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SUMMIT SUCCESS CHANCEGood
ALTITUDE PROFILE (HIKE HIGH, SLEEP LOW)Poor
DIFFICULTY (GRADIENT, DAILY DISTANCE)Doable
SCENERYGood
WILDERNESSExcellent
360° VIEWSCross-over
ACCESSIBILITYLong drive
AFFORDABILITYGood

The Rongai Route is the only route on Kilimanjaro that starts in the north near the border to Kenya, the furthest away from an airport of all Kilimanjaro National Park gates. This makes it much less visited than other routes, providing for a true wilderness experience during your summit approach.

Descending along the Marangu Route in the south east, is furthermore offers a cross-over experience with views of the north, east and south of Mount Kilimanjaro and its surroundings.

While the Rongai Route can be completed through a short and direct approach of the summit in only 5 days, we recommend this 7-day itinerary with a detour to Mawenzi in the east of Kibo. This allows more time to acclimatize to the thin air and improves your summit success chance.

The Rongai Route also is a good choice during rainy season as the northern slopes tend to attract less rain than the southern slopes. However, there is no guarantee. You might be lucky and have a mostly dry climb, or it might still rain a lot even on the northern slopes. There’s really no way to predict the amount of rain at the time of your booking.

If solitude is what attracts you to the Rongai Route, and you are open to consider a longer climb of 8 days or more, then we recommend you to also consider the 8-day Grand Traverse or 8-day Northern Circuit for a more varied scenery and beneficial altitude profile.

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Day-By-Day Itinerary

Day 1
    1h
  • Pre-climb briefing

    Your guide or local Tour Operator staff will meet you at your accommodation for your pre-climb briefing and gear check, usually in the late afternoon or evening prior to the start of your climb. Your Tour Operator will advice the exact time of the briefing once they know your arrival time (as well as the arrival times of any other climbers in your group). If you do not know the time ahead of your trip, please check with your local hotel upon arrival.

    Please make sure to arrive latest by mid-afternoon on the day before the start of your climb to leave enough time for your briefing. If you only arrive in the evening or overnight, your Tour Operator will make every effort to arrange the briefing early the next morning for you.

    Day 1
        2-3h
    • Transfer to the Kilimanjaro National Park gate
    • Moshi (831m)  →  Rongai Gate (1,945m)
    • 1,114m
    • 98km

    Your Kilimanjaro adventure begins when you depart Moshi to drive about an hour to the Marangu park gate for registration. Here, national park fees and paperwork formalities are taken care of. After everything is accounted for, it’s time to drive approximately 1 and a half hours to your starting point. The views accompanying the drive are serene as you pass through the village of Nale Moru, located on the Northeast side of Kilimanjaro.

    A couple of bumps on the road towards the end will wake you right up as you approach the starting point, the Rongai gate, where you begin your exciting once-in-a-lifetime trek to the roof of Africa.

        3-4h
    • Maize fields and pine forest
    • Rongai Gate (1,945m)  →  Simba Camp (2,671m)
    • 726m
    • 7km

    The hike today will be easy going, as it takes you through small winding paths. The scenery is spectacular as you cross through maize fields and enter the pine forests. Your senses will be overwhelmed with the splashes of green and sounds of electric birdlife. The climb is gentle through the pine forest, and takes you along the countryside. You soon arrive to your first camp, the Simba Camp. With no facilities other than some public toilets, this truly is a one-of-a-kind wilderness experience!

    Day 2
        8-10h
    • A long day in heathland with stunning Kibo views
    • Simba Camp (2,671m)  →  Kikelewa Camp (3,600m)
    • 929m
    • 16km

    Today’s trek will offer stunning views of Kibo and will be a long day, but significant in terms of altitude gained beginning the process of acclimatization. The trail is steep and dusty, and first signs of altitude sickness may start to be felt. The pace will be ‘pole pole’ (slow) and you will have an ample amount of time to take during the hike.

    The views start to open up as you enter into moorland habitat. You begin to feel like you’re on the mountain, and it’s quite a majestic feeling! The heathers begin to shrink and trees become sparser as the vegetation changes from mountain forest to alpine heath. Your hike will have plenty of opportunities to rest and recharge, and while you do so it’s a great opportunity to snap photos of the Kibo backdrop.

    While the first part of the day is more challenging, the second half provides relief as it turns into a more gradual increase towards the camp. Dinner and overnight is spent at the Kikelewa Camp perched upon the mountainside. Located in the sheltered valley, the camp hosts views of giant scenecios nearby, but be sure to bundle up at night as temperatures begin to drop drastically.

    Day 3
        3-4h
    • Welcome to alpine desert at the base of Mawenzi
    • Kikelewa Camp (3,600m)  →  Mawenzi Tarn Camp (4,315m)
    • 715m
    • 3km

    After a long hiking day yesterday, today's hike will be short but steep. Walking through the grassy slopes, you are met with amazing views of the wilderness area. As you ascend, you will start to feel the altitude today, so be sure to take your time and follow your guide who will help set a pace that works best for you. There is no rush on Kilimanjaro!

    As you approach the next camp, you’ll start to notice that the vegetation becomes sparser. By the time you arrive to the Mawenzi Tarn Camp, there’s very rare glimpses of green. What the camp lacks in vegetation, it makes up for with it’s location. The campsite is located at the base of Mawenzi, one of the three peaks of Kilimanjaro, and is used less often than other campsites. Sitting under the towering spires of Mawenzi, you’ll be nothing short of in awe by your surroundings. Lucky for you, the afternoon is spent exploring the area which also helps in your acclimatization process.  Enjoy the remote locality and beautiful sunset hues that splash against the peaks.

    Day 4
        
    • Acclimatization day at leisure
    • Mawenzi Tarn Camp (4,315m)
    Day 5
        5-6h
    • Across the saddle and into thin air
    • Mawenzi Tarn Camp (4,315m)  →  Kibo Hut (4,720m)
    • 405m
    • 9km

    Today you will be crossing the so-called saddle, a lunar landscape between Mawenzi and Kibo in the alpine desert zone devoid of vegetation. You may start to be feeling butterflies, since tonight is the exciting summit night. The day will be short but crucial in helping to acclimate. As you cross the saddle, it will take approximately 5-6 hours to reach your base camp for the final summit push.

    The thin air will be challenging today, so it is important to walk slowly to help with acclimatization. The mentality will be slow and steady. The rest of the day is spent resting in preparation for your exciting night ahead. Try to catch a few hours of sleep and eat as much as you can, the energy will be well-used the following day! You will be woken a couple of hours later for a day you won’t soon forget.

    Day 6
        6-8h
    • Final summit push through the night and sunrise on top of Africa
    • Kibo Hut (4,720m)  →  Uhuru Peak (5,895m)
    • 1,175m
    • 6km

    After getting as much rest as possible, it’s time for your exciting early start. You will be woken up around 11:00 pm, and will have breakfast waiting for you. The reason for the (very) early start is to try and make the summit by sunrise. Try to eat as much as possible, making sure that you have energy for the thrilling day ahead. Your day pack should be ready with rain gear, hand warmers, snacks, sunscreen and sunglasses for the summit, and of course, your camera.

    As your summit ascent begins, your pre-summit goal is to reach Gillman’s point. The scree-sloped Kibu is steep in the beginning, but the switchbacks will make the climb easier for you. As the oxygen becomes thinner, you’ll begin to feel the effects of the higher altitude. Take your time and focus on taking the trek step-by-step. After approximately an hour and a half you will hit rockier terrain, with some boulders to walk over. These rocks are called the Jamaican Rocks, and can be slippery at times so be mindful of your steps as you cross over them.

    The night will be cold with frigid temperatures and altitude sickness may begin to hit you. Your final push to the top may seem endless, but rest assured that it will come to an end. What satisfaction as you reach Gilman’s point at the top of Kibo! From here, it is only an hour and a half or so until Uhuru Peak and you will have the opportunity to rest and refuel a bit before the final haul. As you look across the starlit sky, you have the outline of Mawenzi glaring back at you. Take in the cosmic sights and congratulate yourself for making it thus far! The worst has been accomplished.

    As you turn Southwest, you start to push through the steady but shallow trail along the crater rim and past Stella Point to arrive at the breathtaking Uhuru Peak. While it’s a very gradual ascent, the thin air will make it challenging and each step will take all your focus and energy. Dawn is approaching, take some pictures, pat yourself on the back, and enjoy the glistening pink and orange sunrise hues overlooking the icefields and glaciers. The rolling clouds splash against the noble beauty of Kibo – it’s a sight you won’t soon forget.

        4-5h
    • Half way down into thicker air
    • Uhuru Peak (5,895m)  →  Horombo Hut (3,720m)
    • -2,175m
    • 15km

    You’ve made it! Congratulations are in order as you’ve conquered an impressive feat. It’s time for hugs and photos, as you revel in elation with your loved ones. You’ll remember this feeling forever.

    After you take in the sights, it’s time to return back since you can’t remain too long in the altitude. The trek begins back to Gilman’s point, where you then head back down the Jamaican Rocks and scree-laced slopes of Kibo. As you make your way down, you may very well find that the descent is tough on your knees, which will by now be feeling the impact of your climb up this formidable mountain. To ease the strain on your knees, walking poles are highly recommended.

    A hearty lunch is waiting for you at the Kibo Huts – you may have forgotten about your appetite with all the excitement swirling that morning! There are opportunities to rest before the second part of the hike, to allow the porters to pack and regain some energy on your part.

    Finally, it’s time to head down to the Horombo Huts, the final campsite of the day. The long day may seem daunting, but it will in fact become easier as you descend since the air becomes richer in that precious oxygen you’ve been missing! The dinner that night is a lively affair, with a sparkle in everyone’s eyes and memories being recounted.

    Day 7
        5-7h
    • All the way back down through the forest
    • Horombo Hut (3,720m)  →  Marangu Gate (1,879m)
    • -1,841m
    • 19km

    As you wake up, you’re coming off a high of excitement from the day prior. While you feel accomplished, you still have one more exciting day to finish your trek. The trail down to Marangu Gate drops at a steady gradient, your knees may need the support of trekking poles from the intense day before. For your last day on the mountain, you enjoy a lovely lunch at the Mandara Huts. This is the last meal with the trekking team who will undoubtedly become your friends, so be sure to enjoy your time together.

    The last haul of your trip will take you through the lush rainforest, which is a treat! You are reintroduced to the sounds of birds, troops of monkeys and colorful scenery. Be sure to take in the charming senses of the mountain one last time. The rich oxygen doesn’t hurt either! Once you arrive to the Marangu Gate, you are presented with your certificates, and it’s time for the emotional goodbyes to your mountain crew. Please note that tipping your mountain crew typically occurs at this point, which is customary for the last day.

        1h
    • Transfer to your hotel
    • Marangu Gate (1,879m)  →  Moshi (831m)
    • -1,048m
    • 39km

    After your celebratory Marangu Gate photos, you will make your way to your hotel in Moshi for a warm shower. A car will be ready for your pick-up and will whisk you away back to civilisation. The scenic drive back to Moshi takes you through coffee and banana plantations. Arriving at your hotel, you’ve finished the magical journey, and it’s time to sift through photos, brag to your friends, and reminisce fondly on those life-long memories you’ve just made.

    More info about the 7-day Rongai Route

    Destination Information
    Facilities
    Where do I sleep on Mount Kilimanjaro?

    Where you sleep on Mount Kilimanjaro depends on your hiking route and climbing package. On all but the Marangu route, you will sleep in tents at designated campsites. Your tour operator will typically organize your sleeping tent and mattress, whereby the quality of tents ranges from cheap locally produced via high-quality imported winter mountaineering tents (mid-range offers) to luxurious walk-in size tents with proper frame beds (VIP offers).

    The Marangu Route offers shared hut accommodation with dormitory-style bunk beds. This means you'll have a firm roof, but it also reduces your level of privacy. High-quality tents may feel more luxurious and comfortable than the Marangu Huts.

    Deciding Whether To Go
    Comfort & Facilities
    Where do I sleep on Mount Kilimanjaro?

    Where you sleep on Mount Kilimanjaro depends on your hiking route and climbing package. On all but the Marangu route, you will sleep in tents at designated campsites. Your tour operator will typically organize your sleeping tent and mattress, whereby the quality of tents ranges from cheap locally produced via high-quality imported winter mountaineering tents (mid-range offers) to luxurious walk-in size tents with proper frame beds (VIP offers).

    The Marangu Route offers shared hut accommodation with dormitory-style bunk beds. This means you'll have a firm roof, but it also reduces your level of privacy. High-quality tents may feel more luxurious and comfortable than the Marangu Huts.

    What is a mess tent?

    A mess tent simply is a tent where climbers gather to eat their meals together. After a long day of hiking, this is where your food will be served to you by your tour operator.

    It’s also a place where climbers can relax and chill in the afternoon as often it may be too cold and windy to stay outdoors. Mess tents provide welcome shelter from the wind and increased warmth. They are stand-up size, big enough to fit a table and chairs, whereby the exact dimensions usually vary depending on group size.

    You will always be able to sit comfortably in a mess tent, even though specific characteristics may vary. Higher-end operators will, for example, provide solar lighting and comfortable chairs with arm and backrests.

    Mess tents usually don't include heating. But upon special request, a mess tent heater can be included in real luxury climbs.

    Drinks & Meals
    What beverages does my tour operator provide?

    All tour operators typically provide drinking water. In addition to this, it is common that they also bring instant coffee, chocolate powder as well as tea bags.

    They mix them with hot water to be able to serve hot drinks at the campsites.

     

    Can I get bottled water on Kilimanjaro?

    Bottled water is only sold at the Marangu Huts.

    The reason that it typically isn't offered by operators on other routes is that porters would have to carry it.

    On special request, it's possible to hire additional porters to carry bottled water. However, this is usually not recommended.

    Moreover, drinking water provided by high-quality operators is safe to drink.

     

     

    Can I get soft drinks on Mount Kilimanjaro?

    Soft drinks are only sold at the Marangu Huts. Tour operators usually don't offer it on other routes because porters would have to carry the bottles up the mountain.

    On special request, it's possible to hire additional porters to carry your soft drinks. However, this is actually not recommended.

    Depending on your tour operator, it is possible that fruit juices are included.

    Can I get alcoholic beverages on Mount Kilimanjaro?

    Alcohol is forbidden within the boundaries of the Kilimanjaro National Park and is therefore not offered inside the park. Tour operators that partner with Fair Voyage will not let porters carry alcoholic beverages for you.

    Consuming alcohol at a high altitude isn't a great combination anyways.

    As it is allowed at park gates, people there will sell beer to climbers. These are most often sold warm, so you will probably not like it.

    Therefore, in luxury offers, we can include a champagne celebration at the park gate.

    Do I need to purify water before drinking on Mount Kilimanjaro?

    It is not required to purify water yourself if you are climbing with a higher-end operator.

    It is not necessary for any of the offers promoted on Fair Voyage. Regardless of the method, drinking water provided by our high-quality providers is safe to drink.

     

    What will I eat on Mount Kilimanjaro?

    mess Generally speaking, the food that is provided on Kilimanjaro climbing routes will roughly be the same for all tour operators on all routes.

    Depending on the tour operator, they will cater to vegetarians and vegans. They might also take any dietary restrictions into account. Inquire with your tour operator to find out what the possibilities are.

    The food options listed below are meant to give a general overview. As a consequence, they might slightly vary from day-to-day and from tour operator to tour operator.

    Breakfast typically includes toast, French toast, pancakes, eggs and meat like sausage or bacon. Hot or cold cereals can be offered in addition to fruits like oranges, mangos or bananas. It's also possible that cooked vegetables are served.

    Lunch can either be packed or served hot if you take a longer lunch break. A packed lunch typically includes sandwiches with cold meat, tuna, chicken or grilled cheese. The same fruits like breakfast could be offered again. It is also possible that eggs and French fries or chips will be available too.

    A hot lunch will be similar to the dinner menu.

    Your afternoon snack will consist of an array of popcorn, biscuits, nuts and a hot tea or coffee.

    Dinner options include soup, pasta, rice, a variety of prepared vegetables (f.e. in a stew, a curry, boiled or steamed) as well as a variety of meat like beef or chicken (that can f.e. be roasted or in a stew or curry). Usually, potatoes will be offered alongside meat and vegetables. It's also possible that you will get to taste the local dish Ugali which is a porridge made from corn meal. Dessert will consist of fruits like oranges, watermelons, apples, pineapples, mangos or bananas.

    Organization
    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? Browse through our content to find out for yourself, or book a free personal consultation with us.

    Once you know what you want, it's important to find a reputable and reliable tour operator who consistently receives high ratings from past climbers. Of course, you will also want to get your best value-for-money quotation for everything that you'd like included in your package. Search climb offers online, or request your custom quote for a climb quote from us.

    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. 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.

    Hiking Routes
    Overview
    What is Stella Point?

    Stella Point is one of three summit points on Mount Kilimanjaro, next to Gilman's Point and the actual summit – Uhuru Peak.  Situated at the edge of the crater rim, at an altitude of 5,756 meters (18,885 feet), climbers who reach Stella Point will receive the official Kilimanjaro climbing certificate and can proudly claim that they have reached the top of the tallest mountain in Africa.

    What is Gilman's Point?

    Gilman's Point is one of three summit points on Mount Kilimanjaro, next to Stella Point and the actual summit – Uhuru Peak.  Situated at the edge of the crater rim, at an altitude of 5,756 meters (18,885 feet), climbers who reach Gilman's Point will receive the official Kilimanjaro climbing certificate and can proudly claim that they have reached the top of the tallest mountain in Africa.

    What is the Dendrosenecio?

    The Dendrosenecio, also known as Giant Senecio tree, is a plant endemic to high altitude mountains in East Africa.

    A veritable forest of Dendrosenecio trees is found on the southern slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro – one of the mountain's distinct scenic highlights for climbers on the Lemosho, Machame or Umbwe Routes.

    You will also get to see a few rare specimens of the Dendrosenecio species when following the Northern Circuit on the Shira Plateau.

    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.

    Rongai Route
    What is the Rongai Route on Mount Kilimanjaro like?

    The Rongai Route is the only route on Kilimanjaro that ascends from the north, near the border to Kenya. This makes it much less visited than other routes, providing for a true wilderness experience.

    The Rongai Route descends along the Marangu Route in the south-east, providing for a cross-over experience with views of the north, east and south of Mount Kilimanjaro and its surroundings.

    How long does it take to climb Kilimanjaro on the Rongai Route?

    The Rongai Route can be completed through a short and direct approach of the summit in only 5 days, or sometimes extended over 6 days.

    However, we recommend the longer 7-day Rongai Route Itinerary with a detour to Mawenzi in the east of Kibo. This allows more time to acclimatize to the thin air and improves your summit success chance.

    Crater Camp
    What is Crater Camp on Mount Kilimanjaro?

    The Crater Camp is a unique area of Kilimanjaro. At 475 feet (144 meters) below the summit, it is the highest campsite on the mountain. 

    It lies within the Kibo Crater - one of the three volcanic peaks -, this is the one you always see on aerial photos. You can also see it from the summit, but to visit it is a whole different experience.

     

    Why would I want to stay at Crater Camp?

    Crater Camp sits right between the Uhuru peak and the Furtwangler Glacier. While Uhuru is the highest point of Kilimanjaro, the crater actually is the center of the volcano. 

    While staying at Crater Camp, you will literally sleep on the crater floor right next to one of Kilimanjaro's last remaining glaciers. The possibility to stay at the highest camp on the Kilimanjaro is something that only a few climbers get to experience. 

    Crater Camp appeals to those climbers who don’t want to go where everyone else goes but to places that have that special unique edge and thrill.

    Furthermore, you will have the unique opportunity to explore the thick wall of ice of the Furtwangler glacier up close. 

    Another exciting opportunity is a visit to the actual Ash Pit of Kilimanjaro. The Ash Pit is a perfect circle with a width of 395 feet full of boulders and volcanic rocks. You can even still smell the sulfur; better known as the smell of rotten eggs.

     

    What are the risks of staying at Crater Camp?

    Due to its high altitude, staying at Crater Camp camp carries an elevated risk of altitude sickness. This occurs particularly during sleep.

    Moreover, an immediate descent in the case of altitude sickness is not possible. Climbers even need to ascent before they can start to descent.

    This can potentially be very dangerous and even fatal, especially if there is no other way to treat altitude sickness.

     

     

    How can I mitigate those risks?

    A stay at Crater Camp is usually only offered in combination with longer routes. This allows enough time for proper acclimatization and thus decreases the risk of altitude sickness.

    It is also important to check with your tour operator whether hyperbaric chambers will be provided for your climb. This is not a luxury but a real necessity if you stay at Crater Camp, as immediate descent in the case of altitude sickness is not possible.

    To further prepare yourself, please have a look at the Altitude Acclimatization & Sickness section on the Climb Kilimanjaro page.

     

    Which is the best route to combine with Crater Camp?

    Longer routes are ideal to combine with a stay at Crater Camp. These are, for example, the Lemosho Route, the Northern Circuit and the Grand Traverse.

    The tours that we recommend most are the 9-day Lemosho Route with Crater Camp and the 10-day Northern Circuit with Crater Camp.

    The Lemosho Route has an ideal altitude profile that lets you walk high and sleep low. It's ideal preparation for a stay at Crater Camp and it also increases your summit success rate. A potential downside of this otherwise very scenic route is that you'll share this route with many other travellers.

    The Northern Circuit is the longest route on Kilimanjaro and one of the only routes that circumvents the peak on the Northern slopes. This route provides you with the most authentic wilderness experience away from the crowds. It has an excellent altitude profile and even though it's one of the longest routes, it is one of the easiest.

    An alternative option is to pre-acclimitize by climbing nearby Mount Meru. This will allow you to climb Kilimanjaro on a shorter itinerary. However, this means that you will hike a lot more and is therefore only recommendable for very strong and experienced hikers.

    Would you recommend me to stay at the Crater Camp?

    Crater Camp is special because it’s off-the-beaten-track. It allows climbers to stay overnight next to one of Kilimanjaro’s last remaining glaciers. It also gives the opportunity to explore the Ash Pit. This is something that climbers otherwise don’t get to see.

    A stay at Crater Camp definitely adds that extra thrill for ultimate adventurers who are looking for a more unique experience away from the crowds.

    However, combining a climb of Mount Kilimanjaro with a stay at Crater Camp is physically challenging. Due to the high altitude, it's very important that you are properly pre-acclimatized for your overnight stay.

    We only recommend staying at Crater Camp in combination with a longer route that allows you to properly prepare for a high altitude.

     

    Is it better to stay at Crater Camp before or after summiting Mount Kilimanjaro?

    You can stay at Crater Camp both before or after summiting Mount Kilimanjaro.

    Most articles on this topic refer to climbers ascending Kilimanjaro via the Western Breach route. They stay overnight at Crater Camp and then ascend the summit. However, we recommend avoiding the dangerous Western Breach at all times.

    Moreover, it is possible to combine Crater Camp with all other routes. In this case, you always reach Crater Camp via Stella Point at the crater rim. From an acclimatization point of view, the altitude difference between Stella Point and Uhuru Peak is not significant. Therefore, you can actually choose when you'd like to stay overnight at Crater Camp.

    It's possible to descend to Crater Camp straight from Stella Point. You can then spend the afternoon exploring the crater and ascend to Uhuru Peak the next day. Alternatively, you can ascend Uhuru Peak from Stella Point and go to Crater Camp afterwards. The next morning, you can either explore the crater or ascend to Uhuru Peak a second time to see the sunrise. Both options are possible and can usually be discussed and agreed with the guide on the spot, depending on how everyone in the group is doing.

    Western Breach Route
    Do you recommend the Western Breach route?

    We do not recommend the Western Breach route. Due to the unnecessary risks associated with the Western Breach, we highly recommend climbers to consider alternative routes. If you are not convinced yet, please make sure to read James Balog’s eyewitness account about the 2015 deadly rockfall incident on National Geographic: Tragedy on Kilimanjaro.

    If after educating yourself thoroughly about the risks involved you still wish to ascend to the summit via the Western Breach, please make sure to only book with a responsible tour operator who can provide you with a well-trained and experienced guide.

    Please request your custom quote from us, and we will recommend the best tour operators to you for a private climb. As it is important that all group members are of roughly equal physical abilities and mountain experience in order to minimize your risks when climbing the Western Breach, please also note that responsible tour operators will not operate open group climbs for the Western Breach, and we are unable to open such new group climb for you.

    You can find out more information about some of the other, safer routes that are equally off-the-beaten-track  – even though not recommended due to the increased risk of altitude sickness – on our Climb Kilimanjaro Experience page.

     

     

     

    Comparison
    Is the Lemosho Route more authentic than the Machame Route?

    Both the Lemosho and Machame Route have spectacular scenery that gives you an authentic view of the Kilimanjaro landscape. In fact, both routes join halfway through and are identical thereafter. They both include many of Kilimanjaro's most distinctive landmarks including hiking up to Lava Tower, clambering over the Barranco Wall, and passing through the eerie Dendrosenecio forest.

    While both routes are popular, there are still more climbers following the Machame Route. Therefore, one could argue that the Lemosho Route offers a slightly more authentic experience away from the crowds during the initial days of your climb.

    Which is the shortest route to climb Kilimanjaro?

    The 5-Day Umbwe route is the shortest hiking route in terms of distance. It has the most direct path to Uhuru Peak. Alternatively, the 5-Day Rongai Route can be completed in the same amount of time.

    However, don't mistake short for easy as the opposite is true on Kilimanjaro. You still need to conquer almost the same altitude difference as on any route. The shorter the route is, the steeper is its path and the less time you have to acclimatize to the high altitude.

    Therefore, only pre-acclimatized or very fit climbers who are confident of their ability to acclimatize to the high altitude should choose a short route. 

    What is the difference between Northern Circuit and the Grand Traverse?

    The Northern Circuit and the Grand Traverse are the longest routes on the Kilimanjaro. They both circumvent the peak on the northern slope and offer 360° degree views of the peak and afar. It offers some of the most diverse and spectacular scenery on Kilimanjaro.

    The biggest difference between the two routes is that climbers on the Grand Traverse get driven up to a fairly high altitude of 3,400 meters (11,200 feet) on their first day, along with the old Shira evacuation route. This makes the Grand Traverse a shorter and less challenging variation. The route is typically completed in 8 days: 8-day Grand Traverse Itinerary.

    Which is the best hiking route on Mount Kilimanjaro?

    The truth is there is no single best hiking route that works for every trekker. For example, if you really value the scenery, then the Lemosho, Shira, Northern Circuit, Umbwe and Machame routes probably offer the most scenic and diverse landscapes.

    However, if better acclimatization is a priority for you, then a longer route like the Northern Circuit is the best choice.

    If you want the shortest (i.e. steepest) route and are used to high altitudes, then Umbwe may be a good fit.

    And, if you averse to crawling into a tent, consider staying in one of the huts on the Marangu routes. These come complete with beds and sleeping huts.

    Which is the easiest route?

    'Easy' means different things to different people. The same applies to the difficulty of the routes to climb Kilimanjaro. Therefore, we focus on two criteria:  the amount of walking per day and the and the amount of ascent.

    The 8-day Machame Route is your best bet for an easy route as it has the least amount of walking per day of all routes. Add to that the benefit of  "hike high, sleep low". This really helps with continuous altitude acclimatization.

    However, if you are more concerned about the ascents rather than the amount of walking, then the 8-day Grand Traverse is your best option. This route has the least amount of ascent to start with. Since it's also a longer route, it also offers plenty of time for good acclimatization.

    Which is the safest route to climb Mount Kilimanjaro?

    The biggest cause of fatality on Kilimanjaro is altitude sickness. Therefore, the safest route will be the one which allows for the best acclimatization.

    The Northern Circuit and Grand Traverse are the longest routes on Kilimanjaro. They also offer plenty of opportunities to climb high and sleep low. This is the best way to get your body used to the high altitude and reduce the severity of altitude sickness. Therefore, they have the highest summit success rates.

    However, on any route, it is most important that you don't push beyond your limits and follow an experienced guide who will assist with descent if required. If you do so, all the popular routes may be considered more or less equally safe or risky.

    Besides acclimatization, the routes that avoid the dangerous Western Breach are definitely safer than the routes that don't. To go even further, some routes also avoid the Barranco Wall. Therefore, the Northern Circuit, the Grand Traverse and the Rongai route could be deemed safest.

    Choosing Your Itinerary
    Overview
    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.

    Please contact us for a tailor-made recommendation.

    Safety
    Which is the best Kilimanjaro hiking route for altitude acclimatization?

    The best routes for altitude acclimatization allow you to climb high during the day and sleep low at night. Climbing high during the daytime gets your body used to the high altitude. By sleeping at a lower elevation during the night, your body has enough time to take a break from the lack of oxygen associated with higher elevations. You should also ascend slowly over multiple days so that your body can acclimatize better.

    7-day Machame, 8-day Lemosho, 8-day Grand Traverse and 9-day Northern Circuit (including acclimatization hike to Lava Tower) are all excellent routes for altitude acclimatization that allow you to hike high, sleep low and ascend slowly over multiple days.

    Summit success
    Which Kilimanjaro route has the the highest summit success chance?

    The Kilimanjaro routes with the highest summit success rates are those with the best altitude profile so that you can acclimatize to the thin air before attempting your final summit push.

    Climbing high during the day and sleeping low at night is ideal. Furthermore, it's important to ascend slowly over multiple days so that your body has more time to get used to the high altitude.

    8-day Machame, 8-day Lemosho, 8-day Grand Traverse and 9-day Northern Circuit (including acclimatization hike to Lava Tower) are all excellent routes for altitude acclimatization that allow you to hike high, sleep low and ascend slowly over multiple days. With the right preparation and the right guide, these routes all have a summit success chance of close to 100%.

    Recommendation
    Which Kilimanjaro route do you most recommend?

    For most climbers who prefer to scale the mountain when the weather is sunny and dry, and to maximize your summit success chance without having had prior high altitude experience, our most recommended routes are:

    • 8-day Lemosho Route: Best scenery and easy to join an open group climb, as long as you don't mind the crowds
    • 8-day Machame Route: Easiest route with the best scenery, as long as you don't mind the crowds
    • 8-day Grand Traverse: Easiest route in authentic wilderness, as long as you don't mind missing some scenic highlights
    • 9-day Northern Circuit: A somewhat more difficult alternative to the Grand Traverse (similar to Lemosho), yet with more opportunity to acclimatize and more scenic variety compared to the Grand Traverse

    Arguably, 8 or 9 days on the mountain may sound just a bit too long. If you prefer a group climb, you will also be somewhat limited in your choice of affordable options for the above routes. So if either time or budget is a constraint, then we recommend:

    • 7-day Machame Route: Most popular route with great scenery and ideal profile for altitude acclimatization (similar to Lemosho, just shorter)
    • 7-day Rongai Route: Authentic wilderness away from the crowds. However, the scenery and profile are not as good as the Machame Route.
    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? Browse through our content to find out for yourself, or book a free personal consultation with us.

    Once you know what you want, it's important to find a reputable and reliable tour operator who consistently receives high ratings from past climbers. Of course, you will also want to get your best value-for-money quotation for everything that you'd like included in your package. Search climb offers online, or request your custom quote for a climb quote from us.

    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. 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.

    Guides
    How many guides will there be for my group when climbing Kilimanjaro?

    When climbing Kilimanjaro, you must have at most 2 climbers per guide, and at least 2 guides for groups of 2 climbers or more.

    This ensures that there will always be enough guides to assist climbers who require descent, while at the same time allowing all other climbers to continue their summit ascent safely.

    The minimum guide-to-climber ratios are stipulated by Kilimanjaro National Park regulations and they apply to all climbs booked via Fair Voyage. So for every group, there will always be one lead guide, and we have classified all other guides as assistant guides.

    Please beware that guides and companies operating illegally on Kilimanjaro may not adhere to these minimum ratios, which can lead to dangerous, life-threatening situations. While it may be tempting to save costs by booking with a low-budget operator, your financial savings may come at the cost of your own safety.

    Minimum ratio of Kilimanjaro climbers per guide for all climbs booked via Fair Voyage:
    ClimbersGuides
    1 climber1 guide
    2 climbers2 guides
    3 climbers2 guides
    4 climbers2 guides
    5 climbers3 guides
    6 climbers3 guides
    7 climbers4 guides
    8 climbers4 guides
    9 climbers5 guides
    10 climbers5 guides
    11 climbers6 guides
    12 climbers6 guides
    Inclusions
    Is it worthwhile to have a portable mountain shower for my Kilimanjaro climb?

    Whether it's worthwhile to have a portable mountain shower for your Kilimanjaro climb depends on your personal preferences. Most climbers do not need it, while those who have it wouldn't want to miss it.

    If you're new to camping in the wild for consecutive nights, imagining a week without a shower may be a scary thought. However, most climbers will find that it's not as uncomfortable as they imagine it to be. Overcoming this initial fear is all part of the unique personal growth experience that makes Kilimanjaro such a rewarding mountain to climb. In hindsight, you will likely feel proud of having managed a week without a shower. Even though operators who offer mountain showers would typically also provide warm water, you may also find it too cold to take off your clothes and shower.

    Climbers who book a portable mountain shower & wash tent, on the other hand, also tend to use it. They enjoy the comfort and flexibility to take a shower on days when they don't feel too cold, and are happy about their decision to book that includes a warm mountain shower.

    Is it worthwhile to have a walk-in tent and cot for my Kilimanjaro climb?

    If you prefer more comfort, it may be worthwhile to upgrade your climb with a walk-in tent and sleeping cot. Crawling in and out of standard sized tents multiple times a day can become quite tedious for some people. The space may also feel very confined with not much room to spread out your gear or get changed, especially when shared between two climbers. A larger tent will feel more spacious and give you more room to move. On the flip side, larger tents will also feel colder because they don't trap the heat as well.

    Whether you feel more comfortable sleeping on a cot compared to standard foam sleeping mats used on the mountain is very individual. Cots can feel more comfortable to sleep on for some people, as they're softer and give the feeling of a familiar frame bed. For others, however, the relatively narrow width of cots may feel less comfortable compared to sleeping closer to the ground, where you can simply rest your arms or legs on the floor if you need more space.

    Toilets & Sanitation
    Is it worthwhile to have a portable mountain shower for my Kilimanjaro climb?

    Whether it's worthwhile to have a portable mountain shower for your Kilimanjaro climb depends on your personal preferences. Most climbers do not need it, while those who have it wouldn't want to miss it.

    If you're new to camping in the wild for consecutive nights, imagining a week without a shower may be a scary thought. However, most climbers will find that it's not as uncomfortable as they imagine it to be. Overcoming this initial fear is all part of the unique personal growth experience that makes Kilimanjaro such a rewarding mountain to climb. In hindsight, you will likely feel proud of having managed a week without a shower. Even though operators who offer mountain showers would typically also provide warm water, you may also find it too cold to take off your clothes and shower.

    Climbers who book a portable mountain shower & wash tent, on the other hand, also tend to use it. They enjoy the comfort and flexibility to take a shower on days when they don't feel too cold, and are happy about their decision to book that includes a warm mountain shower.

    Open Group Tours
    When joining a Kilimanjaro group climb, can I customize it to make it cheaper?

    Unfortunately, when joining an open group trek to climb Kilimanjaro, it is not possible to downgrade the package to make it cheaper. For example, you might not require emergency oxygen or a dining tent that are included in the climb package. However, the cost of these items is already factored into the price paid by other climbers.

    It wouldn't be fair to them if they would be required to pay more, and it could lead to friction in your climbing group.

    In case of emergency, of course your guide would use the emergency oxygen paid for by other climbers for your safety benefit. Other climbers may be annoyed about you getting a free ride at their cost.

    However, to the extent allowed by Kilimanjaro National Park regulations, it is always possible to downgrade and fully customize a private group climb.

    This may help you save a lot of money if you are a group of at least 5 climbers booking together. If you are a solo traveller, or you are travelling as a couple, please note it would almost always be cheaper to join a higher-quality group climb, then organize your own lower-quality budget climb.

    When joining a Kilimanjaro group climb, can I go my own pace?

    When joining an open group to climb Kilimanjaro, please note that you will have to adjust your walking speed to that of others, which typically means the pace of the slowest person in your group. It is not uncommon for this to create some frustrations amongst group members. Faster climbers would prefer to go ahead and take less frequent breaks, while the slowest person may feel pressured to walk faster.

    When booking a group trek, please expect that you will need to adjust to the pace and needs of the entire group. Furthermore, you will not be able to adjust your itinerary spontaneously (unless needed), such as shorten your climb by a day if you feel that you can go faster. While there will always be a sufficiently high guide to client ratio to assist with early descent if needed, groups will not split up to accommodate the preference of some climbers to walk faster than others.

    If you prefer more flexibility during your climb to set your own pace and adjust your itinerary while climbing, please contact us for private climbing packages.

    Accommodation
    Is it worthwhile to have a walk-in tent and cot for my Kilimanjaro climb?

    If you prefer more comfort, it may be worthwhile to upgrade your climb with a walk-in tent and sleeping cot. Crawling in and out of standard sized tents multiple times a day can become quite tedious for some people. The space may also feel very confined with not much room to spread out your gear or get changed, especially when shared between two climbers. A larger tent will feel more spacious and give you more room to move. On the flip side, larger tents will also feel colder because they don't trap the heat as well.

    Whether you feel more comfortable sleeping on a cot compared to standard foam sleeping mats used on the mountain is very individual. Cots can feel more comfortable to sleep on for some people, as they're softer and give the feeling of a familiar frame bed. For others, however, the relatively narrow width of cots may feel less comfortable compared to sleeping closer to the ground, where you can simply rest your arms or legs on the floor if you need more space.

    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
    Vaccinations & Medications
    How do I avoid contracting malaria when travelling to Tanzania?

    We strongly recommend taking anti-malarials preventatively. We suggest you consult your physician to decide which drug could work best for you. Besides medication, the single best precaution to protect yourself against contracting malaria is by preventing mosquito bites.

    Mosquitos that are responsible for transmitting malaria are most active during dusk and dawn. In general, it's recommended to stay indoors at this time. If your room has no air-conditioning or isn't well-screened, it's best to sleep under a mosquito net.

    Whenever you are outside at this time, you can protect yourself by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants and a hat in a very light colour. Apply insect repellent to all exposed skin, but not under your clothes, and wear clothes that are treated with permethrin. Also, burn mosquito coils when you are sitting outside.

    You can choose to only use mosquito repellent at this time, but you can also use it throughout the day. This way you protect yourself against different types of mosquitos that are active during the day. Among them are mosquitos that carry yellow fever and dengue fever.

    In the occasion that you feel ill with flu-like symptoms, it's important to seek professional medical help right away.

    Gear & Packing
    Electronics
    What is a solar charger?

    A solar charger is a device consisting of small solar panels that convert solar energy into electricity. This can be used to power electronic devices like smartphones, tablets and other devices. You can also use it to charge a battery pack if you wish to combine the two.

    A solar charger is usually portable and needs to be put in sunlight to be able to charge. Once there is sunlight, you have a limitless supply of electricity. As it is clean energy, it doesn't have a carbon footprint. 

     

    Should I bring a solar charger for Mount Kilimanjaro?

    As there are no power points on Mount Kilimanjaro, a solar charger is your best option if you want to be able to power up your devices during your entire climb.

    A solar charger provides an endless supply of electricity as long as the sun is shining. However, the weather on Kilimanjaro can be erratic. Therefore, it is potentially interesting to combine a solar charger with a battery pack.

    Also, keep in mind that the panels need direct sunlight to be able to charge your devices. While you walk, you are moving and potentially changing direction which disrupts and, as a result, slows down the charging process.

    When choosing a solar charger, do not only pay attention to how many Watts of power they offer. You should also pay attention to their size and weight. These are important aspects to consider since you can only take a limited amount of weight on your climb.

     

     

     

    Fair Porter Treatment
    Overview
    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. These 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.

    Wages
    How are porters exploited?

    At Fair Voyage, we strive to create a safer working environment for tourism workers across the globe. With Kilimanjaro being one of our most popular destinations, we have a particular focus on ending the exploitation of porters in Tanzania, who often suffer the tragic consequences of unsafe working environments and low pay.

    To understand the situation that many of these Kilimanjaro porters face, it is important to be aware of the hierarchy that exists. Unfortunately, as the situation currently stands, porters are at the bottom of the pecking order.

    With so many tourism companies competing to offer the lowest prices, budget operators often try to take shortcuts to save money and this impacts porters the most, who get low wages as a result.

    Most porters work on a freelance basis and are often forced to walk for many miles per day to get to Kilimanjaro National Park in the search for jobs. Unfortunately, however, they may even have to bribe one of the tour guides and pay an upfront ‘fee’ to get a job in the first place.

    However, even those who do get a job are only slightly better off. Budget operators take advantage of the desperation of these workers and pay them the bare minimum they can get away with.

    Do Kilimanjaro porters get a minimum wage?

    Although there is a minimum wage for porters, TZS 20,000 (ca. US $9), operators usually pay much less than that. Some porters do not get paid at all for their work.

    As a result, porters rely on tourists to get a tip to feed their family. With budget operators, tourists may find that they are hassled to give a bigger tip than they ordinarily would. Many tourists pay these tips in the belief that it will help the porters.

    However, what they may not realise is that all too often, porters may then be cheated out of any tips they earn by guides who instead of distributing the tips to the porters, will sometimes keep it for himself.

    Safety
    Why does inadequate equipment and preparation endanger lives?

    Many budget companies do not equip their porters with adequate equipment. As a consequence, porters are forced to sleep in poor quality tents and blankets instead of sleeping bags.

    They are also not given the footwear they need to navigate their way up the terrain. This becomes increasingly problematic when temperatures start to drop.

    At night time, the temperatures usually drop below zero. Without adequate shelter and clothing, it is not unheard of for some porters to die as a result of being exposed to these extreme temperatures. When this happens, they are simply replaced by other porters who are subjected to the same conditions.

    All of this is compounded by the fact that some porters may get just one or two meals per day, which does not sustain them adequately for the journey ahead.

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