as this is ‘winter’ in Tanzania.
The rainy seasons (March through early June and November/December) are tougher times to attempt the climb, although it is still possible with appropriate preparation.
Timing the hike to summit during the full moon is a popular choice, as the brighter nights improve visibility and the moon hanging overhead makes for a beautiful moment when you’re standing atop The Roof of Africa.
While climbers are said to ‘trek’ Kilimanjaro, this is a deceptively laid-back term for a challenge that sees as few as two-thirds of climbers being successful in their attempt to summit Uhuru Peak, the highest point.
The greatest danger? Altitude sickness causes a full third of climbers to turn back, so while Kilimanjaro is the only non-technical climb of the world’s seven highest peaks, the extreme altitude, low temperatures and occasional fierce winds that characterize this climb mean all hikers must be physically fit, properly equipped and well acclimatized.
Mount Kilimanjaro Climbing Routes
There are many different trekking and climbing tours available for those wishing to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. In fact, even those who have climbed the mountain before can find a new adventure on this stunning mountain. You can choose whether to climb alone, join an existing climb, or bring a group of your own. Route to climb Kilimanjaro are:
Marangu | Machame | Lemosho | Shira | Rongai | Northern Circuit | Umbwe
For many years Marangu used to be the most popular Kilimanjaro route. It has now been delegated to number two by the Machame route (see below).
Duration: 5 days, acclimatization day can be added
- Low cost.
- Accommodation is in huts, no camping equipment needed.
- Supposedly the easiest route. (I beg to differ.)
- Lowest success rate. (See? Not that easy after all!)
- Very crowded.
- Camping is not allowed.
- The only route that uses the same way up and down.
The Machame route is one of the most scenic routes on Kilimanjaro. Once the budget operators discovered it, Machame quickly became the most popular Kilimanjaro route.
Duration: 6 or 7 days
- Relatively low cost.
- Very scenic.
- Higher success rate than Marangu.
- Higher level of difficulty.
- Very crowded.
Remote and beautiful, but long and expensive, this route also approaches Kilimanjaro across the Shira plateau.
Duration: 7 – 8 days
- Very scenic route.
- Very low number of climbers during the first days.
- Plenty of time for acclimatization.
- High cost.
- Higher difficulty level.
- Meets the Machame and Shira trail, hence very crowded on the later days.
The route over the Shira Plateau has several possible variations.
Duration: 6 – 8 days
- Less crowded on the first days.
- Very scenic.
- Higher cost.
- Higher difficulty level.
- Meets the Machame trail, hence very busy on the later days.
The Rongai route is the easiest route up Kilimanjaro. It has a reputation as a remote wilderness trail. Rongai is the only route to approach Kilimanjaro from the north.
Duration: 5 or 6 days
- The easiest Kilimanjaro route.
- One of the quieter routes on Kilimanjaro.
- Approaches the mountain from the driest side, best chances of good weather.
- Ascent and descent are on opposite sides, you see both sides of Kilimanjaro. (You descend on the Marangu route.)
- Higher cost due to additional travel to reach other side.
- Considered somewhat less scenic.
The steepest Kilimanjaro route. Steep with a big capital S.
Duration: 5 – 6 days.
This route is not used much. The Umbwe route is only suitable for people with mountain climbing experience and who are already well adapted to the altitude.
Northern Circuit Route
Duration: 9 days.
The Northern Circuit route is one of the best routes on Kilimanjaro, offering nearly 360 degrees of beautiful scenery including the quiet, rarely visited northern slopes. As the longest route on Kilimanjaro, the Northern Circuit also has the most acclimatization time and the highest summit success rate. Thus, the Northern Circuit route is highly recommended.