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Mount Kilimanjaro Climbing Safaris

Mt Kilimanjaro is a triple volcano with the youngest and central peak of Kibo being about 14km long. Mt Kilimanjaro volcano is deemed to be a dormant volcano, created during the formation of the Great Rift Valley. It is situated within Kilimanjaro National Park, which comprises all of the mountain mass of Kilimanjaro, above the tree line.

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The name ‘Kilimanjaro’ has varying interpretations, from “Mountain of Greatness”, Mountain of Whiteness”, “Mountain of Caravans”, and “Small Mountain of Caravans” which are all names derived from the Swahili, or Chagga dialects. In addition, there is a word in Swahili, “kilima” which means top of the hill. Kilimanjaro was first documented by Ptolemy in the second century AD, where he recorded a land with man-eating barbarians and a great snow mountain. The First recorded successful ascent was in 1889.

Kilimanjaro is one of the easier mountains to climb as its summit can be reached without the use of ropes and climbing equipment. It takes on average, 6 days to climb Kilimanjaro and return to the base, but extra days can be added to take in other sights, or for acclimatization to the altitude. Kilimanjaro can be ascended via 6 different routes; Machame, Marangu, Lemosho, Umbwe, Shira or Rongai, each one offering their own unique scenery and sights en-route, and each varying in difficulty. The easiest and fastest ascent is via Marangu followed by Rongai, but the most scenic, is Machame. To further aid with acclimatization, many people do a pre-climb of Mt Meru, Kilimanjaro’s sister volcano. Mt Meru can be completed in 3 or 4 days.

Climbing Kilimanjaro is an incredible journey of scenery and experience. For more information on the different routes to ascend Kilimanjaro, a map of the region or expected weather, follow the links below or send us an e-mail with any of your questions.

The warmest months with the clearest trekking days for Kilimanjaro and Mt Meru, are from mid to late December, January, February, September and October. The rains often come in April and the start of May with the possibility of some snow.

The Kilimanjaro Machame Route is one of the most scenic of the routes up to Kilimanjaro, Uhuru Peak. It also affords one the chance of acclimatization due to the concept of climb high, sleep low. The ascent is from the western side of Kilimanjaro, with the descent down the southern face along the Mweka route. One passes through changing vegetation from a tropical forest, to scrubland, to alpine desert and onwards to the summit .You will start your trek at Kilimanjaro Machame Forest and head through the lush forest, hanging with moss and lichen with its enormous forest canopy, gradually up the Machame Camp for the first night. Next day, the route heads into a scrubland with giant Lobelia and daisy bushes up toward Shira Camp before heading into the alpine desert towards Lava Tower and back down to Barranco. From here the terrain remains like an alpine desert, with glaciers reaching down the mountain like long fingers, to about 4800m. You will hit the snow line at about 5700m, maybe higher.

Kilimanjaro Climbing Routes.
The Kilimanjaro Marangu Route is a popular route up Kilimanjaro as it is not only the quickest route but also the most direct and often deemed, easier route. On the Marangu Route accommodation is in huts. The ascent is via the eastern face of the mountain and covers about 80km. The descent is via the same route as the ascent.

The Kilimanjaro Rongai Route up Kilimanjaro is also seldom traveled, beginning on the Kenyan side of the mountain. The drive to the starting point is long, albeit scenic. Park rules require that the descent route is via the Marangu route.

Umbwe Route on Kilimanjaro is one of the shortest and less used of all the routes. Although it is not a technical climb, it is a lot steeper and recommended for very fit hikers.

Lemosho Route is often considered one of the more scenic in terms of game viewing. This is not as much the case as it was several years back when game was more abundant, although there is still the chance to see game on the first 2 days. These two days are also a lot quieter on the route, until it joins in with the standard trail from Machame and Shira routes.

The Shira route, approaches Kilimanjaro’s summit from the west and crosses the caldera of Shira Volcano before heading beneath the southern ice fields of Kibo. The route is seldom used by other trekkers and so your initial two days on the mountain are less crowded than on most other routes. The remainder of the route joins in with the routes from Lemosho and Machame. Your starting altitude is higher than your end point altitude

When to undertake the climb.
Although the mountain can be climbed throughout the year it is worth avoiding the two rainy seasons late March to mid-June and October to beginning of December, when the routes become slippery. Probably the best time to visit is January/February and from September to October, when there is usually no cloud.

Preparation on the Climbing or Trekking the Kilimanjaro.
Officially anyone aged from 12 may attempt the climb. However it is not that easy. The important things to remember are to come prepared and to take it slowly. If you have the chance, spend an extra acclimatization day half way up. Being well equipped will also increase your chances of succeeding in reaching the summit. In particular, be sure you have a warm sleeping bag (-10°C), insulating mat, thermal underwear, gloves, wool hat, sunglasses or snow goggles, sun cream, a large water bottle and a first aid kit. Altitude sickness is often a problem while climbing Kilimanjaro.

If you know you are susceptible to this you are advised not to attempt the climb. Symptoms include bad headache, nausea, vomiting and severe fatigue. This can be avoided by ascending slowly and if at all possible spending an extra day half way up to acclimatize. Altitude sickness can be cured simply by descending to a lower altitude. Some medication (Diamox for example) helps if taken before the ascent. You can greatly increase your chance of success by using supplementary oxygen.