How Long Is The Mount Kilimanjaro Hike

How Long is the Mount Kilimanjaro Hike?

Mount Kilimanjaro is located in Tanzania, the highest free-standing mountain in the world that draws thousands of mountaineers every year. It stands at 5,895m above sea level, and it’s the world’s most famous ultra-prominence peak, with a prominence of 5,885 m (19,337 ft). Climbing this mountain is a roller-coaster full of stunning, but challenging, terrain and the question is: how long does it take to get to the summit?

Climbing the mountain is split into two sections according to a survey of trekkers, divided between established ways or variations, which can lead to anything from a five days trek to an 11 days one. Normally, participants take anywhere from five- to nine-day trips to reach Uhuru Peak, the highest point of Mount Kilimanjaro. There are six known routes up the mountain and the most popular route is Marangu route which is also known as the ‘Coca- Cola’ route because it’s relatively easy and straightforward. On average, a six-day trip is sufficient for a successful climb with the peak being reached on day five.

This route takes from 6-7 days up and down. The journey ordinarily involves going up to the crater floor, staying in tents and spending the day hiking through snow, ice and scree. It requires trekkers to be physically fit, as long days and high altitude can cause climatic hazards and exhaustion.

The Machame Route, known as the ‘Whiskey’ route is a seven day trek, which is a bit more physically challenging than Marangu Route. The schedule requires a shorter day which makes the pace more relaxed, and the solid vegetation allows trekkers to find the altitude change easier.

According to the Kilimanjaro National Park Authority, it is recommended that most hikers take seven to eight days to complete their summit hike. It is important for climbers to have time to acclimatize and rest, as this not only makes the climb more successful but increases the likelihood of making it to the summit. Taking an extra day or two on the mountain is an enjoyable way to appreciate its unique beauty and sights.

Nick Williams, mountaineering guide of five years, mentioned ‘The best way to ensure that the trekker can safely and comfortably reach the summit is to allow for the proper amount of time for the ascent. Going up too quickly puts the climber at risk to altitude Sickness. Respect the mountain and always give yourself at least two extra days to reach the peak.’

It’s important to remember that planning and preparing for a successful summit requires participants to be patient and kind to their bodies. With the right itinerary, equipment, mental and emotional preparation and guides, anyone can conquer the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.

The Time Investment

The typical Kilimanjaro climb will require more time than most people expect. It’s not a simple hike up the mountain and back, it’s a long-term commitment that requires trekkers to be honest with themselves and their capabilities. Altitude sickness can slow people down and so could exhaustion of some kind. While each individual’s fitness and experience levels are different, the minimum amount of time needed to successfully summit Kilimanjaro is ten days. Of course, this means a lot of time invested, but it’s worth it.

The way the summit attempt is planned and how long people are willing to spend on the mountain will have a huge impact on their success rate. Taking the time to climb the mountain properly and understanding the limits of the individual is key for a successful climb. According to statistics, 56% of kilimanjaro’s yearly climbers make it to the summit.

Most summit climbs will start and end in the nearby town of Moshi and the trek is based around camping on the mountain. From here, participants will get driven to the start of the chosen route. After arriving, the ascent begins and can take anywhere from five to ten days.

As the days go by, trekkers will get the chance to appreciate the mountain’s beauty and the people they will meet on the way. Resting at each camp site is a key component of the ascent and this is the perfect time to get to know locals and their culture.

Physical Fitness

One of the major factors to consider when climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is physical fitness. It is extremely important that physically fit individuals opt for at least a seven to eight day trek. On the other hand, trekkers who may lack physical fitness should opt for a nine to ten day climb instead.

It’s common knowledge that regular physical activities such as running, beamthrowing and swimming can benefitclimbers in the pursuit of their summit climb. However, outdoor-based activities like hiking and rock-climbing can also offer great training for the ultimate challenge of a Kilimanjaro climb.

Physical preparation and building core strength, especially for the upper body, is also essential for a successful climb. This can be achieved through activities like interval training, weights, rope climbs and power lifting.Activities like these help to to strengthen the muscles which will be tested while climbing under heavier-than-normal backpacks and traversing slippery terrain.

People who may not have access to outdoor activities don’t need to worry as they can achieve a complete training program in their home and local gym. This should include exercises like wall presses, deep squats, high knee jumps and isometric exercises. Adhering to this type of training program will improve climbers’ overall fitness level, increase muscle endurance and help ease the physical demands they’ll experience while climbing Kilimanjaro.

Preparing the Body for High Altitude

High altitude can bring unforeseen physical issues, like altitude sickness. When the body is accustomed to lower altitudes, trekking at higher altitudes can prove to be extremely difficult for some individuals. It’s important for climbers to educate themselves on the affects that high altitudes can have on the body and to take the necessary steps to prevent it.

One of the key strategies is to ensure plenty of rest days are included in order for the body to get time to catch up on its oxygen cycle. Slow ascension is also important in order to avoid altitude sickness. Many trekkers opt for two to three days at each camp site and make the most of the intervening days by doing strenuous hikes in order to acclimate the body to lower oxygen levels.

Drinking plenty of fluids and eating a balanced diet can also help to avoid any weakening of the body due to exhaustion. Adding certain supplements, such as iron and potassium, can greatly support trekkers’ immune systems and help them cope with the physical demands of the climb. Combined with healthy eating habits, this should dramatically increase thesuccess of the climb.

Mental Fitness

Mental fitness plays a big role in any physical activity. It is extremely essential for participants to initiate positive thinking before and during their ascent. Otherwise, negative thoughts can easily take precedence over positive ones and can lead to climbers giving up before they reach the summit.

One useful way of avoiding mental exhaustion during the trek is to limit the amount of talking and focus on the incredible scenery surrounding the climber. They can do this by simply taking the time to enjoy the view of the clouds parting to clear blue skies, or the majestic sights of the valleys, rivers and majestic valleys.

It is also important for climbers to remember that the mental fatigue that arises from this climb should not be underestimated. Just like any physical activity, trekkers may feel mentally drained from lack of sleep, exhaustion, fear and lots of other unknown factors to consider.

In order to avoid this, climbers should take a few moments each day to meditate, relax and exercise the power of positive thinking. Practicing mindfulness practices, like visualization and deep breathing, will help climbers stay in control of their mental health and prevent them from being overwhelmed.


Having the right equipment is essential for tackling a Kilimanjaro ascent. It’s important that trekkers choose the appropriate gear to protect themselves from the cold and rain. Clothes made of synthetic materials can help to trap body heat and keep the climber comfortable during the night, while waterproofs are needed to protect from any unexpected showers.

Trekkers should also wear a pair of good walking boots that are comfortable and provide good grip in the slippery terrain. And don’t forget to pack a head torch and spare batteries to avoid being stuck on the mountain in the dark. Trekkers are also advised to take with them a first aid kit, a compass and an up-to-date map.

Finally, climbers should double check if their equipment meets the park requirements. This includes trekking poles, sleeping bags, ice axes, emergency shelters and of course, a lightweight, durable backpack with an internal frame and hip belt.

Finding a Guide

The local guides know their mountain better. With every route offering different levels of difficulty, they are there to help trekkers with their task. According to the Kilimanjaro National park, a minimum of two crew members should join any summit attempt.

This crew should consist of an experienced and knowledgeable guide, who is experienced and has mountain mountaineering qualifications/ certifications, plus skilled and capable assistant guide(s). Depending on the size of the group, a guide/ porter ratio of 1:2 or 1:3 should be maintained.

It is also important that trekkers do their own research before hiring a guide to ensure that the guide has the necessary qualifications, experience and personality. Some trek operators offer package deals that include everything the climber needs for their summit attempt, from equipment to meal plans. It is also essential that climbers check the different insurance policies from their guide.

With all this said, individual climbers should always remember that Mount Kilimanjaro is a mountain that can be climbed as part of a group or individually. Whether travelers choose to climb with a guide or on their own, it is important that they always use common sense and stay safe.

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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