A Comprehensive Guide to Climbing Kilimanjaro

Mount Kilimanjaro is not only the highest mountain in Tanzania but in the entire continent of Africa. The height of this mountain is approximately 5895 meters. For this reason, this stratovolcano mountain is also called the roof of Africa. While the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro is nearly 3000 meters below Everest in terms of total elevation, the tallest mountain in Africa is remarkable for not being part of any mountain range.

A dormant volcano near the border to Kenya in northern Tanzania, Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest peak in all of Africa, standing at 5,895 metres. Interestingly, although it lies more or less on the equator, there is snow on the summit year-round: A rarity for Africa. The ascent is – for such a high mountain – fairly easy due to the slopes being a fairly low gradient. This is why it attracts thousands of climbers each year.

However, despite this it is not to be taken lightly as altitude sickness is an issue above 2300 metres, adding an extra challenge.

Everest is merely the longest tooth of the Nepal Himalayas, but Kilimanjaro rises directly out of the East-African plains. Measured from its base, Kilimanjaro rises about 5600 meters, while Everest’s rise from base is only about 5200. It gives Kilimanjaro a claim to being the tallest mountain on Earth by at least one very specific measure.

In a word, it’s unique. Exploring Kilimanjaro National Park is a once in a lifetime experience that’s both serene and adventurous. You would love the lush wilderness that transports you away from the chaotic city, offering a peaceful vibe. But, if you are up for some jaw-dropping activities, the park has got you covered on that as well.

Its iconic attraction is Mount Kilimanjaro and many go to the park to witness the spellbinding views of the mountain or trek it. You also have the option of cycling to the top through the Kilema Route. For adventure seekers who love to push limits, this can be a tedious, challenging yet thrilling journey. But, you have to be accompanied by a tour guide on any kind of trip to the mountain as solo travelling is not allowed.

kilimanjaro climb

Before going further lets discuss the climate and animals in Kilimanjaro, which is very important for any climber.

1. Weather in Kilimanjaro

The height of the mountain influences the climate of Kilimanjaro. The height allows the simultaneous influence of the equatorial trade winds and the high-altitude anti-trades; and by the isolated position of the mountain. There are two distinct rainy seasons in Kilimanjaro. One is from March to May and another around November.

The southern slopes receives more rainfall than the northern ones. The lower southern slope receives 800 to 900 millimeters annually, rising to 1,500 to 2,000 millimeters at 1,500 meters (4,900 feet) altitude and peaking partly over 3,000 millimeters in the forest belt at 2,000 to 2,300 meters.

In the alpine zone, annual precipitation decreases to 200 millimeters. The temperature of Kilimanjaro is under 0° C. Though snowfall only occurs in the rainy season of Tanzania, snowfall can also occur at any time of the year. The climate zone has been divided into five parts. They are

  • Bushland or Lower Slope (800 m – 1,800 m)
  • Rainforest Zone (1,800 m – 2,800 m)
  • Heather or Moorland (2,800 m – 4,000 m)
  • Alpine Desert Zone (4,000 m – 5,000 m)
  • Arctic Zone (5,000 m – 5,895 m)

2. Animals in Kilimanjaro

It is very important to have an idea on the wildlife of Kilimanjaro for every climber and outdoor traveller. In the forest and on the lower parts of Kilimanjaro, the number of large animals is very less. Elephants and cape buffaloes may be dangerous for the trekkers. Bushbuck, chameleon, dik-dik, duiker, mongoose, sunbird, warthog, Zebra, and hyena have been observed sporadically on the Kilimanjaro region.

The effort is well worth it though, as when you climb the mountain you go through a series of diverse flora. It starts with bushland at the bottom, then tropical rain forest, evergreen forests and desert and alpine regions in between. At the summit it is much more like an Arctic climate! As for wildlife, it is possible to see elephants, leopards and buffaloes.

Prices to climb the mountain range from $1000 up to $3,000 depending on where you stay (basic lodges or luxury encampments) when you ascend and descend the mountain, and if you want a guide or not.

4. Consult With Your Professional Guide

After knowing the wildlife and the climate of Mount Kilimanjaro we will discuss some tips which must be followed by every trekker.

Without consulting any experienced or professional guide, you should not climb Kilimanjaro because if you don't know the route and the proper time to climb Kilimanjaro then you may face some troubles. Try to find out those people who climb three to four times per year.

5. Have Quality Food and Equipment

Foods are very much important for our health and energy. For climbing a mountain like Kilimanjaro your physical energy is very much needed. So, you have to choose the food and snacks which contain high proteins, carbohydrates. You should not bring any junk food with you.

6. Proper Training Plan in Place

We know that proper training helps us to experience a new thing. So, at the time of training, you will understand the difficulties of trekking. Without training, you should not go for trekking. For training, you may contact some travel agencies.

7. Pick The Proper Season Suitable For You

Though there is a different temperature in a different zone in Kilimanjaro, you should choose the proper time or proper season which is suitable for you.

8. Best Time To Climb Kilimanjaro

If you want you can climb Kilimanjaro at any time of the year because it is possible to climb Kilimanjaro around a year. But the time is totally depended on you. Only you know what time is best for you or which time is suitable for you. Don’t choose your time without consulting a professional climber or guide.

It generally takes 5-7 days to climb and then ascend again. January and February as well as September are considered the best time to climb, offering optimal weather conditions. To get to the mountain, it has its own airport called “Kilimanjaro Airport” and serves direct flights from Amsterdam with KLM airlines as well as Turkish Airlines and Qatar Airlines.

Kenya Airlines and Ethiopia Airlines offer flights within Africa. Alternatively, those on a budget can go overland from Nairobi by bus.

9. Kilimanjaro Success Rate by Route

The route is very much needed to reach your destination. Without a proper route, you cannot reach your destination. Now the question is if your destination is the peak of Kilimanjaro then which route should be followed. Here is the answer to this question. Generally, there are 7 established routes to reach your main destination to the summit. The routes are given below.

Kilimanjaro Climb Machame Route

The trekking of Kilimanjaro by the Machame route, is a route of camps that approaches by the southwest of the mountain and that offers us varied and spectacular views during the ascent. Going up Kilimanjaro for this route is demanding, for a rugged terrain, but the effort is rewarded by the incredible beauty of the landscapes. It is considered one of the most beautiful routes to climb the highest mountain in Tanzania.

Machame is one of the most popular routes. Around 50% of climbers choose this route because of the 85% success rate of Machame Route. This route takes you up the south-west side of the mountain. The reason behind the popularity of this route is that the scenic views and varying landscapes. This route can be completed within 6-7 days.

Kilimanjaro Climb Marangu Route

Another popular route and oldest route among all the routes. This route is also called the Coca-Cola route. This is the only route which consists of with hut accommodations verse tent sleeping. The drawbacks of this route are, this route can be crowded at times because the ascents and descents are the same and another drawback is that the success rate is very less among all the routes.

If this route is completed in 5 days then the Marangu route success rate is 50%. The Marangu route is the most popular route to climb Kilimanjaro. This trekking route in Tanzania is recommended for those with less experience and preparation. The route has shelters where you can spend the night, following a very well defined path that offers the opportunity to observe the local fauna and flora during the entire ascent to Kilimanjaro.

Kilimanjaro Climb Rongai Route

This route goes up the northern side or the Kenyan Side of Kilimanjaro. The success rate of Rongai Route is more than 75%. This route attracts the trekkers for the beautiful scenery of the wildlife of Mount Kilimanjaro. This route can also be completed within 6-7 days.

Kilimanjaro Climb Lemosho Route

The Lemosho route trek allows you to climb the Kilimanjaro following one of the quietest, longest and longest routes. The starting point of the ascent is Londorossi Gate, following a narrow path that runs through the first days a tropical forest with great wildlife and that continues through the vast highlands of Shira. It offers, along its entire route, some of the most spectacular landscapes in Tanzania.

This route is a relatively new route. At Lava Tower, this route meets with the Machame Route. The success rate of Lemosho Route is above 90% and this route can be completed in 6-8 days.

Kilimanjaro Climb Northern Circuit

This is the newest route among all the routes of Kilimanjaro and became very popular. This is the longest route among all the routes but the success rate is highest among all. The Northern Circuit success rate is 95%. This route starts on the west side of the mountain and follows Lemondo route.

Kilimanjaro Climb Umbwe Route

None of the experienced trekkers of Kilimanjaro will suggest you follow this route because this is known as the most difficult routes of Kilimanjaro. This route can be completed in 6-7 days but the Umbwe Route success rate is very very low. This route is a short and steep direct climb to Kilimanjaro summit.

Kilimanjaro Climb Shira Route

Finally, we have another route which is almost identical to the Lemosho route. Though this route can be completed in 6-7 days, this route is not popular because the starting point of Shira is not so good as Lemosho route.

These are the routes by which you can reach your destination. Choose a route which is safe and has the more success rate.

This is a complete guide to climb Kilimanjaro. Hope this article will be really helpful for your trekking but my recommendation is that don't climb without consulting any professional climber. So, find a professional and make a day memorable by climbing the Africa's Roof. We suggest you should carry everything in a single backpack that can handle almost every accessory.

Thanks for reading this article. Have a nice day!
Kalyan Panja