The training, gear, and logistics you’ll need for your trip to Kilimanjaro
There’s no way around it—hiking to Kilimanjaro is tough. Sure, it’s a non-technical summit, meaning you don’t need any technical mountaineering experience or special equipment to top out, and you’ll have porters to carry some of your gear and a guide to lead the way, but you’ll need to be prepared for three to eight hours of hiking a day for 5 to 11 days straight. That is, except for summit day, when you’ll likely be on your feet for more than 16 hours.
Still, thousands of climbers attempt the 19,340-foot peak each year for good reason. One of the Seven Summits, the tallest mountains on each continent, Trip to Kilimanjaro has been on adventurers’ bucket lists since the first-recorded successful summit in 1889, and its location near the equator makes it possible to hike nearly year-round. So, if you’re planning to join those ranks, you’ll need to do some planning to ensure you’re at your best. Here’s what you need to know to get started.
Getting in Shape Altitude Acclimation (Fitness)
It’s imperative to be physically fit.
Climbing Kilimanjaro requires three fitness elements –
Endurance to be able to sustainable long daily efforts of 7-8hrs trekking.
Strenght to be able to hold a strong core and carry a 5kg pack daily for 7-8hrs
Cardio to be able to preform at high intensity for short period’s of time
To build Endurance – Long hikes or long bike rides – 3-4hrs building to longer
To build Strength – Muscle development using weights under a qualified gym instructors supervision
To build Cardio – High Intensity Hitt sessions – anything that elevates your cardiac and respiratory system to an anaerobic state (very out of breathe)
To condition your body for the trek, spend at least a few months leading up to your adventure in preparation doing cardio training like walking, hill running, and biking long distances on high resistance.
Prior check with your doctor and get a good physical check over.
When to Visit (Timing)
Kilimanjaro’s temperate, equatorial climate means you can book your climb pretty much whenever works best for you. But there are a few rainy seasons to avoid, mainly from March to May and November to December. Even then, trail conditions tend to be slippery but doable.
Getting There (Travel)
Most climbs begin in Tanzanian base towns like Moshi, Marangu, and Arusha. Travellers typically fly into Kilimanjaro airport and stay in Moshi.
The mountain’s distinct ecological zones harbour variable weather conditions, from tropical showers to piercing winds, making proper layering essential. Your guide will likely brief you on all the clothing items you’ll need to bring, and you can find a complete, packing list on here. But there are some high-level considerations to keep in mind as you start planning for your trip to Kilimanjaro.
First, Tanzanian law dictates that your porter is only allowed to carry up to 32-pounds of gear for you. So, pack accordingly, and plan to store extra clothes, gear, and hard-shell luggage at your base hotel.
Your porter will haul your overnight bag to each campsite, so be sure to pack essentials like medication, layers, sunscreen, food, water, money, passport, and camera in your day bag. The weather can change quickly, meaning a waterproof pack or a rain cover is essential. We suggest a medium-sized daypack (approximately 20 litres) with built-in hydration technology for easy access.
Your overnight bag should be around 95 liters. Look for one made with durable waterproof material that can fit a luggage lock. It’s also a good idea to stuff your gear and clothes in a trash bag or two before packing them in your duffel to ensure everything stays dry.
Picking the Right Guiding Service (Guides)
You can’t climb to Kilimanjaro without a guide, but besides being illegal not to, there are plenty of other good reasons to go guided. They know the route and the weather, are experienced in altitude acclimatisation, will arrange your porters, and might even cater your meals. Group travel is the easiest and most affordable option, but you can book a private trip. Though quick ascents are offered for experienced climbers, longer trips with built-in acclimatisation days are best for novice to intermediate climbers. For shorter routes, expect to pay around €3,000 for a full package, while longer climbs can cost up to €4,000.
Picking the Right Route (Routes)
While there are plenty of technical ascents, there are four main routes to the summit. Not sure what route is the right one for you? We’ve compiled the pros and cons of each popular route up Kilimanjaro.
The Machame route on Kilimanjaro is a seven day camping route which allows for excellent acclimatisation and particularly diverse scenery. It has been called the Whiskey route in the past and nowadays about 35% of all climbers on the mountain use it.
Miles: 48.2 round trip
Elevation Gain: 12,420 feet
Total Trip Length: 10 day
Quick and comfortable, Marangu is the shortest route to the summit and the only one with accommodations along the way—A-frame huts with gorgeous views of Kilimanjaro National Park.
Miles: 48.2 round trip
Elevation Gain: 13,340 feet
Total Trip Length: 10 day
If you are looking for a less-traveled hike, head to Rongai, the only route up the north side of the mountain, which winds through the forest, moorlands, alpine desert, and beautiful arctic zones.
Miles: 45 round trip
Elevation Gain: 12,940 feet
Total Trip Length: 10 days
One of the newest, longest, and most beautiful routes on Kilimanjaro, Lemosho passes through six distinct ecological zones and is great for those looking for more time to acclimatise.
Miles: 47.5 round trip
Elevation Gain: 12,340 feet
Total Trip Length: 11 days
Guiding service www.jasonblack.ie