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Reaching the Roof of Africa: How to Hike Mt. Kilimanjaro

Reaching the Roof of Africa: How to Hike Mt. Kilimanjaro

Towering 19,341 ft above the Serengeti, Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest free-standing mountain in the world and the highest peak in Africa. The primary ascent was made by German mountaineer Hans Meyer in 1889, when the mountain was half of German East Africa, and has since develop into a serious vacation spot for outside fanatics who flock to Tanzania annually with hopes of summiting Uhuru Peak and checking off this once-in-a-lifetime achievement from their bucket record.

Regardless of its colossal stature, Kilimanjaro’s peak might be reached by mountaineering one of the many official routes and doesn’t require the use of particular mountaineering gear or supplemental oxygen. As a result of of its approachable traits and breathtaking views, it attracts tens of hundreds of hikers annually from round the world. There are lots of selections to make when contemplating a trek to one of the world’s Seven Summits, and this information will serve to reply some of the commonest questions on this exceptional expertise.

How to Hike Mt. Kilimanjaro


Firstly, please notice that it isn’t attainable to climb Kilimanjaro with no information. This isn’t solely a priority of security, but in addition a requirement by the authorities of Tanzania. That being stated, there are seven sanctioned routes from the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro to Uhuru peak which range in time, size, and problem. A majority of climbs happen on both the simpler Marangu (the “Coca-Cola route”) or Machame (the “Whisky route”). Marangu is usually thought-about to be the simpler of the two and attracts extra hikers, whereas Machame is understood for its picturesque vistas however harder terrain.

The typical journey size to the summit of Kilimanjaro is 6-Eight days, relying on the route and what number of acclimatization days are included in the schedule. Typical itineraries for these widespread routes are proven under. (Itineraries by way of).


Day 1: Marangu Gate (1980 m) – Mandara hut (2700 m). Mountaineering time: 5 hours
Day 2: Mandara hut (2700) – Horombo hut (3720 m). Mountaineering time: 6 hours
Day three: Horombo hut (3720 m) – Acclimatization day (if mandatory)
Day Four: Horombo hut (3720 m) – Kibo hut (4700 m). Mountaineering time: 6 hours
Day 5: Kibo hut (4700m) – Uhuru Peak (5895 m) – Horombo hut (3720 m). Climbing time: Eight hours to Uhuru – 6 hours to descend to Horombo
Day 6: Horombo hut (3720 m) – Marangu Gate (1980 m). Climbing time: 6 hours


Day 1: Machame Gate (1490 m) – Machame camp (2980 m). Mountaineering time: Four-6 hours
Day 2: Machame camp (2980 m) – Shira camp (3840 m). Mountaineering time: 6 hours
Day three: Shira (3840 m) – Lava Tower (4630 m) – Barranco camp (3950 m). Climbing time: 7 hours
Day Four: Barranco camp (3950 m) – Barafu camp (4550 m). Mountaineering time: 7 hours (incessantly damaged into 2 days) to permit for acclimatization)
Day 5: Barafu camp (4550 m)- Uhuru Peak (5895 m) – Mweka (3100 m). Mountaineering time: Eight hours to attain Uhuru Peak: 7/Eight hours to descend to Mweka (ceaselessly damaged into 2 days with an in a single day keep at Mweka camp).



Climbing Kilimanjaro isn’t straightforward, however stretchers can be found should you get injured on the mountain.

Climbing Kilimanjaro is not any straightforward feat, however neither does it require superior mountaineering expertise. You’ll be able to stroll to the summit, and the days are usually completed by 4pm so there’s lots of time to get well. What’s extra, you’ll have porters as half of your information group that may tote a majority of your provides so you’re solely liable for carrying a daypack. The problem comes into play when you get into larger elevation, the place the air is thinner and strolling is rather more taxing. The guides will inform you to take it “polay, polay” (“slowly, slowly” in Swahili) to keep away from over-exerting your self and climbing too shortly.

Probably the most troublesome half of the trek is the day you summit Uhuru Peak. Most schedules could have you hike to Barafu camp in the morning and relaxation for the complete afternoon, solely to start climbing once more at midnight with hopes of reaching the summit for dawn.

Value of Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro

Our help crew. It takes many individuals to execute a profitable summit of Kilimanjaro.

Experiencing Mount Kilimanjaro is just not an affordable trip. The worth for a a guided trek may be anyplace from $1,200 – $Four,000 USD per individual relying on a number of elements together with the tour operator, quantity of days, group measurement, and degree of consolation. If reserving at the greater finish of the worth scale, you possibly can anticipate extra skilled guides, a separate eating tent, and probably even a transportable rest room as well as to higher-quality meals and gear. If reserving a price range tour, you might not solely have fewer of these additional gadgets but in addition are probably undercutting your porters, as there isn’t a commonplace wage for these staff, and wages are the first place tour operators look to minimize prices. Whereas your selection of tour firm is finally a private determination, think about beginning your search at the Kilimanjaro Porters Help Challenge (KPAP) web site, which lists all of its companion corporations who’ve agreed to supply truthful wages to their staff and abide by moral tourism rules. One other in style and easy-to-use website for route info and accountable tour reserving is, a corporation that works not solely with KPAP but in addition with different non-profits in Tanzania to help fair-trade tourism practices.

As well as to the value of the tour, additionally, you will be chargeable for tipping your crew at the conclusion of your trek. This isn’t solely anticipated however the guides, cooks, and porters rely closely on this supply of revenue, as their wages are usually fairly low. Once more, the quantity is dependent upon how many individuals supported your group throughout the journey and its period however be ready to tip at the very least $250 per hiker. FairVoyage has a a useful calculator that may help in figuring out a good quantity to give based mostly on a quantity of elements.

Should you plan to tack on a safari to the Serengeti and/or Ngorongoro Crater, which is very advisable, it is best to anticipate to pay extra for that as nicely. This can add a minimum of an additional 5 days to your journey however will supply some spectacular wild recreation views and entry to the world’s largest inactive volcanic caldera.

Lastly, you’ll even have to account for the value of your flights and any further gear or gear you want for the hike itself.

Coping with Altitude Illness


Actually beginning to really feel the elevation.

Altitude illness is brought on by publicity to decreased oxygen ranges due to speedy elevation achieve and usually happens at elevation ranges of Eight,000 ft and above. In its mildest type, often known as Acute Mountain Illness (AMS), you could really feel results of dizziness, nausea, and complications (comparable to a nasty hangover). If not handled, AMS can progress into Excessive Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) or Excessive Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) which may trigger everlasting injury to your mind and lungs or, if untreated, demise.Altitude illness impacts everybody in another way, nevertheless it’s a really actual menace on Kilimanjaro and shouldn’t be taken calmly.

The important thing to managing altitude illness is sluggish ascension. By taking the time to correctly acclimate to growing elevations, you permit your physique to modify to the decreased quantity of out there oxygen and reduce the danger of experiencing extreme signs. Tour operators are properly conscious of altitude illness and usually construct acclimatization into the schedule by way of the “hike high, sleep low” technique of gradual publicity. As a result of of the additional time it takes for adjustment, treks of 5 days or much less are usually not suggested until you have got vital expertise at excessive altitudes.

Many climbers additionally make the most of acetazolamide, also referred to as Diamox, to deal with the results of altitude illness. It may be bought inexpensively over-the-counter and brought earlier than the signs happen as a means to reduce the influence. Many tour guides additionally supply ginger tea to assist settle the abdomen and scale back nausea, particularly on summit day if you attain peak elevation. Whereas these choices might assist to lower the impact of altitude illness, they don’t seem to be meant to be an alternative to correct acclimatization.

Required Gear


Morning view.

Though no particular technical gear is required to summit Kilimanjaro, you will have to plan for a spread of temperatures and climate circumstances. At the base of the mountain the climate is tropical and humid, however it will get colder and extra uncovered the larger you journey and also you’re probably to encounter sub-freezing temperatures and maybe snow close to the peak. Plan to gown in layers and be certain not to overpack, as porters can carry a most of 15kg (33 kilos) every and in case your group has an excessive amount of stuff you might want to rent additional personnel. Right here is an effective instance of a packing listing that covers the necessities.

Most tour corporations supply rental gear as nicely, so if there’s something you want you possibly can pay a small payment to use it for the period of your hike with out making a big funding in costly gadgets. Whereas the high quality and worth of these things might differ, here’s what I used to be quoted by my tour firm in 2015:

Sleeping bag – $25
Climbing boots – $25
Gloves – $10
Balaclava – $10
Waterproof Jacket – $20
Waterproof Pants – $10
Down Jacket – $20
Headlamp – $10
Trekking poles or gaiters – $20

When to go


Kilimanjaro may be hiked year-round, however sure occasions of the yr have higher climate than others. June via October is the busiest time but in addition the warmest and least wet. November by way of March are chilly and encountering snow is very probably. April by means of June is the wet season and least crowded time to hike.


Getting there

There are a number of logistical issues to think about when reserving a visit to Tanzania. First, you have to determine on whenever you’ll go and discover a tour that meets your wants in phrases of size, worth, and additional actions. Then, coordinate your arrival with the tour firm and ebook your flight to Kilimanjaro Airport (JRO).


Once you land in Tanzania, you’ll want to get a vacationer visa. For U.S. residents, these may be obtained on-arrival at the airport and the worth is $100 which have to be paid in money (USD). The visa is legitimate for 90 days, which is greater than sufficient time to full your trek and/or safari.


Tanzania additionally has strict guidelines about Yellow Fever vaccinations. If flying instantly from the United States it gained’t be an issue, however in the event you’re coming from a rustic the place Yellow Fever is outstanding you’ll want to present proof of vaccination earlier than they allow you to in the nation. Additionally word that Malaria is current in Tanzania and you need to contemplate taking antimalarial treatment earlier than departing on your journey.


Tour operators often meet clients at the airport and help with visas to guarantee all the things goes easily. As soon as it’s settled, they’ll transport you to your lodge in Arusha or Moshi to spend the night time earlier than beginning your trek the subsequent day. Likewise, the tour operator ought to present transportation again to the airport in your day of departure.

On the Mountain

As beforehand talked about, you’ll have a big help group on the mountains. Usually, there can be one information, 5 porters, one prepare dinner, and one assistant information per two hikers. For 4 hikers these numbers would double, for six they might triple, and so forth. The porters are there to carry gear, meals, water, and different necessities in addition to a majority of your belongings. You’ll solely want to hike with a small pack that has water, snacks, and no matter gadgets you want that day (akin to rain gear). The porters will arrange and tear down camp, prepare dinner and serve meals, and tote water from the nearest supply.

Why You Ought to Hike Kilimanjaro


Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro is a singular and unbelievable journey. Though comparatively brief in period, it is going to take you to the tallest peak in Africa and supply publicity to excessive altitude mountaineering with the help of a educated and gifted staff at a comparatively low degree of danger. In the event you’ve ever needed to expertise the tradition and wonder of Africa in an unforgettable approach, begin researching and saving right now – you gained’t remorse it.

Header picture by way of. All different photographs by the writer.

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