Mount Kilimanjaro is located in northern Tanzania in East Africa, not far away from the border to Kenya. With a height of 5895 meters (19340 ft.) Mt. Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and the highest free-standing mountain in the world (i.e. it’s not part of a mountain range, like the Himalayas, where Everest is located.) To climb Mt. Kilimanjaro you have to do some planning and some preparation. Planning and preparation are crucial to the success of a Kilimanjaro climb!
Moreover, when I say success, I mean not only your chances to reach the summit. Planning and preparation will determine how much you enjoy the whole trek, from start to finish.
The best times to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro is the driest months of the year, especially Jan/Feb and Aug/Sep. But any time between January and mid-March or between June and October offers reasonable chances of good weather on Kilimanjaro.
More information on weather conditions and suggestions on ascent times can be found here.
There are various ascents and all differ in the distance and challenge. Five days is the absolute minimum duration for a Kilimanjaro trek, six is better. For the popular Machame route, six days is the minimum, seven days is recommended. Taking an extra day for acclimatization will greatly improve your chances to reach the summit. There are longer treks available for those who can afford them. More trekking info can be found here.
Mount Kilimanjaro is protected by the Kilimanjaro National Park. Access is restricted and the steep Kilimanjaro park fees make a Kilimanjaro climb rather expensive. You can only climb Kilimanjaro with a registered guide/trekking agency. A great director will supply guides, a cook, porters, food, water, and camping facilities if you are camping. There is no need for you to worry about the circumstances. You don’t need to bring anything but your day outfit. You just choose your Kilimanjaro tour operator. Most people book their Mount Kilimanjaro climb from overseas. For the majority of climbers, this is certainly recommended over selecting a climb operator at the last minute when you get there.
The selection of Mt. Kilimanjaro tours to choose from is overwhelming. The quality varies wildly, from irresponsible “cowboys” to luxury climb operators who just about carry you yourself to the top. What you should be looking for is quality and responsible operator who also treats their staff well. Do NOT pinch pennies on Kilimanjaro. Do NOT climb Kilimanjaro with a lower end budget operator.
If you book your Kilimanjaro trek from overseas then your trekking agency may also organize your Kilimanjaro flight for you. If not, then you have to do that. The closest airport to Mt. Kilimanjaro is, yep, Kilimanjaro Airport (JRO). Kilimanjaro Airport is situated halfway between Arusha and Moshi, and most people land there. Mt. Kilimanjaro itself is closer to Moshi. Many trekking agencies are located there, though you also find a good number in Arusha. (Arusha is also the “safari capital” of Tanzania and the gateway to Ngorongoro, Manyara, Serengeti, Tarangire etc.) If you are planning an extended Tanzania trip you may also want to fly to/from one of the other main airports in the area: Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar or even Nairobi.
More information on international flights can be found here.
You need a visa to enter Tanzania and a passport that’s valid for at least another 6 months. If your country of residence does have a Tanzanian embassy, phone them or check their website to find out how to obtain your visa. If your country does not have a Tanzanian embassy, you can buy a visa upon arrival in Tanzania.
More on visa information can be found here.
You may need a yellow fever certificate and there are a number of other vaccinations recommended. Some of them need to be started months in advance, so talk to your doctor soon. Depending on your travel plans you may also want to take anti-malaria medication. Talk to your doctor about it. What exactly you need ultimately depends on the length of your stay and other places you may want to visit besides Kilimanjaro, e.g. Zanzibar or going on a safari.
If you booked with a quality operator then quality camping equipment is included in the price. Many Kilimanjaro tour operators also offer other gear for rent, gear that you may not want to purchase for one-time use only or may not want to lug around Tanzania on an extended trip. Equipment you can often rent includes down sleeping bags, insulation pads and down jackets. Beyond that, you will also need very good quality, thermal under and upper layers of clothing, gloves, warm hat, good sunglasses, sunscreen (for the lips, too!), a day pack, rain protection for everything, water bottles/camelback and more. Most importantly you need high-quality hiking boots and they need to be well broken in!
Mt. Kilimanjaro is a popular climb because Kilimanjaro requires no special mountaineering expertise or equipment. In fact, it is not a climb, it’s a hike. You can walk all the way to the top. However, the more you can do in the time leading up to your Kilimanjaro climb, the better. Kilimanjaro may not require special mountaineering experience, but long-distance trekking and hiking experience sure helps! It also helps if you are used to camping out and roughing it because you will certainly have to rough it when you climb Kilimanjaro. It’s part of the fun.
Only about 50% of the people who climb Kilimanjaro make it to the top. Don’t let that put you off! There are operators who boast of client success rates of 80% to 90%, and they aren’t all lying. (Ok, some may exaggerate a bit, but with the right preparation it is possible to tackle Kilimanjaro with a higher than 90% success chance.) In nearly all cases of failed summit attempts the reason for failure is altitude sickness.
Do you need help with all this??
Contact us to get some free, no obligations, advice on route selection, duration, timings, and anything else. Trust Tours And Safaris Company Limited don’t just offer competitive prices and great service, but we also care you get the best you can out of our beautiful country.