How to Climb Kilimanjaro

How to Climb Kilimanjaro
Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain in Africa, but unlike a Himalayan climb, most able-bodied persons have a good chance of reaching its summit. It's important to consider the risk factors when undertaking this climb, however. Most successful ascents are done with the help of guides and porters. Above all, the main determinants in achieving the summit are physical fitness and mental toughness.


Difficulty: Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Guided-tour ticket
  • Mountaineering boots
  • Wind breaker and wind pants
  • Gloves
  • Hat
  • Several layers of clothing
  • Trekking poles
  • Ice axe
  • Helmet
  • Cramp-ons (for a winter ascent)
  • Snacks
Step 1
Begin working out. Not only will Kilimanjaro test your muscles and endurance, the low-oxygen climate will sap your energy at elevation. It's best to set aside at least six to eight weeks if you are in decent physical condition. If you're out of shape, give yourself 10 to 12 weeks to prepare. In addition to at least 45 minutes of cardiovascular exercise five days a week, you should try to get some hiking experience above 8,000 or 10,000 feet. This will give you an idea of an oxygen-deprived environment.
Step 2
Contact a tour leader. There are many from which to choose, but it's best to err on the side of caution and use a guide with a solid track record of successful ascents, regardless of the price. The cost of such tours vary wildly, but be prepared to spend at least $1,200 for just the tour. You'll want to find an operator that has not only a high success rate, but also a strong stance on safety measures. Weather on Kilimanjaro can change swiftly. The last thing you want on the mountain is a risk-taking leader eager to push through a storm.
Step 3
Book a flight to Tanzania. It's best to book as early as possible to keep the price low. You might be able to get a package deal if you are traveling to Kilimanjaro with a large group. Contact a travel agent to pursue such opportunities. Similarly, if you strike out with a travel agent, speak with your tour operator about possible flight deals.
Step 4
Choose a climbing route. There are four common routes up the mountain: Marangu, Machame, Rongai and Mweka. Most tours choose the Machame route, which takes five to seven days, because it has the highest summit success rate. The Marangu route is considered the most difficult and only experienced mountaineers should attempt it. Choose a route that offers both challenges and benefits in terms of physical exertion and scenery.
Step 5
Organize and climb. Set aside at least two days after you arrive in Tanzania. This will help you acclimate to the climate and recover from jet-lag. Get plenty of rest during these two days and set aside time for sightseeing after your summit bid. You want to be physically rested and mentally prepared on the day you begin your climb.

Tips & Warnings

Climbing Kilimanjaro is not extraordinarily difficult, but there are serious risks to consider. If you have serious health issues, it's best to stay out of the thin air.

Article Written By Duncan Jenkins

Based in Eugene, Ore., Duncan Jenkins has been writing finance-related articles since 2008. His specialties include personal finance advice, mortgage/equity loans and credit management. Jenkins obtained his bachelor's degree in English from Clark University.

The Latest from the Community

Nice easy flat trail that leads to beautiful red rocks.
Stunning hike but extremely steep and tiring! Bring plenty of water.