Everything You Need To Know About Climbing Kilimanjaro

Climbing Kilimanjaro Soon? Don’t forget about Malaria, Altitude Sickness and Water!

Climbing Africa’s highest mountain is not an easy feat. Mt Kilimanjaro is found in Tanzania and is 5895m (19340ft) above sea level. Every year nearly 16,500 climb hike to the summit. Most make it but many don’t carry on reading to find out why!

Fact: Did you know that Mount Kilimanjaro is comprised of 3 dormant volcanic cones 

Where Is Mount Kilimanjaro?

Kilimanjaro is located in the Kilimanjaro National Park close to the border of Tanzania and Kenya. It is just a short 2-hour drive from the city of Arusha.

How To Get To Kilimanjaro

Getting to Mt Kilimanjaro couldn’t be easier as it has its own airport! Mount Kilimanjaro International Airport located just 40km from the mountain. Mount Kilimanjaro airport accepts flights from all over the world. If you are travelling from the UK, you will need to travel via the following:

  • Addis Ababa (Ethiopia)
  • Amsterdam (Netherlands)
  • Doha (Qatar), Dubai (UAE)
  • Nairobi (Kenya)

Other routes are likely to be available. The routes listed above fly with major airlines like British Airways, Emirates, KLM and Ethiopian Airlines.

Trekking Kilimanjaro The ‘Right’ Way

There are many companies that lead expeditions up the mountain. The most important decision you need to make is which company treats the porters and guides the best! Treks up Kilimanjaro provide employment for many local Tanzanians, but working conditions can be poor. Make sure you travel ethically and sustainably and find a reputable company. A reputable company will give rights to their porters. This means that they are fairly paid and ensures that they do not carry excessive weight. A great porter will make or break your climb!

How Long Does It Take To Climb Kilimanjaro?

This depends on a number of different factors, for example, which route you take. But the average timeframe for climbing Kilimanjaro is between 4 and 9 days.

It is not all about getting to the top as quickly as possible though! It is recommended that less-seasoned walkers take between 7 to 9 days to make the walk. This not only increases your success rate but also lowers the risk of altitude sickness.

What Route Should I Take Up Kilimanjaro?

At 5895m tall, Kilimanjaro is a significant challenge! Even if you are super fit or an experienced walker or climber, this will be a testing trek! This is why it is important that you are fully prepared and you plan your route thoroughly.

The route you take up the mountain will either make or break your expedition. Some of the routes are straightforward, for example, the Marangu Route which is 4 days, 4 nights. Some of the routes are less straightforward, such as the Umbwe route. We would not recommend this unless you are an experienced climber, due to the steep terrain.

The routes that give the greatest success are not always easily apparent. For example on the popular and easy Marungu rate, only 25% to 33% of trekkers reach the summit. Whilst the success rate on other routes like the Machame route is closer to 75%. There are many factors but the most logical explanations are:

  • The Marungu route is often taken by budget-conscious travellers who are perhaps ill-prepared for the climb ahead. Make no mistake, this is referred to as the straightforward route, but it’s by no means easy! You must prepare your body for a challenge like this! This is because even at base camp, the altitude is 1600m! Which if you have just flown in from the UK will be a shock to most of us!
  • The Marungu route does not permit camping, and so is cheaper as fewer porters are required to carry the equipment. Instead, you sleep in mountain huts. It is also cheaper as it is a quicker route taking only 4 days to reach the summit! That is 4 days to adjust to an altitude difference of 4295m. If you have just flown in from the UK the day before then its just 5-6 days for 5895m!

 What Does TravelPharm Recommend?

It is simply not possible to acclimatise to altitudes of nearly 6000m in less than a week! So we would recommend the following:

  • Consider using Altitude Sickness Medicines. For example Acetazolamide 250mg tablets, also known as Diamox.
  • Keep yourself hydrated! Drink plenty of water on your trip! Hiking up mountains is hard, thirsty work!
  • Have a few days before the climb in Tanzania. Arusha the nearest city is 1400m above sea level and would make a great starting point.
  • Choose a climb that will take longer than 4 days. The highest success rates are likely to be achieved in the longer steady routes. These have a short day prior to the final climb to the summit. This allows maximum recovery time before the final push to the summit. An example is the Lemosho route taking 6-8 days.
  • In the area for a while? Why not climb Mount Meru? Mount Meru is no less of a challenge and stands at 4565m high. Why climb Meru? It’s an excellent warm-up for Mount Kilimanjaro and has none of the crowds!
  • Be prepared! Take this trek very seriously. Our pharmacist Andy has trekked in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area with a guide who used to be a guide on Kilimanjaro. He said his main role was keeping the climbers fixed on the goal of reaching the top. This is because the climb is not just physically demanding, but mentally demanding also.

What Next?

Learning about the trek and planning your route and flights is just the beginning of your adventure!

Have you stopped to consider Malaria Prevention? Altitude Sickness? First Aid and Drinking-Water?

Well, we have you covered! We have put together a range of handy, in-depth guides to help you with all of these extra factors, some of which you might not have even considered! These are all specifically related to Mount Kilimanjaro, to ensure you get the right advice to help you on your trek.

Click the links below to find out more about:

Altitude Sickness Medication And Symptoms (Read More)

Anti-Malaria Prevention (Read More)

Walking/Trekking First Aid (Read More)

Staying Hydrated Safely (Read More)

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