At 5895 meters (19,341 feet) Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is the tallest mountain in African and the world’s tallest free-standing mountain. The mountain is located slightly below the Equator.
Climbing Kilimanjaro is a great challenge but feasible for keen walker looking to combine high mountain adventure and safari to Africa. It takes five to eight days to make it to the summit and back. The trek gives an opportunity to experience 5 different habitats from bottom to the top. In a couple of days, you will have moved from grasslands to tropical forests, alpine meadows to moorlands and deserts and eventually to snow and ice.
Kilimanjaro has three volcanic cones, Mawenzi, Shira and Kibo. Mawenzi and Shira are extinct but Kibo, the highest peak, is dormant and could erupt again.
Uhuru Peak, the highest summit is on Kibo’s Crater rim.
The snow capping the mountain is diminishing. In the last century alone more than 80 percent has been lost. Scientists predict the mountain will be completely ice free within the next 20 years.
About 25,000 people climb Mt. Kilimanjaro every year. Close to two-thirds make it to Uhuru Peak. A third doesn’t make it to the summit mainly because of altitude-related problems.
We have regular climbs on three main routes:
- Machame Route – the preferred route as it offers excellent acclimatisation and views
- Lemosho Route – same as Machame Route after Shira Plateau
- Rongai Route – This is a less travelled route and is the best during the rainy season because it is more sheltered.
It is recommended to take at least 7 days for the trek. This helps to prevent putting ones health at risk from altitude sickness. This gives more fun and makes the experience more enjoyable. Based on previous experiences, those who take 7 days hike have 95% success rate.
The climbing gets harder as you go higher but the paths are in good condition. At higher altitudes, the atmosphere has less oxygen therefore you will pant more. The nights are cold so you will need more calories to produce heat. The bottom line is to eat well, drink as much as 3 litres per day, sleep well and move slowly. These four principles are very crucial for you to get to the summit.
On summit night, you leave at midnight to climb close to 1300 meters to the top. It is a very exhaustive exercise but very joyful having conquered the highest peak in the continent.
The best time to climb Kilimanjaro is between December and March then from June to October. The rains are in April, May and November. However, due to the rains may come earlier. During the rains, Rongai Route is better because the northern side of the mountain is more sheltered.
It can be wet and cold, hot and dry and sunny all in one day, and don’t forget the intensity of the sun at altitude means it’s important to protect your skin and eyes.
During the full moon is a popular time to climb Kilimanjaro. Summit night is done under the light of full moon. Remember the mountain is very close to the Equator, while at the peak you can see the North Star and the Southern Cross at the same time.
Kilimanjaro Climb can be conveniently undertaken before or after a visit to iconic safari destinations such as the Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti or take beach holiday in Zanzibar. Browse our recommended tours and safaris or contact us and we will tailor-make a personalized safari itinerary for you.