– Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa at 5,895 meters above sea level and the highest free-standing mountain in the world. Mount Kilimanjaro is stratovolcano mountain with its three volcanic cones, “Kibo” 5,895 metres, “Mawenzi” 5,149 meters, and “Shira” 3,962 meters. Its volcano is currently not active.
The name Kilimanjaro has no certain origin, but one of the most popular theories is that it came from KILMA NJARO meaning “shining mountain” in Swahili. The shiny snow on the peak led nearby residents to believe that evil spirits guarded the mountain. Humans have lived on or around Mount Kilimanjaro since at least 1000BC.
It is generally accepted that the outside world became aware of Kilimanjaro during the first or second century AD. A hearsay account repeated by Ptolemy of Alexandria, astronomer and the founder of scientific cartography, wrote of lands in East Africa lying near a wide shallow bay and where, inland, one could find a ‘great snow mountain’. After 1500 AD the Portuguese displaced the Arabs as the major traders of the land. They explored the inland more than previous visitors to the region. The Portuguese made mention of Kilimanjaro in a book, Suma de Geographia, published in 1519, with an account of a journey to Mombasa by the Spanish cartographer, astronomer and ship’s pilot Fernandes de Encisco believed Kilimanjaro to be the source of the Nile river.
The 1800s brought European and British interest in the Mountain. It was accepted belief that the great white mountain a couple of hundred miles from the coast was the source of the Nile. The first European to set eyes on Kilimanjaro was Swiss-German Christian missionary by the name of Johannes Rebmann in 1848. The shiny snow on the peak led nearby residents to believe that evil spirits guarded the mountain. Because they saw fellow tribe members attempt the climb only to disappear or to return deformed from frostbite, the Chagga people—who live at the base of the mountain—for centuries had no desire to climb the mountain they believed was full of evil spirits. Three hikes of mountain were undertaken by Johannes between 1848-49.
In 1889, German geographer Hans Meyer and Austrian mountain climber Ludwig Purtscheller were the first to climb Kilimanjaro, shortly after Tanzania had been annexed by Germany. Since Kilimanjaro was now the highest point in the German Empire, Meyer promptly named the topmost peak on the crater rim Kaiser Wilhelm Spitz, in honor of the German emperor. After Tanzania gained its independence in 1963, the peak was renamed Point Uhuru (Swahili for “freedom”).
Kilimanjaro has gained prominence lately as one of the seven summits, the highest mountains on each of the seven continents. But rising in isolation 17,000 feet above the surrounding plain, and the breath taking climatic transitions, it is an awesome — and rewarding — mountain in its own right.
1. Ease of Ascent
Kilimanjaro is technically the easiest to climb of the Seven Summits . You don’t need ropes or special mountaineering gear, or even any previous mountain climbing experience. The youngest person to reach the summit was six years old, and the eldest (as of 2011), was 83. That does not mean Kilimanjaro is risks-free. Rockslides and acute altitude sickness kill ten climbers on average each year
2. Unspoiled and Immaculate
Kilimanjaro remains astonishingly spotless. While the base camp of Everest is strewn with trash, Kilimanjaro National Park is surprisingly clean. Park Rangers weigh all the bags coming on and off the mountain and trekking companies pay heavy fines if the bags come down light. This greatly reduces dumping on the trail.
3. Natural Wonder
Kilimanjaro one of the world’s greatest natural wonders: a snow-covered mountain on the equator, an ocean of green forest surrounded by dry savannah. Kilimanjaro is also a sky island. Its high altitudes have created habitat for strange and unique life forms found only on a few other peaks on the planet, such as the delicate elephant flower and the bizarre Kilimanjaro tree.
Mount Kilimanjaro is best serviced by Kilimanjaro International Airport which positioned halfway between Arusha and Moshi, and international flights land on this airport. Arusha airport services domestic routes. Direct flights from Europe into Kilimanjaro International Airport are available in Amsterdam and Frankfurt. So, if you are in the Northern hemisphere it would viable to transfer to Amsterdam or Frankfurt or ideally you my fly directly to Johannesburg or Nairobi and further connect to Kilimanjaro. Road travel to Moshi or Arusha for your overnight accommodation is approximately 1½ hours.
Weather & Best Time To Visit
Due to Mount Kilimanjaro’s proximity to the equator, this region does not experience the extremes of winter and summer weather, but rather dry and wet seasons. Therefore, the best time to climb Kilimanjaro tends to be the warmest and driest months. It is possible to climb Kilimanjaro year-round, however it is best to climb when there is a lower possibility of precipitation. The dry seasons are from the beginning of December through the beginning of March, and then from late June through the end of October. These are considered to be the best times to climb in terms of weather, and correspondingly are the busiest months (high season).
The ascent of Mount Kilimanjaro can represent a major (physical) challenge depending on each individual’s age and personal condition and therefore it is highly recommendable you consult your General Practitioner to give you specific advice on how to get prepared for the ascent. Additionally, he/she will refer you to specialists if necessary, whom you can consult for the respective matters regarding your journey. It is probably wise for everybody who wants to climb Mount Kilimanjaro to see an allergist, since presumably you will eat foods unknown to your body. People who are prone to allergic reactions should pay special attention to this issue.
Health & Safety
Kilimanjaro is unique in that its tropical malaria-endemic location means that many trekkers will be on antimalarial drugs and may need to continue them after their climb, particularly if they are also visiting game parks and staying overnight at altitudes <1,800 m. If a traveller flew directly into Kilimanjaro International Airport and went the same day to an altitude above 1,800 m, there would be no risk of malaria. However, most people will be on safari or traveling before or after their Kilimanjaro trip, and therefore will be on prophylaxis.
Every year, approximately 1,000 people are evacuated from the mountain, and approximately 10 deaths are reported. The actual number of deaths is believed to be two to three times higher. The main cause of death is altitude sickness. The main cause of altitude sickness is going too high (altitude) too quickly (rate of ascent). Given enough time, your body will adapt to the decrease in oxygen at a specific altitude. This process is known as acclimatization and generally takes one to three days at any given altitude. Several changes take place in the body which enable it to cope with decreased oxygen.
There are seven main trekking routes to the summit peak. Trekkers on all but the Marangu route must use tents. Officially the threshold maximum is 60 climbers per route per day is in place on Kilimanjaro, however this limit is never imposed, with the exception of the Marangu route, which has a constraint of hut accommodation capacity.
A trek on this route is typically sold as a four-night, five-day return package, although at least one extra night is highly recommended to help you acclimatise, especially if you’ve just flown into Tanzania or arrived from the lowlands.
This increasingly popular route has a gradual ascent, including a spectacular day contouring the southern slopes before approaching the summit via the top section of the Mweka route. Usually a six- or seven-day return.
Steeper and with a more direct way to the summit than the other routes; very enjoyable if you can resist the temptation to gain altitude too quickly (aim for at least a six-day return). Although this route is direct, the top, very steep section up the Western Breach is often covered in ice or snow, which makes it impassable or extremely dangerous. Many trekkers who attempt it without proper acclimatisation are forced to turn back. An indication of its seriousness is that until fairly recently the Western Breach was considered a technical mountaineering route. Only consider this route if you’re experienced, properly equipped and travelling with a reputable operator.
The Rongai route is one of the least frequented of the official Kilimanjaro routes. The good part of this is that there are not many climbers and for the bulk of the trek you are walking through untouched wilderness and spectacular terrain. The drawback of this route that has made it unpopular is it’s topography does not make it easy to acclimatise as you can’t easily follow the “walk high, sleep low” principle.
This popular route starts near the Kenyan border and goes up the northern side of the mountain.
Shira Plateau route
This route is scenic and good for avoiding crowds, but can be challenging for acclimatisation as it begins at 3600m at the Shira Track trailhead. To counteract this, an extra day at Shira Hut is recommended. Better – choose the Lemosho Route, which is essentially the same, but with the advantage that it starts lower at Londorosi gate and is normally done in eight days (rather than six or seven for Shira Plateau).
On the western side of the mountain, this is arguably the best all-round route for scenery and acclimatisation. It starts with two days in the forest before crossing the Shira Plateau and then joining up with the Machame route.
Northern Circuit route
This route – the longest (eight to 10 days) – initially follows the same path as the Shira Plateau route before turning north near Lava Tower and then continuing around the northern (‘back’) side of Kilimanjaro before tackling the summit via Gilman’s Point.
While the tag Mount Kilimanjaro suggests metaphors of tall mountaintops, the name also refers to national park that encircles the famed mountain. Although numerous visitors come here for climbing, there’s more to appreciate and do in the bounds of the national park.
Most visitors who come to the park want to either see or climb Kilimanjaro. Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro requires hiring a licensed guide, as solo climbers are not allowed. The easiest climb is via the Marangu Route, which takes five to six days to get you to the summit. The Machame Route takes about the same time but is more scenic and more rustic, as well as more strenuous. Hiking time varies from three to eight hours per day and you will need to be in good shape.
Out of the approximately 140 mammal species that live in the park, 87 of them are forest species. Animals that roam here include elephants, leopards, buffaloes, varies antelopes including the rare and endangered abbot duiker as well as primates such as the colobus and the mitis monkey. In addition hereto, 24 species of bats and 179 highland bird species have also been spotted in the Kilimanjaro National Park.
Chala Crater Lake
Straddling the Kenyan border some 30kms east of Moshi as the crow flies, this roughly circular crater lake, a full 3kms wide yet invisible until you virtually topple over rim, is one of northern Tanzania’s true off-the-beaten-track scenic gems. This brilliant turquoise water, hemmed in by sheer cliffs draped in tropical greenery, is an arresting sight at any time, and utterly fantastic when Kilimanjaro emerges from the clouds to the immediate west. Not for the fainted hearted, a very steep footpath leads from the rim to the edge of the lake, it’s translucent waters plunging near-vertically to an undetermined depth from the rocky shore. Abundant life aside, wildlife is short supply, though Chala, in common with many other African crater lakes, is said locally to harbour its due quota of mysterious and menacing beasties.
Travellers can also join hiking tours that explore the lower levels of the mountain, around the Shira Plateau. Most hikes take three days and require you to sleep in mountain camps. Expect steep trails and lots of climbing over rocks and tree roots, as these are not well maintained, smooth trails. Hikes will take you to see craters, giant ferns, wildlife and plenty of scenic views.
When is the best time to climb Kilimanjaro?
Mount Kilimanjaro can be climbed anytime throughout the year. Most travellers prefer climbing during the dry seasons: December to March, June to October. Many consider the best months to climb Kilimanjaro to be January, February and September.
Does climbing Kilimanjaro involve technicalities?
The trek up Kilimanjaro is not a technical climb. You do not require any mountaineering equipment to reach the summit. In fact, anyone in good physical condition can reach the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. You should be able to run for at least half an hour without feeling shortness of breath. You should also be able to walk for at least 2 hours in hilly terrains without feeling overly exhausted.
Are park fees included in your price?
Yes, all Tanzania National Park (TANAPA) fees are included in our Kilimanjaro price. Currently, the conservation fees at Kilimanjaro National Park are: US$70 per person per day and US$50 per person per night for camping. Crew entry fees and Tanzanian Forest Services Agency (TFS) fees (applicable for Rongai, Shira and Lemosho routes) are also included in our Kilimanjaro price.
Can children climb Kilimanjaro?
The minimum age limit set by Kilimanjaro National Park for children trekking to Uhuru Peak on Mount Kilimanjaro is 10 years old.
How long does it take to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro?
Depending on the route chosen, most trekkers take 4-6 days to reach the summit. The longer you spend on the mountain, the more time your body gets to acclimatise, the higher the chance you will succeed in reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro.
Can we leave excess luggage behind whilst trekking Kilimanjaro?
Yes, any excess luggage you do not need to carry with you on Mount Kilimanjaro. You should keep valuable items with you at all times.
How many Guides will we have?
You will have one lead guide and an assistant guide for 2-3 climbers.
For 4-6 climbers, you will have one lead guide and 2 assistant guides.
For 7-8 climbers, you will have one lead guide and 3 assistant guides.
For 9-10 climbers, you will have one lead guide and 4 assistant guides.
How many Porters will accompany us?
You will have 4-6 porters per person for your group. This depends on your group size and the weight of your luggage. The porters will carry all the tents, food, and the luggage that you do not require while hiking so you will only need to carry a day pack during the day.
What happens if one member of the group gets sick while trying to reach the summit?
Because you will have many guides and assistant guides, an assistant will take the ill person down while the rest of the group goes on. If the person is very very sick then we call for a dispatch for stretcher – the rescue fee is included in your quote. But before reaching that point, our guides are very careful and they will monitor the health of everyone everyday on the mountain to make sure that the sickness does not get to that point.
Tel: +27 87 700 6315
65 Casa Bella, 247 Sullivan Street, Centurion, Pretoria, South Africa, 0157
Mon – Fri 08.00 – 17.00
Sat – Sun 08h00 – 12h30