All to know about Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro
Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest free standing mountain in the entire world. With a height of 5895 meters, there is always great optimism to reach its peak, and because of that, a lot of mountain climbers and normal tourist always include Kilimanjaro among their bucket list travel destinations. We make sure that you get the best out of Mount Kilimanjaro experience.
1.0 When to go for Kilimanjaro climbing-Best times to climb Kilimanjaro
Not every season is a good climbing time. Wet conditions don’t always favor climbing and if you want to have a successful Mount Climbing experience, you must do it in a dry season. Nyayo tours has got the best experience in knowing and anticipating the weather to make sure that you have the best journey-they shall indicate the best time of the year when every condition is favorable. When you look for the best date to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, a lot of people say that January to February and August to September are the best periods for climbing however life has changed-the weather has completely changed. For you to truly enjoy such a successful mountain climbing, you must choose us for our expertise about the various dates throughout the year when conditions are favorable.
1.1 Best time of the year to go for Mount Kilimanjaro Climbing:
- June to October-peak of high season, most of the Kilimanjaro routes and hotels are crowded.
- October to December-Most of the Kilimanjaro routes are less crowded, this season may be associated with seasonal rainfall so not that much good climbing.
- December to end of February-High season some of the routes and hotels are crowded, its good time for climbing.
- March to end of May-Low season; it’s the peak of the wet season as these months are associated with heavy rainfalls so not ideal for game drives.
2.0 How many days to climb Kilimanjaro?
Climbing Kilimanjaro can take a minimum of 5-days to 9-days maximum. Before deciding how many days you should go for climbing, here are the important tips from us.
-The chance for your successfully Kilimanjaro summit depends on the number of days you choose, the more the days, the higher the chance of reaching the top and vice-versa.
-An overall Kilimanjaro statistics shows the successful rate for 5-days climbers is below 30%, while that of 6-days is below 45%, that of 7 to 8-days is above 80%.
-In this context, for a safe and successfully Kilimanjaro summit, Nyayo Tours recommend climbing in 7 to 8-days respectively.
3.0 Kilimanjaro best climbing routes.
There are several routes you can decide to take when climbing Mount Kilimanjaro but each of them offers different challenges and expectations. Choosing the best climbing route for your Mount Kilimanjaro climbing shall surely improve your prospects of reaching the peak of the mountain. To make such a decision, there are number of factors you have to consider: how many days are available for your climbing? What is your budget? what kind of accommodation are you expecting?, and other factors. To really break it down for you, you need mount climbing experts like us (Nyayo Tours). For example, I heard someone say that they want to climb Mount Kilimanjaro using Machame Route for 3 days yet the recommended is 7 days. Such tourists need guidance; and with Nyayo Tours, all the expertise and guidance is made available to you. Best route to climb Kilimanjaro
3.1 Route clarifications.
3.2 Marangu route- Not highly recommended (Good) **
Minimum climbing days: 5-days
Route scenery: Good
Route traffic: Very high especially during peak seasons
Difficult level: Moderate
Accommodation: Shared mountain hut with bed and mattresses.
Summit successful rate: Low, below 40
Marangu route is the classic trek on the Mount Kilimanjaro; it is the oldest, most well established route. Many favor Marangu route because it is considered to be easiest path on the mountain, given its gradual slope. It is also the only route which offers accommodation in huts in dormitory arrangement style. The minimum days required is five although the probability of reaching the top in that time period is quite low.
Spending an extra day for acclimatization is highly recommended when using this route.
However, despite its immense popularity, the route has the least scenic view compared to the rest of the routes because ascend and descend trail is the same, for this reason the route is heavily crowded especially the peak seasons. (June to October)
The route is favored only during rainy season where the hut accommodation is preferred over wet ground, or for those who only have five days only to climb Kilimanjaro.
More information about Marangu route:
3.3 Rongai route – Recommended ***
Minimum climbing days: 5-days
Recommended climbing days: 6 & 7 days
Route scenery: Very good
Route traffic: Very low
Difficult level: Moderate
Accommodation: Public tents camping
Summit successful rate: Good, about 60%
Rongai route is the only route that approaches Mount Kilimanjaro from the North-East side, close to Kenyan border. Though gaining popularity amongst climbers, Rongai is characterized by the very low traffic. It is the preferred route for those looking for an alternative to the crowded Marangu route, for those who would like more remote hike, and for those who are climbing during rainy season. The minimum number of days required for this route is five but six and seven days are highly recommended. The hiking scenery is very beautiful especially for the first day passing through the villages and true wilderness areas. The descending trail is from Marangu route.
More information about Rongai route.
3.4 Machame Route – Highly Recommended (Very good****)
Minimum climbing days: 6-days
Route scenery: Very good
Route traffic: Very high throughout
Difficult level: Challenging
Accommodation: Public tents camping
Summit successful rate: High, above 80%
Machame route is now the most popular and busiest route on mountain compared to the rest of the routes. The days on Machame route are longer and the walk are steeper and challenging, its better suited for more adventurous folks and those with some hiking or backpacking experience. The route begins from the south, then heads east, traversing underneath Kilimanjaro southern ice filed before summiting.
For more information about Machame route click the links below.
3.5 Lemosho route –Highly Recommended (Excellent*****)
Minimum hiking days: 6-days
Recommended days: 7 & 8 days
Route scenery: Very beautiful
Route traffic: Not high
Difficulty level: Moderate
Summit successful rate: Very high, about 90%
Accommodation: Tents camping
Lemosho route is one of the newest routes, it approach Mount Kilimanjaro from the western side, it begins in the west and rather simply intersecting Shira Plateau, crosses Shira ridge to Shira camp. Climbers’ encounters low traffic until the route joins Machame route at Lava tower to Barranco, Karanga and Barafu. Lemosho is considered the most beautiful route on Kilimanjaro and grants panoramic view on various sides of the mountain. It is our favorite route because it offers a great balance of low traffic, scenic view and a high summit success rate.
For more information about Lemosho route click the links below.
3.6 Umbwe route-Not recommended**
Minimum climbing days: 6-days
Route traffic: Very low
Difficulty level: High
Accommodation: Tents camping
Summit successful rate: Very low
The Umbwe route is a short, steep and direct route. It is considered to be very difficult and is the most challenging way up Mount Kilimanjaro. Due to the quick ascend, Umbwe does not provide the necessary stages for altitude acclimatization. Although the traffic on this route is very low, the chances of success are also low. The Umbwe route should only be tempted by those who are very strong hikers and are confident in their ability to acclimatize. We do not recommend any of our clients to climb Kilimanjaro via this route.
For more information about Umbwe route please click the link below.
Climb Kilimanjaro 6-days Umbwe route.
4.0 Kilimanjaro climbing gears and equipment-best accessories to carry.
I would compare having a successful climb of Mount Kilimanjaro to a farmer who cultivates his garden in the dry season, adds additional manure where necessary, buys the best seeds for planting, knows about the planting season, and others. Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro shall require you to have several specialty accessories, and to get best advice on what to carry; you need to consult with the best tour company in the business, Nyayo Tours.
4.1 ESSENTIAL MOUNTAIN CLIMBING GEARS
50L waterproof duffle, small-size backpack, warm clothes including trouser, sweater, thermal underwear, and enough pair of warm socks, Balaclava, snow goggles, or ski sun glasses and scarf, waterproof layers, sun roof hat, warm sleeping bag, mattress, warm jacket, and a pair of gloves. Comfort mountain boots, and walking poles, Sun cream, first aid kit, a knapsack, a pair of getters and water-bottle, minimum 2litres each.
These gears and equipments are available for rents here, each unit cost an average of $3 and above.
We shall advise you what the necessities to carry and what you can rent here with reasonable price.
On your day pack, you should put water proof gears, sun glasses, sun screen, gloves, sun hat, bug repellant, extra clothing, water, snacks and small items.
All other accessories should be on the duffel bag that will be carried by porters, the average weight of the duffel should be 15-kg and the maximum recommended weight is 20-kg. Make sure the selection of all important gears and accessories to avoid unnecessary excess luggage.
For more information about Kilimanjaro preparation please open this link Kilimanjaro preparation
5.0 While on the Mountain
Weather in the mountain cannot be precisely predicted, but depending on the current climatic change, weather changes from hot, strong wind, cold and rainfall. November and December experience low rainfall while heavy rainfall is experienced from March, April and May.
5.2 Altitude and Acclimatization.
How one reacts to high altitude is uncertain. Some people’s bodies adjust well to the decreased oxygen levels while others do not. Being physically fit and in good health, although helpful, but it’s not a guarantee of your ability to acclimatize. Therefore the best first advice we can give is to take Machame , Northern circuit and/or Lemosho routes with the recommended climbing days 7 or more.
There is a strong correlation between the amount of days spent on the mountain and the summit success rate. Because human body adapts to high altitude slowly, the more time it has, the better the chances of acclimatization. A successful summit is usually a question of how well a climber can acclimatize to the high altitude, rather than the climber’s ability to ascend. Climbers who acclimatize well to the altitude have a great chance of making it to the top.
-Rain forest 6000 to 9200ft (800 to 1800m)
The rain forest represents the most abundant opportunities for viewing unique types of African flora and fauna. Various se, fig trees, olive tree, palm dripping with hanging mosses, species of orchids, sycamore are found here. Blue colobus monkey and different species of birds’ lives here. Climbers using Rongai, Shira and Lemosho route may be lucky to spot elephants, buffalo, antelope and occasionally hyenas.
-Moorland Zone 9200 to 13200ft (2800 to 4000m)
As we move higher, the humidity and dense forest surrounding begin to give way to drier air and cooler temperatures. The flora thins into smaller shrubs like heather, and the presence of fauna becomes increasingly scarce. The most common flora is groundsels and Giant Lobelias. The most common bird seen is easily recognizable black and white crows which forage around camp.
-Alpine Desert zone 13200 to 16500ft (4000 to 5000m)
The alpine desert receives little rainfall and correspondingly light vegetation exists here. The temperature can reach over 34 degree Celsius during a day. The thin air and proximity to the equator results in very high levels of solar radiation. This zone is in the very high altitude region of mountain medicine. For ideal acclimatization, climbers should spend a few days here, we always insist our guides to make sure that they climb high and sleep low to reduce the ill effects of altitude.
-Arctic zone16500+ft (5000m+)
The final region of the climb is the arctic zone. Finding a region like this in Africa’s equatorial belt is like finding a swath of rainforest in the middle of an Arctic glacier. Characterized by ice and rock, there is virtually no plant or animal life at this altitude. Glacial silt covers the slopes that were once concealed by the now receding glaciers visible from Kilimanjaro crater rim. Nights are extremely cold and windy.
5.4 The Kilimanjaro hiking trail.
The trails on Mount Kilimanjaro are well marked and maintained. Technical skills are not required on our routes. There are only few spots where scrambling (climbing on hands and feet) s requires such as the Barranco wall. The path to and from Uhuru Point is on screed, which can be especially tiring and slippery. Bad weather conditions can complicate matters, climbers should be prepared to trek through all types of weather such as fog, rain, snow and all types of earth, whether loose, dusty, muddy, wet, snowy or icy.
5.5 Daily schedule on the mountain
On a typical day on the Mountain, you will be awake from your tent around 6:30 AM by our guide or crew member. Hot drinks (typically coffee or tea) will be available in the mess tent at this time while full breakfast will be served around 7:00AM. Before eating breakfast, you should pack your day pack and duffel bag and bring them outside of the tent so the porters can take down the tent. Meals are served in a mess tent or occasionally outdoors if the weather is nice-complete with chairs, tables, dinnerware and silverware. You usually begin walking around 8:00 AM, while the porters stay behind to clean up the campsite, and pack up the tents and other equipment. A health check will also be performed in the morning.
While the hours vary from day to day, your average walking time will be around four to six hours per day. During the walk, your guide will decide the pace and when to take break depending on his assessment of the party’s performance. The porters will consistently move ahead of the group in order to prepare food, collect water and set up tents so that everything is ready when you arrive. A hot lunch is served half-way through your day’s trek though on occasion, a lunch box may be provided. Once you arrive at the campsite, snacks are served, then dinner follows around 6:30PM, another health check-up is performed in the evening before you go to sleep.
5.6 On the summit day/night.
Every climber wishes to explore the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro, but who said that every tourist that climbs Mount Kilimanjaro reaches the peak? Of course that is the dream of any tourist however due to several factors; many find themselves not reaching the peak. Reaching the peak is sometimes not all about being fit and being prepared for the journey; it is a mixture of conditions and analytics.
Summit day is a tough, this monumental effort is what makes climbing Kilimanjaro an achievement. It begins very early as guides try to time their trekking party to reach Uhuru Peak as sunrise (5895amsl). Climbers go to sleep after early dinner and awaken around midnight (00:30AM) to prepare for the summit attempt; the lead guide will brief you about gears, cloths and accessories to carry. After a light snacks, climbers ascend in the darkness, cold and wind. Guides and few member crews leads the way to the top, it goes without saying that under these conditions, climbing is difficult, especially on loose rock and up a very steep slope. This is where your physical prowess and mental toughness will be tested.
Our team of Nyayo Tours guides will be with you in every step of the way to assist you during your ascent. Short breaks, usually lasting less than ten minutes, will be taken along the way for a quick snack and drink. This is to make sure the climbers stay energized and hydrated but do not get cold by sitting still. The guides will regularly check to see everyone is feeling and offer a hand to hand to those who may need extra help. It is possible that someone may have to turn around on the mountain due to altitude sickness, exhaustion or a variety of other matters. Each group will have a lead guide, a number of assistants depending on the party size all of whom are able to escort climbers down. Therefore if a person cannot continue the ascent, one of the staff members will accompany this climber while the lead guide take the group onward, the remaining party is unaffected and continues their climb as scheduled.
Around 5:30AM you will summit the top of Mount Kilimanjaro ‘Uhuru Peak’ welcomed by the board sign you can read ‘Congratulation! You are now at the highest point of Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro Uhuru Peak 5895amsl’ Once you are there, sometime is spent celebrating and taking photos while sunrise before returning to high camp either Barafu or Kibo Hut. The amount of time to be spent at the top depends on the coldness of that particular day; degrees of coldness at the top can vary up to -20 Celsius. At the base camp you will have time for full breakfast and a short rest, followed by descend to Mweka/Horombo camp for hot lunch, dinner, rest and overnight.
5.7 Kilimanjaro safety and rescue.
Climbing Kilimanjaro is safe, no major threats that will affect your climb unlike altitude problems. If a client shows altitude sickness (extreme tiredness, run out of energy, dizziness, headache, breathing problems, vomiting and so forth), a guide will provide a quick first aid and select some member crew who will descend the client to low altitude area, while contacting with the emergency rescue team to come with the jeep to drive the client back in town.
For the case of severe cases, there is a private flying rescue team called ‘ Kilimanjaro Search and Rescue’ guide will contact them and within 10-minutes they will arrive with helicopter and flying doctor to fly you to hospital in town. The cost of this service is relatively $500 or more depending with the extent of the problem.
5.8 Meals on the Mountain
You will be provided with breakfast, lunch and dinner each day spent on the mountain. The food, specifically selected to help your climb, are high energy carbohydrate foods that are easily digestible. The primary carbohydrates of the meals are rice, potatoes and pasta. Fresh fruit and vegetables accompany every meal. Meat is served on the mountain but not in large quantities because it is not easily digestible at higher altitude and nor does it keep well on the mountain. We resupply the team with fresh food throughout the climb.
Water is collected from mountain and treated with Aqua tabs, water purification tablets. Water is provided only at the campsites so you need to carry enough water, usually about 3 liters to stay hydrated while you hike. You may want to bring some supplementary comfort foods such as candy, gum, chocolate, health bars or powdered energy drinks. We can accommodate vegetarian, vegan, gluten-lactose free and any special diet. For those with special diets, please contact us to discuss what we can or cannot do.
5.9 Accommodation on the Mountain.
Unlike Marangu route where accommodation is offered on Mountain hut/cabins with shared bed and mattresses, the rest of the route offers camping accommodation. Climbers will sleep in state of art, mountain tents during the trek. Our Mountain hardware tents are warm, waterproof and roomy-perfectly suited for your Kilimanjaro adventure. We understand that some climbers are anxious about camping for so many days, so we aim to have them be as dry, warm and comfortable as possible.
A 1.8 inch foam sleeping pad is provided to all climbers. These locally sourced sleeping pads are better than any commercially available sleeping pad. They are thick, warm and comfortable even for those not used to camping. The pad is placed inside a washable cover for cleanliness.
Each client is supposed to have their own personal sleeping bag, warm enough to accommodate up to -15 degree Celsius.
6.0 Accommodation before and after climbing Kilimanjaro.
We provide hotel accommodation before and after climbing Kilimanjaro. We use several different hotels, all located in Moshi town. Each hotel is comparable in its class though not all amenities are available in every location.
Some of the hotels are Keys Hotel (mid-range), Panama garden resort (standard), Park view inn (standard), Kilimanjaro wonders hotel (luxury)
The amenities at the hotel includes Telephone services, Air conditioning, Satellite television, Wi-Fi internet, laundry service, clean rooms and wash rooms, swimming pools, garden and restaurant, mini bar lounge and luggage storage facilities.
7.0 Climbing costs are fairly affordable.
There is a wrong myth that circulates among travelers that climbing is only for the rich. That is entirely wrong-climbing can be done by any traveler whether a budget, mid-range or a luxurious climb; you just need to know how to choose the best routes, accommodations and other factors. Many end up paying a lot simply because they choose a route that does not favor their budget; to simply make sure that you are in the right hands, I would suggest consulting us and talk about your expectations and budget. I’m sure that you shall find an itinerary that is inclusive for you. Climbing Kilimanjaro cost