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Mount Kilimanjaro Trek

Tanzania is uniquely based off Africa’s eastern shoreline spinning off the Indian Ocean and while safaris here are often associated with the Great Annual Wildebeest Migration and special animal sightings across the seemingly endless Serengeti plains, it poses yet another escapade; the Mount Kilimanjaro Hike. In fact, many who have set out on a Mt Kilimanjaro hiking adventure have often referred to the country as; “the home of Africa’s roof top”; Mount Kilimanjaro!

Mount Kilimanjaro is a dormant snow capped volcano near the border of Kenya and Tanzania. It presents as a lone majestic Mountain towering over Tanzania and Africa at large; attracting nearly millions of hikers all over the world per year to experience the Mount Kilimanjaro Trek. This highest free standing Mountain in the world can be seen from miles away, gently beckoning every visitor to a special hike on Kilimanjaro Tanzania.

While hiking Mount Kilimanjaro might seem like an “aggressive ambition”, with Masai Mara holidays, you are guaranteed a safe and successful hike to the summit. We are a premier Mt Kilimanjaro Trek destination specialist with the main aim of making your dream of hiking Mt Kilimanjaro Tanzania a reality and safely as well! Owing to the fact that our company is made up of top mountaineers with 15+ years of experience, we are the perfect choice for you.

When it comes to hiking Mount Kilimanjaro Tanzania, our reputation precedes us! We have assisted so many mountaineers in realizing their dream on a Mount Kilimanjaro Trek; So, if you are planning on trying out Mt Kilimanjaro hiking, Masai Mara holidays is the perfect mountaineering company for you. We shall support you until you reach the summit and stand atop Africa’s highest point and return back safely! Contact us today to custom make a Mount Kilimanjaro Hike that best suits you!

Mount Kilimanjaro Trekking Routes

There are several routes to choose from when hiking Mt Kilimanjaro Tanzania and each depends on your physical ability and time taken to reach the summit. Top routes include;
Machame  Route
Marungu Route
Rongai Route
Shira Route
Northern Circuit
Lemosho Route
Umbwe Route
Western Breach Route

As one of the most scenic routes, Machame is the most popular Mount Kilimanajro trek route with over 50% hikers using it to ascend the Mountain. The route offers great vistas across varied landscape and some physically challenging points such as an ascent to Barranco wall and a steep incline to Kibo while hiking Mt Kilimanjaro. This route however does not require technical climbing skills and will last about 6 – 7 days.

The Marangu Route is the oldest route on Mount Kilimanjaro and is one of the most popular routes used when hiking Mt Kilimanjaro Tanzania owing to the fact that it is the only route that offers huts and mattresses for hikers. However, this route uses the same path for ascent and descent therefore it sometimes gets a bit crowded for Mt Kilimanjaro Hiking. You can complete the hike in 5 days, but an extra day is recommended to help in acclimatization.

Rongai route often seems like a lone route for Mt Kilimanjaro hiking since it is the only route that approaches the mountain from the north eastern side. The paths here are often dry as this side of the mountain receives little to no rainfall. It also employs some great wildlife sights like Buffalo, Elephants and Antelope painted against a lush green rainforest background.

The Shira route was originally the main route before Lemosho was created to improve the starting point of the route. Trekkers often experience a lot of altitude sickness on this route since it starts off at 3,600m at Shira Gate and doesn’t give the body enough time to acclimatize. It joins the Lemosho route on day 2 at Shira Camp 2.

The northern circuit is a relatively new route and also the longest trails for a Mount Kilimanjaro trek since its takes a minimum of 8 days to complete. It follows the Lemosho route for the first two days before joining the northern circuit instead of the usual southern circuit that transverses the Barranco wall.

The Lemosho route is possibly the newest route used for Mt Kilimanjaro Hiking. It explores the western base of Mount Kilimanjaro Tanzania that randomly offers wildlife sightings such as Buffalo, Elephants and Antelope.  This route often joins the Machame route at the Lava tower via the southern circuit to the Barranco Valley.

The Umbwe route was the shortest, steepest and most direct route to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. Trekkers often embarked on this route via the western Breach however that was closed after an accident that claimed 3 hikers’ lives. Currently, it has been fashioned to join the Machame route on the evening of the second day. A 6 days Mount Kilimanjaro trek offers better success odds on this route.

The western breach is the most challenging route for Mt Kilimanjaro hiking and many tour operators do not use it. In fact, in 2006 a rock fell and killed three trekkers on a Mt Kilimanjaro Hike causing the route to be closed off. However, it was eventually opened in 2007. The route is considered dangerous and risky due to its steep and rocky slopes.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What facts should I know about Mount Kilimanjaro?

  • Within the northern part of Tanzania, in Kilimanjaro National Park, lies the country’s and Africa’s highest point; Mt Kilimanjaro! It runs for about 100km long and 65km wide.
  • Featuring three volcanic cones; Kibo, Mawenzi and Shira, Mount Kilimanjaro is a dormant volcano that is believed to have last erupted about 360,000 years ago.
  • Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa with its highest point; Uhuru, standing at an elevation of 5,895m above sea level; about 2,950m lower than Mount Everest.
  • Additionally, it is the highest free standing Mountain in the world; meaning it is not part of a mountain range. It makes up the seven summits of the world (the highest Mountains on each of the seven continents).
  • Due to global climate change, Mount Kilimanjaro has lost a sizeable amount of its ice cap and glaciers in the past Century. Research proves that about 82% of its ice cap and 55% of its glaciers have receded posing a risk of complete loss of these in the coming century.  
  • About 35,000 people embrace Mt Kilimanjaro hiking annually using either of the eight hiking routes; Machame, Umbwe, Marangu, Shira, Lemosho, Rongai, Mweka, Northern circuit and the western breach. The Mweka route is used for descent only while the western breach is rarely used since it is technically challenging and risky.
  • Mt Kilimanjaro Tanzania has had its fair share of fame. For instance, in October 1898, German geologist Hans Meyer, Ludwig Purtscheller and a native called Lauwo were the first people to summit the Mountain. The proceeding years saw record breakers such as Kilian Jornet (fastest ascent and descent) and Keats Boyd (youngest climber) among many others summit the mountain.
  • About 3-7 people die while hiking Mt Kilimanjaro a year. These deaths can be blamed on falls, Acute Mountain Sickness such as HACE and HAPE, hypothermia, Malaria and many others.

What are the Visa, Vaccinations and Medication requirements for Mt Kilimanjaro Hiking tour in Tanzania?

Visa:

Before flying into Tanzania to hike Mount Kilimanjaro, you will need a visa. You can apply for a tourist Visa online and pay to the bank as well. You will be able to get your visa upon arrival so that you do not miss out on the most memorable moment of your life on a Mt Kilimanjaro Hike.

Medical requirements:

It is of paramount importance that before Mt Kilimanjaro hiking, you have a medical check up done. Consult your local physician before you travel and have all the necessary tests run. A healthy and fit condition will increase your chances of reaching the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro Tanzania.

Vaccinations:

Travelling to a new country and a tropical one at that will increase you risk of exposure to certain diseases and therefore, you will need to get some vaccinations. A Yellow Fever vaccination card is a must and will be requested of you at the airport. Other vaccinations you can get include; Hepatitis A and B and boosters for Polio, Tetanus and Diphtheria. Precautions such as insect repellants should be employed to safe guard against Malaria.

Are there age restrictions for hiking Mount Kilimanjaro?

Yes! While there isn’t a maximum age limit for a Mount Kilimanjaro trek, the minimum age allowed for hiking the Mountain is 10 years. However, trekkers should acknowledge that the trek to Mt Kilimanjaro Tanzania is strenuous and challenging to your body so one ought to be of great physical fitness. With that said, you should only trek if your body can endure the hustle of Mountain life.

Additionally, you should consider how a descent will affect your joints especially if you are 60 years and older. Also, older and much younger people might not deal well with Acute Mountain Sickness especially loss of appetite or even recover better from illnesses such as Malaria. We thus recommend that trekkers hiking Mt Kilimanjaro Tanzania should at least be between 15 and 60 years of age.

Will the altitude on Mount Kilimanjaro Trek affect me?

Yes! Regardless of your age, gender or fitness level, you will definitely be affected by the altitude. The difference comes in with how well your body handles it! Mount Kilimanjaro Tanzania is the highest point in Africa and its summit rises as high as 5,895m above sea level. As you ascend, you will come to the realization that the air will start thinning and you will need to take more deep and steady breaths to keep going.

Furthermore; if you have an already pre-existing condition, it might get worse as you have a lesser oxygen supply and are greatly fatigued. So, for Mt Kilimanjaro hiking, keep a slow and steady pace and always opt to hike high and sleep low so that your body can get the chance to acclimatize to the altitude. For pre-existing condition, talk to your local doctor before trekking to figure out how to keep your condition from escalating on Mount Kilimanjaro.

Additionally, remember to take plenty of fluids and eat as much food and snacks as you are given. Most of the time, trekkers on a Mt Kilimanjaro hike experience loss of appetite but an empty stomach will deplete your energy and worsen your response to Mountain sickness. Also, remember to rest as much as you can even if it means using ear plugs and if you feel you are past your physical limit, request to descend immediately.

What will I eat on a Mt Kilimanjaro Hike?

Our Mount Kilimanjaro Tanzania hiking team will have all the needed gear that is essential for cooking. While on your trek, you need only rest and await the meals prepared. Though your appetite may run low, you are advised to always eat a mixture of everything to maintain a balanced diet and keep you in great shape. Carbohydrates are particularly important in keeping your energy level up and fruits will help regulate your blood sugar.

You can always carry some energy bars with you and snacks to much on as you trek or when you rest. Purely milk chocolate bars are not advised as they tend to melt during the day and freeze at night. Always keep hydrated and avoid alcohol and caffeine as these will only deplete your energy levels. Most of the meals provided will contain edible local dishes of fruit, vegetables and common meals such as eggs, fish and others.

What shall I drink when hiking Mount Kilimanjaro Tanzania?

One of the crucial factors that will help you summit Mount Kilimanjaro is staying hydrated; and this means taking plenty of fluids including water. You will realize that as most of the water you will take will be collected from clear mountain streams flowing from the Mountain Rivers. This water will be boiled by your porters for your trek to Mount Kilimanjaro. This means you need a refillable water bottle that can carry at least 2  liters of water.

As you keep hydrated on this Mount Kilimanjaro hike, it is important to refrain from over consumption of plain water as it can result in a drop of plasma sodium concentration thus causing dehydration. Instead, you can add some isotonic or hypotonic solution which will help your body and cells absorb the water to replace that lost during sweating and urination. Substitute alcohol and caffeine for hot chocolate.

Where will I sleep on a Mount Kilimanjaro trek?

Depending on which route you choose for trekking Mt Kilimanjaro Tanzania, you will have the best sleeping conditions available on the Mountain. The Marangu route is the only trailhead that offers trekkers sleeping accommodations in huts. There are several huts (constructed in wooden A frame style) at each camp on the route furnished with bunk beds and running water with flushing toilets.  

However, you will find that you have to share the huts with trekkers on different routes or even members of the opposite sex since there is only a limited number at each camp. When hiking Mt Kilimanjaro Tanzania on other routes however, your accommodations will feature typical camping lifestyle. Several tents are set up including sleeping tents and “washroom” tents where you can “ease” yourself and clean up as well.

Two person tents can be put up under the open sky with anti-mosquito netting, reflective guy ropes, a flysheet made from ripstop nylon and a 3000mm water head to keep you warm and dry at all times. Trekkers wishing to summit Mount Kilimanjaro should remember that accommodations area always basic with just the main aim of giving you a comfortable place to rest after your hike.

What if I have never trekked before?

Hiking Mt Kilimanjaro Tanzania doesn’t require mountaineering experience or technical climbing skills but does require a good level of fitness. You will realize that a Mount Kilimanjaro Trek will require you to trek about 4-12 hours a day. Some itineraries go as far as 16 hours especially when acclimatizing; and you cannot accomplish these tasks unless you are really physically fit or in good health.

Therefore, the best thing to do is have some self training especially in aerobics months before your Mt Kilimanjaro Hiking experience. You can attempt to hike uphill for 5-8 hours a day and incorporate exercises like walking or running up and down several stairs a day keeping in mind that with the altitude sickness working against you, the actual Mount Kilimanjaro trek will be much harder.

What should I pack for a Mount Kilimanjaro hike?

Clothes:

When choosing what clothes to carry when hiking Mount Kilimanjaro, you will need to deploy the three layering rule. The first layer should be comprised of light weight body hugging clothes, the next layer should be made of insulation clothes that help retain heat and the third layer must be waterproof to keep moisture from getting in. The layering rule is essential at high altitudes and clothes should always be of breathable material.

Footwear:

Invest is comfortable worn-in hiking boots since they will determine how your feet hold up to the summit. Ill fitting boots will give you blisters, sore feet and missing finger nails. Other footwear includes; trekking socks, thermal socks, Trainers and gaiters.

Other essentials include;

  • Hat with neck cover
  • Beanie
  • Scarf or balaclava
  • Sunglasses
  • Headlamp
  • Clear goggles
  • Duffle bags
  • Daypack
  • Outer gloves
  • Inner gloves
  • Set of trekking poles
  • Sleeping bag
  • Inflatable pillow
  • Thermal mat
  • 3ltr water bottle
  • Water purification tablets such as iodine
  • Baby wipes
  • Sunscreen
  • Spare batteries
  • Ear plugs
  • Zip lock bags
  • Small rock
  • Energy bars
  • Energy drink supplement
  • Medications
  • Toilet paper
  • Trekking poles

When’s the best time for hiking Mount Kilimanjaro Tanzania?

Mount Kilimanjaro is located within the equator range and this provides some relief of bad weather; but only to a certain extent. Expect some snow storms, heavy winds and rainfall especially at the summit and in the months of March to May and November to December. However during the dry months of January, February and September, the weather is better and this is the best time to hike.

What will the weather be like when I go Mt Kilimanjaro hiking?

When you set out to hike Mount Kilimanjaro Tanzania, you will realize that as vegetation zones and altitudes change so will the weather. You will go from warm tropical rain forests to freezing conditions below zero at high altitudes such as the Shira plateau. The trick is always to be prepared for anything; carry warm clothes for higher altitudes and follow the three layer rule especially when summiting.

What toilet facilities will I find when on a Mount Kilimanjaro hike?

Toilet facilities on all routes are not really the best and that is why some trekkers go for erecting a separate tent as a toilet facility for the whole trip. Currently, the park authorities are working towards improving toilet facilities and in fact, some eco friendly toilets have been set up at major campsites. However, you can always hire a mobile toilet at about $125 or more depending on the days of your trek.

What is the average success rate for hiking Mt Kilimanjaro Tanzania?

Our average success rate of a Mount Kilimanjaro trek reaching the Uhuru summit is 80%. However, your success depends on a lot of factors such as the weather on the Mountain, your fitness level and health and age among other factors. However, to improve your rates, eat balanced meals for energy, hydrate at all times, keep a slow and steady pace and above all, rest! If you are not feeling well, listen to your body and take a break.

Do your Mountain guides carry first aid kits?

Yes, our guides definitely carry first aid kits! While on a Mount Kilimanjaro hike, you will see that our company guides will always have a first aid kit to treat injuries that may arise as you hike. However, severe injuries and AMS such as HAPE will need urgent medical attention.

Are your Mountain guides trained to recognize symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)?

Yes! Our guides are well trained to recognize AMS and act accordingly. Typically, there are three altitude zones on Mount Kilimanjaro, that is; high altitude at 2,500 to 35,00m, very high altitude at 3,500 to 5,500m and extreme altitude above 5,500m. Most people will start experiencing symptoms at very high altitude due to an increase in atmospheric pressure and a decrease in oxygen quantity.

Some symptoms might include;

  • Moderate to severe fatigue
  • Mild to severe headache that doesn’t go away with medication
  • Nausea, dizziness and vomiting
  • Loss of mental capacities and hallucinations
  • Fluid buildup in the lungs
  • Shortness of breath and unable to breathe even when resting
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Coughing that brings up white frothy fluid

Our guides are able to recognize such symptoms that might point to HAPE or HACE and deploy emergency solutions. The best thing to do is avoid climbing high so fast and maintain a slow steady climb. Always listen to your body, if you are past your tolerable altitude, stop!

Do you carry medicines to treat AMS on a Mount Kilimanjaro trek?

Yes! Dexamethasone and Nifedipine are two crucial drugs needed when it comes to dealing with AMS life threatening conditions like High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) and High Altitude Cerebral Endema. Our team always has these drugs as an emergency medical protocol and our staff are well trained on how to use them. Please note that you ought to carry any other personal medical requirements.

What should I know about Mount Kilimanjaro Tanzania porters and guides?

When hiking Mt Kilimanjaro, you will be accompanied by a team of porters and rangers as per the criteria below;

  • 1 guide, 2-3 porters and 1 cook for 1 trekker
  • 1 guide, 5-6 porters, 1 cook and 1 assistant guide for 2 trekkers
  • 2 guides, 8-9 porters, 2 cooks and 1 assistant guide for 3 trekkers
  • 2 guides, 11-12 porters, 2 cooks and 2 assistant guides for 4 trekkers
  • 3 guides, 14-15 porters, 2-3 cooks and 2-3 assistant guides for 5 trekkers
  • 3-4 guides, 17-18 porters, 2-3 cooks, 2-3 assistant guides for 6 trekkers

You should note however that while porters are there to carry your luggage, they can only carry luggage that does not exceed 20kgs. They often communicate with you in English and it is customary and standard to offer them a tip at the end of your trek. Tips can range from $100 to $1,000 for the entire hiking team depending on how many trekkers you are.

How do Mountain guides communicate on a Mount Kilimanjaro trek?

Owing to the fact that there is limited cell coverage on the mountain, our guides and porters often carry short wave radios so as to remain in touch with the rest of the group.

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