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Your Guide to Trekking Mount Kilimanjaro

Quick Facts

Your next adventure: Mount Kilimanjaro

Where in the world?: Tanzania, Africa

Activity: Trekking, Travel

Wrap up: Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest free-standing mountain in the world, and the climb makes for a unique experience. From lush jungle, dormant volcanos, to glaciers, this is a trip that will stay in your mind forever.

A bit about Kilimanjaro

Mount Kilimanjaro is a breathtaking snow-capped dormant volcano in north-eastern Tanzania standing 5895 metres above sea level. The highest free-standing mountain in the world, it comprises three distinct volcanic cones and is a popular trek for adventure seekers.

The trek up Kilimanjaro is a challenge, though can be undertaken by most fit and able-bodied people. It's a non-technical climb, though will require some training and medical assessment to ensure a healthy climb in the higher altitudes.

Each day on the mountain is unique. Through the climb you will pass from lush jungle, gazing at Colobus monkeys to a barren and windswept alpine desert campsite from which you would stage your final push to the summit.

Why do it?

  • It is not about the summit.
  • The glaciers on Kilimanjaro are all receding
  • There will not be any remnants of the glacier left in XX years.
  • It is all walking, no 'technical climbing' involved, so it is achievable to many people.
  • You walk through so many environments, rain forest, desert and alpine

When to do it?

  • Anytime but during the monsoonal season.
  • Try to coincide with the animal migration, to make your safari experience better.

How long to take ?

  • Short trip 4 days vs long trip 2 weeks.
  • Research your routes.
  • There is a fine line between giving yourself the best chance to acclimatise and summit without getting 'tent fever'.


The best months of the year to ascend, even though one could easily succeed throughout the year, are definitely January, February and September. Also good are July and August, but much colder, and November and December, which could be wetter.

What to take

Don't under estimate the cold on Kilimanjaro (no matter what time of the year). Be conscious that 'someone' has to carry your stuff… even if it is not you. You don't need 6 different tops! Porters not only carry their share of the gear, they will have to carry extra if you decide to pack heavy.

When you book your trip, your tour operator should give you a list of items that they will supply, and things you should bring.

Since porters will carry the bulk of your personal gear, it's important that you plan ahead what to bring and what to leave behind. On any given day on Kilimanjaro it could rain, or depending how high you are snow, so it is vital that sleeping bags and down jackets are kept dry.

Good quality thermals are a must on this trip. At lower altitudes the nights can get cold, and as you get higher you'll need something that will keep you warm and wick away the moisture. Don't forget your feet too, it will get cold and like thermals, cotton just won't do. A couple of pairs of warm hiking socks and liner socks for the last day.

The biggest problem with doing anything at altitude is dehydration, if you're using a hydration bladder, water is always available and you'll find yourself drinking a lot more, but stash that bladder on the final day as it will freeze and you'll be carrying ice to the summit. Instead a small thermos will give you and your climbing buddies a much-needed warm drink on that final day, morale will be boosted and you'll be the hero of the group. water purification tablets or devices will ensure that all the water you drink will be used by your body, rather than taking the quick route out the other end.

Pole, Pole! Climbing slowly will help your body acclimatise…

A pack of cards will help you pass the time with the rest of your climbing party. Since a shower is not an option on the mountain, take a small pack of baby wipes which you can use on a nightly basis to give your hidden bits a quick once over. Remember clean is warm! Since summit day will start in the dark, light up your path with a head torch, it is easy to carry and it will free up your hands.

Where to book

If you book in your home country it WILL cost more! (someone in the middle has to make money too) Trips can be booked in Moshi or Arusha with little to no fuss through local agencies. However you lose the guarantee of leaving on specific dates, so you must be flexible.

How to prepare

  • Physical fitness.
  • Mental fitness.
  • Know your equipment, go hiking in your new boots, use your pack, sleep in a tent and figure out how warm your sleeping bag is.
  • You are in Africa, things WILL change… don't get worked up, just roll with the punches.

Thanks to

Cesar Piotto. Cesar was born in Brasil and later migrated to Australia with his family. After spending his 16 th birthday in Hungary as an exchange student, the travel bug bit and there was no turning back. Having traveled extensively, Cesar is very experienced in many adventures, including skiing, trekking, and travel.

Still hungry for more adventure?

Check out the other Places You'd Rather Be destination guides for more adventure inspiration.

For gear ideas, check out our Hiking Gear List.

Categories: Destinations  


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