Africa’s tallest peak creates an instantly recognisable silhouette, rising all alone from the acacia forests and scrublands at the border of Kenya and Tanzania. At 5,896m, the world’s tallest freestanding mountain can certainly seem imposing but that doesn’t mean it’s out of reach. We offer a range of Kilimanjaro routes to suit every trekkers experience and fitness levels, getting you to the summit with the best team possible. While the climb will be difficult, it’s only when you’re sitting at the summit with the sprawling savanna far below that you realise the simple truth: it was all worth it.
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At a glance
Average Trek Duration
The Best Time To Trek
Which route is right for you?
Despite being longer and more arduous than the Marangu and Rongai trails, the Machame route has emerged in recent years as a popular choice for trekkers. The 40 kilometre trail passes through cloud forests and moorland zones to the glaciated precipices of Kibo’s south face. Unlike the Marangu and Rongai routes, trekkers descend via the Mweka route – a steep but scenic path through dry mountain desert and lowland forest.
A trail that winds along the north-eastern side of the mountain near the Kenyan border, Rongai offers up a different side to Africa’s most famous mountain. The route attracts a lower number of climbers than Marangu and Machame, which means the wilderness feels particularly pristine. Fewer people mean there’s a greater chance of seeing wildlife on the Rongai trail than on the other routes. This route also approaches Mount Kilimanjaro through rural heartlands, allowing trekkers to see Chagga village life.
This five-day climb is the most popular and direct of the Kilimanjaro routes, passing through vast grasslands, giant cacti fields and alpine meadows set against dramatic mountain peaks. It’s also the only route where camping is not needed, with trekkers sleeping in huts dotted along the way. The 35 kilometre uphill walk is well maintained and the views from the summit are striking. As the Marangu route is shorter, the period to acclimatise is also shortened and this has an impact on the trail's overall success rate.
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Kilimanjaro trekking FAQs
The regulations for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro specify a minimum age of 10 years, with no maximum age, however all Intrepid travellers are required to be over 15 years old. While there is no maximum age for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, it is important to remember that the climb is strenuous and presents health risks, especially to people in high risk categories. Serious consideration should be given to anyone under the age of 18 and over the age of 60.
The summit of Mount Kilimanjaro is above 5,800m/19,000 feet. At this altitude it’s common for travellers to experience some adverse health effects – regardless of your age, gender or fitness. It even happened to Sir Edmund Hillary! Everyone will adapt to the altitude and thinning air differently. This is why we always try to keep the ascent slow and steady, to allow your body to acclimatise and make your journey to the summit easier. Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor.
To reach the summit you’re going to need the right fuel, which is why our cooks will be providing delicious and nutritious meals throughout your trek. Our porters carry all the equipment and supplies we need and you’ll be treated to some local dishes. We can accommodate food allergies and dietary requests but please tell us when you book. It’s also a good idea to bring your own extra comfort snacks from home to keep your energy levels up during more difficult sections of the trail.
While on the trek, your guides will boil and cool 3 litres of water for you per day. This will ensure the water is safe to drink and you stay hydrated on the trek. We recommend you pack 3 x 1 litre refillable water bottles. Please note disposable plastic containers are not allowed on the mountain.
Your accommodation will vary depending on the route you choose. On the Machame and Rongai route you’ll be camping out under the stars with a full-service camping experience. You don’t need to bring anything except your enthusiasm. Our two-person tents are ideal for expedition trips and feature a flysheet made from ripstop nylon, anti-mosquito netting, reflective guy ropes and a 3000mm waterhead, ensuring you stay warm and dry even in difficult conditions.
If you choose to trek the Marangu route you’ll enjoy basic but comfortable accommodation in wooden A-frame huts with single beds and simple mattresses. Due to limited accommodation on the mountain, you may need to share a hut with non-Intrepid passengers and/or members of the opposite sex. These sleeping huts are not equipped with facilities however there are seperate bathroom huts containing shared toilets and washing facilities.
Although no mountaineering experience is required, a good level of physical fitness is necessary. You’ll need to be comfortable walking 6-8 hours uphill a day. The distances may not be long but the altitude makes it harder than your average uphill hike. We recommend increasing your aerobic exercise in the months leading up to the climb, such as by walking, running or climbing stairs. There is plenty of time available each day to get between huts or camping sites so there is no need to rush, in fact the slower you go the more time your body has to adapt and the more you’ll enjoy the experience.
Although a guide will always accompany you on the trail, you are unlikely to see your porter (as they are very fast!) except at the huts or the camps. Therefore it is important you carefully pack a smaller day pack you carry yourself. Anything you need during the course of the day should be in your day pack including, most importantly, something warm and something waterproof.
From 2019 your maximum gear allowance is 9 kg/20 lbs. At the welcome meeting you will be provided with a duffel/kit bag to transfer your hiking luggage into. This waterproof bag minimises the weight your porter needs to carry and allows you to store excess luggage at the hotel.
Light clothing is generally sufficient until you reach the 3-4000 metre/12-14,000 feet altitude range provided you always have something warm and waterproof in your daypack. Beyond these altitudes, even if the mornings are glorious, you must always be ready for dramatic changes in the weather, including snow storms. You must have clothing with you in your daypack adequate to the conditions. Please ensure your day pack is large enough to carry these clothes, your lunch box, 3 litres of water and any other items such as camera equipment. Warm clothing is important for the final ascent. The ascents are done at night and this is when the coldest temperatures are experienced. You must be prepared for temperatures of minus 25 degrees celsius/minus 13 Fahrenheit. As a rule you should wear two pairs of socks, two-three layers on the legs and four-five layers on top. A balaclava or neck gaiter and woolly hat are necessary to keep the head warm, while gloves and sunglasses are also needed.
Note: the bag the porter carries for you should not exceed 9 kg/20 lbs. If bags are too heavy items may have to be removed or the climber may choose to hire an additional porter.
• Anorak/parka with hood (waterproof) x 1
• Down jacket x 1
• Sweater/fleece x 1
• Thermal top x 2
• T-shirts x 3, long sleeve shirts x 2-3
• Waterproof trousers or ski pants x 1
• Warm trousers x 2
• Hiking shorts/trousers x 1
• Long thermal pants x 1
• Thermal underwear
• Socks thin and thick x 6
• Hiking boots
• Comfortable closed shoes (for around camp)
• Mittens and ski gloves
• Balaclava and woollen hat
• Sun hat
• Day pack, approximately 30 litres
• Refillable water bottles - 3 x 1 litre (note plastic containers are not allowed on the mountain)
• Good quality, super-warm 4-season sleeping bag (these can be borrowed from our local operator in Tanzania but this service is on a request basis only - please book your bag at time of booking)
• Thermarest or trekking roll mat. (not required on Marangu route)
• Small first aid kit
• Headache tablets
• Imodium (loperamide)
• Climbers may like to consult their physicians about azetazolomide (Diamox), a drug that many find mitigates the ill effects of altitude, headache, diarrhoea & vomiting.
• Hand towel
• Wet wipes
• Head torch and flashlight with spare batteries (needed for summit night)
• Sunblock and high SPF lip balm
• Camera, film, extra batteries - you will not be able to recharge on the mountain but can at the Kibo Hotel before and after the climb.
Additional hiking equipment can be hired in Marangu. However, on a trek such at this, tried and tested equipment purchased from home may be more comfortable and of a better fit. If you do require any gear, please speak to your leader at the welcome meeting on Day One. Below is a list of some of the equipment available and the rough rental costs.
• Sleeping bag - Free (must be requested through your booking agent prior to departure)
• Thermarest/trekking roll mat - USD20 (not required on Marangu route)
• Trekking poles – USD10
• Waterproof trekking boots - USD30
• Gaiters - USD10
• 30 litre day pack - USD20
• Ski sunglasses/Sun goggles - USD10
• Waterprooj jackets/hooded parkas - USD15
• Warm fleece sweater - USD10
• Light hiking trousers and shorts - USD10 each
• Warm hiking trousers - USD15
• Trekking t-shirts/long-sleeved shirts - USD10 each
• Mittens/ski gloves/scarf/sun hat - USD10 each
• Balaclava/ski mask- USD5
Kilimanjaro’s location near the equator is a great advantage, with very little seasonal variation in climbing conditions. Having said that, the rainy seasons from March to May and November to December may make the track a little slippery. Generally speaking, January, February and September are considered the best times to climb the mountain.
Part of what makes Kilimanjaro so unique is the diversity of ecosystems and micro-climates on its slopes. This same benefit is what makes predicting conditions a challenge. You should trek expecting everything from tropical rainforests to sub-zero landscapes. The weather is prone to shift without warning and it is best to be prepared for all possibilities.
In a word? Improving. Until recently the toilet facilities left much to be desired but thankfully the park authorities have started to tackle the problem. Some state-of-the-art eco-toilets have now been built at the major campsites. There is the option to arrange a toilet tent for the entire trip. Please speak to your booking agent about the cost of this service.
The success of each climb is dependent on a number of varying factors, such as the weather on Mount Kilimanjaro and the age and fitness of each trekker. With that said we have achieved a success rate of 75% to Uhuru Peak across our three climbing routes.
Yes. We carry multiple, comprehensive first aid kits and our mountain guides are fully trained on their use. All of our mountain guides are first-aid qualified.
Absolutely! Intrepid have invested in the highest standards of training of any operator on Kilimanjaro. This includes advanced altitude training delivered by a UK doctor and altitude research specialist. One of the key elements of this is training on the Lake Louise altitude assessment system, which allows our mountain guides to effectively monitor clients constantly whilst on Kilimanjaro and assess if they are suffering from AMS and, if so, how severe that AMS is. We also train them on how to respond in the case of a moderate or severe case of altitude sickness – which will always mean organising for the affected client to descend immediately. During your briefing on the first evening of your trip, your mountain guide will talk to you about symptoms of AMS and how to recognise them.
Yes – there are two key, potentially life-saving drugs that our teams carry on the mountain. These are Dexamethasone and Nifedipine and they used to treat cerebral and pulmonary oedema, which are the two potentially life-threatening complications of severe AMS. Our mountain guides are fully trained on the use of these drugs for altitude related illnesses.
Please note that we do not carry Diamox on our Kilimanjaro treks. The reason for this is that, although medical research suggests that Diamox can be very effective in aiding acclimatisation to altitude, it has been proven to be far less effective at treating severe AMS. You may wish to talk to your doctor prior to travelling about being prescribed Diamox to assist acclimatisation while you climb Kilimanjaro.
We carry medical oxygen – and when a group has four passengers or more, this will mean multiple cylinders will be distributed among the team of mountain guides to ensure that oxygen is always quickly available in the case of an emergency. The oxygen that we carry is strictly for emergency use only – and cannot be used by clients to assist in climbing or summiting.
No. Gamow bags and PACs are two types of portable hyperbaric chambers, which are sometimes used for sufferers of severe AMS. What makes Kilimanjaro relatively unique is that it is a “rapid ascent mountain” – meaning altitude gain happens extremely quickly. Logically, therefore, Kilimanjaro is also a “rapid descent mountain” and our policy is that in the case of severe AMS, our mountain guides will immediately evacuate the patient down the mountain, usually with the assistance of porters to carry the person affected. Often, a descent of just a few hundred metres will be enough to make a difference. Gamow bags and PACs are more effective in other parts of the world where rapid descent on foot is not possible. Also, a gammow bag takes a little while to inflate – which on Kilimanjaro is valuable time lost when an evacuation down the mountain could already have commenced.
Cell phone coverage on the mountain is improving – but it's still patchy in many areas. For this reason, Intrepid mountain guides carry short wave radios to allow for communication in the case of an emergency.
Unfortunately there is a problem in the trekking industry with some service providers taking advantage of porters, compromising staff safety in order to minimise costs. Our Tanzanian Destination Management Company (DMC) was established in 2014 with the purpose of ensuring Intrepid stood at the forefront of responsible tourism practices on Mount Kilimanjaro. We're proud to say that we're an official partner of the International Mountain Explorers Connection (IMEC) and its Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project (KPAP). This means all of our climbs have been assessed and scored based on a number of criteria designed to ensure the proper treatment of porters on the mountain. You can read more about KPAP's good work at the bottom of this page.
All Intrepid Kilimanjaro climbs are operated by Intrepid Guerba Tanzania Limited, which is a fully owned Intrepid company based in northern Tanzania.
Why choose Intrepid?
Our Kilimanjaro trek leaders have been voted among the best Intrepid Group leaders in the world and we have a leading reputation within the travel industry.
All our guides and trek leaders have been trained by independent, UK-based medical specialists and are proficient in first aid. They also carry oxygen cylinders on all treks for emergency use.
Our staff live and work in the Mount Kilimanjaro area, which means revenue from all our treks benefit the local economy.
There’s no hidden costs or ‘catches’ in our prices. All tours include sleeping bags, sleeping mat, camping and safety equipment, emergency oxygen and porterage of 1 bag (up to 15kgs). We also include Kilimanjaro National Park entrance fees, climbing fees, camping and hut fees, and insurance for rescue services (just in case!)
The Buddy System
Each of our treks begin with a briefing from our experienced English-speaking guide. On the road we operate on a 2:1 principle – that means we have one guide for every two climbers. Your crew will also be joined by dedicated cooks and porters.
We strive to use travel as a force for good. That’s why we choose to give back to the communities we visit, carbon offset all our trips and take our social and environmental responsibilities seriously. We’ve been officially certified as the world’s largest travel B Corp, which means when you choose Intrepid Travel, you can rest assured you’re travelling to improve the planet.
Giving back: support the people who support you
The Intrepid Foundation exists because we believe in promoting sustainable travel and giving back to the destinations that provide us with incredible experiences. The Foundation supports community projects all over the world, including a few right here in Tanzania.
We’re an official partner of the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project (KPAP), one of the projects we support on the ground. Unfortunately, some porters are severely underpaid and work in poor conditions with inadequate clothing and equipment. KPAP provides Kilimanjaro porters with support, advocacy and education, and works with the travel industry to ensure good climbing practices and conditions for hardworking porters.
Your support through The Intrepid Foundation will be used to offer educational opportunities to porters, support KPAP’s clothing lending scheme, and enable the monitoring activities crucial to the Partner for Responsible Travel program. You can find out more or make a donation by visiting The Intrepid Foundation website.
Combine your trek with a Tanzania adventure
Conquering Mount Kilimanjaro might be high on the bucket list, but there's plenty of other great things to see and do in Tanzania too. You can track the Big Five on the plains of the Ngorongoro Crater, camp out on the Serengeti, or even just relax along the white-powder beaches of Zanzibar. Make your Mount Kilimanjaro trek part of an even bigger Tanzania adventure on any of the tours below.