Mount Kilimanjaro

Mount Kilimanjaro Climb or just Kilimanjaro with its three volcanic cones, “Kibo”, “Mawenzi”, and “Shira”, is a dormant volcano in Tanzania. It is the highest mountain in Africa, with its summit about 4,900 meters (16,100 ft) from its base, and 5,895 meters above sea level.

The first people known to have reached the summit of the mountain were Hans Meyer and Ludwig Purtscheller, in 1889.

The mountain is part of Kilimanjaro National Park and is a major climbing destination. The mountain has been the subject of many scientific studies because of its shrinking glaciers and disappearing ice fields.

The overall success rate on what is supposed to be the easiest route is said to be 42%. Some trekking operators have client success rates between 80% and 90%. There are good reasons for that, too.

Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro is the highlight of most visitors’ experiences in Tanzania. Few mountains can claim the grandeur, the breathtaking views of Amboseli National Park in Kenya, the Rift Valley, and the Masaai Steppe, that belongs to Kilimanjaro.

Hiking on the ‘rooftop of Africa’ — the highest point on the continent at 5896 meters — is the adventure of a lifetime, especially because, if paced well, everyone from seasoned trekkers to first-time enthusiasts can scale the snowy peak.

Kilimanjaro is one of the world’s most accessible high summits, a beacon for visitors from around the world. Most climbers reach the crater rim with little more than a walking stick, proper clothing and determination. And those who reach Uhuru Point, the actual summit, or Gillman’s Point on the lip of the crater, will have earned their climbing certificates.

Interesting facts About Mount Kilimanjaro

  • Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain on the African continent.
  • It is the highest free-standing mountain in the world.
  • 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. The most recent activity was about 200 years ago; the last major eruption was 360,000 years ago.
  • Almost every kind of ecological system is found on the mountain: cultivated land, rain forest, heath, moorland, alpine desert, and an arctic summit.
  • The fasted verified ascent of mt. Kilimanjaro occurred in 2001 when Italian Bruno Brunod summitted Uhuru Peak in 5 hours 38 minutes 40 seconds. The fastest roundtrip was accomplished in 2004 when local guide Simon Mtui went up and down the mountain in 8:27.

Mount Kilimanjaro Weather and Best Time to Climb.

April – June

The main rainy season lasts from the end of March through to mid-June. As elsewhere in the world, when exactly it rains and when it stops is impossible to predict. It’s the warmest time of the year in Tanzania, but those months are so wet that many operators simply do not offer climbs in April/May at all.

June – August

The rain gradually decreases, and so do the temperatures on The weather on Kilimanjaro is fairly dry and clear but the nights will be bitter cold. June is quiet, but the number of climbers increases as the year progresses.

August – October

August and even more so September is the peak climbing season on Mount Kilimanjaro. The weather is good with many clear days and warmer than in June/July. You may, however, get clouds blanketing the forest/moorland zone, and on the southern routes, you may get rained on the first days. But once you leave the rain forest behind all is good! The good conditions last into about mid-October when the build-up for the short rains begins.

October/November

The weather on Mount Kilimanjaro becomes more unstable and the number of climbers drops. As in all tropical regions of the world, the wetter time of the year announces itself with afternoon clouds and occasional thunderstorms. As long as you are equipped to withstand the occasional shower, this should not present any major problems.

November/December

November is the small rainy season, and the rain lasts into mid-December. The temperatures have dropped and the rain brings with it all the hazards that I described at the top of the page. Not the best time to climb The four to six weeks around Christmas and New Year are the second peak climbing season on Kilimanjaro. Traffic is extremely high despite there still being a good chance of rainfall and thick clouds in the lower regions. It’s not a time I would choose.

January/March

Mid-January to mid-March is also a good time to climb The weather is reasonable, not too cold, not too wet, and there aren’t as many climbers. The days are mainly dry, beautifully clear with few clouds and occasional brief showers. In March the chances of rain gradually increase as you approach the long rainy season.

Mt. Kilimanjaro Routes – Overview

Advantages and Disadvantage of All Mount Kilimanjaro Climbing Routes

Choosing the right Kilimanjaro route for your climb is an important decision. There are seven Mount Kilimanjaro routes: six routes up Kilimanjaro and two down.

(Yes, that sounds like there are eight routes. But one of the ascent routes can also be used for descent, so there are in fact only seven routes.) Several of these trails meet after a few days climbing and share the same path over the last days. As a result, there are only three dedicated routes from the base of Kibo—the main peak—to the Kilimanjaro crater rim.

(One of them, the Western Breach route, is a challenging and dangerous route and not used much. Which leaves only two?) The routes to climb Kilimanjaro approach the mountain from different sides and they vary considerably in length, difficulty, traffic levels, and other aspects.

Marangu Route

For many years Marangu used to be the most popular Kilimanjaro route. It has now been delegated to number two by the Machame route (see below).

Duration: 5 days, acclimatization day can be added
Accommodation is in huts, no camping equipment needed.
Supposedly the easiest route.

Disadvantages: 
Lowest success rate.
Very crowded.
Camping is not allowed.
The only route that uses the same way up and down.

Machame Route

The Machame route is one of the most scenic routes on Kilimanjaro. Once the budget operators discovered it, Machame quickly became the most popular Kilimanjaro route.
Duration: 6 or 7 days

Advantages:
Relatively low cost.
Very scenic.
Higher success rate than Marangu.

Disadvantages:
A higher level of difficulty.
Very crowded.

Rongai Route

The Rongai route is the easiest route up Kilimanjaro. It has a reputation as a remote wilderness trail. Rongai is the only route to approach Kilimanjaro from the north.
Duration: 5 or 6 days

Advantages:
The easiest Kilimanjaro route.
One of the quieter routes on Kilimanjaro.
Approaches the mountain from the driest side, best chances of good weather.
Ascent and descent are on opposite sides, you see both sides of Kilimanjaro. (You descend on the Marangu route.)

Disadvantages:
Higher cost due to additional travel to reach another side.
Considered somewhat less scenic.

Shira Route

The route over the Shira Plateau has several possible variations.
Duration: 6 – 8 days

Advantages:
Less crowded on the first days.
Very scenic.

Disadvantages:
Higher cost.
Higher difficulty level.
Meets the Machame trail, hence very busy on the later days.

Lemosho Route

Remote and beautiful, but long and expensive, this route also approaches Kilimanjaro across the Shira plateau.
Duration: 7 – 8 days

Advantages:
Very scenic route.
A very low number of climbers during the first days.
Plenty of time for acclimatization.

Disadvantages:
High cost.
Higher difficulty level.
Meets the Machame and Shira trail, hence very crowded on the later days.

Mount Kilimanjaro Climbing Itineraries

Machame route
Machame Route
Duration: 7 Days
Rongai Route
Duration: 7 Days
Lemosho Route
Duration: 8 Days
Marangu Route
Duration: 6 Days