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Kilimanjaro Landscape

Mount Kilimanjaro | Tanzania

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Tanzania’s Mt. Kilimanjaro

Africa's Highest Mountain
Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest free standing mountain in the world, rising 5,882 metres or 19,298 ft from its base. It is a volcano with three volcanic cones, Kibo, Mawenzi, and Shira. Kibo's highest peak (Uhuru Peak) rises 5,895 metres or 19,341 ft above sea level. "Kili" is a member of the famous "Seven Summits", the highest peaks on each of the seven continents. Just 200 miles (325 Km) from the equator, Kilimanjaro's glistening peak of snow and ice looms high above the African Great Rift Valley.

The Highest Walkable Mountain
The fourth highest of the Seven Summits, Kilimanjaro is also the highest walkable mountain in the world. It is the least technical of the seven and is more of a multi day strenuous hike than a climb.

Safety and Success in Summiting
It's crucially important to research how to train for your Kili climb. It's often not the level of fitness but the onset of altitude sickness that hinders climbers. Choose an experienced operator and one that is prepared for any medical emergency.

Forest and Wildlife
The  lower slopes of the mountain is encircled by forest and wildlife. On the first day of the ascent, you may be fortunate to encounter elephants and bolobo monkeys along the trail.

    Mount Kilimanjaro

Serengeti and Masai Mara - route of the migration

Scientist estimate that Kibo Crater last erupted 360,000 years ago, in an explosive outburst of lava that formed the Shira plateau. The last volcanic activity is thought to have occurred within the last 200 years.

Kilimanjaro belongs to the classical cone-shaped class of volcanoes - known as a stratovolcano, with the potential for massive eruptions.


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             Climbing Kilimanjaro


Read More  Training to climb Kilimanjaro, choosing and
packing the right gear, health tips, choosing an operator...

Mount Kilimanjaro - climatic eco-zones

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Special Interest Tours and Activities

Five Climate Zones

Because of it's great height, climbers ascend through five climatic zones. These are (from top down):

The Arctic Zone and Summit - Climbers ascend through snow covered slopes and glaciers to the summit.

Above 16,500 feet, Kilimanjaro climbers are challenged by a combination of rarefied air, exposure to the burning rays of the sun during the day and to freezing conditions at night.

Acute Mountain Sickness
Above 18,000 feet the onset of "acute mountain sickness" (AMS, or altitude sickness) includes headaches, nausea, exhaustion, lassitude, rapid pulse, insomnia and swelling of hands and feet. As many as two out of every three climbers may experience at least some effects of AMS. Symptoms from acute mountain sickness improve by quick descent to a lower altitude. Climbers should always ascend slowly, drink plenty of fluids and be aware of all the typical symptoms.

Symptoms that develop at high altitude should be taken very seriously, since some altitude problems can develop into fatal illnesses. High-altitude cerebral oedema can occure when fluid accumulates in the brain causing swelling and misfunction. High-altitude pulmonary oedema (a related illness) can occur with or without AMS symptoms when fluid enters the lungs. High-altitude retinal hemorrhage can also occur, causing eye damage.

Coma and death are the most serious consequences of altitude sickness. Always ensure that your operator is well qualified, experienced and equipped to handle medical emergencies on the mountain. Lowest cost should not be your first consideration!

The Glaciers of Kilimanjaro - Kilimanjaro's glaciers are receding. Some predictions forecast the disappearance of the ice within the next 20 years. The impact on local communities that depend upon annual runoff from this White Mountain will be acutely felt.

High Desert- An alpine desert landscape prevails between 13,000 and 16,500 feet. Moss and lichens grow in the semi-desert conditions, where temperatures range from highs in the mid 80s to below freezing at night.

Sub-Alpine Mooreland - Between 9,000 feet and 13,000 feet, flowering plants and heathers predominate. Antelope, vultures and even elephant can be seen at this altitude.

Montane or Cloud Forest - This zone between 6,000 and 9,000 feet receives heavy rainfall. The trail winds through dense rain forest and mist, with colobus monkeys and tropical birds in the branches above. This is thicker and better preserved on the southern slopes.

Cultivated Tropical SlopesLying virtually on the equater, the tropical lower slopes are intensely cultivated with timber, banana and coffee plantations.


Best Times to Climb

Climbers are able to ascend the mountain throughout the year. However for best conditions and clearest skies, January and February are typically the best months, with December to February and July to August usually offering good climbing conditions. July however can be very cold at night. Specific recommendation will depend upon the chosen route up the mountain. The rainiest period is March to June, when snow and heavy clouds with poor visibility can be encountered at the summit with rain at lower altitudes

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Maps and Routes up Mt. Kilimanjaro

There are several routes up the mountain. Selection of the right route to match your preparedness, experience and expectations is of utmost importance in maximizing the probability of success in reaching the summit. The routes vary widely in degree of difficulty, scenic appeal and tourist traffic. The gentle slopes of the lower levels can become a 30 degree scramble above 13,000 feet (4,000 m).

Attribution: Wikimedia Commons user: Sémhur for maps (French).

Map - Mount Kilimanjaro

Map of Climbing Routes up Mount Kilimanjaro

Mount Kilimanjaro summit and glaciers

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Marangu Route (the “Coca Cola” Route) – 5 or 6 days
This route offers the least scenic variety but is generally considered to be the easiest route. The route has a moderate slope and offers an emergency evacuation service. It is the only route offering huts (dormitory type). Marangu is popular with budget operators and is frequented by poorly prepared climbers. As a consequence, it has the reputation for the highest incidence of deaths on the mountain and lowest summit success rate.


Machame Route – 6 or 7 days
The Machame Route offers an invaluable extra acclimatization day. It is a varied and interesting scenic route approaching the mountain from the western side and is considered to be the most beautiful route up Kilimanjaro. It has become a high-traffic route in the peak climbing season. Climbers sleep in mountain tents, since huts are in poor condition. Porters are provided and plain but wholesome meals are prepared for guests.


Rongai Route – 5 or 6 days
The Rongai trek starts on the remote northeastern side of Kilimanjaro, it is in a lower rainfall area which stretches the climbing season. It is a low traffic route and considered to be the second easiest route up the mountain. Climbers are not treated to great scenery for the first two days as with the other route but by the third day the scenery is exchanged for spectacular views from Mawenzi Tarn. The descend is via the Marangu Route.

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Shira Route – 7 days
Shira is one of two longer routes up the mountain which is an advantage as you can acclimatize with longer stays on the mountain. The Second longest is Lemosho Route. Shira starts on the western side of the mountain crossing the Shira Plains, walking below the southern ice fields before joining the Machame Route. The ascend to the summit is usually from Barafu and the descend to Mweka hut or Millenium Camp


Lemosho Route – 7 days
This is considered one of the most naturally beautiful routes because unlike the Shira Route which starts off walking along a road the Lemosho Route starts on a narrow wilderness trail walking through remote rainforest. It is then pretty much the same as the Shira Route traversing along the Shira Plateau joining the Machame Route near the Lava Tower. It is a low traffic climb because it is fairly new but it is one of the more expensive options. This is a trek for the more experienced climber.

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