Why you shouldn’t climb Kilimanjaro

Obviously, we think you should climb Africa’s Highest Mountain, 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 climb Kilimanjaro, too.

The reasons

1) You should choose another destination for your holiday…. because this 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. Those who opted for the beach holiday will come back bronzed and beaming. But those who come back from Kilimanjaro look tired and haggard, with dusty hair and chapped lips.

That said, I seldom meet anyone who says it wasn’t worth it…

2) You shouldn’t climb Kilimanjaro because it 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.

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More reasons why you shouldn’t climb Kilimanjaro

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 there 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.

When added together, the park fees total more than US$100 per person per day. 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$2000-4000 mark.

5) You may not make it to the summit.

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 not to succeed. This is especially true if you probably endured 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.

6) You shouldn’t climb Kilimanjaro simply because it’s bad for the environment

Since we wrote this list, another major reason why you shouldn’t climb Kilimanjaro has become clear.

In fact, surely it’s the number one reason why you shouldn’t climb Kilimanjaro. Because travel abroad, particularly flying, is bad for the environment, and bad for the planet. We of course feel that it is still important to have a tourist industry on Kilimanjaro. After all, the local economy runs on it, and there would be an awful lot of people, many highly skilled such as the guides and cooks – who will be made unemployed if the tourist industry stops.

But we do recognise, of course, that the vast majority of tourists arrive into Kilimanjaro by plane, emit planet-damaging carbon dioxide gases as they fly. So it’s important, if you are flying to Kilimanjaro, that

a) You can justify to yourself that this trip is worthwhile.

And b) That you’ve done your best to offset your flight emissions – there are various schemes that enable you to do this.

The most straightforward way to do this is to offset directly with the airline that you’re flying with. This, in practice, means paying a premium on top of your ticket price. This will then be donated to a carbon offset scheme.

The above are the main reasons why you shouldn’t climb Kili. But on a previous page we outline ten reasons why you should attempt to conquer the Roof of Africa. And there are twice as many of those. So, on balance, we think it’s worth climbing Kilimanjaro.

And I know that millions of people who’ve already climbed to the Roof of Africa, would agree.

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