Kilimanjaro (Sarah Baxter)

Climb Mount Kilimanjaro


Kilimanjaro travel guide, including map of Tanzania, top Kilimanjaro experiences, tips for Kilimanjaro, when to trek Kilimanjaro and Kilimanjaro advice

Kilimanjaro is the world’s highest trekking peak. It’s Africa’s highest mountain. It’s the planet’s biggest free-standing volcano. And it’s the travel challenge of a lifetime.

Looming large in the north of Tanzania, not far from the Kenyan border, Kilimanjaro is a beacon to intrepid travellers. More than 20,000 trekkers a year attempt to reach its 5,895m summit – otherwise known as Uhuru Peak – using one of the five main Kilimanjaro routes to get there.

Whichever route up Kilimanjaro you choose, you will experience a range of terrain, from the thick rainforest of the lower slopes (where you might spot monkeys, birds and even big game), to the lobelia-dotted valleys further up, to the barren moonscapes of the highest altitudes.

You won’t be alone: Kilimanjaro is a popular trek, especially the well-worn Marangu (hutted) and Machame (camping) routes. And you will have a vast crew of guides, cooks and porters looking after you as you ascend: a group of ten trekkers might expect to have more than 30 support staff.

You will need all this help: Kilimanjaro is hard work. Generally the gradients on Kilimanjaro aren’t super steep (with some notable exceptions) but the extremely high altitude makes every footstep a massive effort.

Plus most groups ascend rather too quickly: a round trip up the mountain and down again is generally made in between four and six days, though some companies will go slower – if you have the time and money, a longer trip is highly recommended and will greatly increase your chance of success.

Yes, success: a significant proportion of would-be Kilimanjaro summiteers don’t make it to the top, often defeated by the altitude. But don’t let that put you off. Kilimanjaro is hard, high, sweaty, basic, exhausting, possibly leading to failure.

But it is also, without doubt, one of the most rewarding, awe-inspiring and life-changing experiences open to the regular traveller. With a bit of preparation and a lot of determination, anyone can have a go. What are you waiting for?

Further Reading

Kilimanjaro Top 5

  1. Consider trekking the Rongai route to the summit. There are several routes up the mountain, but fewer people use this one, so trails are less congested, and there is a better chance of spotting wildlife at the lower altitudes – maybe even elephants.
  2. Consider making your Kilimanjaro trek a charity challenge – many companies organise fundraising treks, where you get a subsidised trip in exchange for raising a set amount of money for a good cause. And if Cheryl Cole can do it...
  3. Enjoy the challenge – summitting Kilimanjaro is no walk in the park, and as such the rush you get from standing on the peak is immense, as are the views over the clouds. This is not a holiday in the standard sense, it is so much more: you'll be buzzing from the achievement for years.
  4. Learn some words of Swahili – your guides and porters will appreciate it. The team of locals looking after you is your lifeline on the mountain; chat to them at the end of each day and find out more about their lives – it adds a fascinating human element to this mountain challenge.
  5. Combine your Kilimanjaro trek with a well-earned rest on Tanzania’s
    Indian Ocean isle of Zanzibar or with explorations of the nearby game parks of northern Tanzania – try Ngorongoro Crater for great chances of rhino sightings.

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