How hard is it to climb Kilimanjaro?

If you are thinking about climbing Africa’s highest mountain in 2014 or 2015, you probably have a long list of questions including… Which route should I climb? What time of year should I climb? Am I fit enough to climb? And How hard is it to climb Mount Kilimanjaro?

They are all good questions, and they all need answering before you attempt Uhuru Peak, but the last question can be very difficult to answer, quite simply as no two climbers are the same.

Climb Kilimanjaro 2014 2015 Private and group tours

At 5,895-metres high, Mount Kilimanjaro is no ‘walk in the park’, but it is not a technical mountain to climb either, and with the right preparation (mental and physical), the right clothing, and the right support from your mountain crew, you should be able to make it to the summit.

Some of Kilimanjaro’s Routes are more physically challenging than others are, but none of them are technically challenging, and they all spiral upwards at a gentle gradient so you do not need ropes or crampons. In fact, the only time you can expect to get your hands dirty is when you climb over Barranco Wall, but even that looks a lot worse that it really is.

Unless you choose the Marangu Route where you sleep in shared huts, your nights on Mount Kilimanjaro will be spent camping mountainside. A good sleeping bag and a padded mattress will help you sleep more comfortably, but you need to prepare yourself for six to eight nights in a tent in temperatures below minus -10.

The most important thing to remember is that climbing Kilimanjaro successfully takes time, and while you may be tempted to save a couple of hundred dollars by booking a cheaper / shorter climb, such as the 5-day Marangu Route (Coca-cola route), you could cut your chances of success by 50% – so is it really worth it?

Altitude sickness is the main reason that people do not complete their Kilimanjaro climb, and if you get too high to quickly, your body will struggle to cope with the low oxygen levels and you will begin to experience some form of altitude sickness including headaches, vomiting, and problems with the digestive system.

Diamox or Ibuprofen and plenty of water may ease your systems, but if altitude sickness really kicks in, the only way to relieve the systems is by descending and your Mountain Guide will have no choice but to end your Kilimanjaro adventure and take you down to safety.

So my answer to the question “How hard is it to climb Kilimanjaro?” would have to be… as hard as you make it!

We didn’t find climbing Kilimanjaro hard, apart from summit night which was physically and mentally draining, but we trained hard for 3 months leading up to our climb, we booked the longer 7-Day Machame Route Tour, and we prepared for this life-changing event… and 2 years on, we are planning to do it all over again!

 

Climb Kilimanjaro – Private Tour vs. Group Tour

There are many things to consider when you are thinking about climbing Kilimanjaro, such as which climbing company to choose, when to go, which route to take, and whether to take a private tour or a scheduled group tour, and they could all make a huge difference to the success of your climb.

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro – A Once in a Lifetime Experience… That I cannot wait to do again!

The company you choose to climb Kilimanjaro will ultimately be responsible for your safety and well-being on the mountain, but they are also responsible for the Mountain Guides, Cooks and Porters that assist you during your climb, and so always look out for those who are members of KPAP (Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project), to ensure your mountain crew are well taken care of.

Climbing companies who support KPAP may charge you a few dollars more to climb Kilimanjaro than those who do not, but if you want to ensure your porters receive a fair wage, good food, and adequate clothing for your climb it is a small price to pay.

Then there is the choice between a Private Kilimanjaro Tour and a Scheduled Group Tour.

Private Kilimanjaro Climbs

Years ago, Private climbs were only for those with a large budget and deep pockets, but today, anyone can enjoy the freedom and flexibility of a private tour up Kilimanjaro, and they can even cost less than a scheduled group tour… You just need to know where to look.

Private Kilimanjaro Climbs can start on any day of the year and with any number of people (even singles), so if you are limited to certain travel dates, a private climb is definitely the best option.

If you climb Kilimanjaro on a private tour, your mountain guide can offer a more personalised service, this is not possible on a group climb when you guide has to cater for several different people with several different fitness levels.

With a private climb, especially if there is just a small group of close family and friends, you get to know your crew personally – and that will make a huge difference to your Kilimanjaro experience.

 Kilimanjaro Group Tours

Climbing Kilimanjaro on a scheduled Group Tour is perfect for single travellers who can travel at any time of the year, and who would rather not climb on their own.

If you want to save money, one of the easiest ways to do so is by taking a larger group tour along Kilimanjaro’s Marangu Route, also known as the Coca-Cola Route.  These tours are usually the cheapest when it comes to climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, but they are also the shortest, and this can cause problems with altitude sickness.

Group tours work well if all climbers have a good level of physical fitness, and all maintain the same pace.  If certain members of the group did not prepare for the climb, the mountain guide and assistant mountain guide(s) have to work exceptionally hard to keep everyone together (and everyone happy!).

Climbing Kilimanjaro is a life-changing experience – whichever way you decide to climb, but by choosing your climb carefully, you can make your path to the Roof of Africa even more enjoyable!

Climb Kilimanjaro 2014 – On Any Day of the Year!

If you would like to climb Kilimanjaro in 2014, but can’t find any schedules that fit in with your annual leave, you will be pleased to know that you can climb Mount Kilimanjaro on ANY day of the year by simply booking a private tour.

A private climb up Kilimanjaro can work out just a $100 dollars more than your regular scheduled group tour, and whether you are climbing on your own, with a partner or friend, or have your own group together, you can book a private tour to start on any day you choose.

Private Tour Kilimanjaro 2015

When we climbed the 7-day Machame Route back in September 2012, we decided on a private tour as we had to travel on certain dates, but now we know the benefits of a private climb, we would never recommend anything else!

With a private tour on Mount Kilimanjaro you set the pace (behind your guide!), you can take as many breaks / photo stops as you like without upsetting anyone, you can take your time in the mornings to pack away your things, and the whole trip is a lot more personalised.

The National Parks of Tanzania are open 365 days per year, so you can climb Kilimanjaro on your birthday, on Christmas Day, and you can even summit on New Year’s Eve – with a private tour, the sky is your limit… literally!

Mountains & Monkeys – An African Adventure

If you dream of travelling the world, you probably have a ‘Bucket List’ as long as the Great Wall of China, but there are certain favourites that stand out on every intrepid travellers wish list, and they including Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and Gorilla Tracking in Rwanda or Uganda.

Gorilla Tracking Rwands

They may be two completely different adventures, but they work beautifully together, and with daily flights from Kilimanjaro Airport to Kigali – Rwanda’s capital, it makes perfect sense to combine your Mount Kilimanjaro Climb with a visit to the Mountain Gorillas of Volcanoes National Park.

Planning your Kilimanjaro Climb has never been easier, and as most KPAP (Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project) Registered Climbing Companies offer private tours for groups of every size (even singles), you can schedule your climb to start on any day, 365-days of the year.

With six official routes on Mount Kilimanjaro to choose from, there is something for everyone, and by choosing one of the longer itineraries with plenty of time for acclimatization, your journey to the Roof of Africa will be a successful one.

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Once you have crossed “Climb Kilimanjaro” off your bucket list, a short flight (1h 30min) to Kigali will put you in prime position for meeting the world’s largest primates – the Mountain Gorilla.

It is estimated that there are just 700-800 Mountain Gorillas left in the world due to hunting, war, disease and destruction of their natural habitat over the years, but thankfully, the International Gorilla Conservation Programme, established in 1991, has helped Mountain Gorilla numbers increase.

One of the best ways to ensure these magnificent creatures thrive is by visiting them.  Charitable organisation WWF encourages travellers to support conservation projects and local communities by visiting the Gorillas in Rwanda or Uganda, in a controlled environment that protects the Mountain Gorillas while allowing us to fulfil our dreams.

With two destinations and twice the adventure, this journey throughout Africa is not for everyone, but if you have a passion for travel, a love of the great outdoors, and care about wild animals, this could be the holiday of your lifetime!

The Five Ecosystems of Mount Kilimanjaro

Mount Kilimanjaro might be Africa’s highest mountain, but it is also home to some of the most diverse ecosystems in the world.

During your Kilimanjaro Climb, you will pass through no less than five unique ecosystems, and with a knowledgeable mountain guide in tow, you will get to uncover some of ‘Kili’s’ secrets on your way to Uhuru Peak.

When taking the 7-Day Machame Route, you will start in lush verdant forests, before reaching the Heather zone on day two.  From here, the scenery changes dramatically, and you will soon find yourself walking through space-like Moorlands and Alpine Deserts, before finally reaching the ice walls of the summit.

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is a dream come true for many, and its five ecosystems make the journey to the Roof of Africa a whole lot prettier!

img_0122 img_0013 img_0022 img_0026 img_0174 img_0043 img_0060 Climb Kilimanjaro img_0015 img_0029 img_0044 img_0058 img_0074 img_0066

 

Packing for Kilimanjaro – What you need to Take and Why you need to Take it!

If you intend to be one of the +/- 40,000 people who climb Mount Kilimanjaro this year, there are certain things you need to pack to ensure your passage to the ‘Roof of Africa’ is a smooth one.

Climb Kilimanjaro

While not a technical mountain, Kilimanjaro is not a mountain you can climb in jeans and trainers (many have tried!), and while you do not need to spend a fortune on the latest high-tech gear, there are some necessities that you really shouldn’t be without.

Having ‘Been there, done that’, we know what it takes to get to Uhuru Peak, so here are our top tips for packing for your Kilimanjaro climb:

A sleeping bag recommend for use in temperatures of minus 25

Why: No matter what time of year you climb Kilimanjaro, the temperatures plummet below zero at night. A warm, comfortable sleeping bag is essential, so invest in the best you can afford.

A good pair of comfortable hiking boots with Gore-Tex protection

Why: You are going to be hiking 5-8 hours per day for the duration of your climb, so it makes sense that you have comfortable, waterproof boots with ankle support.

 A Gore-Tex Windproof Jacket and a Fleece Jacket

Why: The temperatures on Mount Kilimanjaro change constantly, you can have sunshine in the morning, wind and rain in the afternoon, and minus 15 at night, so a good set of jackets that you can ‘layer’ is much better than one big heavy down-jacket.

Gore-Tex Hiking Trousers

Why: I don’t want to sound like I’m advertising Gore-Tex here, I’m not, but the fact is, if you get wet on Mount Kilimanjaro, there is no way to get dry.  Stretch, waterproof hiking trousers are comfortable and ideal for long days on the mountain.

Dry-Fit / Sweat-Wicking T-Shirts

Why: Even when it’s cold on Mount Kilimanjaro, you will still sweat after hiking for 7 hours, so stay comfortable with 4 or 5 good quality performance t-shirts (we took a mix of long and short sleeves).

Thermal Underwear, Socks and Undies

Why: Obvious reasons!  There is nothing better to sleep in than a pair of Thermal Long Johns and a Thermal Long-sleeved T-shirt, and as you will not be showering for a week, take as many socks and pants as you can carry!

Fleece Tracksuit & Trainers

Why: You will need something to change into after a long day hiking, and this is warm, comfortable and cosy.

Hats, gloves and a scarf:

Why: Prepare for four seasons in one day, and you can’t go wrong on Mount Kilimanjaro. A baseball cap, a warm thermal hat, windproof gloves and a warm scarf will protect you from the elements – whatever the weather.

Waterproofs

Why: A cheap poncho will keep the rain at bay, should you get caught in a downpour.

Accessories:

Why: All of these items will prove invaluable when you climb Kilimanjaro

  • Sunglasses
  • A headlamp & spare batteries (its dark at night, and if you need to go to the loo, this will prove very helpful!)
  • Water Bottles (enough to carry 3-litres of water)
  • A large rucksack and a daypack (you carry the daypack, your porter carries the rest)
  • Camera and plenty of spare (back-up) batteries and memory cards
  • Hiking sticks/poles – This is an optional extra… I didn’t use them, but many people rely on them.

Toiletries and Medications

Why: Ok, silly question!

  • Baby Wipes – and more baby wipes!  The best invention to ever be discovered by mountain climbers, baby wipes will keep you feeling fresh and smelling sweet all week-long!
  • Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Toilet Paper & Deodorant – no description needed!
  • Moisturiser /lip balms– and this is not just for the Ladies! Your skin will soon dry out when exposed to the elements, and a good moisturiser / lip balm will stop your face, lips and hands cracking.
  • Water purifying tablets – very important, from day two, your water supplier will be sourced from local rivers, and while it is boiled and clean, it could affect those with a sensitive stomach.
  • Headache tablets / painkillers – Ibuprofen is recommended for headaches caused by altitude and it definitely worked for us.  Diamox is a prescription only drug, said to relieve the symptoms of altitude sickness. This should only be considered after speaking to your doctor.
  • Plasters and antiseptic cream – just in case you get a blister!

If you do not want to carry everything with you to Tanzania, rent the heavier items from your Kilimanjaro climbing company.

Climb Kilimanjaro – Full Moon Dates 2014

Climbing Kilimanjaro is a wonderful experience at any time of the year, but if you would like to make your way to the ‘Roof of Africa’ under a full moon, you need to plan your climb to coordinate with Kilimanjaro’s Full Moon dates for 2014.

Summiting in the moonlight is a magical experience, with glittering glaciers and twinkling stars all around, and as the full moon provides enough light to see the path ahead, you can turn off your headlamp (and the uncomfortable glare that goes with it!), and appreciate the beauty of the night sky.

To climb Kilimanjaro under a full moon in 2014, you should plan your climb to start around these dates:

15th January 2014

14th February 2014

16th March 2014

15th April 2014 – Lunar Eclipse

14th May 2014

12th June 2014

12th July 2014

10th August 2014

8th September 2014

8th October 2014 – Lunar Eclipse

6th November 2014

6th December 2014

Depending on the route you choose, Machame, Marangu, Lemosho, Rongai, or Umbwe, and the length of your Kilimanjaro climb (6-9 days), you will need to start your trek 3-6 days ahead of the New Moon to ensure you summit on the evening of Africa’s newest moon.