hiking mount kilimanjaro

How Long Does It Take To Climb Mount Kilimanjaro?

If putting on your boots to tread the path trodden by some of the world’s bravest men and women excites you, buckle up as I take you on a thrilling journey to climb Africa’s rooftop. Imagine standing amidst the vast wilderness, gazing at a carpet of clouds beneath you while feeling an unparalleled sense of accomplishment. Now snap back from this reverie—and face Mount Kilimanjaro. How long does it take to conquer this natural skyscraper? Is it half of ‘Into Thin Air’ or more akin to ‘A Year in Provence’? Grab your ice-axes and crampons because today we’re sketching a timeframe for ascending the snow-crowned jewel of Tanzania.

The duration of the Mount Kilimanjaro hike varies depending on the route taken, but it generally takes between 5-9 days to reach Uhuru Peak and descend to the finishing point. Trekkers who spend only 5 days have a lower success rate compared to those who spend 8-9 days, as acclimatization is a crucial factor in reaching the summit. It’s essential to choose a route that provides ample time for acclimatization, which can greatly increase your chances of success while ensuring your safety.

Factors Influencing the Duration of Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro can be a life-changing experience with breathtaking views and an unforgettable sense of accomplishment after reaching the summit. However, it is essential to understand that climbing duration depends on several factors, including the route taken, acclimatization, the climber’s fitness level, and weather conditions.

Trekkers who spend only five days on the climb have lower success rates in reaching the summit. In contrast, those who spend eight or nine days have a much better chance of making it to the top. This discrepancy arises because altitude sickness is a common problem for climbers attempting to conquer Mount Kilimanjaro. With a slower pace on longer routes, trekkers can adapt better to the high altitude and reduce their chances of suffering from this illness.

Acclimatization is one of the vital factors influencing how long it takes to climb Mount Kilimanjaro successfully. The trek requires going slowly- I mean “pole pole” in Swahili. Going slow allows your body too acclimatize and adjust to the decreasing oxygen levels at higher altitudes. Therefore, opting for shorter hikes can be detrimental to achieving acclimatization and may increase your risk of experiencing altitude sickness.

Physical fitness is an important factor that determines how quickly you can reach the summit but does not help you acclimatize any better. A fit person who rushes up Kilimanjaro may experience altitude illness faster than someone who maintains a steady pace even though they are less physically fit. Therefore, prioritizing acclimatization over physical fitness should be a crucial factor in deciding how many days you will take to ascend and descend the mountain.

Each route up Mount Kilimanjaro varies in terms of length, types of accommodation, difficulty level, terrain and other factors. The Marangu or Umbwe routes are the shortest to the summit, but they may not be suitable for most hikers. Climbers must consider longer treks such as Lemosho, Machame, and Rongai or the Northern Circuit route, which takes 6-10 days and increases acclimatization chances.

The choice you make can be compared to a decision between two cars made by brands renowned for reliability versus an untested company with a cheaper price tag.

  • Most treks to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, Uhuru Peak, range between 5 to 9 days depending on chosen routes.
  • According to mountain guides and park officials, trekkers who spend 8 or 9 days on their journey have a significantly higher summit success rate compared to those who do it in fewer days.
  • Statistics show that the summit success rate is strongly linked to acclimatization; a gradual ascent over several days gives hikers’ bodies time to adapt to high altitude conditions, effectively increasing their chances of reaching the peak.
  • Successfully climbing Mount Kilimanjaro requires prioritizing acclimatization over physical fitness and choosing a longer route to increase your chances of reaching the summit. Opting for shorter hikes or rushing up the mountain can increase your risk of altitude sickness, which is common among climbers. Understand that climbing duration depends on several factors, including the chosen route, acclimatization, fitness level, and weather conditions. Think carefully about your decision as you would weigh between cars made by reputable brands versus an untested company with a cheaper price tag.

Choosing the Right Route

Choosing the right route is crucial in determining how many days it will take to reach the Mount Kilimanjaro summit. Each route has varying lengths, difficulty levels, and scenery that affects your experience on the climb.

The Marangu route is the easiest and shortest way up Kilimanjaro but has a high-density of trekkers throughout the year. It is a less scenic path with dormitory-style accommodation and shared bathrooms along the way. In contrast, the Lemosho route offers beautiful scenery, fewer trekkers, luxurious accommodation options such as en-suite rooms and flush toilets in some campsites.

Climbers should choose a route that aligns with their fitness levels and gives them ample time to adjust to changing altitudes to prevent altitude sickness. For instance, 7-8 day treks offer higher summit success rates at moderate altitudes because they facilitate gradual adaptation process.

Although shorter climbs improve your physical endurance to tackle challenges in mountaineering. Shortening trek duration can affect your body’s ability to adjust to higher elevated positions resulting in altitude pullbacks.Treating Kilimanjaro as just another “mountain” rather than respecting its unique ascent due to changes in climate and biodiversity would compromise any perceived benefits of shortening your trip.

Just as perfect timing is critical when catching different waves during surfing, choosing the right route is essential in climbing Kilimanjaro. An experienced surfer knows the right time to catch a wave might change with different water and weather conditions, which he can prepare for in advance. Similarly, selecting the best route up Kilimanjaro requires careful consideration of terrain, length, and weather forecasts and having accurate information to make an informed decision.

Acclimatization and Its Impact on Duration

Acclimatization is a vital factor when it comes to climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. It refers to the process of adjusting one’s body to the high altitude environment to minimize the effects of altitude sickness. Going slow and taking your time is an effective means of preventing acute mountain sickness and allows the body to adapt to the lack of oxygen. Climbers who spend only five days have the lowest summit success rate, whereas trekkers who spend eight or nine days have a much better chance of summiting.

During my climb up Mount Kilimanjaro, I met a fellow hiker from the United States who had to descend before reaching the summit because he couldn’t adjust to the altitude. Despite his physical fitness, his body wasn’t able to acclimatize quickly enough due to his fast ascent. He failed to prioritize acclimatization while preparing for the climb, leading to an unfortunate outcome.

Therefore, it is essential to choose a route that promotes longer durations to allow for proper acclimatization. Each route has different durations on the mountain, types of accommodation, level of difficulty, type of scenery, and other factors that can affect how long it takes to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. The longer treks like Lemosho, Machame, Rongai or Northern Circuit route take 6-10 days and increase your chance of acclimatization.

Some climbers may be tempted to choose shorter routes as a way of minimizing their costs and saving time, but neglecting acclimatization may lead to severe altitude sickness symptoms like headaches, nausea or even pulmonary edema at higher altitudes above 3000m.

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro requires a significant amount of preparation before undertaking it. To ensure a successful climb, climbers need to prepare extensively by getting quality gear and essential items.

Preparations to Ensure a Successful Climb

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro requires careful preparation. The idea is to carry enough gear and provisions without overloading yourself. Physical fitness is also important for reducing fatigue and stress, but it won’t necessarily help you acclimatize. Proper planning during the lead-up to the climb will increase your chance of summiting.

On my last trek up Mount Kilimanjaro, I made sure that I had quality thermal gear. The temperatures at night can drop drastically, and having the right clothing helped me stay warm and energetic during the daytime.

Climbers should ensure that they have a down jacket, suitable hiking boots with ankle support, gloves, warm hats and sunglasses with UV protection as well as thermal underwear and socks. Most outfitters supply this equipment in their packages or rentals. It is also advisable to bring a four-season sleeping bag, sunblock lotion, and hydration salts like Dioralyte.

However, some climbers might think that renting is better than purchasing gear for the trip. But renting may not give them the specific fit required for comfort while climbing, which would end up being an added expense due to discomfort experienced on the mountain. It’s best to buy used gear or invest in high-quality new gear instead of renting.

Hydration is also crucial while climbing Mount Kilimanjaro since the body works harder at altitude, and there is less oxygen to breathe.

Overall, proper acclimatization through longer treks ensures safe climbs up Mount Kilimanjaro. Climbers who take their time adjusting their body’s response to high altitude benefit more than those who choose shorter treks. Preparation through proper gear equips climbers enough warmth and footing stability while hiking around the mountain’s rough terrains. Finally, hydration is key to avoid altitude sickness and ensure that the body has enough water to function effectively.

Standard Hiking Gear and Essentials

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is a challenging journey requiring extensive preparation and the right gear. Being under-prepared can lead to an unsuccessful climb or health-related issues. While it’s essential to pack wisely, it’s equally important to keep in mind that porters carry your equipment along the way.

Standard hiking gear includes quality thermal base layers, water-resistant trekking pants, and a warm jacket. Thermal leggings and hiking socks are necessary as they help regulate body temperature. A rain jacket with a hood that fits snugly around the face is essential during wet weather conditions. Climbing boots need to provide good ankle support, and comfortable gloves go a long way in keeping hands warm during the climb.

A well-fitting backpack of sufficient size can make the difference between a comfortable climb and one plagued by discomfort. A 30-40 liter backpack with a waterproof cover offers enough space for carrying all of the essentials without being too heavy.

One of the most debated items while packing for Mount Kilimanjaro is whether to bring a sleeping bag or hire on-site. High-quality four-season sleeping bags are essential for stays at higher altitudes, where temperatures can drop below zero degrees Celsius at night. Onsite rental sleeping bags are not always hygienic, may not render adequate warmth, and may not provide adequate insulation against dampness.

Proper hydration is crucial while climbing Mount Kilimanjaro since altitude sickness can occur due to dehydration. Three liters of water per day are recommended, accompanied by hydration tablets such as Dioralyte to help increase essential electrolyte levels. An analogy would be similar to driving an all-terrain vehicle with insufficient gasoline; proper hydration fuels your body so that you can conquer the mountain.

With all the right gear in hand, it’s essential to prepare mentally and physically for the climb.

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro: Essential Tips and Advice

Going slow is an essential tip to consider while trying to avoid altitude sickness. Porter/s recommend climbers should go “pole, pole” or “slowly, slowly.” It allows the body to adapt to the lack of oxygen at higher altitudes.

Altitude illness can be prevented by adopting a slow and steady pace during the climb. Acclimatization is essential in reaching the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, meaning your body has time to adjust to changes in temperature and altitude. It helps your body acclimate to lower levels of oxygen before progressing higher.

One of the most debated elements of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is the duration of the climb. The shortest possible way to reach the summit is by taking either the Marangu or Umbwe route, but these trails are not recommended for most hikers. A slower ascent allows your body enough time to adapt to lower levels of oxygen and increases your chances of summiting.

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro can be likened to facing various challenges in life; a step-by-step approach with a clear goal in mind is more beneficial than rushing towards an end without proper planning. Adopting this mindset will give you a better chance at success.

Singing and laughing are scientifically proven ways to release endorphins that maintain motivation during the climb. Companions looking after each other go a long way in keeping morale high throughout the climb.

Careful packing for the climb can allow you to focus on other aspects that may contribute towards success. Hydration salts and carrying enough water help increase necessary electrolyte levels which safeguard against altitude sickness.

Physical fitness is important for reducing fatigue and stress, but it won’t help you acclimatize. If you opt for a shorter climb, ensure that you are physically fit, have mountaineering experience, or have climbed Kilimanjaro before.

Effect of Weather on Climbing Duration

When climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, one vital factor that greatly affects the duration of your climb is weather. The weather on the mountain can change abruptly and without warning, quickly putting climbers at risk. Understanding how to prepare for and manage weather conditions is essential for a safe and successful climb.

High winds and gusts are a common occurrence on Mount Kilimanjaro, particularly around the exposed ridges. These can be challenging to navigate, especially for inexperienced climbers, and may require breaks or even an entire day’s delay before progressing further. Frigid temperatures can also hinder progress, making it difficult to keep up the pace necessary to reach each campsite on time.

Heavy precipitation such as rain or snowfall can significantly impact climbing duration as well. Wet or muddy trails become slippery, forcing trekkers to slow down their pace while reducing visibility. Moreover, heavy snowfall may require additional time to dig out campsites or resting areas, further slowing your ascent.

Some climbers may opt to wait out inclement weather before continuing their climb. While this strategy might work well in some instances, it can prolong the duration of the climb significantly- possibly beyond established schedule depending on factors like the severity of the weather condition and duration of waiting itself.

Think of your climb like a car journey- travel times vary based on factors such as traffic volume and road conditions. In much the same way one has little control over these factors whilst driving; similarly different climatic conditions may cause delays or extended duration during your trek challenging to manage.

Let us now consider another aspect that has far-reaching impacts on anyone attempting to summit Mount Kilimanjaro- Altitude – how it affects a person’s climb experience and its impact on climbing duration.

Understanding Altitude and Its Effect on Your Climb

Climbing the summit Mount Kilimanjaro means reaching peak elevation of 5,895 meters (19,341 ft)- a height that no longer has adequate levels of oxygen for the human body. Understanding the effect of altitude on your climb experience is crucial to prepare for it and manage its impact.

At higher altitudes, the reduced atmospheric pressure makes breathing increasingly difficult leading to fatigue, headaches, dizziness, or even Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). These symptoms can significantly slow down your pace or even force you to turn back from reaching higher.

For example, while descending from Uhuru peak through mountainous slopes filled with rocks and gravel, AMS poses considerable risks, including lack of balance and heightened risk of falls -more so than at lower ‘safer’ altitudes – which can add several hours to one’s descent duration.

It’s no different from being in a new city with thicker air pollution than where you normally live- not everyone will acclimatize quickly, leading to difficulty breathing, stamina loss which will ultimately affect overall effectiveness.

The most critical factor in managing the effects of high altitude is acclimatization. Acclimatization is the process by which your body adjusts to changes in atmospheric pressure and reduces symptoms such as severe headaches or shortness of breath.

Symptom management often requires rest periods at each designated campsite before progressively trekking up further. With proper acclimatization techniques like adequate hydration and gradual climbing/navigating parameters dictated by trained guides – an adequsately acclimatised climber may handle a particular altitude level better than someone else who did not adequately prepare ahead of time.

Some climbers try to counteract altitude sickness faster by using dietary supplements or medications. While these may provide a temporary boost, they are not perfect solutions for altitude sickness management in the long term as they do not replace adequate acclimatization. Taking supplements alone without practicing other essential safety measures can be dangerous too.

Frequently Asked Questions

What time of year is the best to plan a Mount Kilimanjaro hike?

The best time to plan a hike up Mount Kilimanjaro is during the dry season, which typically runs from December to February and from June to October. During these months, the weather is generally more predictable and you’re less likely to encounter rain or snow.

According to the Kilimanjaro National Park Service, around 75% of successful summit attempts are made during these peak seasons. Additionally, the trails and campsites are less crowded during this time, which can make for a more enjoyable experience overall.

However, it’s important to note that while the dry season may be the best time in terms of weather conditions, it’s also when prices tend to be highest due to demand. If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, you may want to consider climbing during the shoulder seasons (March-May or November) when rates are generally lower.

No matter what time of year you choose, it’s important to come prepared with proper gear and training so that you can have a safe and successful climb up Africa’s highest peak.

What are some tips for preparing for a Mount Kilimanjaro hike?

Preparing for a Mount Kilimanjaro hike can be a daunting task, but with some careful planning and preparation, you can increase your chances of success.

Firstly, it is important to allow enough time for acclimatization. Altitude sickness is a common problem faced by hikers on Mount Kilimanjaro, and it can lead to serious health issues if not managed properly. It is recommended that hikers spend at least 5-7 days on the mountain to acclimate properly before beginning their ascent.

Secondly, physical fitness is key. A study conducted by the Journal of Travel Medicine found that general overall fitness was a significant predictor of successful summit attempts on Mount Kilimanjaro (Schilling et al., 2018). Hikers should engage in regular physical activity leading up to their trip to build strength and stamina.

Thirdly, proper gear and equipment are essential. Hikers should invest in high-quality hiking boots, warm clothing, and waterproof outerwear to withstand the variable weather conditions on the mountain. It is also important to have a good sleeping bag and a reliable tent.

Finally, mental preparation is crucial. Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro can be mentally challenging as well as physically demanding. Positive self-talk, visualization techniques, and goal setting may help hikers stay motivated and focused on reaching the summit.

In summary, preparing for a Mount Kilimanjaro hike requires a combination of physical conditioning, proper gear, adequate acclimatization time, and mental readiness. By taking these factors into account, hikers can increase their likelihood of successfully reaching the summit.


Schilling, J., Stasiak, K., and Downer, S. (2018). Acute Mountain Sickness: Impact of Physical Fitness and Acclimatisation Experiences in Climbing Mt Kilimanjaro. Journal of Travel Medicine. 25(1), 1-6.

What is the success rate of hikers who attempt to climb Mount Kilimanjaro?

The success rate of hikers who attempt to climb Mount Kilimanjaro varies depending on the route taken, the tour operator and the level of fitness of the hiker. However, generally speaking, the success rate is between 65-85%.

According to statistics from Kilimanjaro National Park, the overall average success rate for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is around 65%. This means that roughly 35% of climbers are not able to reach the summit due to a variety of factors such as altitude sickness, exhaustion or simply not being well-prepared.

However, some tour operators have a higher success rate than others. For example, reputable companies such as Tusker Trail and Zara Tours have reported success rates up to 85%. These operators typically offer longer trekking days with more rest days built into their itineraries which reduces the likelihood of fatigue and altitude sickness.

It’s also important to note that proper preparation and physical fitness can greatly improve your chances of successfully reaching the summit. Training for several months before the climb and acclimatizing at higher altitudes prior to beginning your ascent can reduce the risk of altitude sickness which is one of the major reasons hikers fail to reach the top.

In conclusion, with proper preparation, choosing a reputable tour operator and taking necessary precautions to prevent altitude sickness, most hikers can expect a successful summit climb with a success rate between 65-85%.

How difficult is the hike both physically and technically?

The hike up Mount Kilimanjaro is not a walk in the park, but it’s also not meant for extreme athletes. It can be mentally and physically challenging, but with proper training and preparation, anyone can tackle this feat.

In terms of physical difficulty, the hike largely depends on the route chosen and the altitude gain. The Marangu route, which is often called the “Coca-Cola route” due to its popularity, is one of the easier routes and features sleeping huts along the way. On the other hand, the Machame route involves steeper inclines and requires more endurance.

Technically speaking, Kilimanjaro doesn’t require any specialized climbing gear or skills like rock or ice climbing. However, being at high altitude poses its own set of challenges. Altitude sickness affects many climbers, with symptoms ranging from headaches to nausea to difficulty breathing. Training to improve cardiovascular fitness beforehand can help minimize these effects.

According to an article by the American Medical Association, around 60% of climbers successfully reach the summit of Kilimanjaro. However, it’s important to note that every year there are reports of injuries and even fatalities on the mountain.

Overall, while Kilimanjaro isn’t a technical climb per se, it does require physical preparation and awareness of potential risks. If you do choose to embark on this adventure, make sure to properly train for it and take all necessary safety precautions.

What is the elevation gain during a typical Mount Kilimanjaro hike?

Well, my friend, the elevation gain during a typical Mount Kilimanjaro hike is no joke! To give you some context, the mountain stands at an impressive 5,895 meters (19,341 feet) tall. That’s higher than any peak in North America and over four times taller than the tallest building in the world!

Now, the elevation gain varies depending on which of the seven routes to the summit you choose. However, let me give you some numbers for the three most popular ones:

1. Marangu Route: This route has the smallest elevation gain at around 4,000 meters (13,000 feet). It’s also known as the “Coca-Cola” route because it’s seen as the easiest and most touristy one.

2. Machame Route: This is arguably the most scenic route and takes you through different ecosystems like rainforest, heathland, and moorland. The elevation gain here is around 4,900 meters (16,000 feet).

3. Lemosho Route: Lastly, we have the Lemosho Route which boasts a diverse terrain and wildlife sightings. This route has an elevation gain of roughly 5,200 meters (17,000 feet).

These numbers may seem daunting but with proper training and acclimatization, anyone can conquer Mount Kilimanjaro! Just make sure to take it slow and drink plenty of water along the way.


– https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/what-countries-border-tanzania.html

– https://www.climbing-kilimanjaro.com/routes/marangu/

– https://www.climbing-kilimanjaro.com/routes/machame/

– https://www.climbing-kilimanjaro.com/routes/lemosho/