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Climb Kilimanjaro

Reach The Roof Of Africa With Kandoo Reach The Roof Of Africa With Kandoo

Highlights


Summit Kilimanjaro with the only western operator running their own climbs: 95% plus success rate
Have fun on your climb with our fantastic guides, hand picked and trained by us
Sleep well in our world class, Mountain Hardwear tents
Enjoy great tasty food with varied menus designed by our chef including full english breakfast on summit day
Climb with a leading member of KPAP and know your porters are well paid and well fed
Book direct with the operator for the best value prices available

Kilimanjaro is where Kandoo started out in life and it is on Kilimanjaro that all the great things about our treks and climbs have been honed to their very best. And don't take our word for it  check out our reviews to see what customers say. 

The story behind our success in Kilimanjaro is that Kandoo are virtually unique in operating all our own Kilimanjaro climbs- this might sound surprising but all the big western companies you find on google sub-contract their climb to a local operator. Some local operators are good, some are not so good but the bottom line is the person taking your money doesn't directly control what will happen to you.

 With Kandoo we never sub-contract on Kilimanjaro and you know we will deliver on everything we promise. We run our climbs with guides we have recruited and trained ourselves ,  we use world class, Mountain Hardwear gear that we source in the UK, we provide fantastic tasty meals and we operate to the very best ethical practises, whether you are looking at porter welfare or environmental protection. And by running our own climbs we can do all this and provide great value prices.

From the very start, we have been a leading proponent of fair treatment for porters: they have been and, often still are, horribly abused and you cannot avoid the fact that when someone buys a cheap climb they are doing so on the back of a porter who will be paid as little as $5 a day.  When you book with Kandoo you know all our crews are well paid and well looked after as we are members of KPAP, the porters' union. 

And of course safety is our number one priority. All our guides are WIlderness First Responder trained and this is backed up by the most rigorous safety protocols on the mountain. These include twice daily health checks, pulse oxymeter tests to check acclimatisation and emergency oxygen on all climbs. If you want a safe climb book a Kandoo climb.

On this page we have summarised all the information to start planning your Kilimanjaro climb from choosing the best route, deciding when is the best time to climb, and answers to all the most frequently asked questions. Of course if there is something we haven't covered that you would like to know please do contact us or jump on a chat to one of our experts.

 

Which is the best route to climb Kilimanjaro?

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Machame Route

If you have just 9 days and want to have the best chance of going home and saying "I climbed Kilimanjaro" the Machame route is the one for you. Starting to the south-west of Kilimanjaro it circuits south before climbing to Uhuru Peak via Stella Point. With excellent acclimatisation and varied and interesting scenery every day it is a great choice for the novice climber.

Prices from £1699 Prices From $2209 Prices From €0
9 days

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Machame climb and safari

Experience everything Tanzania has to offer on this 11 day adventure packed combination; climb Africa's highest mountain, Kilimanjaro, followed by game viewing in three of Tanzania’s best safari parks: Ngorongoro is home to over 25,000 animals, Tarangire has the highest elephant population in the World and Lake Manyara boasts a huge colony of baboons and also tree climbing lions.

Prices from £2699 Prices From $3510 Prices From €0
11 Day

  The Kili flyers Barranco wall with Kandoo

Lemosho Route

Approaching from the west, the Lemosho route is one of our highly recommended routes. The first three days of the ascent are quiet and relatively untravelled, then on day four it joins the busy Machame route. A wonderful route in terms of scenery, it offers unequalled views over the majestic Shira plateau. The success rate for this route is comparable to the Machame route.

Prices from £1999 Prices From $2599 Prices From €0
10 days

  Disabled soldier climbing Kilimanjaro

Rongai Route

The Rongai route approaches Mount Kilimanjaro from the north east, near the border of Kenya and Tanzania. Its main attraction is that it is very quiet and traverses virtually untouched wilderness. Ascent is via the scree path to Gilman’s Point with a traverse round the rim to Uhuru Peak. Descent is along the Marangu route.

Prices from £1949 Prices From $2534 Prices From €0
9 days

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Northern Circuit

The Northern Circuit route is the newest officially approved route up Mount Kilimanjaro, and one of the few ways to see its quieter, more remote northern slope. This is an extended, nine day climb which offers excellent acclimatisation time and provides views of the rugged and highly varied countryside on all sides of the great mountain.

Prices from £2299 Prices From $2989 Prices From €0
11 days

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Marangu Route

The Marangu route is the oldest and most well-established route on Mount Kilimanjaro. It is also the only route that has hut accommodation and uses the same ascent and descent trail. The route is often touted as one of the easier hiking trails to the summit. However, according to KINAPA it suffers from the lowest success rate (42%) as too many trekkers try to do it in only 5 days and fail because of poor acclimatisation. For this reason we only offer this route on a 6-day itinerary.

Prices from £1599 Prices From $2079 Prices From €0
8 days

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Crater Camp

Crater Camp is not a route in itself but a challenging option you can add onto any of our climbs over 7 days. Crater Camp itself is located right in the heart of Kilimanjaro's crater and you can almost guarantee that come sunset you will be the only people on the mountain. A real 'get away from the crowds' option for the expert Kandooer.

Prices from £2549 Prices From $3315 Prices From €0
10 days

  Armand Leners Mt Meru summit

Mount Meru

Mount Meru is often overlooked due to its proximity to Kilimanjaro, but it has plenty to offer those looking for a challenging climb. A dormant volcano that last erupted in 1910, it is Tanzania's second highest mountain at 4562 metres (14,979 ft) and can be climbed in 3-4 days.

Prices from £749 Prices From $975 Prices From €0
5 days

When is the best time to climb Kilimanjaro

January to March
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The weather in the first few months after the short rainy season is generally warm and dry. Away from the high season so relatively quiet, this is one of our favourite times to climb Kilimanjaro. Dry and quiet
April and May
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The long rainy season in Tanzania normally occurs in April and May although it has become more unpredictable in recent years. If you don't mind the rain you can have the mountain pretty much to yourself. And bear in mind you can nearly always get a good discount in this period. Long rainy season
June to early November
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June to early November are the driest months for your Kilimanjaro climb but particularly during August to October this means the mountain is very busy. The shoulder months of June and July and early November are good compromises if a little rain doesn't deter you. Dry but busy
November to mid-December
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The short rainy season normally starts towards the back end of November and continues for 3-4 weeks. Generally rain is less persistent than in the main rains and so this is a good time to be on the mountain without the crowds Short rainy season

Climb Kilimanjaro - Frequently Asked Questions

Q1Where is Mount Kilimanjaro?

Kilimanjaro is in Tanzania and sits right on the Northern border with Kenya. The nearest airport is Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) and the nearest town is Moshi.

Q2What is the best way to get to Kilimanjaro?

Kilimanjaro has its own international airport (JRO) which is about an hour's drive from the mountain itself. For flights to JRO there are an increasing number of good options although unless you live in the Netherlands, the Middle East or Turkey there are no direct flights. From Europe the best options are with KLM via Amsterdam or Turkish Airlines via Istanbul. Be careful thought about flight and connections times on Turkish- you can seem to get a good deal only to find you have a 10 hour layover. From North America or the Far East the best options are to fly via the Middle East and Qatar has direct flights from its hub in Doha into JRO.

Q3What is the success rate climbing Kilimanjaro?

The success rate varies hugely by route and by operator. On routes average success rates reported by the Park vary from below 50% on the shorter routes like Marangu up to 85-90% on 7 day and longer climbs. Over the last 5 years we have averaged 97% on all climbs reflecting the fact that we are careful about which routes we operate and our team are very experienced at helping anyone with the determination needed to summit successfully.

Q4Can I climb without porters and guides

In a word No. The National Park Authority do not allow anyone on the mountain without qualified guides and they mandate strict minimum ratios of guides to clients which roiighly work out as 1 guide for every 3 people. Porters are actually optional but unless you are super, super-fit and happy to alpine camp for 7 days living on dried food don't being to think about it. We provide 3 porters per client to carry everything you need to have a comfortable enjoyable climb.

Q5Is there an advantage to climb Kilimanjaro on the full moon?

This is really a matter of personal preferences. On a full moon there is lots more light and the route and path to the summit are much clearer. Some people prefer this, some prefer to get their head down and just keep plodding. Of course when there is a full moon there are almost no stars visible so if you want a great night sky give the full moon dates a miss. We have all the dates of full moons here.

Q6What is the difference between an open group climb and a private climb?

Private climbs Private trips to climb Kilimanjaro are your own personal tailor-made adventure, giving you total flexibility and the highest chance of success. Just choose your date, route and any of our tailor-made options. Perfect for a group of friends or a charity group or a couple looking to celebrate a special birthday or anniversary. Upgrades to private climbs start from £100 per person depending on the size of the group. Open group climbs If you want the company of others while you climb Kilimanjaro then an open group is perfect for you. Our group climbs run every week during the main climbing season from June - October and December - March. They are limited to a maximum of 12 climbers to make sure you get the best chance of summit success. Particularly popular are our open group full moon climbs which run every month.

Q7Do you organise trips to climb Kilimanjaro for charity?

We arrange lots of climbs for charity fundraisers and if you are looking to climb to raise money for your favourite charity we can provide lots of resources like an editable brochure and poster which are in our charity climb resources.  We do not however organise climbs where the cost of the trip is funded by donations as we personally only believe in self-funded charity challenges.

Q8Are there any age restrictions on climbers?

Kilimanjaro Park Authority do not allow any climbers on the mountain younger than 12 years of age. There is no maximum-our oldest client who summited was 75. You should be aware though that we do not allow children younger than 16 to join an open group. This is primarily because we feel that for children less than 16 we need to be able to provide the more personalised care available on a private trip. Also we have sometimes had negative feedback from adults about having children on a climb with them.

Q9How many days does it take?

The shortest route Kandoo runs as standard is 6 days. It is possible to climb over 5 days but the Shorter climbs have a much lower success rate and it is a long way to travel and a lot of money to spend to not reach the summit. We recommend that you take at least 7 days to give yourself a really good chance of reaching the summit safely.

Q10What is altitude sickness?

Altitude sickness (often just called AMS) is a result of the physical changes in your body caused by climbing to altitudes where the air pressure is much reduced. There is a great little calculator here http://www.altitude.org/air_pressure.php. By the time you have reached the summit of Kiimanjaro air pressure is down to 49% of what it is at sea level. The most immediate effect of this is that every lungful of air contains only half the amount of oxygen it would normally have and this make any physical exertion very hardwork. Slowly, slowly is the key. The second and most dangerous effects of low pressures are on the membranes in the body where there is fluid on one side and air on the other. Most critically these are in the skull and lungs. In both cases the reduced air-pressure on one side of a membrane can cause fluid to leak through the membrane. In the lungs this results in a condition called Pulmonary Oedema, not unlike pnuemonia, where your lungs fill with water. In the brain you can get Cerebral Odema where there is a build up of fluid in the cavity between the skull and the brain causing headaches. Both these conditions can be fatal. The good news is that we plan our ascents very carefully to minimise the risk of you getting AMS and have well tested emergency plants to evacuate you should you have any problems. You can read lots more about Altitude sickness here 

Q11How fit do you need to be to climb Kilimanjaro

Kandoo excels in helping novice trekkers summit Kilimanjaro safely. You need to be fit enough for "weekend walking" and able to do 5-7 hours on your feet for two days back to back. The best training you can do for this is to get your boots on and cover as many miles as your can before your climb. If you follow this advice, most days will be pretty comfortable for you. However fit you are though, summit night is a very tough experience as you will be climbing for 8-10 hours and descending for 6 - 8 hours. Beyond fitness and good preparation, to cope with this you will need to look after yourself all the way and have bucket loads of determination.

Q12How difficult is it to climb Kilimanjaro

We have a fantastic record of getting climbers to the summit successfully and safely but that does not mean that this is not an incredibly tough challenge. The difficulties arise from a number of different factors. First you are walking every day for at least 6 days for an average of 7-8 hours a day with one mega long day of perhaps 18 hours. You need to be really determined to handle this. Second you are climbing to nearly 20,000 feet at which altitude air pressure and oxygen availability is about 60% of sea level. This means with every breath you are only getting just over half as much oxygen. To compensate for this you have to do everything slowly. Also fast ascent to altitude can cause altitude sickness which can be very serious. We manage our ascent profiles to minimise this risk. And finally you will be camping for up to 8 nights, sleeping on the floor and washing and cleaning in tough conditions. Nothing though that a positive attitude can't deal with.

Q13What training do you recommend to prepare for my climb?

We always answer this question by saying that first and foremost you should try and get out and do as much hill-walking as you can. Nothing prepares your body better for climbing Kilimanjaro that some weekends doing long walks of 7-8 hours. For a more technical answer there are four aspects of fitness you need to work on. Firs is pure cardio: as you ascend there is less and less oxygen in the air and this makes your cardio system work very hard. Prepare for this by any intense cardio exercise- we are big fans of High Intensity Interval Training where you work very hard for a short period and then rest, repeating this 5 times. Second is leg strength. Consecutive days climbing puts a lot of strain on the legs and specific leg exercises like squats, wall braces (like for skiing) or with a weights machine work really well. Third is stamina: on summit night you need to keep going and going and pushing yourself do to some longer exercises that require real stamina like a long ride or a really long day hill-walking will help toughen you up mentally. And finally don't forget your flexibility, lots of injuries are caused by lack of flexibility so both before your climb and on it remember your stretches.

Q14What are the toilets like on Kilimanjaro?

The public toilets on Kilimanjaro are to put it mildly less than pleasant. For a really amusing description of the toilets you must watch this video on youtube . Fortunately, we now provide private toilets as standard on all climbs. This is a chemical toilet in a small tent that is kept clean and hygienic by our crew.

Q15What is the difference between the Kilimanjaro routes?

The differences between the routes can be looked at in different ways. First and most critical is duration. The shorter routes are Marangu and Umbwe and both of these suffer from low success rates. The Machame and Rongai routes both take 6- 7 days and offer much better chance of summiting. The longer routes are the Lemosho and Northern Circuit which take between 8 or 9 days. Besides duration, the start point is very different. Marangu and Umbwe both start from the south and take fairly direct routes to the summit. Rongai comes in from the North following a fairly direct path but one which is relatively flatter at the begining. All the other routes start on the west of the mountain which is considered the most scenic. From their start in the west, the Machame and Lemosho routes both circle south-east around the mountain providing great scenery and good acclimatisation before turning North to summit. The Northern circuit starts from the West and heads North finally merging with the Rongai route for the summit push. There is more information about all the Kilimanjaro routes here.

Q16What is the success rate on the routes you operate?

Our success rate on climbs of 7 days or longer is more than 95%. What contributes to this very high success rate is great preparation, great guides and carefully managed itineraries. And of course clients with grit!

Q17How well do you treat your crew? Are you a member of KPAP?

We treat all our crew and guides exceptionally well and this is recognised by KPAP ( the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Program). KPAP do amazing work to ensure porters are treated fairly on the mountain-this is not just about wages, but food, clothing, tents and tipping policy. Sadly far too few Kilimanjaro operators are members of KPAP. We have been a leading member of KPAP since we started on Kilimanjaro and have a KPAP porter on all our climbs to ensure that our treatment of porters always is up to the high standards we demand. On our most recent annual assessment by KPAP we scored a 97% rating and we are still working on sorting out the other 3% to get a perfect score. If you ever want a reference you can always contact Karen Valenti at [email protected]

Q18What do you do to support the local community?

As one of the very few non-Tanzanian companies that actually operate its own climbs we are closely involved in many aspects of supporting the local community. This extends from promoting porter welfare, supporting a local children's charity to being active members of the Leave No Trace and Travellers Against Plastic organisations. Our own charity, the Kandoo Foundation has also funded a number of projects in Tanzania to benefit the community.  In recent years we have paid for a water pipeline to be installed in the village where a lot of our porters live saving the children a daily walk of 2-3 hours to fetch water. in 2016 we bought all our porters and their families high quality mosquito nets and in 2017 we are spending $3000 upgrading the IT facilities in the school in Moshi so that every child will have good access to a PC.

Q19How will I wash during my climb?

Every morning and evening you will be provided with a bowl of hot water for washing. As well as this we strongly recommend a good supply of baby wipes for cleaning hands during the day. Also when it gets very cold higher on the mountain you can get by with what we call a "pits and bits " wash for which a baby-wipe is perfect.

Q20What are your tents like?

We use two types of tent on Mt Kilimanjaro. For sleeping we use top of the range Mountain Hardwear Trango 3 man tents which are the same tents used by most expedition teams on Everest. They are very strong, very spacious for 2 people and remarkably warm. Our mess tents are made for us by a supplier in Nepal who again provides these as standard for Himalayan expeditions. Good head-height, warm and extremely durable. Along with comfy camp chairs they make for a relaxing meal time.

Q21What will the food be like?

Keeping yourself hydrated and ensuring you eat enough to hvae the energy to complete the climb is one of the most important factors in success. And because we know that you can easily lose your appetite because of the effects of altitude we work doubly hard to make sure we provide great tasting food and plenty of it. All our menus are carefully planned by our head chef and what the cooks serve up on a mountain is almost miraculous. You can read more about our Kilimanjaro food here. If you have special dietary requirements or are a vegetarian then just let us know when you book so that we can be sure to have a suitable menu planned.

Q22What happens if I need to descend?

As a condition of our public liability insurance we run a fully integrated Safety Management Systems with protocols for identifying the need for descent through all aspects of arranging an evacuation. Depending where you are on the mountain this may involve being physically carried by porters, being transported on a mobile stretcher with a giant car wheel mounted in the middle to using a 4x4. Helicopter evacuation is available in principle but not in practise as there all emergency helicopters have to be requested from Kenya and by the time they will arrive you need to be down the mountain.

Q23What kit will I need?

For most parts a well-equipped weekend hiker will have most of the essential kit you need. We provide a full list of what you need on Kilimanjaro kit as well as a printable checklist. Most important on this list are mittens: we haven't found a ski or mountain glove that is warm enough for the coldest night on Kilimanjaro?

Q24What travel insurance do you recommend?

There a number of specialists who provide insurance for climbing Kilimanjaro. We particularly like Dogtag and World Nomad. Whoever you arrange insurance with, you must be sure it covers you to an altitude of 6000m

Learn more about Mt Kilimanjaro

Before you set off on your adventure to climb Kilimanjaro why not learn more about its history, geology  and the plants and animals you should expect to see. If you want to know the detail have a look at wikipedia here but for a condensed guide see below.

Kilimanjaro’s Kibo summit was first reached by Hans Meyer, a geographer from Germany, Ludwig Purtcheller, a mountain climber, and Yohannes Lauwo, a guide hailing from nearby Marangu, in 1889. The attempt took six weeks. The fastest recorded ascent of Kilimanjaro is held by Wim Hof aka 'The Iceman' who broke the previous record of over 9 hours.  In fact in January 2015 he claimed the fastest title with a time of 3 hours and 25 minutes!

 Around  5 thousand people make the attempt to climb Kilimanjaro each year. This results in an annual income of some £32 million for the Kilimanjaro National park, which has become a huge part of the national economy.

Geology

Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and fourth highest of the so-called Seven Summits, the highest peaks in each of the world's 7 continents. It is considered the tallest freestanding mountain in the world, with Uhuru Peak rising to an altitude of 15,100 feet (4,600 m) from base to summit, with an overall height of 5895m. It is composed of three distinct volcanic cones: Kibo 19,340 feet (5895 meters); Mawenzi 16,896 feet (5149 m); and Shira 13,000 feet (3962 m). Uhuru Peak is the highest summit on Kibo's crater rim.

Kilimanjaro is a giant strato-volcano that began forming a million years ago, when lava spilled from the Rift Valley zone. Two of its three peaks, Mawenzi and Shira, are extinct while Kibo (the highest peak) is dormant and could erupt again. Kilimanjaro lies on a tectonic line intersection 80km east of the tectonically active Rift Valley. The activity which created this stratovolcano dates back less than a million years and the central ash pit on Kibo, the highest volcanic centre, may be only several hundred years old. Steam and sulphur fumaroles here are indicative of residual activity. 

The last major eruption has been dated to 360,000 years ago, while the most recent activity was recorded just 200 years ago. Kilimanjaro has 2.2 square kilometres (0.85 sq mi) of glacial ice and is losing it quickly.The glaciers have shrunk 82% since 1912 and declined 33% since 1989. It might be ice free within 20 years, dramatically affecting local drinking water and crop irrigation.

Vegetation 

As you climb Kilimanjaro you pass through 5 distinct climate and vegetation zones

giant lobelia

  • The Lower Slopes/Cultivation - Between 2,600 feet and 5,900 feet the climate is tropical with an average of 45 inches of rainfall each year. The lowlands are now densely cultivated with coffee and banana plantations and the deforestation is a factor in the shrinking glaciers on Kilimanjaro.
  • Rain Forest - The zone between 5,900 and 9,200 feet receives the highest amount of rainfall, up to 78 inches per year. The moisture results in a belt of dense tropical rain forest.
  • Moorland - The moorland zone is between 9,200 feet and 13,100 feet and is covered with heather and bright flowers. Above the heath is a black moorland where plants such as lobelias and groundels grow. 
  • High Desert - Between 13,100 and 16,400 feet there is a semi-desert region that receives less than 10 inches of rain annually. Temperatures range from the mid 80s to below freezing at night. Only plants such as moss or lichens can survive here.
  • Arctic Zone/Summit - The summit zone above 16,400 feet is an icy wasteland, baked by fierce sunshine during the day and frozen at night. The thin air here contains half as much oxygen as at sea level.

 

Wildlife

kilimanjaro monkeys

As you climb Kilimanjaro make sure you ask your guide to try and spot animals for you. There are plenty to look out for, as in spite of the tough climate there are over 140 species of mammals living on Kilimanjaro. At least seven larger mammal species have been recorded above the tree line including tree hyrax, grey duiker, red duiker, eland, bushbuck, buffalo and elephants. Three primate species also live in the montane forests: blue monkey, black and white colombus monkeys and bushbabies. 

kilimanjaro birds
Over 180 species of birds have been recorded as living on Kilimanjaro's slopes including Hartlaub’s Turaco,  Hornbills and Speckled Mousebirds or the Malachite Sunbird.

 

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