How Hard To Hike Kilimanjaro


Kilimanjaro is one of the most iconic mountains in the world and a summit of a lifetime goal for many adventurers. Located in Tanzania in East Africa, it is considered the highest free standing mountain in the world, with its peak measuring a whopping 5,895m above sea level. It has been attracting a significant number of tourists to its base camp for decades and is estimated to receive more than 30,000 climbers each year. While a day-hike on Kilimanjaro is relatively doable, attempting a full summit attempt can be a daunting task even for experienced climbers. With unpredictable weather, freezing temperatures and difficult trails, scaling the mountain can be mentally and physically challenging and can take anywhere from 5 to 9 days.

The Challenges

The first challenge in scaling Kilimanjaro is the steep incline, with around 75% of the climb taking place in the last two days. After the base camp, the slopes of the mountain become increasingly steeper and the terrain becomes increasingly difficult. Without proper acclimatization to the higher altitudes, it can be difficult for even seasoned hikers to complete the climb. The second challenge is the unpredictable weather. It can snow or rain heavily even in the summer months and temperatures drop significantly when the sun sets. The poor visibility of the trails can often mean trekkers have to take a break and wait for the weather to improve. Accompanying these weather extremities is the risk of dehydration and hypothermia, which makes it a more physically demanding task.

Crossing the Glaciers

The third challenge is crossing the glaciers. The glaciers of Kilimanjaro are slowly melting and so made the last summit much harder, as they have become increasingly harder to cross. It’s a slippery and treacherous journey up the snowy terrain. In addition, there are occasional rock fall and ice overhangs that can put climbers in danger. It’s essential to have the right alpine gear and experience to get across the glaciers safely.

Physical Fitness

The fourth challenge is the physical fitness. It is important to be in good physical condition before attempting the summit, as the incline is steep, the terrain is treacherous, and the weather conditions can be extreme. It’s important for climbers to ensure they are hydrated and well-rested before attempting the summit, as well as ensuring they take enough snacks, energy drinks and water-purifying tablets to prevent altitude sickness.

Preparation and Acclimatization

Most people who are successful in scaling Kilimanjaro are those who prepare and acclimatize properly. Preparation involves physical training, learning about the different routes, gathering the required gear and equipment, and consulting with doctors and experts. Acclimatization is also important, as it helps the body to adjust to the low oxygen and temperatures of higher altitudes, meaning climbers can reach the summit relatively safely.

The Benefits of Hiking Kilimanjaro

When successful, the journey of scaling Kilimanjaro can be rewarding with incredible views. Apart from giving the adventurer a sense of achievement, it also provides the opportunity to see wildlife such as the endangered Abbot’s Duiker, african Civet, Black-and-white Colobus, Bushbuck and many more. Additionally, climbing Kilimanjaro supports local communities through payments from tourists, creating much needed employment.

Knowing What to Expect

The key to scaling Kilimanjaro is to always know what to expect and to prepare for the worst. It is important to research and consult with experts, who can provide information on the different routes, weather conditions, equipment needed and other important factors to consider. In addition, it is important to have a good physical condition and to ensure proper acclimatization before attempting the summit.

Altitude Sickness

Altitude sickness is one of the biggest threats when scaling Kilimanjaro. The higher altitudes of the mountain can cause a decrease in oxygen in the blood and in some cases, can cause cerebral edema, which can be fatal. It is important to identify the symptoms of altitude sickness and to be aware of the potential dangers before attempting the summit. It is also important to be aware of the warning signs, such as loss of appetite, headache or dizziness, and to stop the ascent if they occur.

Right Gear

Having the right gear is equally important. It’s essential to have the proper alpine gear to ensure safety and comfort during the climb. This includes an ice axe, crampons, a waterproof and windproof jacket, gloves and a hat, as well as a daypack for carrying food and water, as well as an emergency flashing light. Additionally, it is important to ensure that all equipment is of a good quality and suitable for the conditions on Kilimanjaro.

Hiring a Guide

The most important factor for a successful summit is having a guide who is experienced and knowledgeable about the mountain. It is essential to hire an experienced guide who can provide advice and support on the climb. Guides can provide valuable information on the terrain, as well as recommending the safest routes and providing support in times of difficulty.

Emergency Preparedness

It is also important to be prepared for any unforeseen events. It is important to make sure that emergency equipment is packed, such as an emergency shelter and emergency supplies. Additionally, it is essential to have a good communication plan in place in case of emergency, as well as to regularly notify family and friends of progress on the climb.

Nutrition and Hydration

It is also important for climbers to ensure they are properly nourished and hydrated during the climb. Eating plenty of healthy snacks and drinks such as energy bars and electrolytes will help to keep the energy levels up and prevent dehydration. It is also important to rest as much as possible and to take regular breaks throughout the day.

Risks Involved

Finally, it is important to consider the risks involved in scaling Kilimanjaro, such as altitude sickness, extreme weather conditions, injury and avalanche risk. It is important to be aware of the risks before attempting the summit and to ensure that the right precautions are taken to ensure the safety of the climbers.

Herman Shaw is a passionate traveler and avid photographer who has seen many of the world's most awe-inspiring monuments. He has developed expertise in various aspects of world architecture and culture which he enjoys sharing with his readers. With deep historical knowledge and insight, Herman's writing brings life to these remarkable artifacts and highlights their importance in the grand scheme of human history.

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