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THE BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO CLIMBING KILIMANJARO

Some people refer to Mount Kilimanjaro as “the Roof of Africa.” Mount Kilimanjaro is a challenging climb that calls for perseverance, commitment, and stamina. In addition to being the highest point in Africa, this peak offers sights of the continent’s ice caps, walks through cloud forests covered in moss, the possibility of seeing elephants, and the ability to experience all of these things firsthand. Crashing through the sky at an altitude of 19,341 feet (5,895 metres) in the middle of northern Tanzania, it is home to three volcanic cones that were built over millions of years. You’ve found this thread because you’re curious about Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa. Many people from all over the world come to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. You’ll find all the information you need to have the finest climbing trip of your life in our comprehensive travel guide.

History of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro

The cloud-shattering peaks of Mount Kilimanjaro are the result of volcanic activity that is estimated to have begun approximately a million years ago and to have lasted somewhere in the range of 500,000 years. Its massive summit is now the subject of myths and stories among humans. The Swahili Chagga people of the Tanzania area believe the peak contains the remains of an old elephant burial place. Others have hypothesised that it is where the Nile River begins. It wasn’t until the Germans arrived in East Africa in the second half of the 19th century that serious attempts to climb Kilimanjaro began to be recorded. After several failed attempts, in 1889, Hans Meyer and his Austrian climbing companion Ludwig Purtscheller became the first Europeans to reach the summit of the Kibo crater and finish the Kilimanjaro trek. 

Since then, Kilimanjaro and the endeavour to reach the legendary Roof of Africa have become increasingly popular. One estimate puts the number of employees directly related to climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania at around 11,000. It is estimated that between 35,000 and 50,000 people try to climb Mount Kilimanjaro each year, with little more than two-thirds of them reaching the peak.

What is Mount Kilimanjaro?

Mt. Kilimanjaro, in northern Tanzania, soars above the sky, its breathtaking grandeur exemplified by its slopes and glaciers. Moshi, a town in the Kilimanjaro area of Tanzania, lies close to the mountain’s base at Mount Kilimanjaro.  The ascent of Kilimanjaro is sometimes compared as a journey through all four seasons in only four days. The plant life is particularly indicative of this occurrence. Kilimanjaro’s closeness to the equator and the Indian Ocean, as well as the mountain’s enormous height, contribute to the richness and diversity of the mountain’s flora. The mountain’s top-to-bottom environment, sun radiation, and temperature extremes create the ideal circumstances for five distinctly varied zones of flora. 

Most people who travel to Tanzania come to summit Mount Kilimanjaro. Kilimanjaro has unparalleled views over Kenya’s Amboseli National Park, the Masaai Steppe, and the Rift Valley, and few summits can compare. Taking on the challenge of ascending the snowy ‘rooftop of Africa,’ the continent’s highest point at 5896 metres, is an adventure of a lifetime for hikers of all skill levels and experience.

Ask yourself, “Am I prepared for an adventure in Kilimanjaro?” and try to think outside the box. Outdoor activities, cultural immersion, self-discovery, tours, and excursions are just some of the many options available on adventure vacations, which provide so much more than the typical fly-and-flop vacation. So, what can you anticipate from a vacation filled with adventure on Mount Kilimanjaro? Simply immerse yourself in the local culture and prepare to be charmed by its mystery, enthusiasm, and exuberance.

Anyone wishing to spice up their typical vacation should consider taking an adventure vacation, whether they are lone travellers, couples, groups of friends, volunteers, or families. The best part is that you get to decide how long and intense your journey will be; spend a week hiking up Kilimanjaro, or break things up with a wildlife safari in the afternoon. Get out of your comfort zone, pack your bags, and head to Africa’s highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro, if you’re looking for an out-of-the-ordinary experience.

When is the best time to climb Mount Kilimanjaro?

You want to climb Kilimanjaro, but you don’t know when the conditions will be ideal. Avoiding the rainy seasons is good advice for anybody attempting to summit Kilimanjaro. Both the short and lengthy monsoon seasons can be experienced in Tanzania. The first one, as its label suggests, is brief. In general, it begins in early November and continues until the first or second week of December. Two months pass in the second one, from March to May. That leaves two seasons for hikers who desire what I would call ideal circumstances on Mount Kilimanjaro:

July-October – 

This is the busiest season to climb Kilimanjaro, yet the weather conditions are ideal for the walk. A clearer sky and greater views of the Tanzanian environment await you atop Kilimanjaro as rainfall drops to a fourth of what it was only three months before (0.8 inches (20 millimetres) over 30 days on average). The increase in foot traffic on Kilimanjaro routes is the primary drawback. The Machame Route, like many other popular routes to the peak, sees its busiest climbing season between July and August. That’s because it’s the European holiday season; in October, the number of people attempting to climb Kilimanjaro is expected to decrease. This is the colder time of year in Tanzania, so be prepared for possible below-freezing temperatures at night.

January-February – 

One of the finest times to climb Kilimanjaro is during the transition between the short and lengthy wet seasons. Temperatures are much higher than they are between July and October, and precipitation is less likely, making it a more agreeable time to climb Kilimanjaro. Additionally, it does not fall on any big holidays in Europe or the United States, therefore keeping crowds to a minimum. The only caveat is that the views may become obscured by midday. Clear skies in the morning usually give way to heat hazes and clouds by early afternoon on the ascent of Kilimanjaro.

Climbing Kilimanjaro is possible in any season and is not limited to the ones listed above. Mount Kilimanjaro may be climbed throughout the year. The monsoons just add an element of uncertainty, decreasing the likelihood that your Kilimanjaro expedition will go smoothly. More realistically, you’ll need to pack for the possibility of severe downpours and muddy terrain if you plan on travelling during the rainy season.

What’s the difference between climbing with a Safari versus without?

Wildlife safaris, bike excursions, and other packages give vacationers with extra time on their hands the option of single or several days of adventure.

Do you have a day to kill before your Kilimanjaro hike or while you wait for your next flight?

These optional extras are designed to help you have a quick yet life-changing encounter with Africa in and around the Kilimanjaro area. Unless otherwise stated, all wildlife safaris, trips, cycling, and hikes included in the packages will begin in Moshi town.

Scheduled Daily Departures:

All optional tours can be scheduled at a departure date that works best for you. If you would need further and specific details, please contact Dodo Safaris.

What is the climate on and around Mount Kilimanjaro?

One of the many things that makes a Kilimanjaro climb special is that the route from the base to the peak passes through a number of distinctly different temperature zones. According to legend, getting from the starting point to the top of the mountain is as difficult as flying from the equator to the south pole. There are five main ecological zones on Mount Kilimanjaro, each beginning at a height of around 3,280 feet (1,000 metres). Rainfall, average temperatures, and typical plant and animal life all decrease in each zone as one travels higher in elevation.

The hottest months are January and February, the wettest are April and May, the coolest are June and July, and the driest are August and September. Mount Kilimanjaro shares these characteristics with the weather of Moshi

Mount Kilimanjaro is so close to the equator that there are barely any noticeable seasonal temperature shifts. Instead, the height and time of day play a larger role in determining the temperatures atop Mount Kilimanjaro. The typical temperature at the start of the ascent, at the foot of the mountain, is between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (21 and 27 degrees Celsius). As you go up Mount Kilimanjaro, you’ll find cooler temperatures in each successive biological zone.

Nighttime lows at Uhuru Point, the peak, can dip to as low as -20 degrees Fahrenheit (-29 degrees Celsius). Mount Kilimanjaro is so tall that it generates its own unique climate. It varies wildly and cannot be predicted. As a result, it doesn’t matter what time of year you decide to climb, you should always pack for damp days and cold nights.

Routes up Mount Kilimanjaro

Do you know how long it takes to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro? The journey from the starting point to the top of the mountain might take anything from five to seven nights to complete. When preparing to summit Kilimanjaro, the decision of which climbing route to choose is maybe the most crucial. Each of Kilimanjaro’s seven paths offers its own take on the mountain and a different price tag. Among these are the Northern Circuit, Machame, Marangu, Shira, Lemosho, Umbwe, and Rongai.

One may take seven nights to reach the peak at a leisurely pace. It’s also possible to climb Kili in just five days if you’ve properly acclimated to the altitude and trained extensively. Depending on whatever route you choose to the top of Kili, you’ll pass through diverse ecosystems and geological features, such as cloud forest, montane jungle, and scree. The upper Saddle Plateau is where the majority of climbers gather before making the last ascent to Uhuru Peak.

Here’s an in-depth look at each of Kilimanjaro’s seven trails:

Macabre –

Machame is the most popular route up Kilimanjaro, and it requires hikers to spend three nights in lower camps before reaching the summit. For the seven-day Kilimanjaro walk, the Machame trail has an 85% success rate because of the acclimatisation benefits it provides. Is it any wonder that Machame is so well-liked? However, it is more challenging than Marangu. For this reason, the Machame Route is commonly referred to as the “Whisky Route.” After leaving the rainforests on the south slopes, the hike will involve severe ascents, and you’ll have to camp every night.

Marangu – 

They refer to Marangu as the “Coca-Cola Route” since it is one of the busiest and longest-running routes in the country. It’s also the route up Kilimanjaro with the fewest difficulties. In recent years, huts have been built all the way along the Marangu trail, making it unnecessary to set up tents and lug heavy packs up Kilimanjaro. Although Mount Meru or another acclimatisation hike is often necessary to complete Marangu in five days, it is possible to do so. Marangu is a good option for less experienced climbers since it is a gradual up-and-back on the same road on the southeastern side of Kilimanjaro.

Shira –

Starting at the Shira Gate, the Shira Route follows the ridge to the Saddle, where it meets up with the Machame Route for the final ascent. Given that it begins at an already difficult height of roughly 11,480 feet (3,500 metres), this route up Kilimanjaro is often intended for more experienced climbers and certainly not those on their first long-distance trip.

Lemosho –

Lemosho begins on the western side of the park, near to the entrance for the Shira Route, and is generally agreed upon as the most beautiful of the routes to the summit of Kilimanjaro. However, this route ascends Kilimanjaro through the lower woods, which provides greater acclimatisation right off the bat (you start at 7,500 feet (2,286 metres) above sea level, as opposed to 11,000!). This route up Kilimanjaro is less crowded and more likely to get sightings of elephant herds and other unusual species than the more popular Machame route.

Umbwe – 

The Jimmy Chins of the world should think about taking the Umbwe Path. When compared to the other routes up Kilimanjaro, the Umbwe path is by far the most challenging. The first two days of Umbwe involve strenuous ascent through forested areas and exposed alpine zones on the south slope. Umbwe either continues up the Machame Route to the summit, or he follows the alternative route around to the Western Breach, one of the few truly hard portions of the Kilimanjaro ascent. Umbwe will be a difficult but worthwhile walk no matter what.

Rongai-

The only method to reach the peak of Kilimanjaro from the north is through the Rongai Route, which really begins at the Tanzanian and Kenyan borders. The journey takes five to seven days and takes advantage of the mild slopes on the southern side of Kilimanjaro, which can make acclimatisation a bit trickier. The south face of mountains is typically used for descents.

Northern Circuit-

The Northern Circuit is one of Kilimanjaro’s more recent additions, combining aspects of both the Shira and Rongai routes into a single, nine-day adventure. The unique opportunity to explore the volcanic Saddle, which is inaccessible by any of the other Kilimanjaro hiking routes, is the true draw.

Can beginners climb Kilimanjaro?

If they’re well-prepared and in good shape, inexperienced climbers have a good shot of reaching the peak of Africa’s tallest mountain, Kilimanjaro. If you want to have the best chance of succeeding, you should arrive prepared.

As we’ve established, Kilimanjaro isn’t a technically challenging mountain and can be climbed by someone with little to no hiking expertise. The hardest part of the hike is acclimatising to the high altitude, and camping might be a hassle if you’re not used to it.

This comprehensive book will walk you through every step of your journey to the peak, ensuring that you are fully prepared for your adventure. Read on to find out how to climb the highest freestanding mountain in the world.

Last Minute Kilimanjaro Safety Advice

You still need to know a few safety practises to guarantee a safe voyage up Mt. Kilimanjaro, even if you have all the gear and satisfy all the prerequisites for starting the climb.

Having a knowledgeable guide accompany you on your first ascent is highly recommended since they will be prepared for any eventuality with supplies like emergency oxygen and pulse oximeters. They may check in on you frequently to ensure your safety and well-being as you progress up the mountain.

Maintaining your own sense of awareness and alertness during the journey is equally important to the safety of you and your fellow travellers. Important travel safety considerations to bear in mind include the following:

  • Remember that you are participating in a marathon, not a sprint, and take your time on long, strenuous hikes.  Avoiding weariness requires you to take things slowly and not rush. Never lose sight of the fact that the trip itself is the prize.
  • Stopping frequently during the day to catch your breath and relax can help prevent burnout in the long term. As you gain altitude and near the peak, the thinner air and increased risk of altitude sickness make this a more pressing concern.
  • You’ll be in better shape and ready for the challenges of the ascent if you give yourself time to acclimatise to the higher elevations before you set off.  You can get in shape for longer walks if you get to your destination a few days early and take several day hikes there.
  • Staying hydrated is crucial to your success on the Kilimanjaro climb. Drink water often throughout the day and especially before bed.
  • When hiking at high altitudes, such as on a long-distance journey up to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, it is extremely important to follow these safety guidelines.

Last Words

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa is a rewarding experience that may be had by almost anybody. You just need to be ready for it. If you follow the advice given above, you may put climbing Kilimanjaro on your list of things to do and then do it!

 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is it a tough climb?

Climbing Kilimanjaro is difficult since it requires walking at high elevations for many days. It is possible to select a route that is both physically and mentally manageable, as the degree of difficulty changes depending on which path is taken.

2. Does an expert rock- or ice-climbing technique need to be used?

Most ascents of Kilimanjaro are hikes that don’t call for technical climbing abilities like those used in rock or ice climbing. However, other routes, such as the Western Breach and the Arrow Glacier, may need some basic scrambling abilities since they include climbing over boulders. You can climb any of the peaks without bringing a rope.

3. Is it a risky climb, up there?

If you don’t take the necessary measures, climbing Kilimanjaro may be deadly, despite being a rather safe mountain to begin with. The most significant dangers are altitude sickness and severe weather. However, the risk can be reduced with enough acclimatisation and the services of a reliable travel company with knowledgeable guides.

4. How do temperatures fluctuate and what are they like further up?

Kilimanjaro’s climate changes with the seasons and the time of day. Temperatures in Moshi may reach 30 degrees Celsius at the mountain’s foot and dip to minus 20 degrees Celsius at the peak at night. The temperature drops by around 6 degrees Celsius for every km in height.

5. What are the best times of year to climb Kili?

Climbing conditions on Kilimanjaro are ideal during the dry months of January through March and June through October. Clear skies and dry conditions are more likely throughout these months, which might make the ascent simpler and more pleasant.  

What level of fitness is required? As you will be hiking for several days in a row at very high elevations, you should be quite fit if you want to climb Kilimanjaro. Train for at least three to six months before the climb, focusing on cardiovascular fitness and leg strength.

6. How long does it take to climb?

Climbing Kilimanjaro might take anything from a few days to a few weeks, depending on your chosen route and your speed. The typical travel time for a trip is between 5 and 9 days. A path that allows for enough acclimatisation is preferable, although it may add time to the ascent.

7. How high is Kilimanjaro?

Kilimanjaro, with an elevation of 5,895 metres above sea level, is Africa’s tallest peak.

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