Travel Advice A Beginners Guide to Kilimanjaro

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Everything You Need to Know About Climbing Kilimanjaro

At 5,895m above sea level, Kilimanjaro offers a thrilling challenge for experienced trekkers and those seeking their first taste of high-altitude trekking, ascending through 5 different ecological climates and offering a unique one-of-a-kind experience that is thoroughly enjoyable for all.

Over 30,000 people climb Kilimanjaro every year and this awe-inspiring mountain tops the bucket list for many seasoned adventurers and less experienced trekkers looking to conquer the tallest mountain in Africa and tallest freestanding mountain in the world.

In this blog, we’ll navigate through the essentials for a successful Kilimanjaro expedition. From finding the best route to climb Kilimanjaro and the optimal time to embark on this epic adventure to preventing altitude sickness when you’re on the mountain, we’ll delve into crucial details and some of the most frequently asked questions from adventurers looking to take on the challenge.

Gear up for the adventure of a lifetime with our Beginners Guide to Kilimanjaro, providing you with the expertise and support needed to make this journey an unforgettable triumph.

Tanzanian savannah overlooked by Mount Kilimanjaro

Where is Mt Kilimanjaro?

Kilimanjaro is set within Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro National Park in the north-eastern part of the country, close to the Kenya-Tanzania border. The nearest city to Kilimanjaro is Arusha and the nearest airport is Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO).


Most travellers planning on climbing Kilimanjaro will spend the night in the town of Moshi, which is a 45-minute drive away from the airport, before continuing to the mountain. For more information and alternative routes, check out our blog on how to get to Kilimanjaro.

How High is Kilimanjaro?

Kilimanjaro is 5,895 metres above sea level. It is the tallest freestanding mountain in the world, highest peak in Africa and one of the seven summits (the highest mountains on each continent).

How Long Does It Take to Climb Kilimanjaro?

It takes between 5 and 9 days to reach Kilimanjaro summit on one of the 7 established Kilimanjaro routes. There are a number of factors affecting how long it takes to climb Kilimanjaro including the route you take, how much time you dedicate to allowing your body to acclimatise to the altitude, your physical and mental stamina and the time of year you visit.


Our blog post ‘How Long Does It Take to Climb Kilimanjaro’ provides a detailed breakdown of the time it takes to climb Kilimanjaro on each of the 7 routes up the mountain and aims to answer this frequently asked question about climbing Kilimanjaro.

How Hard is It to Climb Kilimanjaro?

Without a doubt, climbing Kilimanjaro is a tough challenge and it is essential that you prepare your cardiovascular system, muscles and joints in preparation for your Kilimanjaro trekking adventure. Kilimanjaro is a great mountain for first-time altitude trekkers and many beginners have succeeded in summiting the highest peak in Africa because it requires no technical mountaineering skills or equipment. The most difficult part of the trek is dealing with altitude but our blog on how to prevent altitude sickness when climbing Kilimanjaro provides all you need to know about trekking at altitude.


While you won’t need technical equipment such as ropes, harnesses and helmets to climb Kilimanjaro, you will certainly need a good level of fitness, determination and a positive mindset. Essentially, the fitter you are, the easier and more enjoyable you will find the trek and the stronger your mental resilience, the more likely you are to successfully reach Kilimanjaro summit. At Kandoo Adventures, we are strong believers that anyone with a good level of fitness and determined spirit has a great chance of successfully reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro and this is reflected by our success rate of over 95% on all our trips to Kilimanjaro.

Lemosho Climb Header

Which is the Best Route to Climb Kilimanjaro?

The best route to climb Kilimanjaro is totally dependent on your own preferences, priorities and time you are willing to spend climbing Kilimanjaro. From spectacular scenery and the chance of catching a glimpse of Tanzania’s native wildlife to remote lesser used trails that avoid the crowds, each of the 7 established Kilimanjaro routes has something unique to offer to its’ visitors.


As a rule, the longer you spend on Kilimanjaro, the more likely you are to reach the summit successfully because you will become more acclimatised to the altitude, and you will be less fatigued. In terms of the Kilimanjaro route with the highest summit success rate, the Machame Route tops all other trails to the summit. This is due to the time dedicated to acclimatisation.

When is the Best Time to Climb Kilimanjaro?

The weather on Kilimanjaro is fairly predictable with distinct rainy and dry seasons. During the rainy seasons, trails will be muddy and visibility might be reduced by cloud cover. The best time to climb Kilimanjaro is during the warmest and driest times of the year when there are clear skies and little chance of rain from June to October and December to March for ideal trekking conditions and the best possible chance of success.

Does Kilimanjaro Require Technical Climbing?

As mentioned above, Kilimanjaro is a trekking peak that requires no technical climbing or mountaineering skills. For this reason, Kilimanjaro is a popular mountain for hikers with little or no experience trekking at altitude looking to test themselves. To climb to the mountain’s summit, it is a multi-day, high-altitude trek with steep terrain, depending on which Kilimanjaro route you take, but you do not need to be trained in climbing to get to the top.

Can you climb Kilimanjaro Without a Guide?

No. It is a requirement for everyone climbing Kilimanjaro to be accompanied by a guide who is licensed by Kilimanjaro National Park. This rule was established in 1991 by the Kilimanjaro National Park Authority and is still in effect today. Most people who climb Kilimanjaro will have a team of crew members including a guide, porter, cook and other support staff. Kandoo Adventures’ trips ensure small group numbers and plenty of support which is what makes them so popular and our success rate so high.
Kandoo Adventures guides on the way to Shira Cave Camp on Kilimanjaro

How Cold Does It Get on Kilimanjaro?

Mount Kilimanjaro doesn’t experience wide temperature changes from season to season due to its proximity to the equator but the weather can vary from hot to extremely cold within the same day. This is because temperatures on Kilimanjaro are determined by the altitude and what time of day it is, so one minute you’ll be trekking in sunshine and the next you’ll be layering up against cold winds.


At the base of the mountain, the average temperature is around 21 to 27°C or 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit and at the summit of Kilimanjaro, Uhuru Peak, the nighttime temperatures can range between -7 to -29°C or 20 and -20 degrees Fahrenheit. Please read our Kilimanjaro gear list for more information as it is essential that you come prepared for these subzero temperatures.

What Do You Eat When Climbing Kilimanjaro?

Eating well is an essential part of taking care of yourself on Kilimanjaro as you’ll be burning an extra 2000 or more calories a day and will therefore need to replace them as you’ll need to fuel the climb! Kandoo Adventures menus are designed to be varied, tasty and filled with all the energy you need to make it to the summit.


Breakfast is usually fairly hearty and includes porridge, sausage, eggs and toast with marmalade or jam. Lunch is either packed for you to carry in your rucksack or we stop for a hot cooked lunch depending on your itinerary. A typical packed lunch is a boiled egg, sandwiches, a portion of chicken, crisps, snack bar, fresh fruit and a drink. Dinners usually begin with a nice hearty soup followed by a main course such as chicken curry, spaghetti Bolognese, fresh vegetables and a yummy desert such as pancakes or banana fritters to finish.


You will also be given 3 litres of water daily on your Kilimanjaro climb and there will be unlimited amounts of hot drinks at breakfast and dinner. Drinking plenty of water is even more important than eating when climbing Kilimanjaro.

Are There Toilet and Shower Facilities on Kilimanjaro?

Firstly, yes, there are public toilets at every camp stop on each of the Kilimanjaro routes but, as you might imagine, they are not the most glamorous. We are talking a wooden shack that surrounds a deep hole in the ground which offer little privacy and aren’t very clean as almost everyone on the mountain uses them.


The second option is the ‘portable private loo’ which is exclusive for the use of you and your group only. It consists of a portable chemical toilet (with a seat) and a discreet tent for privacy. At Kandoo Adventures, the use of a portable private toilet is included as standard with every one of our climbs.


To answer the latter part of the question, there are no permanent showers or bathing facilities on Kilimanjaro. Hygiene on Kilimanjaro is limited to water and any sort of wipes or cloths that you bring so you’ll just have to do without a shower while climbing Kilimanjaro and embrace the body odour for the time being. Don’t worry though, everyone on the mountain is in the same position!

Kandoo Adventures camp at Barranco Camp

How Much Does It Cost to Climb Kilimanjaro?

The first budget consideration is your tour operator cost. Depending on which Kilimanjaro route you choose it will cost between £2,099 and £3,099 ($2,725-$3,908 USD) to climb Kilimanjaro. Kandoo Adventures also offer a number of trips to Kilimanjaro with route extensions which are priced in accordance with this. Whilst Kandoo Adventures’ trips aren’t budget trips, they are reasonably priced for the inclusions offered. Safety and support are main priorities so beware of budget providers and what is and isn’t included as this will not only affect your enjoyment but your chance of success also.


Flights are another of the big cost factors when climbing Kilimanjaro. All Kandoo Adventure’s Kilimanjaro trips require trekkers to organise their own flights to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO). You should budget at least £900-£1,300 ($1,135-$1,639) for flights but this will vary depending on the time of year, your departure airport and how far ahead you book.


Clothing layers are important, as is a good sleeping bag and quality pair of trekking boots. We recommend a budget of £400 ($504) for clothes, equipment and kit although this will be considerably less depending on how much gear you already own.


If you are a foreigner to Tanzania, then you will need a visa to enter the country. Visas can either be purchased prior to your trip online or upon arrival at Kilimanjaro airport. Both British and US citizens can apply for a tourist via online and it can take up to 10 days to process. For ease, we suggest purchasing a visa prior to travelling as you will avoid the long queues at Kilimanjaro airport. Visas cost £79.99 from the UK and $99 from the USA. We also recommend getting Yellow Fever and Hep-A vaccinations as well as a Polio Tetanus Diphtheria booster although they are not mandatory.


Finally, tipping your porters is a standard practice on Kilimanjaro. The average tipping amount per person per trek is roughly £150 - £170 ($189-$214) depending on group size.