Climbing Kilimanjaro

In the north-east of Tanzania, on the border with Kenya, lies Mount Kilimanjaro, a majestic volcanic massif that reigns over the African savannah. This emblematic mountain is home to three inactive volcanoes: Shira to the west, Mawenzi to the east and Kibo in the centre. The summit of Kilimanjaro is actually the summit of Kibo, the Uhuru peak, which rises to 5,895 metres and whose name means “freedom” in Swahili. Climbing Kilimanjaro is a dream for many travellers. However, this exceptional journey requires a great deal of preparation beforehand, both physically and in terms of organisation. Choosing the itinerary, obtaining permits, booking camps, preparing expedition equipment, putting together the team of guides and porters – these are all essential elements in ensuring that the trek runs smoothly. Climbing Kilimanjaro is far from being a walk in the park, and this iconic peak culminating at 5,895 metres cannot be improvised. Our local agency is here to help you organise the trek of your dreams and reach this legendary peak in the best possible conditions.
Climbing Kilimanjaro with Locale Off Road Tanzania

When is the best time to climb Kilimanjaro?

The choice of period is essential to the success of this extraordinary climb. The Tanzanian climate makes it possible to climb Kilimanjaro in any season, but the physical effort required every day to climb Africa’s highest peak requires more than favourable weather conditions. The dry season, from June to October, is the ideal time for a pleasant and safe climb. There are no clouds on the horizon, perfect for taking full advantage of the breathtaking scenery offered by this teak in Tanzania. Climatic conditions are also very favourable during the hot season from late December to late February. On the other hand, during the short rainy season, from November to December, rainfall makes the atmosphere much wetter and the terrain slippery. From March to May, the rainy season is in full swing, visibility is reduced by the many clouds that darken the sky, the muddy and slippery terrain makes the climb more difficult and the abundance of snow at the summit makes the last stage of the journey quite perilous. So it’s best to avoid this time of year. Whatever the season, the weather on Mount Kilimanjaro changes rapidly and temperatures drop significantly with altitude. The warm, humid atmosphere of the rainforest at 1,800 metres contrasts with the climate of the semi-desert plateaux at 3,000 metres and the freezing temperatures at the summit. So it’s vital to be suitably equipped and, above all, to be accompanied by an experienced professional guide who knows the mountain like the back of his hand. Hence the importance of using a specialist local travel agency.

The different routes up Kilimanjaro

There are several routes to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. Each route differs in the unique landscapes it offers and the aspects of the mountain it introduces you to. There are 5 different routes to Africa’s highest peak: the Channel route, the Marangu route, the Rongai route, the Lemosho route and the Umbwe route. The duration, difficulty and scenery vary from one route to the next, so your choice of route will depend on these three criteria.

Climbing Kilimanjaro via the Marangu route

Considered the easiest way to climb Kilimanjaro, the Marangu route is shorter, more direct and more accessible. The distance to the summit is just 20 kilometres, with a difference in altitude of between 200 and 1,145 metres per day. It’s a 6-day expedition with plenty of breaks and acclimatisation walks to help you recover, for a gentle and enjoyable climb. Nicknamed the “Coca-Cola Road”, the Marangu route is one of the most popular because of its accessibility. Unlike other routes, the Marangu route is equipped with refuges, an added comfort not to be underestimated.

Climb Kilimanjaro via the Machame route

Nicknamed the Royal Route, the Machame Route is the most famous route to the summit of Kilimanjaro. The 40-kilometre route takes 6 or 7 days to complete. With an average of 6 hours’ walking per day and a positive difference in altitude ranging from 600 to 1,300 metres, acclimatisation to the changes in altitude is gentle. The Machame route is also renowned for the breathtaking scenery it offers hikers. The equatorial forest at the start of Machame Gate, the semi-desert plateaux, Barafu and its lunar atmosphere, and finally the sunrise over the glacial summit of Uhuru Peak – a variety of landscapes that will leave you speechless. Accommodation in tents encourages immersion in the heart of this exceptional natural setting. Another feature that will appeal to trek enthusiasts is the fact that the ascent and descent take two different routes! Ideal for two completely different experiences in one trip.

Climbing Kilimanjaro via the Lemosho route

Trekkers looking for a wilder, off-the-beaten-track experience generally head for the Lemosho route. This 50-kilometre route differs from the others in that it starts on the western flank of the mountain. The landscapes seen during the first stages of the trek are therefore completely different. It’s an expedition characterised by a fairly gentle climb, in tune with the surrounding nature! After day 4, the route joins the Machame route. Climbing Kilimanjaro via the Lemosho route takes between 6 and 8 days, and the chances of success are high. This route guarantees a wide variety of landscapes and incredible viewpoints, a less-frequented path and a high probability of reaching the summit with a breathtaking view of Mount Meru.

Kilimandjaro Trekking

Climbing Kilimanjaro via the Rongai route

Kilimanjaro can be climbed from the north face using the Rongai route. It takes between 5 and 6 days to walk the 45 kilometres from Rongai Gate to the summit. Because of its geographical location, this route is both wild and protected from bad weather. This route makes it possible to climb Kilimanjaro in the wet season, when the other routes become too slippery and dangerous. It’s the ideal way to climb the mountain away from the crowds and find yourself alone on the roof of Africa. Departing from the north of the massif on the border with Kenya and returning via the Marangu route, the Rongai route offers a different approach to climbing and takes in a wide variety of panoramas (arid savannahs, lunar and desert plateaux, snow-covered summits)

Kilimandjaro Ascension

Climbing Kilimanjaro via the Umbwe route

Very physically demanding, the Umbwe route is reserved for seasoned explorers and trekkers. This route is the most direct way of reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro. It’s a very difficult climb, with steep paths, extreme increases in altitude, high vertical drops and fairly harsh conditions. This route, nicknamed the “double whisky route”, is a real challenge for experienced climbers.

Tips for successfully climbing Kilimanjaro

Although exhilarating, climbing Kilimanjaro requires adequate preparation to maximise your chances of success. Here are a few tips to help you on your trek to the summit of Africa.
Physical preparation for climbing Kilimanjaro with local agency Off Road Tanzania

Training and physical preparation

Climbing Kilimanjaro is a trek that requires endurance and good physical condition. For 6 to 8 days, depending on the route chosen, your body will be put to a severe test. Your expedition will involve more than 6 hours’ walking a day, so trekking in the great outdoors in all weathers is the best way to train your body for this type of effort. The idea is to simulate the conditions of the trek you are about to embark on.

Choice of equipment

Investing in quality equipment will guarantee your comfort and safety during the climb. Take warm, waterproof clothing, sturdy, tried-and-tested hiking boots, a sleeping bag suitable for extreme conditions, and hiking poles to help you if you need them.

Nutrition and hydration

The secret to a successful climb? A balanced diet and adequate hydration before and during the climb. By drinking enough water (around 2.5 litres a day), you can avoid dehydration, which is one of the main causes of altitude sickness. Your body will also need energy to cope with the intensity of the physical effort involved. Energy bars can provide you with a little fuel as you climb.

Exercise management and acclimatisation

Climbing Kilimanjaro is not a race, but a trek lasting several days. Effort management is therefore essential if you are to reach the summit. “Pole pole”, which means slowly in Swahili, will be the watchword of this trek. You will advance at a slow and steady pace, punctuated by rest periods, to increase your chances of success. The choice of route will also be crucial.

The importance of the accompanying guide

The experienced professional guides who accompany you on your Kilimanjaro ascent know the trails, the weather conditions and the symptoms of altitude sickness inside out. They will provide invaluable physical and mental support throughout the climb. Their mission? To guide you safely and give you the best advice to help you reach the summit.

Essential equipment for climbing Kilimanjaro

Trekking equipment is one of the essential elements for a successful experience in the high mountains. Here is a list of the equipment and clothing you absolutely must have in your travel bag before tackling Kilimanjaro.

Equipment for the ascent

  • 1 rucksack (size 60 litres) containing all your belongings in waterproof plastic bags
  • 1 rucksack (25-30 litres) for the day’s gear
  • 1 good quality sleeping bag – Comfort at -15°C, of the sarcophagus type
  • 1 meat bag is strongly recommended
  • 1 self-inflating mat for extra comfort (we provide a 5 cm foam mattress except for the Marangu route, where you sleep in a hut)
  • 1 survival blanket
  • Telescopic walking sticks (also recommended)
  • 1 very good pair of glasses (don’t forget you’re at altitude below the equator)
  • 1 water bottle
  • 1 LED headlamp (with spare battery)
  • Several batteries for your camera, as you won’t be able to recharge your equipment during your trek

Clothes to bring

  • 1 pair of mountain boots with good ankle support for walking and 1 pair of tennis shoes for the evening
  • 1 pair of warm woollen socks
  • 2 pairs of warm underwear (tights, jumpers, etc. It can be very cold, so avoid cotton)
  • 1 warm fleece or woollen jacket
  • 1 waterproof goretex or micropore jacket
  • 1 rain cape
  • 1 warm hat and 1 good pair of gloves (for the last few days)
  • 1 cap or equivalent to protect you from the sun
  • Enough T-shirts for the duration of the trek (synthetic or wool)
  • 1 pair of canvas trekking trousers
  • 1 pair of warm waterproof trousers for the final ascent

Equipment provided by our local agency

Restaurant tents, explorer camping tents, first-aid equipment: our off-piste trips take you to the summit of Kilimanjaro with appropriate expedition equipment.

  • 1 tripod chair per person
  • Table for meals
  • Mountain tent (3 places for 2 clients)
  • 1 restaurant tent and 1 kitchen tent adapted to the size of the group. Our restaurant tents are equipped with tables, chairs and catering equipment so that you can enjoy a real meal at altitude, sheltered from the wind and cold, for the duration of your trek.
  • 1 5 cm thick foam mattress per person
  • 1 toilet tent
  • One hyperbaric chamber per group
  • A means of communication for safety between the mountain and the base in Arusha
  • Plates, dishes and cutlery for meals
  • 1 first-aid kit for the team
  • 1 rucksack to be given to clients to carry their belongings (9kg per person)

Fauna and flora during the Kilimanjaro ascent

Tanzania is renowned for its rich biodiversity and the beauty of its natural areas. Climbing Kilimanjaro gives you the chance to discover exceptional flora and fauna, different from the emblematic landscapes of the Tanzanian savannah. This majestic mountain, the highest point in Africa, is home to a variety of animals, plants and birds that thrive in totally different climatic zones depending on altitude. Each ecosystem you pass through on your ascent of Kilimanjaro reveals its own unique wildlife.

At the foot of the mountain, in the Kilimanjaro National Park, you’ll find areas that are emblematic of the Tanzanian bush: elephants, buffalo, antelopes and more. The landscape changes dramatically as soon as you start climbing, with arid savannah giving way to lush tropical forest. On the flora side, you can see some impressive giant ferns. On the wildlife side, you may be lucky enough to spot blue monkeys, baboons, panthers or mongooses.

At an altitude of over 3,000 metres, the mountain rainforest becomes clearer. You will then discover the surprising landscapes of the moors. The ecosystem of this alpine zone is a little more austere, but just as fascinating. Only the giant lobelia and giant ragwort, cactus-like plants, have been able to adapt to the extreme conditions of this environment.

Located at an altitude of 400 metres, the soil is dry, the vegetation is arid and rainfall is rare. Perfect conditions for creating a veritable stony desert with lunar landscapes. Wildlife is virtually non-existent in this hostile territory.

When you reach the summit, you’ll discover an arctic climate and the eternal snows of the Kilimanjaro glaciers. Here, life is scarce because of the freezing nights and the powerful sunlight during the day.

Observing animals and plants while climbing Kilimanjaro is an integral part of the experience. Admire Tanzania’s exceptional biodiversity, while taking care not to disturb the wild animals and making sure you leave no trace of your passage.

Acclimatising to altitude on the Kilimanjaro ascent

Acclimatising to altitude is a major issue on a Kilimanjaro trek. As you progress towards the roof of Africa, the altitude will only increase, which can have various repercussions on your body. Understanding altitude sickness, the associated symptoms and the best practices for acclimatising effectively is therefore essential for climbing Kilimanjaro.

What is mountain sickness?

Mountain sickness, also known as altitude sickness, is a reaction in the body caused by the reduction in atmospheric pressure and the amount of oxygen available in the air at high altitudes. Not all travellers are equal when it comes to altitude sickness. For some, the effects will be felt as early as 2000 metres, while others will not feel them until they have passed the 4000 metre mark.

What are the symptoms of altitude sickness?

Like sensitivity to attitude, the symptoms of altitude sickness vary from person to person. It generally manifests itself as headaches, nausea, dizziness, trouble sleeping and excessive fatigue. The appearance of these benign signs should be interpreted as a warning signal, as continuing to climb could lead to serious complications.

How do you acclimatise to climbing Kilimanjaro?

Prevention is the key to reducing the risk of mountain sickness. Acclimatisation is based on 3 crucial elements: good hydration, sufficient rest between each stage and a gradual pace of ascent.

  • Adopting a slow, steady pace will allow your body to adapt gradually to the changes in altitude.
  • Breaks and rest periods are essential if your body is to recover properly and adjust to the altitude. Sleep also helps recovery.
  • Hydration is another important component of acclimatisation. Drink water regularly to avoid dehydration.

The role of guides and porters when climbing Kilimanjaro

The guides and porters who accompany you on your ascent of Kilimanjaro play a crucial role in the smooth running of your adventure in Tanzania. During your journey, you will be supervised by a team of professionals for whom the mountains hold no secrets. A head guide, an assistant guide, a cook and 2 or 3 porters per person will be at your side for this expedition lasting several days on Africa’s highest peak. As well as guiding you on the hiking trails and carrying the essential trekking equipment, the expedition team will do everything in their power to help you make a success of your ascent of Kilimanjaro. They will accompany you throughout your adventure in a spirit of joy and good humour, looking after your safety and well-being. Their invaluable experience will enable you to meet the challenges of altitude and adapt to the changing conditions of the mountains. Your ascent of Kilimanjaro will be punctuated by the sharing of knowledge about biodiversity, traditional songs and timeless moments over a comforting meal. This physical adventure is also a human adventure, in which the guides and porters play an essential role. These mountain experts, who work behind the scenes, spare no effort to help you realise your dream of reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro. Offering a tip to the guides and porters who accompany you on this expedition is a simple way of thanking them and showing your gratitude.

A typical day climbing Kilimanjaro

Climbing Africa’s highest peak, at 5,885 metres, is a real challenge. The days of this trek will therefore be optimally organised to give you every chance of achieving your objective. an average of 4 to 7 hours’ walking a day, at your own pace, will be essential to reach your new camp and gradually make your way to the summit. The rest of the time will be spent resting, eating and recovering.

A typical day on Kilimanjaro:

  • 6.30am: wake up
    The day starts early on Kilimanjaro. This early wake-up call is an opportunity to enjoy a good breakfast and wash up before setting off on the day’s next stage.
  • 8am: departure and walk
    The daily walking time varies between 4 and 7 hours depending on the stage. Kilimanjaro is climbed at a slow pace to help the body acclimatise to the altitude. Not always an easy pace to adopt, but you’ll be thanking your guide on arrival. Pole pole! Listen to your body – if you’re tired, take a break!
  • 12pm-2pm: arrival at the camp, meal and rest

Each day, you will discover your new camp in the early afternoon, between 12 and 2pm. The rest of the day will be devoted to rest and recuperation. Tea and snacks will be available.

  • 6pm: dinner

Dinner is an opportunity to share a pleasant moment with the group over a comforting meal. The chef who will be accompanying you on this trek will prepare rich and varied dishes to give you plenty of energy for the next day’s expedition.

  • 8pm: night

A gruelling day that ends with a good night’s sleep, essential for recovery and acclimatisation.

The last day of the Kilimanjaro ascent will be a little different from the others. You’ll wake up at midnight, often in the freezing cold. Equipped with your headlamps, you will set off on a 6-hour trek to admire the first light of day on the roof of Africa. After enjoying this exceptional spectacle, you’ll set off for the return journey.

French-speaking guides who are experts in climbing Kilimanjaro

An expert at your side when you trek in Tanzania. Each guide has undergone extensive mountain guide training over several years, including physical, technical and cultural tests. They have also received mountain rescue and hyperbaric chamber training. They have acquired a thorough knowledge of the mountain environment (fauna and flora) and can lead both short treks and long ascents.

Reasons to choose Off Road to climb Kilimanjaro

Specialising in the creation of tailor-made trips and experiences in Tanzania, our local agency will help you prepare and make a success of your Kilimanjaro ascent. Our expertise in the field and our knowledge enable us to offer you a unique programme, off the beaten track, which will meet all your needs. We’ll do everything we can to offer you a memorable adventure and enable you to reach this iconic peak in the best possible conditions. Take advantage of personalised support and advice from destination experts to climb Kilimanjaro in complete safety!

Why trust Off Road to climb Kilimanjaro?

  • 13 years’ experience
  • A team of passionate destination specialists
  • A trek accompanied by experienced French-speaking guides
  • A high success rate for the ascent
  • Eco-responsible values

Would you like to enjoy this extraordinary experience? Tell us about your project and we’ll build the tour that’s 100% right for you! Would you like to continue the experience with a safari tour of Tanzania or a relaxing break on the beaches of Zanzibar? We can help you create your dream trip to Tanzania.