The #1 Kilimanjaro Climbing Guide – everything you need to know to prepare for your trek 2018-09-28T18:54:50+00:00


Unbiased, comprehensive – and the #1 Kilimanjaro guide since 2001


There are various estimates as to how high it is. But most people use the figure of 5895m, or 19,341ft. This is the height you will find printed on the certificates handed out to those who successfully reach the summit. You can find out more about the mountain’s appearance by following this link: What does Kilimanjaro look like>>

Kilimanjaro’s main claim to fame is that it is the highest Mountain in Africa. It is also said to be the tallest free-standing mountain in the world. In other words, it’s not part of a mountain range but stands all by itself in the heart of the East African plains. 

Kilimanjaro is in northern Tanzania, right against the border with Kenya, in East Africa. 

For details on how to travel to the mountain, please visit our Getting to Kilimanjaro section.

The latest figures that have been released by the park authorities show that there were 44,403 people who tried to climb it in 2016. This is down from over 50,000 in 2014 & 2015.

The percentage of people getting to the summit varies according to the route, the duration of the climb and the trekking company that they used, but we reckon that, as a rough guide, about 75% of people make it to the summit. Though many companies will claim a success rate well above 90% for some routes.

Figures are never released by the authorities for fear of generating bad publicity. But extrapolating from the only academic study done on this subject, we estimate that there are approximately 6-7 deaths every year.

You can read our post on this subject here: Deaths on Kilimanjaro>>

The first person to climb to the summit is believed to be Hans Meyer, a geology professor from Leipzig in Germany. You can read about his exploits on our Kilimanjaro conquered page , part of the Kilimanjaro History section of this website.

You need to be at least ten years old to climb Africa’s highest mountain. (Incidentally, there are huge discounts on the park fees for under 16s – amounting, for example, to over US$700 for a six-day Machame trek. Make sure these are passed onto you. Many companies, even expensive ones, don’t pass on all of the discount. If you want to know how much your discount should be, just contact us.) There are currently three seven-year-olds who have climbed it to the top (all of whom had to get special permission for doing so.) At the other extreme,  the oldest person ever to make it was 88 when he made it to the top. More>>

The minimum number of days is 5. The park authorities, KINAPA, won’t allow you on any of the routes for less than this minimum (unless you are on a day-trip, in which case you aren’t allowed to go very high on the mountain). Many agencies will not sell you a trek for five days as it doesn’t really give you enough time to acclimatise safely. We don’t recommend you take just five days either – it is simply too dangerous. At the other extreme some groups trek for 9-10 days. Most treks, however, are 6-8 days in length. The Golden Rule to remember is this: the longer you spend on the mountain, the greater your chances of getting to the summit.

There’s plenty of wildlife on the mountain, though your chances of seeing much are slim. This is largely because the animals prefer to avoid those parts of the mountain where more than 40,000 people tread every year. For this reason, you’ll be lucky to see anything larger than a monkey or a mouse. That said, every so often a reader will write in to say that they saw a buffalo, eland, leopard or elephant on the trail. Wildlife>>

The national language is Swahili. But 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. The Chagga people>>


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  • Strong ethical policy towards our porters and the environment
  • …And a lot less expensive than you’d think!

THE BIG QUESTIONS: Want to climb Kilimanjaro? This is what you need to know….

What company should I choose?

They can help you reach the summit – or they can kill you! Check out our advice on choosing a climbing company.

Booking your trek >

How to make your trek cheaper – and how not to >

What should be included in your trek >

The routes up Kilimanjaro - a wooden sign at the start of the Machame Trail

 What’s the best route to the top?

Six official routes lead to the summit – but what’s the one you should take? 

What’s the best time to climb?

Kilimanjaro has two main trekking seasons and you can climb it any day of the year – but what’s the best time to climb?

How much does it cost to climb Kilimanjaro?

Take a look at why it’s is such an expensive mountain to climb – and how you can take measures to make it cheaper.

What should I take for my Kili climb?

From underpants to iphones, sleeping bags to champagne – what to bring with you for your climb.

How fit do I need to be?

The more exercise you do down here, the more you’ll enjoy it up there! Check out our fitness page to find out how you can get ‘Kili ready’. 

THE SLIGHTLY SMALLER QUESTIONS: Other stuff that people often ask….


This website is divided into four main sections, which together provide you with pretty much all the basics you need to know to plan and prepare properly for your trek. Hover over the images below to see what you can find in each section:


For over 16 years our guide has been considered the Bible for anyone wanting to climb Kilimanjaro. It is used by everyone from porters to park rangers, trekking agencies and tourist offices.

Plus, of course, tens of thousands of trekkers just like you.

‘Stedman’s wonderfully down-to-earth, practical guide..’ Longitude Books (New York)

‘A model of what a guidebook should be’ David Dean

‘A top pick. It covers everything… Any travel collection needs this’ California Bookwatch

‘Comprehensive and informative….’ Wanderlust magazine

‘Contains almost everything you could possibly want to know’ Strider magazine

‘You wouldn’t want to be without this book if heading for Kili’ Backpack magazine

‘Stedman is a Kili obsessive…and that shows on every page’ Trek & Mountain magazine

What people are reading at the moment…

What’s been happening…

The best times to climb in 2019? Lunar eclipses and other astronomical phenomena that you can see from Kilimanjaro

October 15th, 2018|

Looking to climb Kilimanjaro next year, but having trouble settling on a date. One [...]

Scottish woman with no hands or feet reaches summit of Kili

October 9th, 2018|

A Scottish woman is believed to have become the world's first quadruple amputee to [...]

Is the Machame Route a victim of its own success?

August 17th, 2018|

For over a decade now the Machame Route has been Kilimanjaro’s most popular trail. [...]

Altitude sickness…

Acute mountain sickness, altitude sickness, AMS, mountain fever  – whatever you call it, it’s the main reason why people fail to reach the summit.

It’s Kili’s number one killer too!

Read on to find out how to avoid altitude sickness, how to spot it – and what to do if you get it!

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Just ask! 

  • What’s the best trekking company for my budget?
  • What safari should I go on after my Kilimanjaro trek?
  • Will my dietary requirements be catered for on Kili?

Whatever your question, JUST ASK – I’m happy to help!

And don’t worry, I promise in response I won’t try to sell you one of our treks!