The highest peak and most famous mountain in Africa, scaling the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro is a heavy challenge, more from the rigours of altitude than the actual difficulty of the hike itself. The climb, which takes on average five days (you’re more likely to reach the top if you pace yourself), takes hikers through thick forests and alpine grasslands, desolate rockface and brilliant white glaciers.
Views of Kenya and the Masaai Steppe, the Crater Highlands, and the Eastern Arc Mountain Range expand from the summit, and unlike other comparable peaks, you don’t need ropes or climbing equipment to make it to the top. As long as you pace yourself and take it easy at high altitudes, you have every reason to think you can reach the summit.
General Information for Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.
This section introduces you to Kilimanjaro’s fascinating natural history and special points of interest. It offers information on all the major, and some minor routes, guidelines for successful exploration of the mountain, as well as information on services.
The highest mountain in Africa (5,895 meters) and the tallest free-standing mountain in the world, Kilimanjaro has tantalized and intrigued since the first organized ascent by Hans Meyer in 1889. It took Meyer six weeks to reach the summit, these days it is usually done in six or seven days, five days if you’re pushing the pace.
And although people talk about having “climbed” Kilimanjaro, the vast majority of routes are hiking routes with no technical climbing involved at all.
Whether or not you have ever had the yen to climb big mountains, or even see any sense in it, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is an absolute must for anyone who has the time, the money and the physical fitness.
Although climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro does not require any particular climbing skills, as it is basically a long, steep trek, this is not to say that considerable planning and forethought are not required. The ascent usually takes about five days and cannot be undertaken without hiring a guide. Porters should also be considered and hiring people as well as the necessary equipment and purchase of provisions can be arranged by Bobby Tours. Although an ascent can be made at any time of year, most people prefer to attempt it during the months of January, February, August and September when there is a greatest chance of cloudless mornings and evenings, and hence better views.
Kilimanjaro. The name itself is a mystery wreathed in clouds. It might mean Mountain of Light, Mountain of Greatness or Mountain of Caravans. Or it might not. The local people, the Wachagga, don’t even have a name for the whole massif, only Kipoo (now known as Kibo) for the familiar snowy peak that stands imperious, overseer of the continent, the summit of Africa.
Kilimanjaro, by any name, is a metaphor for the compelling beauty of East Africa. When you see it, you understand why. Not only is this the highest peak on the African continent; it is also the tallest free-standing mountain in the world, rising in breathtaking isolation from the surrounding coastal scrubland – elevation around 900 metres – to an imperious 5,895 metres (19,336 feet).
Kilimanjaro is one of the world’s most accessible high summits, a beacon for visitors from around the world. Most climbers reach the crater rim with little more than a walking stick, proper clothing and determination. And those who reach Uhuru Point, the actual summit, or Gillman’s Point on the lip of the crater, will have earned their climbing certificates.
But there is so much more to Kili than her summit. The ascent of the slopes is a virtual climatic world tour, from the tropics to the Arctic.
Even before you cross the national park boundary (at the 2,700m contour), the cultivated footslopes give way to lush montane forest, inhabited by elusive elephant, leopard, buffalo, the endangered Abbot’s duiker, and other small antelope and primates. Higher still lies the moorland zone, where a cover of giant heather is studded with otherworldly giant lobelias.
Above 4,000m, a surreal alpine desert supports little life other than a few hardy mosses and lichen. Then, finally, the last vestigial vegetation gives way to a winter wonderland of ice and snow – and the magnificent beauty of the roof of the continent.
Who can climb ? Kilimanjaro can be climbed with a relative ease by any reasonable fit adult. This does not mean climbing it is a picnic; adequate preparations are necessary and there are serious health risks attached to being at such a high altitude.
But as the highest point in Africa, Kilimanjaro’s peak offers an irresistible challenge to many people. Dozens of tourists, ranging from teenagers to people in their sixties, set off up its slopes every day. For those who reach it, being at the summit of the Kilimanjaro is often the highlight of the trip.
No technical expertise is required to climb Kilimanjaro on its easier routes; however, because the altitude is so high, climbers need to acclimate and be in good shape if they plan to ascend to the top of Kibo. Many tourists do not acclimate long enough and they become sick, (nausea, headaches etc).
It is recommended that the hiker takes at least 6 days, preferable 7 days, to reach the top. We do offer both 5 and 6 days climb, but its better to arrange an extra day (best spent at Horombo to acclimate). The extra day costs more but its worth to have a safer and more enjoyable climb.
One of the main attractions of the ascent of Kilimanjaro is that it doesn’t require mountaineering experience, nor is any special climbing equipment needed for Kibo, if the normal route (Marangu) is followed, to make the ascent. Almost any time is suitable, except during the long rains in April and May. The best months are January, February and October, when there are very often cloudless days.
Climb slowly to increase your acclimatisation time and maximise your chances of reaching the summit.
To avoid altitude sickness, allow a minimum of five nights, preferably even more for the climb. Take your time and enjoy the beauty of the mountain.