The short answer is 5 to 9 days, but that doesn’t really tell you anything.
The key to a successful attempt on the summit of Kilimanjaro is becoming fully acclimatised, and this simply cannot be rushed. Each of our routes has a minimum number of days listed, we highly recommend spending an extra day or more to acclimatise, and get used to exerting yourself at the low temperatures and thin air at these great heights.
Failing to properly acclimatise puts you at a much greater risk of altitude sickness, or acute mountain sickness (AMS). AMS generally occurs at altitudes above 2400 metres, and has different symptoms in different sufferers. It is often described as being similar to the flu or a hangover, and often includes nausea, fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness and swelling of the hands and feet. There is no sure way to tell who is vulnerable to AMS before they climb. It is best prevented by taking a long, slow ascent, and by ‘climbing high, sleeping low’ to give your body time to adjust.
Kandoo achieve a success rate on climbs of 7 days or longer in excess of 95% and that is down to our great guides and excellent preparation. Success rates on the short 5 day routes are below 60% on average.
For this reason, we highly recommend taking a minimum of 6 days for the Marangu route and no less than seven days for all other routes.
Another advantage of taking an extra day on many routes, especially the Lemosho, and Machame routes, is that it allows the penultimate, pre-summit climb to be split into two separate, shorter days. You would arrive at the final camp before the summit early in the afternoon, and will be fully rested before setting out in the early hours of the morning to tackle the summit itself.
Many climbers want to minimise the number of days they spend on the mountain, either to save money or because they only have so much time in country and they have other things they want to see and do. Of course, that is your choice, and we will do everything within our power and the limits of safety to meet your demands. Nonetheless, the money you save could end up costing you the experience of a lifetime. Nothing is more expensive than regret.