Kilimanjaro Summit

  • © Copyright Emily Townsend
  • © Copyright Emily Townsend
  • © Copyright Emily Townsend
  • © Copyright Emily Townsend
  • Mt Kilimanjaro -  - © Copyright Arabella Cecil
  • © Copyright Emily Townsend
  • © Copyright Emily Townsend
  • © Copyright Emily Townsend
  • © Copyright Emily Townsend
  • It was the bluest day, and we were rewarded with clear views - © Arabella Cecil
  • Kili as Earth Mother - her flanks support rain and cloud forest to 9,500ft - © Arabella Cecil
  • Kili"s ephemeral gifts - time and mental space - © Arabella Cecil
  • Porters and Film Crew - waiting for 1st light at Arrow Glacier Camp (15,500ft). Hoping to beat the mists - © Arabella Cecil

Key information: Kilimanjaro Summit

  • The highest mountain in Africa, a spectacular, charismatic freestanding volcano. Justly famous, but can suffer from crowding.
    • Pass through varied ecosystems, gaze at cliffs, caves and lava fields. Catch the vast views at dawn.
      • Six-day (or more) treks, using huts or camping on the lesser-known routes.
        • This is a high walk and very tough, turning into an altitudinous slog at the end: be prepared.

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating84
  • Beauty34
  • Natural interest19
  • Human interest3
  • Charisma36
  • Negative points8
  • Total rating84
  • Note: Negs: altitude misery, crowds leaving huts on best known paths, miserable final slog on scree to the crater rim.

Vital Statistics

  • Length: Variable
  • 6 days upward
  • Maximum Altitude: 5,896m
  • Level of Difficulty: Very Difficult
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It was the bluest day, and we were rewarded with clear views - © Arabella Cecil

WALK SUMMARY

The highest mountain in Africa, and the highest free-standing mountain in the world: Kilimanjaro is spectacular, romantic and a famous bag; but the 40,000 people on the mountain each year make at times for crowded huts and trails on the summit approaches. You will feel triumph and exhilaration if you are one of the 40% who reach the peak, which your altitude misery will not wholly ruin. Most people, though, are too debilitated by headache, nausea or worse to manage the final ascent. This is one tough mother.

You can understand why Kilimanjaro has been so admired, and draws adventurers from all round the world. A view of it, on a rare clear day, towering in all it majesty above the acacia plains of East Africa, breathes life into that tired word "iconic".

You will ascend through dense rainforest, damp giant heather, sparse scrub moorland, alpine desert, and then rock and ice, deep into a complex of volcanic craters, cliffs and glaciers. As the trail climbs, you may catch spectacular views across a region of natural wonders and you should spot animals of interest - eagles and buzzards will soar above but bigger game is scarce, unlike on neighbouring Mt Meru.

The most popular route to the summit is the Marangu (Cola-Cola) trail, from Marangu village and the Kilimajaro National Park headquarters. This is the only all-hutted route and the most direct. As a result it gets the highest numbers. There are several other routes, which are likely to be less crowded and happier experiences, but all require camping, and thus a larger and more expensive expedition. See "Routes", below.

The final night-time ascent to the summit, to catch the views at sunrise, will be tough and not much fun (a long arduous slog on frozen scree, nose to the bum in front), but should be fabulously rewarding if you make it, as you gaze across the sea of clouds covering the slumbering Tanzanian plains, toward the dim outline of Meru on the pre-dawn horizon.

The altitude will be very tough, so physical fitness and mental preparation, as well as ample time for proper acclimatisation, will make for a more enjoyable trek and increase your chances of getting to the top. Ideally, you will climb Mt Meru or Mt Kenya (albeit demanding in their own right) as a warm-up.

It is a requirement of the Kilimanjaro National Park to have a Tanzanian guide to ensure safety and to organise suitable lodgings/camping, food and porters (you really won't want to carry everything yourself to these heights).

Kili patriots will be shocked that the ascent of this famous mountain does not make our Top 100. In the end, however, drama and boasting rights do not compensate for the miseries of life at 19,000 ft. If you only have time for one mountain here, tackle Meru or Kenya.

See our Kilimanjaro Massif page for further information on Kili.

Other accounts: share your experiences

Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

We have a lot of helpful practical information and tips about this walk, covering everything from the best books and maps, to timing and weather, geting there, possible problems, whether you need a guide and where to find them, and useful websites. This section is only open to members.

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Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

COMMUNITY COMMENTS AND PHOTOS

Name: ZiaraSafaris
Posted on: 31/03/2011
http://www.ziarasafaris.com/

Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

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Kili's ephemeral gifts - time and mental space - © Arabella Cecil

OTHER ACCOUNTS
share your experiences

Add your experiences, suggestions and photos. We would be delighted to receive your writing and ideas (which will be attributed appropriately where published).

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

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Porters and Film Crew - waiting for 1st light at Arrow Glacier Camp (15,500ft). Hoping to beat the mists - © Arabella Cecil...
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