Ultimate Kilimanjaro Guide

Everything you might want to know about climbing Kilimanjaro


All the important questions answered regarding climbing Kilimanjaro in our Ultimate Kilimanjaro guide!

Where is Kilimanjaro?

Mount Kilimanjaro is located near the city of Moshi, in northeastern Tanzania, East Africa near the border with Kenya. It lies within Kilimanjaro National Park, which encompasses the mountain and its surrounding area.

How do you get to Kilimanjaro?

To get to Kilimanjaro, you typically fly to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO). Many airlines fly JRO, although none direct from the U.K. 

British Airways flies to Nairobi which is a one hour flight from JRO, otherwise Qatar Airways, Emirates and KLM fly direct to JRO via Doha, Dubai and Amsterdam respectively.

How high is Kilimanjaro?

Kilimanjaro stands 5,895m above sea level making it the tallest mountain in Africa and also the highest free-standing mountain in the world. Only Mt Kenya, 5199m and Mt Stanley (Uganda) 5109m come close to its size.

How many people attempt Kilimanjaro each year?

Around 50,000 people each year with around 30,000 making it to the summit. It is worth noting that summit success rates vary massively between routes, specifically time taken for the ascent.

Which is the most popular route on Kilimanjaro?

The Marangu Route, affectionately known as the Coca-Cola Route is the most popular. It is the only route that offers hut accommodation instead of camping. 

What is the luxury way to experience Kilimanjaro?

Definitely with True Summit Adventures on our private Marangu Route trip.

The Marangu route has a limited number of private, 2 person huts which have en-suite bathrooms, albeit basic ones. This is the most comfortable way to experience Kilimanjaro and we send a Dr for safety and peace of mind on our private Marangu Route adventures.

Is there a good hotel to recover at post climbing Kilimanjaro?

The Gran Melia Arusha is a genuine 5* hotel in Arusha that has amazing restaurants and spa. 

What is the best time of year to climb Kilimanjaro?

You want to be climbing during the dry season although in theory it is possible to climb all year round. January to mid-March and June to October are the dry season months where conditions are more favourable and there is less rain.

What are the risks of getting altitude sickness on Kilimanjaro?

The shorter your ascent then the higher the likelihood of getting altitude sickness of Kilimanjaro. We suggest people to climb for at least 6 days, but prefer 7 or 8 - this gives the body the best chance to acclimatise. On the 7 Day Machame Route we have never had anyone not summit or have to descend for altitude.

What tips can you give to avoid getting altitude sickness on Kilimanjaro?

Pick a longer itinerary to give you lots of time to acclimatise.

Drink lots of water or tea.

Walk slowly between camps.

Take paracetamol if you get a headache.

Do you need any technical experience for Kilimanjaro?

No. The routes (bar the rarely attempted Western Breach) are not technical and are genuine high altitude treks requiring no technical mountaineering skills or experience. 

How hard is scaling the Baranco Wall?

It looks harder than it is. Climbers on the Machame / Lemosho Route often get nervous when they see the Baranco Wall, descending to the Baranco Camp from the Lava Tower, but in reality it is a very gentle scramble. Most guests consider it to be a highlight of the climb.

How fit do you need to be to climb Kilimanjaro?

You do not have to be an ultra marathon runner to climb Kilimanjaro. That said it is good to arrive prepared but anyone who can walk up hill for 6 to 7 hours a day, at a sensible speed for multiple days in a row can take on Kilimanjaro and summit. A good test that you are ready is you can walk 20km on consecutive days or can complete a 10km run un under 1 hour.

What equipment do you need to climb Kilimanjaro?

It is likely you can re-purpose a lot of things that you already have from skiing or the gym for Kilimanjaro, but try to adhere to the kit list and remember you can layer up for warmth. The main things to focus on are your footwear, thick down jacket, waterproofs and your gloves for the summit night. If it looks like there might a lot of rain during your trip then buy a poncho to go over your waterproofs.

What is the best way to prepare to climb Kilimanjaro?

Lots of walking and ideally walking with incline. Kilimanjaro requires walking for 5 - 7 hours a day for multiple days in a row so prepare for that by walking at least 10,000 steps a day and try to get out at least once a week for a longer walk. Download our 12 week training plan for more information on how best to prepare. 

How much should I tip on Kilimanjaro?

Tipping the crew is part of mountaineering culture all over the world. This is best done by pooling tips from all the guests on an expedition and giving it collectively to the Head Guide (and one or two other guides / porters) to ensure fairness. For Kilimanjaro we recommend tipping at least $250 pp. If someone has gone above and beyond for you - a guide has carried your day sack for example then you can tip them personally outside of the pool.

What else should you do in Tanzania when coming to clim Kilimanjaro?

The Materuni Waterfall trek is a great way to warm up for your Kilimanjaro climb. The waterfall is impressive - over 20m high. It takes about an hour and a half to walk there from the point at which they park the transport - itself about 45 minutes drive from Moshi. Expect to pay $90 for the day - this will include a driver, guide, transfer and lunch at a local village where they will also show you how coffee is made. 

Definitely take a safari post climb! With Tarangire, Ngorogoro and Serengeti National Parks very close to Moshi, all of which have the 'Big 5' and thousands of other flora and fauna and accommodation options to suit all budgets, it is the perfect opportunity for one of the best experiences you can have in your lifetime.

Visit Neema Village - we have been a supporter of Neema since our first expedition to Kilimanjaro in 2021. The child orphanage and baby rescue centre in Arusha does vital work for the most vulnerable children in Tanzania. Visiting is a powerful experience - both heart warming and heart breaking at the same time.

What should I take to Kilimanjaro that I might not have thought of or that won't be on a packing list?

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