Kilimanjaro – The Essential facts
1. WHERE IS KILIMANJARO
Kilimanjaro is in Tanzania, East Africa, right on the border with Kenya.
2.HOW HIGH IS IT
There are various estimates as to how high it is. But most people use the figure of 5895m. This is the height you will find printed on the certificates handed out to those who successfully reach the summit.
3.CAN ANYONE CLIMB KILIMANJARO
In one sense, yes. All the main routes up the mountain are really just walking routes. So you don’t need to be a mountaineer. Sure, there are a couple of places on some routes where you may need to use your hands to steady yourself. Occasionally you may also need to haul yourself over a rock or two. But overall, it’s just a walk. Indeed, there are a couple of people who’ve climbed up the mountain in wheelchairs, so the ability to walk isn’t even a pre-requisite. Don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s easy.
4.CAN I CLIMB KILIMANJARO WITHOUT GUIDES AND PORTERS
Not any more. In 1991 the park authorities made it compulsory for all climbers to sign up with an agency. They in turn will provide you with a crew (consisting of a guide and his assistants, a cook and several porters). You can thus no longer turn up at the foot of Kili with a rucksack of food and clothes and hope to do it all yourself. The choice of which agency to sign up with is thus the most important decision you’ll have to make. Which is why we provide an extensive review of all the major ones in the guidebook.
5.WHICH COMPANY SHOULD I BOOK WITH?
Everybody has different idea of what they want from their trek. Of course, everybody wants a safe and enjoyable trek. However, you may also be very concerned about the welfare of the guides, porters and crew who accompany you on the trek. Other climbers will just want the cheapest trek – while not compromising on safety. Some climbers will want a few home comforts on their trek, such as a mess tent. Others will want minimal comfort, and may even want to carry their own rucksack. Some trekkers will want to take a quiet or unusual route away from the crowds. Some climbers want a private trek; others will prefer to climb with others. And so on, and so on…
11.HOW MUCH DOES IT COST
Not cheap, I’m afraid. The absolute cheapest (and not recommended) Kilimanjaro trek will set you back about US$1800. Most companies charge in the region of US$2000-3500. Some actually charge US$5000 or more! That said, that anybody who has climbed to the summit will agree that whatever price you pay, it’s worth it.
12. WHAT'S THE BEST TIME TO CLIMB KILIMANJARO
The main trekking seasons on Kilimanjaro correspond with the mountain’s two ‘dry’ seasons. These are January to mid-March and June to October. Note that it will still probably rain on your trek during these months too – it’s rare to climb without getting rained on at least once. You can read more about the mountain’s seasons by visiting our BEST TIME TO CLIMB PAGE.
13.HOW DO I GET TO KILIMANJARO
You can of course travel overland and on this website we have a whole section devoted to travelling in Tanzania. But for most people the only option is to fly.
19.WHAT ANIMALS CAN I SEE
There’s plenty of wildlife on Kilimanjaro, though your chances of seeing much are slim. This is largely because the animals prefer to avoid those parts of the mountain where more than 40,000 people tread every year. For this reason, you’ll be lucky to see anything larger than a monkey or a mouse. That said, every so often a reader will write in to say that they saw a buffalo, eland, leopard or elephant on the trail.
20.WHAT ARE THE TOILET LIKE ON KILIMANJARO
Improving. Time was when many toilets were so full they started to develop their own geological formation. Neither stalagmite nor stalactite, but stalagshite. Thankfully, the park authorities are starting to tackle the problem. They have built some state-of-the-art eco-toilets at the major campsites. In addition, many decent trekking companies now provide their clients with their own private toilets.
21.WHAT LANGUAGE DO THEY SPEAK ON KILIMANJARO
The national language is Swahili. But on Kilimanjaro the local language is Kichagga, spoken by the Chagga people
The policy towards this varies from company to company and on the severity of the injury/illness. However, usually the injured/unwell party will be accompanied down the mountain by an assistant guide while the rest of the party continue their ascent.