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Q: What is the Best Time of Year for Climbing Kilimanjaro?
A: The absolute best months for climbing are January, February, and September, though one could easily climb throughout the year. July/August can be colder. November/December can be wetter. January-March are the warmest months, almost clear of clouds each evening and morning. Later in the day clouds will build, and there may be a few brief rain/snow showers.
The main rainy season begins at the end of March and lasts through the end of May. After that the temperatures will still be warm, but massive clouds will block visibility, while dropping snow on the summit and heavy rain on the lower slopes.
The long dry season follows, and by early July and into August it can be quite cold with clear skies. It grows steadily warmer throughout September and into October, when daytimes are clear, frequently a dripping belt of mist girdles the mountain at the moorland zone (11,000 ft - 13,000 ft), leaving the summit and other peaks peaking through the clouds. Short rains return in November and last into December, when afternoon thunderstorms are common. However, by evening the clouds usually disappear, allowing for great visibility in the evenings, mornings, and nights revealing stunning views of the stars.
Q: Which Kilimanjaro Route Should I Climb?
A: There are seven park gates and nine routes, yet only three routes to the top from 15,000' upward.
About 4 out of 5 of trekkers climb the highly traveled Marangu Route which is also know as the "Coca Cola" route due to the fact that it goes down easy just like the drink. This is the route made popular by the recent IMAX film.
Most of the rest either climb the Marangu Route, Rongai, or the rugged Umbwe Route. If you have more time the Shira route enjoys the highest success rate.
We would highly recommend the Machame route which is know as the "whiskey route" due to the fact that it is a little harder to "swallow". This route allows for proper acclimatization by hiking to higher elevations during the day and then returning to lower elevations to sleep. It also has some of the best scenery. Since you start on the western side of the mountain and then traverse around the southern side and eventually make your way to the summit on the eastern side you get a chance to see more of the mountain
We also recommend the Rongai Route. This is considered on of the easiest routes up the mountain and connects up with the Marangu route on the third day.
Q: What Is Your Success Rate for Summiting Kilimanjaro?
A: The average on the entire mountain is less than 50%.
The success rates with our guides are outstanding compaired to the overall success rates for all climbers who attempt to reach the top. Our guides have a success rate of reaching Uhuru Peak of over 90% overall, and over 95% on our 9-day Shira Western Approach Route.
While we cannot guarantee that you will succeed, we can guarantee that we will give our absolute best effort in helping you succeed.
Q: How Fit Do I Need to Be?
A: Though many deem Kilimanjaro "easily accessible", it is one of the most underestimated mountain in the world. The trails themselves do not require technical mountaineering skill, yet the effects of altitude consistenly turn back many trekkers from Kibo's upper slopes.
Altitude sickness is an ambiguous phenomenon, and it is nearly impossible to predict how and when it will affect you. You don't need to be an athlete to climb this mountain, but you certainly need determination and mental willpower. It will most likely be one of the most physically and mentally difficult thinks you will do in your lifetime.
You'll also need to commit yourself to a physical training regimen. We recommend a varied physical routine to include strength training, aerobic cross training, and hiking (not necessarily at high altitude), simply to prepare your body for the stress of being on the trail. Generally, the better overall shape you are in the easier it will be for you to handle the trek. Although we have seen time and time again where the "little old lady" reaches the summit while the mega-athlete is turned back.
There are many other factors that will either aid or weaken you, and this is where our experience plays a huge role. From our detailed climb-preparation manual to our expert mountain guides, we have taken every measure to ensure that you have the best possible chance of safely reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro.
Q: How Many Miles Will I Trek Per Day?
A: Most Tanzanians measure distances by the amount of time it takes to get from point A to point B. For those interested in the number of mile covered each day please consult our Routes Page and check out the table with individual route summaries.
You will find that you have plenty of time to complete each days hike. Summit day is by far the most grueling and you will cover almost 19 miles!
Q: How Fast Will We Be Hiking?
A: You need not worry, as this is a common concern. From the onset our guides will constantly remind you, "pole pole" which means "slowly slowly."
By walking slowly and taking your time, you'll not only give your body a better chance to acclimatize to the altitude, but you will have more time to enjoy the marvelous scenery you'll pass along the way.
When you first leave the starting gate your guide will set a pace that may seem painfully slow but like the story of the Tortoise and the Hare, slow and steady wins the race.
Plenty of time is allotted each day to reach camp, even for those who like to go very slowly.
Q: What if I Can't Make it to the Top?
A: Some climbers may fall short of Uhuru Peak, but not at the expense of their overall experience.
Just because you may not make the summit all is not lost. There are many wonders on Kilimanjaro, and the experience is rewarding even for those who never reach the top.
If one or more members of a group decide they cannot continue, or if a guide deems it unsafe for an individual (or a group) to continue, they will be escorted down to the most convenient campsite or hut.
Our guides intimately know the network of shortcuts to escort climbers to safety, and they are trained to act quickly and calmly under any circumstance.
Q: What If I Am Injured Or Have A Medical Emergency On The Mountain?
A: Your guide will carry a first aide kit as well as an emergency oxygen tank. In the event of a more serious condition Kilimanjaro National Park is staffed by a series of Rangers who are prepared to assist with any medical emergency. They can be reached by cell phone from any point on the mountain and are available to assist you if need be.
Only the Marangu route has a reliable and equipped rescue team. Rescue services on other routes is done by contacting the Park Headquarters who will then send the rescue team. The mountain rescue fees covers rescue service from the top to the base of the mountain. It only covers you until you reach the bottom of the mountain. We strongly recommend that you purchase evacuation insurance that would cover your transportation and care from the base of the mountain to a medical facility.
Please visit out Disclaimer Page for more information.
Q: How Qualified Are Your Guides?
A: Our guides are all certified and carry a valid certificate allowing them to guide on Kilimanjaro. Collectively they have hiked Kili hundreds of times.
They are loyal employees of our company, and are fully licensed by the National Park. They receive lots of training on a regular basis. Their English is excellent, and their knowledge of the flora and fauna is remarkable. You can be confident that you will be lead by a team of qualified well trained guides who are highly motivated to see you succeed.
Q: What Will The Accommodations Be Like?
A: On one route, the Marangu Route you will be staying in cabins and sleeping on cots. On the other routes you will be sleeping in mountain tents. These usually sleep two people each (larger tents are available for an extra charge).
On your hike the porters will carry your tents and go ahead of you. When you reach your camp in the afternoon your tent will be set up and ready for you.
On most routes enclosed pit toilets are available at each camp site. To be very honest, these toilets are found to be very “disgusting” by most people. They are essentially a wooden structure with a hole cut in the floor. Not everyone “hits the hole” resulting in less than sanitary conditions.
You may want to consider paying the extra cost for private toilets which our porter carry and set up for you at each camp site.
Showers are not available on the mountain, but a bowl of hot water is provided for each person every morning wherever possible and when you arrive in camp each afternoon.
Before every meal we provide soap and hot water, for washing your hands. You'll enjoy each breakfast and dinner (and lunches during bad weather) in a dining/ or mess tent, complete with chairs (you may want to consider the optional chairs with back supports) and a table.
Q: What Will The Meals Be Like?
A: You will have a private cook who will prepare all your meals for you. After many years of experience, our cooks understand the nutritional needs required for a successful climb of Kili. Usually you will be eating more protein containing foods such as chicken, fish, or beef during the earlier portions of the climb. This will aid in building muscle. Later as you approach the summit you will be eating more carbohydrate containing energy foods such as pasta and rice to give you the energy required to make the summit.
You will be eating lots of soups and drinking lots of hot teas throughout the trip. Additionally you will have breads, vegetables, and some fruits.
If you have any specific dietary requirements, please inform us in advance so that we can accommodate them.
Q: What Equipment Do I Need?
A: There is no special mountaineering equipment needed. There is however a great range of weather you may endure on the mountain as you are trekking trough many different zones. You will be starting out in a rain forest and then travel through many other zones until you reach the frozen summit.
You will go from wet warm conditions to freezing dry conditions. This will require carrying clothing that will protect you throughout these varying conditions.
Probably the most important items will be waterproof hiking boots and a warm sleeping bag.
We have included a section titled “Check List” which lists the important items to take with you. Please spend some time reviewing this list.
If you need any particular items, please let us know in advance and for a small charge we may be able to provide these for you.
Q: How Much Gear Will I Carry?
A: You will be expected to carry your own day pack, which should be able to sustain you until you reach camp at the end of the day you should endeavor to keep the weight between 10 and 20 lbs. Porters will carry your duffel bag containing the bulk of your equipment including your sleeping bag. They will go on ahead of you where they will set up your camp. When you arrive, the camp will be set up.
What you need during the day will depend on the climate you will be traveling through that day. Generally you will be carrying your water, basic medical kit, camera, waterproof outer layers, a pair of gloves and hat, a warm layer, and trail snacks.
Q: What Route Will I Descend?
A: We descend the Mweka Route to Barafu Camp then continue the descent to the Mweka Camp on the southeastern slopes which is below tree line and forested. The final day's descent is through lush rain forest on a well-maintained but sometimes muddy trail to the village of Mweka. Here you'll be awarded your climbing certificates.
Q: When in my trip to Africa should I plan to climb Kilimanjaro?
A: Climbing Kilimanjaro is certainly a physically challenging endeavor. Most people climbing Kili will experience at least some form of AMS - especially GI upset. When travelling to any foreign country with unfamiliar foods and routines it is common to experience some forms of GI symptoms. You may wish to consider climbing Kili early in your travels before you handicap yourself with GI problems prior to your climb.
If you are planning other climbs such as Mt. Meru or visiting higher elevations that may help with acclimatization you may wish to do these first as any advantage on Kili is worth it.