The first step in planning for your Mount Kilimanjaro trek is deciding which route to climb. There are 7 established Kilimanjaro routes to choose from. Each has its own distinct features and offers a unique experience. Then you’ll need to consider what is the best time to climb Kilimanjaro, there are two wet seasons a year on the mountain that you will want to avoid. Finally, you need to research and pick which tour operator to use.  In this section I’ll go over in great detail When to Climb Kilimanjaro, Route Selection and Kilimanjaro Operators.

When to Climb Mount Kilimanjaro

Mount Kilimanjaro can be climbed all year round. However, you should be thoughtful while deciding when to take your trip. You’re going to spend quite a sum of money, so you don’t want to ruin the trip by picking a crappy time to go.  

The best time to climb Kilimanjaro is during the main dry season, from July to October.

Because Tanzania is near the equator, the country does not have four seasons like we do in the USA. Instead, there are wet and dry seasons. The main dry season occurs during our summer (July) and goes through fall (October). This is generally considered the optimal time to climb Kilimanjaro. Rain and snow and blizzard-like conditions are least likely to occur during the main dry season.

The negative aspect of climbing at this time is that the mountain becomes very crowded. On any given day, there can be a thousand people at your campsite! But if you have to choose between being relatively alone with miserable weather, or crowded with beautiful weather, I’d opt for the second choice.

Now the other option is to climb during the short dry season, which is from January to February, which lessens the crowds somewhat. The chances of having great weather are still very high, but because these two months are bookended by rainy seasons, it’s possible that the rainy seasons run long or start early.

For those who truly want to be left alone, you can climb during the rainy seasons. The long rainy season goes from March to June, and the short rainy season goes from November to December. However, you must be willing to brave the wet trail conditions to do this. This should only be done if you have done wet weather backpacking before. First time trekkers should never climb during the rainy season. The difficulty and discomfort are exponentially higher at this time.

If you are wondering about how cold it will be, it can always be bitter cold. It is far more important to come while it is dry than to try to come during the relatively warmer months. The few degrees do not amount to much, but being soaked on the trail will.

Mount Kilimanjaro’s weather is unpredictable. All climbers should be prepared for rain and cold regardless of the time of year.

Ecological Zones

Mt. Kilimanjaro has five ecological zones; the lower slopes, rainforest, heather and moorland, alpine desert and the summit. Within each zone there is an association between altitude, rainfall, temperature, plants and animals. The zones occupy belts of approximately 3,281ft (1,000m) of altitude each. In general the temperature falls about 1C for every 6,56ft (200m) increase in altitude, rainfall also decreases steadily with altitude from the forest upward. Plant life is abundant in areas of high temperature and high rainfall. As you climb you will see that plant life decreases due to colder and drier conditions. Wildlife is dependent on plants and because there is less vegetation at higher elevations there are also fewer animals that live at high altitudes.

Bushland / Lower slopes: 2,600ft – 5,900ft (800 – 1,800m)
The first ecological zone on Kilimanjaro is largely cultivated land with banana, vegetable and coffee plantations. There are many villages inhabited by local tribes who work the land. The amount of rainfall varies, but increases toward the top of this zone as it nears the rainforest. You will not see large wild animals in the bushland/lower slopes.

Rain Forest: 5,900ft – 9,200ft (1,800 – 2,800m)
A band of extremely beautiful forest encircles Mt. Kilimanjaro, commonly concealed in thick clouds, protected from the sun and making it difficult for the moisture to evaporate resulting in high humidity. The rainforest is the riches zone on the mountain and although flowers are not plentiful here, those seen are strikingly beautiful. The rainforest is home to most of Kilimanjaro’s wildlife, often hidden from view. However, you are likely to see both blue monkeys, and the black and white Colobus monkeys. In the western part of Mt. Kilimanjaro that is close to Amboseli National Park in Kenya you might see elephants, antelopes, rodents, duiker and bushback.

Moorland / Heath Zone: 9,200ft – 13,100ft (2,800 – 4,000m)
This area is referred to as the highbred zone that transitions from rainforest to alpine desert. The heather and moorland has a cool climate with mist and fog near the rainforest. Heather and heath-like shrubs grow here, as well as gorse-like bushes, attractive grasses and flowers. There are not many large mammals here and those that do visit the moorland are in transit, although eland, duiker, dogs, buffalo and elephants have been seen. You may see anguar and mountain buzzards, the crowned eagle, lammergeyer and the white-necked raven.

Alpine Desert: 13,100ft – 16,400ft (4,000 – 5,000m)
The luna like landscape of the alpine desert is much drier with intense radiation, high evaporation and huge daily fluctuations in temperature, nights can be below 0C and in the day time as high as 25C to 35C in direct sun. Under these harsh conditions only the hardiest lichens, moss and tussock grasses survive. This zone does not offer much in the way of wildlife but its views are spectacular.

Arctic Zone / Summit: 16,400ft – 19,340ft (5,000 – 5,985m)
The arctic conditions of this barren icy wasteland offers little or no rainfall, the sun blazes during the day and is replaced with subzero temperatures at night. In the arctic / summit zone oxygen is nearly half that at sea level and there is little atmosphere to protect you from the sun’s radiation. Creatures large and small are extremely rare here, although a leopard was once found frozen in the snow many years ago. This zone receives less than four inches of precipitation per year, usually in the form of snow.  The presence of snow so close to the equator has often been a fascination for explorers. However, many scientists believe these glaciers will disappear within 15 years.

Kilimanjaro Route Selection

There are so many Kilimanjaro routes. How do I choose one?

There are 6 established Kilimanjaro routes to choose from. Each has its own distinct features and offers a unique experience. The information here will enable you to choose the best route to climb Mount Kilimanjaro for you. The routes are: Marangu, Machame, Lemosho or Shira, Rongai, Northern Circuit and Umbwe (Mweka is used only for descent).

It is important to choose a route that gives you the greatest chance of reaching the summit. If you have previous experience hiking at altitude, or are considering climbing Mount Meru before climbing Mount Kilimanjaro you could choose a shorter route. However, if this is your first time climbing at altitude you should select at least a seven day treks, more days on the mountain translates to a better chance at summiting.

Each of the ascent routes meet with a path circling the Kibo cone, a path known as either the Northern Circuit or the Southern Circuit depending on which side of the mountain you are on. The trails mix and merge at this point and once you reach Kibo there are three trails that lead up to the crater rim: the Western Breach Route (aka the Arrow Glacier Route), Barafu Route and the nameless third path (I’ll call Kibo Huts Route) that runs up from Kibo Huts to Gillman’s Point. Depending on which route you took to get to this point will determine which of these three routes you will take to the summit: the Shira, Lemosho, Machame and Umbwe routes use either the difficult Arrow Glacier Route or the easier (but longer) Barafu Route, while the Marangu and Rongai trails use the Kibo Huts Route.

Newer Routes

  • Rongai: the only trail to approach Kibo from the North, on the Kenyan side of the mountain.
  • Lemosho: an unspoiled and tranquil route that approaches Kibo from the West.
  • Umbwe: the most demanding route on Kilimanjaro due to the direct approach.
  • Northern Circuit: is the newest, most exciting route on Kilimanjaro. It begins on the Lemosho trail then traverses the rarely visited northern slopes.

Classic Routes

  • Marangu: known as the Coca-Cola route due to its mass appeal and accessibility.
  • Machame: referred to as the whiskey route as it is considered to be one of the more difficult routes.
  • Shira: one of the lesser used trails on Kilimanjaro, making it perfect for those wishing to avoid crowds.

Marangu: Very popular. Gentle gradients and long sections up to 4700m. Beautiful forests and moorlands, comfortable but basic huts. The 6 day variant provides good time for acclimatization. 5-6 days, 64 km. 

Machame: Second most popular route. Beautiful forest, very good for acclimatization, scenic traverse to Barafu. 6-7 days, 49km.

Lemosho & Shira: Long access drive, remote, less frequented, beautiful forests, scenic traverse to Barafu, camping. Excellent for acclimatization. 7-8 days, 56 km.

Rongai: Long access drive, remote, less frequented, some fine, wild, high-altitude mountain scenery, camping. Good for acclimatization. 6-7 days, 65km.

Umbwe: Shortest and steepest route, tough. Beautiful forest, spectacular ridge, bad for acclimatization, scenic traverse to Barafu, camping. Dangerous route. 5-6 days, 45 km.

The route you ultimately decide to do should be based upon which route fits your ability.

Most people climb on Machame and Marangu. Both are relatively inexpensive compared to other options. The main reason people climb Machame is that it is a fun, challenging route that has pretty decent acclimatization. The main reason people climb Marangu is that it has hut shelters so you don’t have to sleep on the ground. Between the two, Machame is considered to be better than Marangu for beauty and success.

If you climb too quickly, it is very likely you will develop acute mountain sickness. Although you can continue to climb with mild cases, moderate and severe cases will force climbers to descend and possibly require further medical treatment. In severe cases, acute mountain sickness can be fatal. Being sick on Kilimanjaro is no fun. So avoid short climbs at all costs!

Climbers should plan on spending seven days (or more) on the mountain. The longer you stay on the mountain, the better your chances of reaching the top, and the lower your chances of becoming sick.

The 7 day Machame Route  and 8 day Lemosho Route are my personal choices. These routes have sufficient acclimatization and pretty views. You won’t be disappointed with these treks. 

The Marangu Route

The Marangu route is the oldest, quickest and easiest routes on Kilimanjaro; it is affectionately known as the “Coca-Cola route” and is by far the most popular route to the summit. It has the most luxurious accommodation and is the only route where you sleep in huts. The huts contain bunk bed, mattresses, solar powered lights and cold running water.

The ascent begins at Marangu Gate up the south east side of Kilimanjaro through the beautiful forest and moorland before passing to the south of Mawenzi and crossing the desolate saddle on route to Kibo Hut. You then ascend to the summit on scree slopes to Gilmans Point and then onto Uhuru Peak. Descent is back to Marangu Gate; this route is typically completed in 6 days allowing for good acclimatization.

 
DAY 1: MARANGU GATE TO MANDARA HUT

Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
Total Distance: 8km/5 miles
Starting Elevation: 1,842m/6,046ft
Final Elevation 2,699m/8,858ft
Habitat: Rain Forest

You depart Moshi for Marangu Gate for the necessary formalities before beginning our trek. The hiking trail begins by ascending a beautiful, tropical rain forest. At the upper edge of the forest line, you’ll have the opportunity to see blue monkeys. The trail then widens to expose beautiful hillsides until Mandara Hut.

DAY 2: MANDARA HUT TO HOROMBO HUT

Hiking Time: 6-8 hours
Total Distance: 12km/7 miles
Starting Elevation: 2,699m/8,858ft
Finial Elevation: 3,720m/12,205ft
Habitat: Heath

The day continues through the forest until the trail opens into high moorland. You may get a view of Kibo and Mawenzi peaks – two of the three volcanic peaks that make up the summit of Kilimanjaro.

DAY 3: HOROMBO HUT TO MAWENZI RIDGE

Hiking Time: 2-3 hours
Distance: 5km/3 miles
Starting Elevation: 3,720m/12,205ft
Final Elevation: 4,389m/14,400ft
Habitat: Heath

Mawenzi Ridge to Horombo Hut

Hiking Time: 1-2 hours
Total Distance: 5km/3 miles
Elevation: 4,389m/14,400ft to 3,720m/12,205ft
Habitat: Heath

This is an extra day meant for acclimatization and can be spent day hiking on Mawenzi Ridge. The unique landscape offers motivating views of Kibo and Mawenzi. After spending a few moments exploring the area we head back to Horombo Hut.

DAY 4: HOROMBO HUT TO KIBO HUT

Hiking Time: 6-8 hours
Total Distance: 10km/6 miles
Starting Elevation: 3,720m/12,205ft
Final Elevation: 4,703m/15,430ft
Habitat: Alpine Desert

A gradual climb, then cross the lunar desert of the “Saddle” between Mawenzi and Kibo. Camp is Kibo Hut and sits at the bottom of the Kibo crater wall. Once here you will rest, enjoy an early dinner to prepare for the summit day.

DAY 5: KIBO HUT TO UHURU PEAK

Hiking Time: 6-8 hours
Total Distance: 6km/4 miles
Starting Elevation: 4,703m/15,430ft
Final Elevation: 5,895m/19,341ft
Habitat: Arctic

Uhuru Peak to Horombo Hut

Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
Total Distance: 16km/10 miles
Starting Elevation: 5,895m/19,341ft
Final Elevation: 3,733m/12,250ft
Habitat: Heath

Very early in the morning (around midnight), you will begin the push to the summit. This is the most mentally and physically challenging portion of the trek. The wind and cold at this elevation and time of day can be extreme. You ascend in the darkness for several hours while taking frequent, but short, breaks. At Gilman’s point (18,600 ft), you will be rewarded with the most magnificent sunrise you are ever likely to see coming over Mawenzi Peak. Finally, arrive at Uhuru Peak- the highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro and the continent of Africa.

After spending a few moments taking in the plains of Africa and your accomplishment, you descend to Horombo Hut. And later in the evening, enjoy our last dinner on the mountain and a well-earned sleep.

DAY 6 HOROMBO HUT TO MARANGU GATE

Hiking Time: 5-7 hours
Distance: 20km/12 miles
Starting Elevation: 3,733m/12,250ft
Final Elevation: 1,842m/6,046ft
Habitat: Rain Forest

The last day is a long trek mostly downhill through the tropical rainforest. Once at the park headquarters at Marangu gate, collect your summit certificates. A vehicle will meet you here and drive back to the hotel in Moshi.

The Machame Route

Machame is known as the most scenic route to the summit. With alternating paths to the summit and back, along with a circumvention near the peak, you see different sides of the mountain including high alpine deserts, ice fields, and of course the peak. The Machame route is also known as the “Whiskey Route” because it is more challenging than the tourist route (Marangu).

Machame begins in the rainforest and climbs to a ridge leading through moorland to the Shira Plateau. Offering great scenery beneath the Southern Icefields before summiting from Barafu Camp.

To climb Kilimanjaro on Machame with my personally recommended operators, go here (Peak Planet) or here (Ultimate Kilimanjaro).

 

DAY 1: MACHAME GATE TO MACHAME CAMP

Hiking Time: 6-7 hrs
Total Distance: 18km / 11 miles
Starting Altitude: 1,490m/4,888ft
Final Altitude: 2,980m/9,776ft
Habitat: Montane (rain) Forest

After breakfast, it is approximately a 1 hour drive to the village of Machame. Depending on the condition of the road, it may be possible to drive 3km further from the village to the Machame gate of the Mt. Kilimanjaro National Park (1,815m). After registering at the gate office, you start your ascent and enter the lush rain forest. Here, you will listen to the sounds of many exotic birds, and may even see monkeys such as the black & white colobus – these monkeys are black with a long cape’ of white hair and a flowing white tail.

Most of today’s day is spent in the forested slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro, most of which is considered to be rainforest zone. Rain is possible, at least the trail will be moist and soggy, and muddy.

You climb the lower slopes of the mountain, ending at the Machame Campsite, just beyond the rain forest and within the heath-land.

DAY 2: MACHAME CAMP TO SHIRA 2 CAMP

Hiking Time: 6-7 hrs
Total Distance: 9km/5.6 miles 
Starting Altitude: 2,980m/9,776ft
Final Altitude: 3,840m/12,598ft
Habitat: Moorland

A steeply climb through the heath land of savannah, and Giant Heather. You will reach a gentler ascent through the lower alpine moorland, which is notable for beautiful wild alpine flowers and the unique giant lobelia and giant groundsel (senecio kilimanjari) plants.

After a short lunch and rest, traverse across the Shira plateau west towards a river gorge, and finally reach the Shira campsite. The night at this exposed camp will even be colder than the previous night, with temperatures dropping to well below freezing.

DAY 3: SHIRA 2 CAMP TO BARRANCO CAMP

Hiking Time: 7-8 hrs
Total Distance: 15km/9.3 miles
Starting Altitude: 3,840m/12,598ft
Final Altitude: 3,950m (via 4,630m) /12,959ft (via 15,190ft)
Habitat: Montane Semi-Desert

Today you turn east and continue to climb pole pole (slowly, slowly) through increasingly rocky and barren terrain. Lunch and then ascend the rocky scree path to the Lava Tower (4,630m). The trek now starts to become more difficult, as the trail steepens, and most hikers start to feel the affects of the altitude, such as weakness and lack of breathe.

From the Lava Tower, the trail descends steeply for 2 hours down more than 600m into the Great Barranco Valley. This descent affords fantastic views and some great photo opportunities of the Western Breach and Breach Wall. Barranco Camp is set on a col (flat area) enclosed on three sides by the Breach Walls, and the Kibo massif itself. Hanging glaciers glint in the sunshine above, amidst the eerie landscape of plants such as the giant groundsels, and the uniquely endemic Giant Lobelia. This is definitely the toughest day so far, but incredibly beautiful.

DAY 4: BARRANCO CAMP TO KARANGA CAMP

Hiking Time: 4-5 hrs
Total Distance: 7km/4.4 miles 
Starting Altitude: 3,950m/12,959ft 
Final Altitude: 3,990m/13,090ft
Habitat: Alpine Desert

Today is the Great Barranco Wall, an imposing face above your camp. A steady climb up the eastern wall takes you just below the Heim Glacier, where you may have some awesome views of Kilimanjaro. The trail continues down into the Karanga Valley.

DAY 5: KARANGA TO BARAFU CAMP

Hiking Time: 4-5 hrs
Total Distance: 5km/3 miles
Starting Altitude: 3,990m/13,090ft
Final Altitude: 4,550m/14,927ft
Habitat: Alpine Desert

The trail climbs through an empty and dry landscape up to Barafu Camp. The two peaks Kibo and Mawenzi can been seen from camp. Barafu is the Swahili word for “ice”, and the camping area is on a ridge in an narrow and exposed flat area. Here there are ever-present gale winds that come off the mountain peaks.

In preparation for your final ascent the same night, you will familiarize yourself with the terrain before dark, and prepare your equipment and thermal clothing for the summit attempt. Sleep may be difficult, but you will lie down after dinner to rest for the 1,345m final ascent.

DAY 6: BARAFU CAMP TO SUMMIT TO MWEKA CAMP

Hiking Time: 7 hrs to summit, 7-8hrs descent
Total Distance: 7km/4.3 miles to summit, 23km/23 miles descent
Starting Altitude: 4,550m/14,927ft
Summit Altitude: 5895m/19,340ft Uhuru Peak
Final Altitude: 3,100m/10,170ft
Habitat: Stone Scree, ice capped summit, Alpine desert

Today you will be woken at approximately in time to leave camp by around 12am, and after a warm drink and a light snack, you will begin the most difficult though most rewarding day of the trek your hike up to the top of Africa. Climbing through the dark, you will ascend northwest on rough scree passing between the Rebmann and Tarzel glaciers. After approximately 6 hours of slow but strenuous hiking, you reach the rim of the main crater, Stella Point, at 5,685m. It is here where you will be rewarded with a breath-taking sunrise (weather permitting), and enjoy a short rest. From Stella Point the trail is usually snow-covered, and every step of the 3 hour ascent to Uhuru peak is challenging. At 5,895m, Uhuru, which means freedom in Swahili, is the highest point in Africa. Take a few minutes to appreciate your accomplishment, as this is day to remember for the rest of your life! The time you will spend on the summit will depend on the weather conditions; the temperatures range from just below freezing at midnight, to between -12 C to -23 C just before dawn. You will retrace your steps back down the same trail, and descend back to Barafu camp. Here you will have a well earned but short rest and collect the rest of your gear. Then head down the rock and scree path into the moorland zone, reaching the forest, and eventually arriving at Mweka hut in the late afternoon. Today is the longest, and the most mentally and physically challenging of the trek. But a day that will stay with you forever, as you conquered the heights of Kilimanjaro.

DAY 7: MWEKA CAMP TO MWEKA GATE TO MOSHI

Hiking Time: 4-5 hrs
Total Distance: 12km/7.45 miles
Starting Altitude: 3,100m/10,170ft
Final Altitude: 1,980m/6,496ft
Habitat: Montane Rain Forest

At a much lower altitude than the last few mornings, today you will wake up full of oxygen and ready to descend the short hike to the Mweka Gate. Enjoy the forest on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro, and upon arrival at the Mweka gate, successful hikers will receive their summit certificates (gold for Uhuru Peale, Green for Stella point).

From the Mweka Gate you will continue down into the Mweka village for lunch, normally a muddy 1 hour hike. Upon arrival to Moshi in the afternoon, relax, or have that much-deserved shower and congratulatory beverage. 

The Shira Route

Like the Lemosho route, the Shira route approaches Kibo from the West. It is identical to the Lemosho route however, it begins at a higher altitude. Instead of starting at the Londorossi Gate, your trek begins at the Shira Gate, near the Shira Ridge. The road to Shira Gate is only accessible by 4-wheel-drive vehicles and can become impassable during wet periods.

Personally, I would recommend the Lemosho route over the Shira route due to the additional acclimatization day and the beautiful rainforest trek at the start. Descent is via the Mweka Route, this route is typically completed in 7 days allowing for good acclimatization.

Shira and Lemosho (6-8 days each) both run from west to east across the center of the Shira Plateau. The Shira Plateau Route is the original plateau trail though it is now seldom used as much of it is now a 4WD track; hikers who embark on this trail often begin their trek above the forest in the moorland zone. The Lemosho route improves on the Shira Plateau Route by starting below the Shira Ridge, thus providing trekkers with a hike in the forest at the beginning of the trek, giving them more time to acclimatize. As with the Shira Plateau Route, you can ascend Kibo either by the Western Breach or by the Barafu Route.

It’s common for trekking agencies to refer to the Lemosho Route as the Shira Route, which is confusing. If you have already booked your ‘Shira’ trek and want to know which route you will actually be taking, one way to check is to see where your first night’s campsite will be; if it’s the Big Tree Campsite – or Mti Mkubwa in the local language – then it’s the Lemosho Route that you’ll be on.

DAY 1: SHIRA GATE TO SIMBA CAMP

Hiking Time: 1-2 hours
Total Distance: 4km/2 miles
Starting Elevation: 3,596m/11,800ft
Final Elevation: 3,596m/11,800ft
Habitat: Heath

Depart Moshi for Londorossi Gate, about a 4-hour drive; here we will complete entry formalities while guides and porters prepare equipment. Then continue to drive up a steep path to the Shira Gate where the hike begins. The trek starts through shrubs and giant heather until we reach Simba Camp.

DAY 2 SIMBA CAMP TO SHIRA 2 CAMP

Hiking Time: 2 hours
Total Distance: 6km/4 miles
Starting Elevation: 3,596m/11,800ft
Final Elevation: 3,810m/12,500ft
Habitat: Heath

Today is a fairly easy day to help with acclimatization. You will begin by exploring the grassy moorland and volcanic rock formations on the plateau. Then a scenic path to the Shira Cathedral, a huge buttress of rock surrounded by steep spires and pinnacles, before settling at Shira 2 Camp.

DAY 3 SHIRA 2 CAMP TO LAVA TOWER

Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
Total Distance: 7km/4 miles
Starting Elevation: 3,810m/12,500ft
Final Elevation: 4,629m/15,190ft
Habitat: Alpine Desert

Lava Tower to Barranco Camp

Hiking Time: 2-3 hours
Total Distance: 3km/2 miles
Starting Elevation: 4,629m/15,190ft
Final Elevation: 3,975m/13,044ft
Habitat: Alpine Desert

The trial continues to the east up a ridge and then head southeast towards the Lava Tower – a 300 ft tall volcanic rock formation. Then descend down to Barranco Camp through the strange but beautiful Senecio Forest to an altitude of 13,000 ft. Although you begin and end the day at the same elevation, the time spent at higher altitude is very beneficial for acclimatization.

DAY 4 BARRANCO CAMP TO KARANGA CAMP

Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
Total Distance: 5km/3 miles
Starting Elevation: 3,975m/13,044ft
Final Elevation: 3,994m/13,10ft
Habitat: Alpine Desert

The days begins by descending into a ravine to the base of the Great Barranco Wall. Then climb the non-technical but steep, nearly 900 ft cliff. From the top of the Barranco Wall crossing a series of hills and valleys until the trail descends sharply into Karanga Valley. One more steep climb up leads you to Karanga Camp. This is a shorter day meant for acclimatization.

DAY 5 KARANGA CAMP TO BARAFU CAMP

Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
Total Distance: 4km/2 miles
Starting Elevation: 3,994m/13,106ft
Final Elevation: 4,672m/15,331ft
Habitat: Alpine Desert

Leaving the Karanga and hit the junction which connects with the Mweka Trail. The trail continues up to the rocky section to Barafu Hut. At this point, you have completed the Southern Circuit, which offers views of the summit from many different angles. Here you make camp, rest and enjoy an early dinner to prepare for the summit day. The two peaks of Mawenzi and Kibo are viewable from this position.

DAY 6 BARAFU CAMP TO UHURU PEAK

Hiking Time: 7-8 hours
Total Distance: 5 km/3 miles
Starting Elevation: 4,672m/15,331ft
Final Elevation: 5,895m/19,341ft
Habitat: Arctic

Uhuru Peak to Mweka Camp

Hiking Time: 4-6 hours
Total Distance: 12km/7 miles
Starting Elevation: 5,895m/19,341ft
Final Elevation: 3,067m/10,065ft
Habitat: Rain Forest

Very early in the morning (around midnight), you will begin to push for the summit. This is the most mentally and physically challenging portion of the trek. The wind and cold at this elevation and time of day can be extreme. The ascend is in total darkness for several hours while taking frequent, but short, breaks. Near Stella Point (18,900 ft), you will be rewarded with a magnificent sunrise over Mawenzi Peak. Finally, arriving at Uhuru Peak- the highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro and the continent of Africa.

From the summit, you now descent continuing straight down to the Mweka Hut camp site, stopping at Barafu for lunch. The trail is very rocky and can be quite hard on the knees; trekking poles are helpful. Mweka Camp is situated in the upper forest and mist or rain can be expected in the late afternoon. Later in the evening, you can enjoy your last dinner on the mountain and a well-earned sleep.

DAY 7 MWEKA CAMP TO MWEKA GATE

Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
Total Distance: 10 km/6 miles
Starting Elevation: 3,067m/10,065ft
Final Elevation: 1,639m/5,380ft
Habitat: Rain Forest

On the last day, the descend continues to Mweka Gate where you collect your summit certificate. At lower elevations, it can be wet and muddy. From the gate, and then continue another hour to Mweka Village. A vehicle will meet you at Mweka Village and drive back to the hotel in Moshi.

The Rongai Route

This is the only trail to approach Kibo from the North, on the Kenyan side of the mountain. The Rongai Route is is considered more scenic than the Marangu route and easier than the Machame route with a high summit success rate. The Rongai route is one of the quietest trails as it does not converge with any other trail until it joins with the Marangu for the ascent to the summit. The descent is via the Marangu route on the southeast side of the mountain and typically takes 7 days which allows for good acclimatization. For the final push to the summit trekkers normally take the Kibo Huts Route, joining either at the huts themselves or just below Hans Meyer Cave.

DAY 1: RONGAI GATE TO RONGAI CAVE

Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
Total Distance: 7km/4 miles
Starting Elevation: 1,950m/6,398ft
Final Elevation 2,834m/9,300ft
Habitat: Rain Forest

After a 4-hour drive from Moshi to the village of Nale Muru the Rongai Route trek beings. The trail is a wide path that winds through fields of maize and potatoes then enters a pine forest. The route then begins to ascend gently through the beautiful forest, which thins out as it reaches the Rongai cave where you camp for the first night on Kilimanjaro.

DAY 2: RONGAI CAVE TO KIKELEWA CAVE

Hiking Time: 6-8 hours
Total Distance: 10km/6 miles
Starting Elevation: 2,834m/9,300ft
Final Elevation 3,599m/11,811ft
Habitat: Health

The morning’s trek is steady and gradually ascends to the Second Cave camp where you will stop for lunch. You will then leave the main trail and cross the moorland on a smaller path towards Mawenzi Peak. The Kikelewa camp is situated in a sheltered valley near the Kikelew cave.

DAY 3: KIKELEWA CAVE TO MAWENZI TARN

Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
Total Distance: 7km/4 miles
Starting Elevation: 3,599m/11,811ft
Final Elevation 4,315m/14,160ft
Habitat: Alpine Desert

A steep climb up a grassy slope, when you reach the top you will be rewarded with an amazing view of Kibo and Mawenzi Peak. The vegetation will diminish as you enter the barren alpine desert zone. Mawenzi Tarn camp is situated directly beneath the towering spires of Mawenzi Peak. The afternoon can spent relaxing in camp or exploring the area around Mawenzi.

DAY 4: MAWENZI TARN TO KIBO HUT TO MAWENZI TARN

Hiking Time: 3-5 hours
Total Distance: 7km/4 miles
Starting Elevation: 4,315m/14,160ft
Final Elevation: 4,703m/15,430ft
Habitat: Alpine Desert

Today is for acclimatization, with a short trek up to the Kibo hut and then back to Mawenzi for a second night.

DAY 5: MAWENZI TARN TO KIBO HUT

Hiking Time: 5-6 hours
Total Distance: 8km/5 miles
Starting Elevation: 4,315m/14,160ft
Final Elevation: 4,703m/15,430ft
Habitat: Alpine Desert

From Mawenzi you will cross the alpine desert zone of Kilimanjaro and the saddle between Mawenzi Peak and Kibo to reach the Kibo Huts at the bottom of Kibo’s crater wall. The afternoon is for resting and preparing for the climb to the summit.

DAY 6: KIBO HUT TO UHURU PEAK TO HOROMBO HUT

Hiking Time: 11-14 hours
Total Distance: 22km/14 miles
Starting Elevation: 4,703m/15,430ft (to summit 5,894m/19,340ft)
Final Elevation: 3,720m/12,205ft
Habitat: Alpine Desert – Arctic – Health

Summit Night! You will be woken at around midnight, for tea and biscuits before setting off into the night and ascend over scree and rocks until you reach Gillman’s Point at the crater rim at dawn where you will rest briefly before continuing to the summit Uhuru Peak. This is the most challenging part of the trek for most climbers with the highest chance of suffering from altitude sickness. Take in the view from the summit and ensure you have taken plenty of photographs before starting your descent to Kibo Hut where you will rest and eat. You will then trek across the saddle to Horombo Hut for your final night on Kilimanjaro.

DAY 7: HOROMBO HUT TO MARANGU GATE

Hiking Time: 5-7 hours
Total Distance: 19km/12 miles
Starting Elevation: 3,720m/12,205ft
Final Elevation: 1,842m/6,046ft
Habitat: Rain forest

After breakfast, you will pack your bags and descend through the moorland zone to the Mandara Huts. You will stop for lunch and then continue down through the rainforest until you reach the park gate in the early afternoon. You will then drive back to your hotel in Moshi, for a celebratory drink and shower!

The Lemosho Route

The Kilimanjaro Lemosho route is an unspoiled and tranquil approach from the West. The first two days of the trek are spent in the rainforest enjoying the quiet peacefulness of the mountain. On day two of the climb you emerge from the forest and onto the Shira Plateau. Once across the Plateau the route then follows the Southern Circuit route to Barranco Wall, Lava Tower and Barafu Hut, and then to the final ascent to the summit. The Lemosho route is one of the longest routes on the mountain and utilizes an additional day to assist with acclimatization. It is also one of the quietest routes on the mountain with some of the most spectacular scenery. The descent is via the Mweka route on the southern side of the mountain. The Lemosho route is typically completed in 8 days allowing for excellent acclimatization and success rate.

Many trekking agencies refer to the Lemosho Route as the Shira Route, which is confusing. If you have already booked your ‘Shira’ trek and want to know what route you actually signed up for, one way to check is to see where your first night’s campsite will be; if it’s the Big Tree Campsite – or Mti Mkubwa in the local language – then it’s actually the Lemosho Route.

DAY 1:  LONDOROSSI GATE TO BIG TREE CAMP

Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
Total Distance: 7km/4 miles
Starting Elevation: 2,359m/7,742ft
Final Elevation 2,894m/9,498ft
Habitat: Rain Forest

Your Kilimanjaro adventure starts with a 2-hour drive from your hotel in Moshi to the Londorossi Park Gate. You then drive along the rainforest track for around 45 minutes until you reach the Lemosho Glades and the start of the trek. You will walk for 3-4 hours up the stunning rainforest trail the first campsite is Mti Mkubwa (Big Tree).

 

DAY 2:  BIG TREE CAMP TO SHIRA CAMP 1

Hiking Time: 5-6 hours
Total Distance: 8km/5 miles
Starting Elevation: 2,894m/9,498ft
Final Elevation 3,505m/11,500ft
Habitat: Health

From the Big Tree camp you will follow the trail through the rainforest until it steepens slightly leading you to the moorland zone where you will get your first sight of Kibo. You will cross the Shira Ridge where the trail flattens as you reach Shira Camp 1 which is located next to a mountain stream on the Shira Plateau.

 

DAY 3:  SHIRA CAMP 1 TO SHIRA CAMP 2

Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
Total Distance: 10km/6 miles
Starting Elevation: 3,505m/11,500ft
Final Elevation 3,810m/12,500ft
Habitat: Health

Day three on the Lemosho Route is a gentle walk across the Shira plateau leading you to Shira Camp 2, located on moorland meadows by another mountain stream. A variety of additional walks are available in the afternoon on the plateau making this a good day for acclimatization. If you are feeling tired, use the afternoon to rest around camp.

 

DAY 4:  SHIRA CAMP 2 TO BARRANCO CAMP

Hiking Time: 6-7 hours
Total Distance: 8km/5 miles
Starting Elevation: 3,810m/12,500ft
Final Elevation 3,975m/13,044ft
Habitat: Alpine Desert

This is the first acclimatization day; the morning begins trekking up a steepening path above the vegetation towards Kibo. You leave the moorland zone and enter the rocky landscape of the alpine desert zone until you reach the Lava Tower that stands over one hundred feet tall and sits at an elevation of 15,190ft. From the Lava Tower you will then descend below the lower cliffs of the Western Breach to Barranco Camp. You may begin to feel the symptoms of altitude sickness during this acclimatization trek, drink plenty of water, eat well and rest in the evening.

 

DAY 5:  BARRANCO CAMP TO KARANGA CAMP

Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
Total Distance: 5km/3 miles
Starting Elevation: 3,975m/13,044ft
Final Elevation 3,994m/13,106ft
Habitat: Alpine Desert

Day five begins with climbing the 300m high Barranco Wall. You will need to use your hands as you negotiate the large rocks and boulders. The top of the wall is situated just below the Heim Glacier, where you can begin to appreciate the beauty and magnitude of Kilimanjaro and Kibo. You will once again descend, this time into the lush Karanga Valley to the Karanga Valley campsite. This shorter day is designed to help with acclimatization and to rest before summit night. 

 

DAY 6:  KARANGA CAMP TO BARAFU CAMP

Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
Total Distance: 3km/2 miles
Starting Elevation: 3,994m/13,106ft
Final Elevation 4,672m/15,331ft
Habitat: Alpine Desert

The route from Karanga to Barafu is a short, undulating walk which joins the Mweka Route trail which you will follow for your descent. The trail turns north towards Kibo where you will hike up the ridge to Barafu Hut camp. The campsite is situated on a narrow, wind-swept ridge. Use the afternoon to prepare your daypack and clothing for your summit climb. Drink plenty of water and after an early dinner, try to sleep and rest before the final trek to the summit – Uhuru Peak.

 

DAY 7:  BARAFU CAMP TO UHURU PEAK TO MWEKA CAMP

Barafu Camp to Uhuru Peak
Hiking Time: 7-8 hours
Total Distance: 5km/3 miles
Starting Elevation: 4,672m/15,331ft
Final Elevation 5,894m/19,340ft
Habitat: Arctic

Uhuru Peak to Mweka Camp

Hiking Time: 4-6 hours
Total Distance: 12km/7 miles
Starting Elevation 5,894m/19,340ft
Final Elevation: 3,067m/10,065ft
Habitat: Rain Forest

Summit Night! You will be woken around 23:00, for tea and biscuits before you head off into the night. You will walk over scree and rocks for approximately 6 hours until you reach Stella Point at the crater rim. This will be the most challenging part of the trek for most climbers with the highest chance of suffering from altitude sickness. From Stella Point you stop for a short rest before following the crater rim to Uhuru Peak the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. Take in the view and ensure you have plenty of photographs before starting your descent back to Barafu Camp. After a short rest and some food you will and hike down the rock and scree covered path to the moorland zone and into the rainforest to Mweka Camp.

 

DAY 8:  MWEKA CAMP TO MWEKA GATE

Uhuru Peak to Mweka Camp
Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
Total Distance: 10km/6 miles
Starting Elevation 3,067m/10,065ft
Final Elevation: 1,639m/5,380ft
Habitat: Rain Forest

A short, scenic hike through the rainforest to Mweka park gate. This is where climbers who reached Stella Point or Uhuru Peak will receive certificates. From the Mweka Gate, you will drive through the Mweka Village and back to your hotel Moshi for a celebratory drink!

The Umbwe Route

The hardest and least popular trail on Mount Kilimanjaro is the Umbwe trail, it is a tough vertical slog through the jungle, in places using the tree roots as makeshift rungs on a ladder. Once reaching the Southern Circuit, trekkers continue north-west to tackle Kibo from the west and the more difficult Arrow Glacier/Western Breach Route, though you can also head east round to Barafu and approach the summit from there. The entire hike up and down takes a minimum of five days via the Barafu Campsite (though this is entirely too fast; six days minimum is recommended, with a day at Karanga Valley).

DAY 1:  UMBWE GATE TO UMBWE CAVE CAMP

Hiking Time: 5-7 hours
Total Distance: 11km/7 miles
Starting Elevation: 1,614m/5,595ft
Final Elevation: 2,899m/9,514ft
Habitat: Heath

After breakfast you will be driven to the Machame gate for paperwork then transferred to Umbwe Gate (1,641m), passing through villages with coffee and banana plantations. The route initially follows a forestry track winding up through the natural rain forest that is typically muddy. It narrows and steepens to climb the ridge between the Lonzo and Umbwe rivers, through huge trees. The trail offers some spectacular views of deep gorges and if you are lucky, glimpses of Kilimanjaro in the distance.

DAY 2:  UMBWE CAMP TO BARRANCO CAMP

Hiking time: 4-5 hours
Total Distance: 6 km/4 miles
Starting Elevation: 2,899m/9,514ft
Final Elevation: 3,975m/to 13,044 ft
Habitat: Heath

Upon leaving camp the forest begins is replaced by rockier terrain, sparser undergrowth and straggly, moss-covered trees. The trail continues along a narrow, spectacular ridge. The path then flattens as you approach Barranco Valley. From the Umbwe ridge the route descends slightly to the Barranco camp.

DAY 3:  BARRANCO CAMP TO KARANGA CAMP

Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
Distance: 5 km/3 miles
Starting Elevation: 3,975m/to 13,044 ft
Final Elevation: 3,994m/13,106 ft
Habitat: Alpine Desert

After spending a night at the Barranco Wall, you make your way up this awesome looking obstacle, which turns out to be easier than anticipated. The route then heads down through the Karanga Valley over intervening ridges and valleys, and then joins with the Mweka route. This is the preferred route down from the summit. The last water stop on the route is the Karanga Valley, as there is no water available at Barafu camp.

DAY 4:  KARANGA CAMP TO BARAFU CAMP

Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
Total Distance: 4 km/2 miles
Starting Elevation: 3,994m/13,106 ft
Final Elevation: 4,672m/15,331 ft
Habitat: Alpine Desert

The route ascends 640m towards Barafu Camp. Barafu is the Swahili word for “ice” and it is a bleak and inhospitable camping area to spend the night. Totally exposed to the ever-present gales, the tents are pitched on a narrow, stony ridge. Make sure that you familiarize yourself with the terrain before dark to avoid any accidents.

DAY 5:  BARAFU CAMP TO UHURU PEAK

Hiking Time: 7-8 hours
Total Distance: 5 km /3 miles
Starting Elevation: 4,672m/15,331 ft
Final Elevation: 5,895m/19,341 ft
Habitat: Arctic

Uhuru Peak to Mweka Camp

Hiking Time: 4-6 hours
Total Distance: 12 km /7 miles
Starting Elevation: 5,895m/19,341 ft
Final Elevation: 3,067m/10,065 ft
Habitat: Rain Forest

You will get up around 23h30, and after some tea and biscuits you shuffle off into the night. Heading in a north-westerly direction and ascend through heavy scree towards Stella Point on the crater rim. For many climbers the 6-hour walk to Stella point is mentally and physically the most challenging on the route. The hike down is not difficult and will take you down the rock and scree path into the moorland and eventually into the forest.

DAY 6:  MWEKA CAMP TO MWEKA GATE

Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
Total Distance: 10 km/6 miles
Starting Elevation: 3,067m/10,065 ft
Final Elevation: 1,639m/5,380 ft
Habitat: Rain Forest

At Mweka gate you sign your name and details in a register. This is also where successful climbers receive their summit certificates. Those climbers who reached Stella Point (5739m) are issued with green certificates and those who reached Uhuru Peak (5895m) receive gold certificates. From the Mweka Gate you will continue down into the Mweka village, normally a muddy 3 km (1 hour) hike.

Kilimanjaro Operators 

In selecting a Kilimanjaro operator, be sure to do significant research into the company you ultimately choose. There are several key factors to consider in choosing an operator:

Safety – Kilimanjaro is dangerous. Every company should have the ability to prevent and treat sick clients.

Equipment – The tents and other equipment utilized should be able to cope with the demands of the mountain.

Food & Water – Plenty of fresh food and clean water should be provided throughout the climb

Porter Welfare – Operators should treat their employees well, especially the porters (see guide and porters page)

Responsible Trekking – Operators should obey the standards of responsible travel and aim to minimize their impact on the mountain

Customer Service – Operators should be responsive and informative to client requests and questions

Experience is important. Most of the reputable companies have operated for ten or more years and have thousands of successful climbs under their belts. Be sure to search for independent testimonials on the internet, or ask the company to provide you with contact email addresses and phone numbers of recent clients.

Climbing Kilimanjaro is a potentially dangerous activity, so put forth an honest effort in your research.

The price to climb Kilimanjaro varies tremendously. At the top of the price spectrum are the international companies. Most international companies charge $4,000 to $6,000 per climber. They send western guides to accompany the clients on the climb. They typically have the best equipment and most luxurious of amenities before, during and after the climb. These are usually well known companies who run excellent treks and have hefty price tags to go along with it.

In the middle of this range are higher end local companies and international companies who act as agents for these pre-screened companies. These outfitters provide the basics necessary for climbing, but do not offer the luxury services of the high end companies. These mid-range companies charge between $1,500 to $3,000 per climber. These guide companies seek to provide a true backpacking experience without sacrificing safety and professionalism.

At the lower end of the price spectrum are the local Tanzanian companies. Most are poorly outfitted and unprofessionally run. To obtain customers, they promise everything but usually fail to deliver. Low budget companies can cost less than $1,000 per climber, but it is best to avoid the low priced local companies.

There are many different ways to book your Kilimanjaro climb, and some of them are far better than others. Here are a few tips to help you avoid some of the obvious pitfalls of booking a Kilimanjaro climb of a lifetime. This is going to be an expensive trip no matter how you do it and not everyone who begins the Kilimanjaro climb actually makes it to the summit. If you want to make sure you are getting a good deal with an experienced operator then there are a few things to consider before deciding to actually make the booking.

Book After Arriving in Tanzania

The vast majority of people will book their Kilimanjaro climb long before they get on a plane to Tanzania. You can book once you arrive but there are many risks involved.

The only advantage of booking your climb on arrival in Tanzania is cost saving. There are literally hundreds of small operators offering extreme budget trips. Some are way below cost and it takes a lot of time, confidence dealing with confusing names and faces and good luck. You will definitely save a few dollars, perhaps even a few hundred dollars.

The main disadvantage of booking your climb on arrival is that you have absolutely no idea who you are talking to or dealing with. Tanzania is one of the most corrupt countries in the world and you can take nothing at face value. Local Tanzanian outfitters have a terrible reputation for sharp practice, cost cutting scams and the blatant exploitation of their guiding and support staff. Out of some 300 listed outfitters in and around the main towns of Moshi and Arusha, there are perhaps twenty that can be considered legitimate. The remainder are fringe outfitters that use low grade guiding staff and offer extremely poor services.

Some key things to look for:

  • Spend a few days around Moshi talking to some different guides to see who you feel comfortable with and compare prices.
  • Take advice from other travelers and climbers.
  • Check out the equipment they use. Are the tents in good condition?
  • Make sure your cheap climb will have the proper size crew. It’s possible to save a bit of money by hiring a smaller crew, but you might regret this on the summit day when one or two people succumb to AMS and the whole group has to descend because of too few guides.
  • Make sure when you sign in that you have signed in for the number of days you have paid for. It is a common scam to sell an eight day trip, but pay the national parks for six days, and then to push as many clients as possible to succumb to AMS within the six days to save on all the parks fees you have paid for your guides, porters and yourself.

Be certain to use a company with an actual building and address. There are hundreds of vendors and scalpers selling climbs as middlemen. These independent salespeople are known as flycatchers because they make money by taking a commission by introducing naive tourists to the suspect companies. You don’t need this service and the commission will be added to your final price.

Booking Before Arriving in Tanzania

There are many ways to book your Kilimanjaro climb before leaving home, and again, there are some things to be very careful about. If you think you know exactly what you want already there are some ways to book your climb that might even save you a few dollars in the process, but for a trip like this you might regret.

Some key things to look for:

  • Book from someone who’s actually climbed Kilimanjaro themselves. Some travel agents and even sporting goods chains can show you a brochure and book your climb, but this isn’t like booking a generic trip to Hawaii or some other mass destination. Mountaineering is a serious undertaking and someone with their own experience will know all the right questions to ask you before locking in your trip.
  • Book from someone who can help you prepare for your climb after the trip is set. The information on this site just scratches the surface of the whole experience. You are going to have questions about your preparation and it’s important to actually have someone to ask.
  • Book from someone who knows the options involved. There are many ways of actually putting together a package, so someone who knows the area can recommend a safari or other activities you might be interested in after flying halfway round the world.
  • Don’t book based on price. What one website says is a price compared to another website is not the same thing. You need to think about guide to client ratio, number of porters, type of equipment, quality of the cooking, past experience. All of these can vary wildly between each company. If you want a great trip, you are unlikely to get it if you are determined to pay under US$1500. Remember that if you pay below cost your outfitter will have to find some way to cut costs, and usually this is at your or his porters expense, probably both.

Choosing a Kilimanjaro Operator

Organizers of Kilimanjaro climbs are known as operators or outfitters. Their function is retain experienced guiding and support crews and to arrange and conduct the expedition, supplying all kit, food and other climb logistics. They will also usually arrange for your transfers to and from Kilimanjaro International Airport, basic hotel accommodation before and after the climb itself, and a general flow of information and advice before, during and after the sales/climb process. The best packages are all-inclusive package except for drinks, tips and a few occasional meals at the hotel.

Some extra costs you need to count on include tips for the guides, cooks and porters (handled differently by the different guide groups, and much higher tips for any US or European guides in the group ).  Warm clothing and boots or shoes suitable for hikes like Kili to donate to the porters and guides at the end of the trip. T-shirts are ok, too, for the lower slopes, but they mostly want warm clothing.

In 1991, the park authorities made it compulsory for all trekkers to arrange their walk through a licensed agency. Furthermore, they insist that all trekkers must be accompanied throughout their walk by a guide supplied by the agency. Even after these laws were introduced, for a while it was still feasible to sneak in without paying, and many were the stories of trekkers who managed to climb Kilimanjaro independently, tales that were often embellished with episodes of encounters with wild animals and even wilder park rangers.

Fortunately, the authorities have tightened up security and clamped down on non-payees, so these tedious tales are now few in number. Don’t try to climb Kilimanjaro without a guide or without paying the proper fees. It’s very unlikely you’ll succeed and all you’re doing is freeloading – indeed, stealing isn’t too strong a word – from one of the poorest countries in the world. Yes, climbing Kilimanjaro is expensive. But the costs of maintaining a mountain that big are high. Besides, whatever price you pay, trust us, it’s worth it.

Private or Group Climb?

So you have decided to climb Kilimanjaro, and have thus taken the first step on the path that leads from the comfort and safety of your favorite armchair to the untamed glory of the Roof of Africa. The second step on this path is to consider with whom you wish to go.

There are plenty of advantages in going with a friend. There’s the companionship for a start. It’s also cheaper, because you’ll probably be sharing rooms, which always cuts the cost, and if you are planning on booking your climb through an agency in Tanzania your bargaining position is so much stronger if there are two of you. Having a companion also cuts the workload, enabling, for example, one to run off and find a room while the other looks after the luggage. It also saves your being paired with someone you don’t know when you book with an agency; someone who may snore or blow off more violently than your friend ever would. And, finally, if you do both make it to the top, it’s good to know that there will be somebody to testify to your achievements upon your return.

Those without friends willing to climb a mountain with them should not worry. For one thing, you’ll never truly be on your own, simply because the park authorities forbid you from climbing without a guide and you’ll need at least one other crew member to act as porter. Furthermore, planning to go on your own means you can arrange the trek that you want; you choose the trail to follow, the time to go and for how long; the pace of the walk, the number of rest-stops, when to go to bed – these are all your decisions, and yours alone. You are the boss; you have nobody else’s feelings to consider but your own.

If you want to join up with others, for companionship or simply to make the trek a little cheaper, that’s not a problem: you can book your trek in your home country with a tour operator (they nearly always insist on a minimum number of participants before the trek goes ahead); or you can book in Tanzania and ask to be put with other trekkers (which will often happen anyway, unless you specifically say otherwise). And even if you are walking alone, you can always meet other trekkers at the campsite in the evening if you so desire.

Trekking by yourself is fun, and not the lonely experience many imagine; unless, of course, you enjoy the bliss of solitude and want to be alone. That’s the beauty of walking solo: everything is up to you.