How Long Does It Take To Climb Kilimanjaro?
Mt. Kilimanjaro is one of the most beautiful mountains in the world. Its elevation is 19,341 feet and it is located in Tanzania. To reach its summit, climbers must tackle the highest freestanding mountain in the world. Thousands of people choose to attempt this formidable undertaking each year, but it can be a challenging and dangerous endeavor if not undertaken with the proper preparations.
The length of time it will take to climb Kilimanjaro depends on the chosen route, fitness and acclimatization. Popular routes to consider for completing the climb include the Marangu, Machame, Lemosho, Rongai, and Shira routes. Of these, the Marangu route is the quickest at five days, whereas other routes take anywhere from six to nine days.
Acclimatization helps the body adjust to the elevation gradually, which decreases the risk of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). Climb leaders recommend taking an extra day or two on the mountain to aid with acclimatization. This can help climbers achieve the summit with a better chance of success.
Given that most climbers aim to reach the summit overnight so as to watch the sunrise and have time to descend, their climb must be timed correctly. For example, on the Marangu route, an acclimatization day may be scheduled at Horombo Hut, after which the summit is reached at midnight of the fourth day. On longer routes like the Machame and Lemosho, acclimatization is built into the itinerary, and the summit can normally be reached from the sixth or seventh day.
The physical fitness of the climbers is also a major factor in deciding how long the climb will take. If the group is well-prepared, and is able to ascend slowly and steadily, then the target of reaching the summit for sunrise can normally be achieved. Groups that are not accustomed to the physical workout of climbing can take longer, as they will be affected by fatigue and the altitude more quickly.
Guided groups are provided with all the necessary equipment, including tents, sleeping bags, and mattresses, and they hire professional guides, cooks, and porters, who can make the journey more comfortable. Even unguided climbs are possible, but hikers must bring all the necessary equipment and supplies.
The attention to detail demonstrated by climbers prior to their attempt and during the climbing is the key to the success of their climb. It is best to work with experienced trekking companies, and to obtain the necessary equipment, tools and manpower to help complete the climb successfully.
Choosing The Right Route
The choice of route is an important decision for anyone planning to climb Kilimanjaro. The Marangu Route carries a greater risk of Acute Mountain Sickness than other routes and is thus not recommended for inexperienced climbers. The Machame, Lemosho, Rongai and Shira routes, however, offer more gradual ascents and require 7-8 days to complete the climb, affording greater chances of acclimatizing better and eventually reaching the summit.
A great alternative for those wanting to be on the mountain for longer is the Umbwe Route. This route, which skirts around the southern face of the mountain, is a challenge even for experienced climbers and it will take some 8 to 12 days to complete the climb. It is important to note that any route used for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro will require a day of descent, in addition to the days taken to reach the summit.
Stamina and fitness are necessary to get to the summit. Many climbers find the distance and altitude on Kilimanjaro to be challenging, and it is important to recognize when it is time to take a rest and adjust the pace. To aid with this, it is a good idea to break the ascent into smaller, more manageable chunks. This can help to make the journey easier.
Keeping properly hydrated and eating well is also vital. Eating enough to fuel the body is important to help one maintain energy levels and concentration. Drink three to four liters of water per day, and supplement this with other drinks such as tea or sports drinks.
Using the correct clothing and gear is essential on the mountain. Layers of clothing are needed to keep oneself warm and dry; top-grade outerwear and waterproof boots are recommended for the mountain’s extreme weather conditions. Climbers should also remember to wear sun protection and pack items like lip balm and sunscreen, as the sunlight at the summit is intense.
Altitude Sickness and Safety
When planning to climb Kilimanjaro, preparation for dealing with altitude sickness is essential. Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) can start at around 2,400 meters and can include symptoms like headaches, nausea, dizziness, and fatigue. Taking stairs, eating small meals, and drinking plenty of water can help reduce its symptoms.
It is also important to be aware of the risks associated with ascending quickly. An effective approach to counter this danger is to follow the ‘climb high, sleep low’ rule. This means that the night before making a summit push, climbers will usually sleep lower down the mountain, to rest and reduce the risk of high-altitude sickness. Taking medication like Diamox is also recommended.
The cost of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro will vary depending on the chosen route and other associated costs, like the number of people in the group. Generally, a guided climb including accommodation, meals, and transport to and from the starting point can range from $1,500-$4,000 for a group of two to four people, depending on the route and the standard of the services and equipment.
Hiking Kilimanjaro is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that is open to everyone, from novice to experienced climbers. But before attempting the climb, it is important to be aware that the Kilimanjaro trek is not to be undertaken lightly. Being well-prepared is the key to success.
The body needs to be sufficiently fit and prepared in order to handle the tough trek. This can be achieved through regular physical activity, like walking, cycling, and running. Hiking, since it is most similar to trekking on Kilimanjaro, is the best preparation. Since Mt. Kilimanjaro is a strenuous trek, it is also important to strengthen the muscles to reduce the risk of injury.
Before attempting the climb it is also a good idea to read up on the routes and the mountain safety guidelines. Researching the climb can help make sure that the group is aware of the dangers and risks associated with the trek, and is suitably prepared for the challenge.
The key to success on the trek is bringing the right essential gear and equipment to make the journey as comfortable as possible. Bringing a suitable tent and sleeping bag, as well as enough food for the duration of the climb, can make the journey easier. A pair of trekking boots, gaiters, a waterproof jacket, and warm gloves and hats will also be necessary.
The Mt. Kilimanjaro climb is a commitment and an investment. With the right preparation and the right attitude, anyone can successfully reach the summit, and enjoy an unforgettable, rewarding experience.