Kilimanjaro: Why you shouldn’t

Obviously, we think you should climb Kili, and on a separate page we give ten good reasons why. But in the interests of balance, and  in order to allow you to make an informed judgement on whether to climb Africa’s highest mountain, it’s only fair that we provide several reasons why you shouldn’t, too.

The reasons

1) It isn’t a holiday. Or at least it’s not your average, relaxing holiday. Sure, there’s plenty of fun to be had but this isn’t exactly a fortnight in Tenerife. It is genuinely hard work getting to the top and while those who opted for the beach holiday will come back bronzed and beaming, those who come of Kilimanjaro look tired and haggard, with dusty hair and chapped lips the norm. That said, I seldom meet anyone who says it wasn’t worth it…

2) Kilimanjaro can be dangerous. Though we’re just guessing, we (and several other trekking operators) estimate that about ten people perish every year on the mountain, while many more are forced to evacuate with serious altitude sickness or other ailments.

3) It can be painful. Even those who do make it to the top successfully usually have to endure headaches, nausea and other symptoms while ascending.

4) It’s expensive. Many are the people who think that, because Tanzania is a poor country, so a visit to it will be cheap. Unfortunately, the Tanzanian authorities recognise that their natural resources – by which we mean their terrain, landscape, flora and fauna – are perhaps their most lucrative sources of foreign exchange and charge tourists accordingly. Park fees on Kilimanjaro when added together are more than US$100 per day, for example, and that’s before the food, transport and the wages of your crew are included. No wonder that the average trek is around the US$2000-3000 mark.

5) You may not make it to the summit. Again estimates vary but for most mid-range and luxury trekking companies the success rate for getting to the top is above 90%. But that still means a few people ‘fail’ – and among the cheaper agencies the figures are significantly higher. While most people who don’t make it to Uhuru still admit that they enjoyed the experience,  and many come back to try again, it is undoubtedly disappointing if you don’t succeed, especially as you probably spent many hours of training and spent a lot of money on the trip. And what is most  cruel of all, of course, is that the main reason people fail is because of the altitude – for which no amount of training or money can combat.