It’s been called “as wide as the world” but Mount Kilimanjaro’s height is what it’s best known for.
Standing at 5,895 metres above sea level, it’s actually the highest mountain on the African continent and the highest free-standing mountain (above sea level) in the world.
You may also know it as the subject of that famous line from Toto’s Africa, of the short story by Ernest Hemingway, and of the classic skit from Monty Python.
It takes a certain type of traveller to set a Mount Kilimanjaro trek in their sights. This is sure to be a challenge for your mind and body.
Kilimanjaro is a dormant volcano with three cones. Whichever way you look at it, that’s going to make for one hell of a trek. It features ice fields and (unfortunately ever-shrinking) glaciers. Not to mention the chance to see elephants, buffalo, chameleons and a plethora of birdlife along the way.
Under the unfathomably big African skies, there are few places with scenery quite like what you’ll see here.
Where is Mount Kilimanjaro?
Unlike Toto sang, Mount Kilimanjaro does not in fact rise above the Serengeti. It does lie on the northern border of Tanzania, but it’s around 250 kilometres southeast of the Serengeti. It’s approximately 500 kilometres north of Tanzania’s capital, Dodoma.
What route should I choose when planning to trek Mt Kilimanjaro?
With six established routes on Mount Kilimanjaro, choosing the best one to suit what you’re looking for can be tough, especially considering how important the choice can be for your success. I’ll discuss my three recommendations here.
Marangu is the most popular route for summiting Kilimanjaro and thus will obviously be the busiest. One of the main reasons it’s so popular is that it offers excellent opportunities for gradual acclimatisation to the altitude. It’s also the only route that offers hut accommodation rather than tents, which will obviously be greatly appreciated by some trekkers. This route is a return trip, ascending and descending via the same path.
The Machame route is the second most popular route on Mount Kilimanjaro. This is again due to the acclimatisation opportunities, but also due to the fact that it features particularly spectacular scenery. Some operators will offer a six day version of this route but if you’re choosing this route for acclimatisation reasons, completing it more quickly defeats the purpose, so make sure you book the seven day trip.
For a more remote option where you’ll share the views with fewer visitors, the Lemosho route is an excellent choice. This is also an extremely scenic route and over seven days, also allows for acclimatisation. Not many tour operators offer this route so if this is your preferred option, choosing a tour operator will be easier.
Mount Kilimanaro map
Can I summit Kilimanjaro independently?
Who should I choose to do my Mt Kilimanjaro trek with?
The first thing I look for when choosing an overseas trekking tour company is how well they treat their guides and porters. Anyone who has done treks with cheaper companies will have noticed that the porters, in particular, have sub-standard living and working conditions. The only way to prevent this culture of mistreatment of porters by hiking tour companies is to choose your tour company wisely.
Altezza Travel’s guides and porters are paid above market wage, receive regular training, are provided with medical insurance, receive three nutritious meals a day, carry no more than 20 kilograms, and sleep each night using excellent tents and sleeping bags.
The TripAdvisor reviews for Altezza tell me everything else I need to know. They provide their trekkers with an excellent experience, focused on safety, quality and comfort. They have group tours departing every two to three days.
How much does a Kilimanjaro trek cost?
One of the top Google search terms for Kilimanjaro is “cheapest Kilimanjaro trek”. Hopefully, I’ve already convinced you that this isn’t what you should be looking for.
The cheapest companies are not only likely to treat their staff poorly, but the experience they provide you is likely to be almost as poor. Just look at the reviews on TripAdvisor for some of the cheaper companies.
A Kilimanjaro trekking tour should reasonably cost anywhere between $200 and $2300 per person (USD).
When is the best time to climb Mount Kilimanjaro?
January to February and August to September are the best times for a Mount Kilimanjaro trekking adventure weather-wise. However, these times will obviously also be the most crowded times on the mountain. Planning your trek for March or October will minimise the chances of overcrowding, but you’ll still be visiting outside of the rainy season.
How to get to Mount Kilimanjaro
Moshi and Arusha are the main starting points for any Mt Kilimanjaro trekking adventure. If flying in specifically for your trek (rather than travelling overland from elsewhere in Tanzania or neighbouring countries), you are best to fly into Kilimanjaro International Airport, which is 40 minutes drive from Moshi or 90 minutes from Arusha.
Flights to Kilimanjaro International Airport are generally available from Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Istanbul, Nairobi, Doha, Addis Ababa and Kigali. Flights will be available from your nearest major international airport to one of these locations.
Make sure you check your visa, passport and vaccination requirements before travelling, not only for Tanzania but for any of the aforementioned transport hubs.
Plenty of accommodation options will be available in Moshi and Arusha. It’s recommended to arrive in Tanzania two or three days before your trek, both to allow for any issues along the way and to make sure you are well rested before setting off.
Have you summited Mount Kilimanjaro? Got any questions, comments, updates or corrections? Let us know by commenting below.