The Kili guidebook!
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- Complete guide to every route we’ve climbed them all!
- City/town guides Moshi, Arusha, Dar, Nairobi & Marangu
- The most comprehensive review
of all the major agencies
- Thorough guides to the history, flora, fauna & culture of Kili
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4. Can I climb it independently? Not any more. In 1991 the park authorities made it compulsory for all climbers to sign up with an agency. They in turn will provide you with a crew (consisting of a guide and his assistants, a cook and several porters). You can thus no longer turn up at the foot of Kilimanjaro with a rucksack of food and clothes and hope to do it all yourself. As the choice of which agency to sign up with is such an important one (indeed, it’s probably the most important decision you’ll make regarding your climb), we provide an extensive review of all the major ones in the guidebook. We also, of course, operate our own agency (see below).
5. How fit do I need to be? There’s no need to go overboard with fitness preparations for climbing Kili. The main reason why people fail to reach the summit is altitude sickness rather than lack of necessary strength or stamina. (Please visit our altitude and AMS section for more details on this topic.) That said, the trek will obviously be more enjoyable for you the fitter you are, so anything you can do in the way of training can only help - after all you will be walking at very high altitude for about 16 hours during the climb to the summit and back so you do need a certain degree of fitness. Kilimanjaro Fitness>>
6. How old do I need to be? The minimum legal age for climbing Kilimanjaro is ten. If you are under 16 you actually get a significant discount on the park fees of around US$90 for every day you spend on the mountain (a lot of agencies won’t tell you about this so make sure you insist on this! At the other end of the scale, there’s no limit on how old you can be to climb Kilimanjaro, with the world record held by octagenarian couple Martin and Esther Kafer.
8. How dangerous is it? There are a few deaths on Kilimanjaro every year with acute mountain sickness (AMS) and heart attacks the main causes. Very occasionally there are freak accidents too, such as lightning strikes.
9. How long does it take to climb Kilimanjaro? The minimum number of days is 5 though many agencies (including ourselves) will not sell you a trek for such a short period as it doesn’t really give you enough time to acclimatise safely. At the other extreme some groups trek for 9-10 days, though most treks are 6-8 days in length.
10. How much does it cost? Not cheap, I’m afraid. The absolute cheapest (and thus not recommended) Kilimanjaro trek will set you back about US$1200, with most companies charging US$2000-5000. That said, I should think that anybody who has climbed to the summit will agree that whatever price you pay, it will be worth it. Once again, you can find out how much the agencies are charging for 2014 in our review of them in the guidebook.
11. What’s the best time to climb? Kilimanjaro can be climbed all year round though there are a couple of rainy seasons - April-May and November-mid-December - that are best avoided. We think Jan-Feb and October are the best months as the skies tend to be clear and the mountain quieter than at other periods. More about the Kilimanjaro climate>>
12. How do I get to Kilimanjaro? The mountain has its own airport, Kilimanjaro International (JRO). KLM, Qatar Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Ethiopian and Kenyan Airways all have flights into JRO, as do a couple of minor airlines. (See our flights to Kilimanjaro section.) Some trekking agencies include flights in their overall price but more usually you’ll have to buy your own flight and their service will begin when they pick you up at JRO. You can also travel overland to Kilimanjaro.
13. What do I need to wear on Kilimanjaro? You will need to bring clothes that cover every possible weather condition, from steamy jungle to snowy sunset. You can find a complete list of what to wear and what to bring here.
14. What route up Kilimanjaro is the best? This is a matter of personal taste, of course. Personally, we prefer to keep away from the crowds, so we usually advise our clients to avoid routes such as Machame and Marangu, at least in high season when they are just too busy. The other three routes are thus our favourites though each have their disadvantages: Rongai has little forest on the way up as it starts on the drier northern side of the mountain; Umbwe is renowned as the hardest route and is quite steep in places; while Lemosho and Shira are usually a little more expensive as transport to the start is a little difficult. If your agency provides an ‘alternative’ route these are often the best as they give you the chance to get away from the crowds and may improve your chances of acclimatising and thus reaching the top safely, too. You can find out much more about the routes up Kilimanjaro while follow these links for details of our Alternative Lemosho and Unique Rongai routes.
15. What animals can I see on Kilimanjaro? There’s plenty of wildlife on Kilimanjaro, though your chances of seeing much are slim. This is largely because the animals would rather not be on the parts of the mountain where more than 50,000 people tread every year. For this reason, you’ll be lucky to see anything larger than a monkey or a mouse - though every so often somebody will write in to say that they saw a buffalo/eland/leopard/elephant on the trail. Kilimanjaro wildlife>>
16. What are the toilet facilities like on Kilimanjaro? Improving. Time was when many toilets on Kilimanjaro were so full they started to develop their own geological formation - neither stalagmite nor stalactite, but stalagshite. Thankfully, the park authorities are starting to get to grips with the problem and have built some state-of-the-art eco-toilets at the major campsites. In addition, many decent trekking companies now provide their clients with their own private toilets.
17. What language do they speak on Kilimanjaro? The national language is Swahili but on Kilimanjaro the local language is Kichagga, spoken by the Chagga people, which has several dialects. English is widely spoken, at least amongst the guides and more educated members of the mountain crews.
18. What happens if there’s an accident or somebody needs to descend? This varies from company to company and on the severity of the injury/illness but usually the injured/unwell party will be accompanied down the mountain by an assistant guide while the rest of the party continue their ascent. You can read about how we deal with trekkers who need to be evacuated here.
19. What’s the food like on the mountain? It varies from company to company, of course, but on the whole it’s hearty, healthy,wholesome - and hopefully there’s a lot of it too. Vegans/vegetarians and those with food intolerances can all be catered for as long as you give your agency enough notice. Food on Kilimanjaro>>
20. Can I use my mobile phone on Kilimanjaro? Yes, though reception is patchy. Sometimes you’ll have to go for a day or two without being able to communicate with the outside world. In the book we provide to clients we provide details of where we’ve found reception on the mountain.
Apart from the first two, the following questions are the ones we get asked the most in our capacity as the writers of the Kilimanjaro guidebook and organisers of treks too.
1. Where is Kilimanjaro? Kilimanjaro is in Tanzania, Africa, right on the border with Kenya. More>>
2. How high is it? There are various estimates as to how high it is ranging between 5892.55m and 5896m. But most people use the figure of 5895m and this is the height you will find printed on the certificates handed out to those who successfully reach the summit of Kilimanjaro. what does it look like>>
3. Can anyone climb Kilimanjaro? In one sense, yes. All the main routes up the mountain are really just walking routes so you don’t need to be a mountaineer. Sure, there are a couple of places on some routes where you may need to use your hands to steady yourself or haul yourself over a rock or two. But overall, it’s just a walk. Indeed, there are a couple of people who’ve climbed up the mountain in wheelchairs, so the ability to walk isn’t even a pre-requisite. Don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s easy, however...
Fancy trekking up the world’s most beautiful mountain? Fancy hiking through four seasons in a week, from steamy forest to snowy summit? Fancy welcoming in the new day from the highest point in Africa?
Why not let the experts help you to fulfil your ambitions. At Climb Mount Kilimanjaro (CMK), we can offer you the widest choice of treks:
All the routes...
At CMK we offer treks on all the major official routes, as well as our famous, unique
versions of the Rongai Route and the Lemosho Route - alternative trails that have
been specifically designed to provide the best the mountain has to offer: exotic
wildlife, fantastic scenery and a wonderful wilderness experience away from the crowds.
They are also routes that, we think, offer you the greatest chance of reaching the
summit. And what’s more, when possible your friends and family can now follow your
progress on the mountain too with maps, text messages, updates and photographs posted
All the dates...
Choose from our wide range of prearranged treks that allow you to share your experience with other trekkers. Alternatively, if there are two or more of you, for the same price you can arrange to have your own private trek - so you can choose both the dates you wish to climb and the route you wish to take up the mountain!
Safaris and Zanzibar trips arranged too!
Our service to you doesn’t stop when you come off the mountain. We can also sort out a safari for you around Tanzania’s famed Northern Circuit, including such legendary parks as Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti, and can also arrange your accommodation on the paradise island of Zanzibar - perfect for that post-trek chill-out! We can even arrange trips to Rwanda or Uganda to observe the mountain gorillas in their natural habitat.
To find out more about the treks, see our list of Frequently Asked Questions about our treks. We also have a page devoted to the Unique Rongai and Alternative Lemosho routes to give you an idea of what makes these routes so special. Then, when you’ve decided you want to go ahead and reserve a place or book a climb, just drop us an email and we’ll get right back to you - it’s as simple as that!
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Why book with Climb Mount Kilimanjaro?
We think our ground operators provide one of the best services both on and off the mountain - and by booking your climb through us you can enjoy several further advantages that are unique to CMK, including a cheaper rate for your trek – and a free copy of our bestselling guidebook to help you prepare properly for your expedition.
In addition, all our treks offer: