All You Need to Know To Climb Kilimanjaro | Fair Voyage

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All You Need To Know To Climb Kilimanjaro

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Destination Information
What is Mount Kilimanjaro?

Mount Kilimanjaro is an inactive volcano in northern Tanzania, near the border with Kenya. At 5,895 metres (19,340 feet) above sea level, Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest peak and the world’s highest free-standing mountain. It is also a major destination for mountaineers and trekkers from around the world.

How tall is Mount Kilimanjaro?
Climate & Seasons
Summit Points
Scenic Highlights
Deciding Suitability
How many people climb Kilimanjaro every year?

The number of people who attempt to climb Kilimanjaro increased rapidly from just over 20,000 in 2001 to more than 55,000 in 2012. The latest official statistics are of 2016, when the Kilimanjaro National Park (KINAPA) reported 47,232 climbers for the year. The drop in 2016 was likely due to the Ebola outbreak in Western Africa in 2014-16 and perceived safety risk for travels to Africa. It is likely that the number of climbers recovered between 2017 to 2019 to more than 50,000 climbers per year. The impact of COVID-19 on the number of Kilimanjaro climbers, once travel returns, remains to be seen.

Age, Children, Seniors
High Altitude
Comfort & Facilities
Drinks & Meals
Choosing Your Itinerary
How do I go about choosing my best Kilimanjaro route?

To choose the best hiking route for your Kilimanjaro climb, it is important to assess your personal preferences and priorities:

  • Do you prefer the most stunning scenery or authentic wilderness away from the crowds?
  • Do you prefer a climb with the least amount of walking and easy slopes, or are you looking for a bigger physical challenge?
  • Do you have time constraints, or are you OK to take a longer route of 8 days (or more) in order to maximize your summit success chance?
  • Do you have budget constraints, or do you prefer to pay a premium for a longer climb, a private tailor-made arrangement (as opposed to an open group climb), and/or a luxurious climb off-the-beaten-track?

Once you have some clarity about your personal preferences and priorities, it becomes easier to find the right route for you:

  • If scenery is most important to you and you don't mind the crowds, then the Machame or Lemosho Route will be the clear winners.
  • If you are looking for the easiest possible route with the least amount of climbing uphill, then the Grand Traverse will be the way to go.
  • If you want the maximize your summit success chance, then the Grand Traverse, Lemosho Route and Northern Circuit will be your best choice.
  • If time or budget limits you to no more then 6 or 7 climbing days, then either the Shira or Machame Routes will be a good compromise for those prioritizing scenery over solitude, and Rongai for those in search of wilderness.
  • If you have no choice but to climb during rainy season, then the huts along the Marangu Route will provide shelter from the rain, and the Rongai Route has a lower chance of rain overall.
  • If you are confident of your physical abilities, and you either have considerable experience in high altitudes or are planning to pre-acclimatized on another mountain, then you may prefer a more challenging and direct summit approach via the shorter 5-day Marangu, Rongai or Umbwe Routes.
Comfort & Facilities
Success Chance
Hiking Routes
What are the key differences between the routes on Mount Kilimanjaro?

The routes on Kilimanjaro vary by length, duration, difficulty, scenery, altitude profile, accessibility, and (lack of) facilities. The better a route scores on all these criteria, the more popular it is.

Popularity is great if you like to share your experience with many other climbers and make lots of new friends. It's also great if you're looking for an affordable climbing package. If solitude and wilderness are what you're looking for, then the most popular routes may not be your best choice.

What are my route options to climb Kilimanjaro?
Machame Route
Lemosho Route
Rongai Route
Grand Traverse
Marangu Route
Shira Route
Umbwe Route
Crater Camp
Western Breach
Finding Your Best Offer
Getting Started
How do I organize a Kilimanjaro climb?

When organising a Kilimanjaro climb, your tour operator will do most of the work for you locally. However, you'll still need to decide what kind of climbing experience you prefer, make travel arrangements and organize your gear.

Start by deciding your personal preferences: When and how long? Which route? What level of quality & safety standards? Do you prefer a private tour or to join a group?

Once you know what you want, it's important to find a reputable and reliable climb operator who consistently receives high ratings from past climbers, such as all the Kilimanjaro expert operators on Fair Voyage. Of course, you will also want to get your best value-for-money quotation for everything that you'd like included in your package.

Once you've booked your climb, you will also need to organize your flight, insurance, vaccinations and health checks, etc, so make sure you start planning well in advance. Finally, you will also need to organize your gear, though most items you need can also be rented locally when booking with a high-quality company.

What exactly does my Kilimanjaro tour operator organize?
What Kilimanjaro climb options are available?
How long in advance should I book my Kilimanjaro climb?
Responsible Travel
Toilets & Sanitation
Open Group Tours
Private Tours
Ratings & Reviews
Why Book with Fair Voyage
Preparing Your Trip
Getting Started
What steps do I need to take to prepare for my Kilimanjaro climb?

Other than booking a suitable climbing package, it is important that you also take these steps to prepare for your Kilimanjaro climb (read more here):

  1. Take out travel insurance
  2. Book your flight
  3. Book any missing hotel nights depending on your flight
  4. Inform your operator about all your personal requirements
  5. Make sure your passport will be valid for 6 months
  6. Get a health check & required vaccinations
  7. Prepare physically as much as you can
  8. Organize your gear
  9. Familiarize yourself thoroughly with all risks involved
  10. Carefully read all information provided by your operator
Top 5 articles to plan your Kilimanjaro climb
Success Chance
Vaccinations & Medications
Flights & Transfers
Money & Insurance
Dress, Gear & Packing
Packing Your Bags
Electricity & Plugs
Mosquitoes & Bugs
Toiletries & Personal Items
Toilets & Sanitation
Altitude Acclimatization & Sickness
Altitude Sickness
What is altitude sickness or acute mountain sickness (AMS)?

Altitude sickness or acute mountain sickness (AMS) is the side effect caused by exposure to high altitudes. As a person reaches higher altitudes, the air contains less oxygen which begins to negatively affect the human body. Symptoms usually develop from around 2,500 meters of altitude.

First signs of altitude sickness include headache, nausea or shortness of breath. More severe symptoms include dry cough, fever, vomiting or retinal haemorrhage. Extreme cases can include fluid build up in the brain characterized by loss of coordination, confusion, inability to walk and even coma. If left untreated, AMS can be lethal.

How dangerous is altitude sickness when climbing Kilimanjaro?
How can I avoid altitude sickness when climbing Kilimanjaro?
Altitude Acclimatization
Responsible Travel
Booking a Fair Trip
What responsible travel criteria should I look out for when booking my climb?

The predominant problem caused by Kilimanjaro tourism is the exploitation of porters. When you are considering the responsible travel criteria used by tour operators, there is only one independent organization that monitors porter treatment practices locally. This organization is the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project (KPAP), an initiative of the International Mountain Explorers Connection (IMEC). To make sure that you're booking an ethical climb and that your porters will be treated fairly, verify that your tour operator is listed on the official list of approved KPAP Partner companies on IMEC's website.

Environmental damage and pollution is not such a big problem on Mount Kilimanjaro as it is for other destinations. Most tour operators, and including all KPAP approved companies, adhere to the Kilimanjaro National Park's leave no trace guidelines to collect waste at campsites and bring it down the mountain. Therefore, it's not a major consideration when booking your climb.

How do I know whether my tour operator is responsible?
What is included in Kilimanjaro offers on Fair Voyage that's different from other agencies or platforms?
Why it is important for you to pay a fair price to climb Kilimanjaro?
What is the KPAP/IMEC Partner for Responsible Travel Program?
Can any tour operator become a KPAP Partner?
Why does Fair Voyage only promote KPAP partners for Mount Kilimanjaro?
Travel Responsibly
Labels & Organizations
Fair Porter Treatment
Who are the Kilimanjaro porters?

The Kilimanjaro porters are the dedicated men and women whose job it is to help tourists carry their gear to the summit. Most of the porters are local men between the ages of 18 and 40. They are hired alongside a team of trained professionals. They make it possible for tourists to navigate their way up the mountain.

Women are a smaller number of porters. They face the same challenges as the men, but with the added problem of sexual harassment. Unfortunately, this is still a reality for female porters.

Without the dedication and strength of these crew members, climbing Kilimanjaro would be a mere dream for many.

About Fair Voyage
Sourcing Criteria
Which companies does Fair Voyage promote?

Fair Voyage is promoting exclusively verified ethically and environmentally responsible tour operators and accommodations with a proven commitment to sustainability. To independently verify the commitment to sustainability and adherence to responsible tourism standards, we mostly rely on credible third party monitoring and certification organizations, to the extent available and as applicable for each destination.

We adopt a bottom-up screening approach – first screening against applicable local qualifications specific to a destination. Regional/global standards complement local qualifications, or provide a benchmark in the absence of more destination-specific initiatives.

What are your responsible travel criteria for Kilimanjaro operators?
Business Model
Bookings & Payments
How does Fair Voyage insure my payments?

Fair Voyage is insured with the Swiss Travel Security guarantee scheme for traveler deposits, and you can verify our official listing here. This means that when you book a trip with us, all your funds that you pay to us ahead of your trip (including any initial Deposit, Balance, Adjustment, and Full Payments) are 100% guaranteed to be protected against bankruptcy and no-shows.

In the unfortunate event that we—no matter whether Fair Voyage AG as travel agency headquartered in Switzerland or any of our operating partners and suppliers who are locally delivering our services to you—would not deliver your trip to you, you receive your full payments back & more, hassle-free!

You might also like to know that so far, we have not yet had such an event.

Be careful if you consider booking directly with a local company as no such insurance scheme exists yet in many of our destinations countries, and even previously sound bonding schemes in high income countries may no longer offer safe protection due to a high number of bankruptcies as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also be careful if you consider booking with a local company via a platform that does not explicitly offer safe travel funds insurance, and note that a safe payment guarantee usually only refers to your card payment transaction. It does not automatically mean your monies are safe once paid.

Having safe travel funds insurance is a mandatory regulatory requirement for all travel agencies that are legally registered in Switzerland.

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