The Ultimate Kilimanjaro Guide for Trekkers From All Over the World

Mount Kilimanjaro camp, Tanzania, Africa

More and more people around the world today are thirsty for adventure. One of the “thirsts” is to climb an iconic mountain.

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If you’re eyeing on trekking that iconic snow-peaked mountain, but the planning stage seems daunting to you, here’s a complete guide (with recommendations from locals, expert guides and experienced travelers):

Did you know?

  • ◉ The world has this so-called “Seven Summits” which is composed of the highest peaks of each continent and Kili is one them.
  • ◉ Standing tremendously at 5,895 meters or 19,340 feet above sea level, Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest peak and the world’s tallest free-standing mountain.
  • ◉ Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the seven Natural Wonders of Africa. NO DOUBT ABOUT THAT.
  • ◉ Despite being only 3 degrees south of the Equator, Mount Kilimanjaro’s peak is snow-covered all year round. WOW.
  • ◉ Kili is a massive strato-volcano. It once had three volcanic cones: Mawenzi, Shira and Kibo. Mawenzi and Shira are now extinct. Shira has collapsed and evolved into Shira Plateau. Kibo, on the other hand, is a dormant volcano that could erupt again one day. Its last eruption was 360,000 years ago. 
  • ◉ Uhuru peak is Mount Kilimanjaro’s summit, the highest point on Kibo.
  • ◉ Wildlife and unique flora persist in the mountain. In fact, Mount Kilimanjaro’s high altitude created habitats for many exotic life forms including groundsel plants, Kilimanjaro tree and Lobelia deckenii. 25 species of bats, 25 species of antelope, 7 species of primates and 179 species of birds have been recorded on the mountain. Tree hyriaxes, bush babies and if you’re lucky, elephants, leopard, lions and even rhinos can be seen wandering around the slopes. On the summit, only a species of lichen is found because it’s too cold and dry for anything else to survive.
  • ◉ It has been estimated that Mt Kilimanjaro will be snow-free in 20 to 50 years due to global warming and deforestation.
  • ◉ Temperatures on Mount Kilimanjaro range from very hot to bitter cold, promising an unforgettable journey that feels like traveling from the equator to Antarctica in just a matter of days. HOW COOL IS THAT?
  • ◉ The entire United States supports seven climatic zones. Mount Kilimanjaro itself has five! Each zone is subject to a corresponding decrease in rainfall, temperature and life as the altitude increases. A-MA-ZING.
  • ◉ The five climatic zones in Kili are: cultivation (coffee and fruit plantations, farm lands), rainforest (part of the mountain that’s most inhabited by wildlife), heather-moorland (shrubs and unique plant species can be seen everywhere), alpine desert (unique, barren landscape that features volcanic rocks), and glacier summit (the snow-capped peak). So if you think about it, traversing through Kili on the way to the top is like walking into different worlds in a span of 5-6 days!
  • ◉ Climbers who reach the summit get to write in the book stored in a wooden box at Uhuru. LET’S MAKE HISTORY!

Where is Kilimanjaro exactly and how can I get there?

Mount Kilimanjaro sits in Kilimanjaro National Park in Tanzania, East Africa. To get there, visitors fly into Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) in Arusha, a small town in northern Tanzania. From Arusha, you can take a bus, a charter plane or a private vehicle (usually via a tour operator) to Kilimanjaro National Park which is about 30 minutes drive away.

Alternatively, you can fly into either Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) in Nairobi, Kenya or Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR) in Dar es Salaam, southern Tanzania. International flights into these hubs are more ample and are also relatively cheaper. Domestic flights and road travel are then used to transit to Kilimanjaro or Arusha.

Having trouble where to start? Which airline to check? Find out all about these and more by checking out the tabs below:

You can click table to enlarge. This table only displays direct nonstop flights and one-stop flights. Flights with multiple layovers are not included, but you can check availability with your preferred airline. Rates set to USD.   Flights from US to Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
You can click table to enlarge. This table only displays direct nonstop flights and one-stop flights. Flights with multiple layovers are not included, but you can check availability with your preferred airline. Rates set to USD. Flights from UK Europe to Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
You can click table to enlarge. This table only displays direct nonstop flights and one-stop flights. Flights with multiple layovers are not included, but you can check availability with your preferred airline. Rates set to USD.   Flights from Asia to Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
You can click table to enlarge. This table only displays direct nonstop flights and one-stop flights. Flights with multiple layovers are not included, but you can check availability with your preferred airline. Rates set to USD.   Flights from Australia New Zealand to Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

How to climb Kilimanjaro

There are 7 established routes to trek Mt. Kili. Each route features varying trekking grades that will suit every visitor’s abilities. Whether you’re a novice traveler with zero climbing experience or a trained mountain climber who’ve conquered multiple peaks across the globe, Kilimanjaro has something in store for you!

Check out the routes to trek Kili, and all the basic 411 you need to know (Click to enlarge):

Kilimanjaro trekking routes complete information guide



 

Is there an age restriction to climbing Kilimanjaro?

YES. 10 years old is the minimum age allowed to climb Kilimanjaro. BUT if you’re bringing a child under 10 and the child is:

  • ◉ able to acclimatize well,
  • ◉ equipped with notable climbing or hiking experience,
  • ◉ to be accompanied by a seasoned trekker,

you are welcome to attain approval for exceptions from Kilimanjaro National Park Authority. There have been instances where they granted the approval. In fact, the youngest person to ever climb Kilimanjaro is 7 years old. The oldest is 87.

Is it possible to climb Kili without a guide?

NO. The government of Tanzania as well as the Kilimanjaro National Park Authority regulated the policy on unsupported treks to Mount Kilimanjaro, mandating all climbers to register with the Authorities and and be accompanied by a registered licensed guide.

Appropriate camping gears and cooking equipment are also required. Climbers will also have porters and a support crew, depending on the number of climbers in a group. Budget treks offered by tour operators usually involve lesser people on the team which means porters may not be available and climbers may need to actually help carry the gears and cooking equipment. To maintain safety during the trek and increase the chance of reaching the summit successfully, each trekker is only allowed to carry up to 12 kg.

Looking for the most ideal tour operator to take you to a greater height of adventure? Contact me for honest recommendations.

When is the best time to climb Mount Kili?

Being a year-round destination, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is excellent at anytime of the year. But of course, considering the weather among other factors, the best time to trek the mountain is when chance of precipitation is low. Trekkers and guides recommend between January and February or July to October. To summarize, here’s a month-by-month run-through:

Mount Kilimanjaro FAQ best time to visit month by month

How much will a trek to Kilimanjaro cost?

The cost to climb Mount Kilimanjaro varies, and factors like the route, number of people on your support crew and number of people in your group affect the pricing. Typically, a climb costs about $1500 to $4000 (£1077 to £2870) or more per person sans the tips and other special orders. Park entrance fee, camping fee and taxes alone cost an average of $185 per day. But then again, the adventure that awaits is one that couldn’t be paid, right?

For Visas and Entry Requirements, refer to their official website here or here. Also, don’t forget to check travel advisories as well as CDC.

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is indeed a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I receive requests for articles, queries for travel, feedback from experiences and even some updates from the locals about Kilimanjaro on almost a weekly basis. One thing I learned? The mountain is what mountain climbing dreams are made of! So yes, I haven’t climbed the iconic Kili yet, but rest assured that the info on this guide is based on factual details from local guides and tour operators as well as real experiences from actual travelers as my work circles around these things. When I do get the chance to go, you can definitely count on me to blog about every single detail 😉 For now, I hope this info helps! 🙂

Last update: September 2018

“…as wide as all the world, great, high and unbelievably white in the sun” 
~ Ernest Hemingway, The Snows of Kilimanjaro ~



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