Mount Kilimanjaro stands as the highest mountain in Africa at peak of 5895m. Spectacularly towering over the savannahs of Tanzania, it is the highest freestanding mountain in the world, drawting thousands of visitors every year. Mount Kilimanjaro has become one of the most popular tourist attractions and an excellent training ground for mountaineers. But the answer to the question of “How long will it take to climb Kilimanjaro?” is a tricky one.
When it comes to climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, the most important element is to allow enough time to acclimatize before attempting to summit. Acclimatization is essential, as there can be serious consequences when it comes to ascending too quickly. Climbers will usually take six days to summit, but with proper acclimatization, eight days is a good, solid timeframe.
It is also important to note that this is an average, and some may be able to complete the ascent in shorter or longer frameworks. For those who are less prepared for the climb, taking an extra day or two may be necessary. The most important factor to consider is proper acclimatization and any signs of altitude sickness that may occur.
At high altitudes, the body will start to produce less oxygen, which can lead to acute mountain sickness. Symptoms can vary from mild headaches and nausea to severe dizziness, high altitude pulmonary edema, or high altitude cerebral edema. In order to properly acclimatize and mitigate the risk of altitude sickness, it is important to drink plenty of fluids and to take it slow while proceeding up the mountain.
Although strenuous, the climb is suitable for most people with good health and physical fitness. Hiring a local guide is strongly recommended, as they will not only help with the climb, but will also help you to plan the ascent and manage the timeline. A well-trained guide will also be able to prepare climbers for the physical and mental challenges of the climb.
One of the most important things to remember when it comes to climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is that the altitude can cause even the most experienced and fit climbers some grief at times. The climbing pace should be regulated, so that climbers can get the most out of their experience, and anybody suffering from acute mountain sickness should seek immediate help from the guide.
Physical and mental preparation is the key to making a successful summit. Mentally preparing for the intense challenge is arguably even more important than the physical preparation. With correct acclimatization, an eight-day climb is the average to reach Kilimanjaro’s summit, while an extra two days cushions the climb in case of any illnesses.
The Types of Routes
Kilimanjaro is host to various different trailheads that offer various levels of difficulty for climbers of all experience levels. There are six official routes – Marangu, Machame, Lemosho, Rongai, Shira, and Umbwe. Marangu is the most accessible and direct route, suiting the average trekker, although some have criticised it for overcrowding. The longer routes such as Lemosho, Machame and Shira offer better rates of acclimatization, but also more chances to experience more of the beauty of Kilimanjaro.
The southern routes of Machame, Lemosho, and Shira are the most scenic, with magnificent views of the plains and wild animals. Machame is the most popular option, and Lemosho is commonly chosen for more experienced climbers. The northern routes, such as Rongai, Umbwe, and Marangu, are less crowded and generally easier, though the summit attempt is still quite steep and demanding.
Campsites and the Altitudes
The campsites that are used along the various routes vary considerably in altitude, which must be a factor during the climb. Generally, each route begins at an altitude of under 3000m and progresses to the summit of over 5800m. Camping around the 3000m point on all of the routes that involve camping is highly recommended for acclimatization.
The altitude at the campsites also affects the amount of energy that climbers may have when ascending. At the lower elevations, campers may be able to relax for a few hours, or even the entire day if deemed necessary. At the higher campsites, relaxing may not be an option due to the challenges posed by the altitude.
Rest Days and the Danger of Altitude Sickness
Resting days may be useful along the journey, as they allow climbers to acclimatize and recover from any fatigue or altitude sickness they may be suffering from. However, rest days should not be taken too late in the climb, as they can increase the risk of altitude sickness. It is best to take rest days early on in the journey and try to avoid taking them on the summit day.
It is also important to note that in order to adjust successfully to the altitudes, it is wise to ascend no more than 500m at a time. Any further than this can drastically increase the chances of altitude sickness. Taking long, restful, and infrequent ascents is the best way to ensure the safety of all climbers.
Do You Need Any Equipment?
For any Kilimanjaro climb, there are various items that should be packed in order to make the climb as safe and comfortable as possible. High-quality and lightweight clothing is obviously essential, as it can protect against the cold, wind, and rain. Packable and down jackets are both recommended items.
Other necessary items include a head torch, hiking shoes, caps and/or hats, a sleeping bag, as well as a first aid kit with necessary items such as painkillers, sun cream, and anti-inflammatory creams. While trekkers will be provided with tents and meals, it’s important to check with the provider to make sure they are of a high standard.
Hiriting a Local Guide
Hiring a local guide is also an excellent idea, as they can provide further information about the routes, campsites, and the best ways to acclimate. Guides can also provide invaluable insight when it comes to protecting against altitude sickness and the various dangers of the mountain. In addition, a trustworthy guide will often keep a close eye on the state of each climber during the ascent.
Kilimanjaro summit is challenging, but with the help of a guide, plenty of planning and training, and an experienced team, it is an adventure that will stay with climbers forever. With proper acclimatization, an eight-day climb is the average to reach the top. However, no two climbers are the same and certain factors such as altitude and weather can affect the ability to summit Kilimanjaro.
The Cost of Climbing Kilimanjaro
The cost to climb Kilimanjaro varies based on a number of factors. One of the main factors is the route chosen – the longer, more remote routes have a higher cost than the shorter, more popular routes. Higher costs are also associated with longer ascents, as they require more guides and equipment. Other costs include permits, food, accommodation, and the services of a local guide.
It is also important to note that many companies offer discounts for groups. These discounts can vary significantly and are often worth taking advantage of. In addition, many companies offer low-cost packages that include basic accommodation, meals, park permit fees, as well as tents and sleeping bags.
When it comes to planning a Kilimanjaro trip, researching different companies and packages can help you to make an informed decision. There are plenty of small, local companies that offer high-quality services, and it is important to research these companies thoroughly. Look for companies that have experienced climbers on their team, and those that prioritize safety and customer satisfaction.
The Environmental Impact of Climbing Kilimanjaro
As with other treks and climbs, there is a certain environmental impact associated with Kilimanjaro ascents. It is important to minimize this impact by using eco-friendly products and making a conscious effort to limit and control the level of trash produced. This includes bringing biodegradable and reusable items, as well as properly disposing of waste produced on the mountain.
In addition, climbers should also be aware of their impact on local wildlife and the surrounding environment. This includes not disturbing any local species, leaving the area clean, and staying on the designated trails. In general, the effort to minimize the environmental impact starts with respect and consideration for the nature of Kilimanjaro.
Safety of Climbing Kilimanjaro
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro can be a risky task, given that it takes place at very high altitudes. Although strenuous, the mountain has a good safety record, and it is generally safe for climbers of all experience levels. Many precautions must be taken to ensure safety, and this includes proper acclimatization, experienced guides, and taking the time to plan the ascent accordingly.
Before embarking on the climb, it is important to ensure that all climbers are in good health and are adequately prepared for the challenge. This includes packing the necessary items, taking the time to research the different routes, and consulting a physician to assess the risks associated with high altitude.
Each group should also have a well-equipped first aid kit,which should include items such as painkillers, bandages, antiseptic, and medications for altitude sickness. It is also important to remember that no two climbers will have the same experience, and climbers should be aware of the potential risks.