Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro’s not a challenge to be sniffed at. Seeing dawn rise from the summit of Africa, tired, exhausted, and exhilarated is the achievement of a lifetime, but at 5,895 metres, it’s one that you have to work for. Far from an easy hike, it’s also not a technical climb, so provided you’re reasonably fit, and prepared to do a bit of training to get ready (as part of our service all climbers get a pre-climb guide) there’s a good chance you’ll make the top.
Which route to take?
There are numerous routes you can take up the mountain, depending on how much time you have to spare, and what your priorities are. Though we’ve climbed the Marangu Route, we tend not to recommend it, as the mountain huts can be rather busy, and we also don’t recommend the Mweka route, as the steepness of the ascent makes it difficult to reach the top. The routes we use most regularly are the pretty Machame route, and the less-trodden Rongai route, heading across the great saddle between the Kibo and Mawenzi peaks. If you have longer to spare, the Lemosho and Shira Routes are both good options, and offer the chance to climb gradually, increasing your chances of reaching the top.
Whichever way you do it we’ll usually encourage you to build in an acclimatisation day as the differences are radical- our climb team report the follow success rates for reaching the summit: 6 days: 75%, 7 days: just over 80%, 8 days: 90%, 9 days+: over 98%.
When to climb?
Avoid peak seasons like Christmas and New Year, and climbs that start on a Saturday or Sunday (they’re often busiest). While many groups aim for the summit on a full moon, we’d recommend avoiding the crowds, and heading for the peak four to seven days later when the light’s better and the people are fewer. The best weather comes from mid-January to early March and mid July to early October.
Where do I stay?
A Kilimanjaro climb could never adhere to conventional standards of luxury, but as far as the mountain goes, our climbs are some of the best available. The vast majority of routes on Kilimanjaro are camping-only routes. We use kit specially designed for the mountain and the chilly temperatures you’ll encounter: Mountain Hardware tents, thick closed-cell sleeping mats and on many of our climbs we provide private loos. Our food is warm and wholesome- designed both to give you the energy you need to tackle Kilimanjaro and tempting enough that you eat enough, even when you’re shattered. Small things, but when you’re that tired and have walked that long, it’s the simple things that make all of the difference to your comfort.
A note about our porters
The porters are the people who make our Kilimanjaro climbs special. They make the hike to the top fun, carry the camp on their backs, and are hugely entertaining along the way. As a result, it’s a matter of pride to us that they’re well treated and our climb crew are members of the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project (KPAP) and that we are one of the few operators in the UK who have been recognised for our ethical stance on porter treatment. You’ll never see a porter on one of our climbs in flip-flops, or shivering because his gear’s not warm enough. The weight they carry is limited to a manageable load, and they get paid even if they can’t finish the climb. Our ground crew are pioneers in ethical Kili climbs, and we’re proud to be associated with them.
How to make my trip extraordinary? Well, if you’re fit, and we do mean fit, mountain biking is now available as an option on Mt. Kilimanjaro, with either day trips on the Shira Plateau, or ascent/descent via the Marangu 4×4 access road. In order to do the full climb and descent you’d really need to be an expert mountain biker with serious technical skills, fitness and the right bike, but a descent only widens the field a little!
Have questions about what it’s like to climb Kili or what we’d recommend for you? We’ve climbed ourselves, so