SHOULD I CLIMB MOUNT KILIMANJARO OR KENYA?

Which is better, Mount Kilimanjaro or Mount Kenya?

IMG_5959

Just 343km apart sit two giants of African high altitude mountaineering: Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and Mount Kenya in … you got it, Kenya.

The stats show that Kili (as it's known to almost everybody) is the infinitely more popular mountain to climb. A massive 30,000 adventurers a year tackle its peak, compared with only 15,000 a year for Mount Kenya.

But how do Mounts Kilimanjaro and Kenya rate when compared with each other? What should hikers be aware of when trying to decide which mountain to go for?

True Summit Adventures CEO Oliver Browne is the man with all the answers. He's climbed Kilimanjaro twice in 2023 alone, alongside summiting Mount Kenya the same year.


Is Kilimanjaro or Kenya best for hardcore climbers?


Although Kili is the higher peak, it's Mount Kenya which is best for hardcore climbers.

The true summit of Mount Kenya, Batian, requires rope skills. It's a 20-plus multi-pitch route which takes 11 - 15hrs to complete, before topping out at 5200m. Only 50 people a year reach its summit.

Less serious adventurers instead reach Point Lenana, just a couple of hundred metres shy of the true summit at 4985m. It requires little more than good fitness, some determination, and a nice pair of hiking boots.


Is Mount Kilimanjaro or Mount Kenya best for bragging rights?


Mount Kilimanjaro for sure. Kili is one of the Seven Summits, Africa's highest peak, and the highest freestanding mountain in the world. It's a true classic, and normally an important step for anyone on their mountaineering journey.


Is Kilimanjaro or Kenya best for immersion in nature?


Mount Kenya is the best mountain for immersing yourself in nature. It's the more picturesque mountain, with more abundant wildlife including baboons, zebra and its famous rock hyrax. Elephants and hyena can also be spotted in the national park which protects and surrounds Mount Kenya's peaks.


Is Kilimanjaro or Kenya best for beating the crowds?


For anyone looking to avoid the crowds, Mount Kenya is best. Roughly half the number of people climb Mount Kenya each year, with Mount Kilimanjaro's public campsites now close to (if not over) capacity.

When I climbed Mount Kenya's Lenana Peak there was only four people on the mountain: two climbers and two guides. By comparison, Kilimanjaro can feel crowded in the camps. Once you’re out walking, this feeling does lessen, as there are seven established routes to make use of.

At True Summit Adventures we opt for the Machame route, which is slightly harder physically, but has a wealth of other advantages, such as better acclimatisation and fewer climbers.


Is Kilimanjaro or Kenya best as an altitude test?


Mount Kilimanjaro is the best for testing your response to altitude. At just a smidge under 6000m (at 5895m), Kili is the most accessible (almost) 6000’er in the world.


Is Kilimanjaro or Kenya best for a quick climb?


Mount Kenya is best for shorter hikes. Because of its lesser altitude and more accessible route, fit people can reach Lenana Peak in only 3 or 4 days.

Take one of the shorter expeditions offered by some operators to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, and it's likely you're going to struggle with the altitude. Most who fail to reach Kilimanjaro's summit are on these shorter climbs - that's why we use the longer Machame 7 day route as standard.


Is Kilimanjaro or Kenya best for two centre holidays and additional activities?


This is proably a tie.

Climbers of Mount Kilimanjaro, in Tanzania, have direct flights to safaris in the famed Serengeti and the beaches of Zanzibar. However after hiking Mount Kenya, it's possible to witness the Big Five in the Maasai Mara, explore the streets of central Nairobi, or hit the equally-impressive beaches of Kenya's Indian Ocean coastline.


Is Kilimanjaro or Kenya best for big city lovers?


Mount Kenya is best for big city lovers. The hotels we use in Arusha and Moshi are great places to relax pre and post expedition. But their cities don't compare with Nairobi, a bustling, modern capital city of over five million people, superb restaurants, fascinating museums, and it's very own national park!


Is Kili or Kenya best for foodies?


No one should expect gourmet cuisine while on the side of a mountain several thousand metres up. That said, Mount Kenya is probably the better option for hikers who consider themselves foodies. Personal experience in the high mountains of Europe, Asia, and South America tell me Mount Kenya has some of the best high altitude chefs on the planet.


Is climbing Mount Kilimanjaro or Mount Kenya best for comfort?


This is a close one, but Kilimanjaro expeditions are probably more comfortable. Both mountains have huts to sleep in, with Kilimanjaro just edging it since its slopes have more modern options.

What's arguably more important is the team you complete your Kilimanjaro or Kenya expedition with. Join a True Summit Adventures expedition to either mountain and you'll be hiking with some of the most experienced porters and guides in either country, alongside top chefs, and added extras which range from private portable toilets to double mattresses and pillows (depending on which expedition you choose).


Is Mount Kilimanjaro or Mount Kenya safer to climb?


It's important to say that climbing neither Mount Kilimanjaro nor Mount Kenya is any more unsafe than tackling any high mountain or doing any outdoor activity.

The True Summit Adventures team is incredibly well-trained in everything from leading expeditions to first-aid.

More infrastructure and a greater number of climbers means there's more chance to get help if you require it on Mount Kilimanjaro, although in reality this is something you're never going to have to worry about. 


Is Mount Kilimanjaro or Mount Kenya better to climb overall?


This is impossible to say, and is really down to personal preference, so I'd advise taking a look at the expeditions we run to both!

Both are amazing mountains to climb in their own right, each with their own nuances, highlights and detractions. Mount Kenya feels wilder and more beautiful, while Mount Kilimanjaro is a bigger challenge (compared to Mount Kenya's Lenana Peak), requiring greater fitness and endurance. I love climbing both!