The Number of Established Trails to the Summit of Mount Kilimanjaro
Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain in Africa and it has historically been one of the most popular mountain climbing destinations for adventurers from around the world. The mountain has several peaks, each of which has its own unique appeal, but the most iconic is Kibo, the highest point in the mountain that stands at 5,895 meters above sea level. There are several established trails to the summit of this iconic peak, and today we’ll explore how many there are and what they offer.
The Most Popular Routes
The most popular routes to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro all start in the town of Marangu, which is located near the mountain’s base. The two most popular trails are the Marangu Route, which is also known as the “Coca-Cola” route due to the popularity of the soft drinks in the region, and the Machame Route, which is the longer, more challenging trail. Both routes take climbers up the southeast side of the mountain to the summit and most climb it in 6-8 days.
The Marangu route is the shortest and fastest way to the top and is usually done in 5-6 days. It is considered to be the easiest route as it is well-supplied with sleeping huts, hut attendants, and water stops, giving climbers a chance to rest, rehydrate, and refuel during their ascent. As a result, it has become the most popular trail and is the preferred choice of most first-time climbers.
The Machame Route is the second most popular trail, and it usually takes 6-7 days. It is slower and more difficult than the Marangu Route due to its steep inclines and lack of support points. Relatively speaking, it offers a more scenic and rewarding experience, with beautiful vistas and a greater chance of spotting wildlife.
There are also a few lesser-known trails to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, but these are rarely used by most climbers. The Umbwe Route is the shortest and most direct climb of all the trails, but it is far more difficult and steep, making it the least popular option. The Rongai Route is a lengthy and arduous climb up the mountain’s north side, but it passes through some of the mountain’s most beautiful terrain. Finally, the Lemosho Route is a long and challenging climb up the western side of the mountain and is one of the most scenic trails.
According to mountaineering experts, the majority of people who attempt to climb Mount Kilimanjaro will use either the Marangu or Machame routes. These two routes offer the greatest chance of success, and they are the most established and well-trodden trails, so they are the preferred option for experienced climbers and first-timers alike. Using these routes also gives climbers access to support points along the way and increases their chances of completing the climb safely.
The lesser-known trails offer a more challenging experience but with a greater chance of failure. According to experts, only experienced climbers should attempt these trails and even then, they should only do so if their fitness and preparation are up to it.
When attempting to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, safety must be the number one priority. Climbing the mountain is not easy and there are many potential hazards such as altitude sickness, storms, and loose rocks, so it’s important that climbers are prepared and take all the necessary precautions. This means using one of the established trails, bringing the right equipment, and meeting the fitness and preparation requirements.
Tips for First-Time Climbers
First-time climbers of Mount Kilimanjaro should adhere to the following tips to increase their chances of success.
- Research the different routes and choose the one that is best suited to a beginner.
- Find an experienced guide that is familiar with the routes and can help lead the way.
- Invest in the proper equipment and clothing for the climb.
- Adhere to the recommended pacing and don’t rush the ascent.
- Understand the risks and know the warning signs of altitude sickness.
- Prepare well in advance and build up the necessary fitness and strength.
The Challenges of Mountain Weather
Weather conditions on a mountain can be unpredictable and hazardous, and climbers must be aware of the risks. Mountain weather is often temperamental, and there can be extreme variations in temperature between day and night, as well as heavy rain and snowfall. Strong winds can whip up quickly and can be dangerous on slopes and exposed ridges.
How to Prepare
The best way to prepare for unpredictable mountain weather is to check the forecast before setting out and to keep an eye on conditions while on the mountain. It’s also important to pack the right clothing and to bring extra layers in case the temperature drops suddenly. To reduce the chances of becoming disorientated in bad weather, climbers should stick to the established trails as much as possible and make sure to have a navigational device of some kind such as a GPS or map.
Weather Window Considerations
When attempting to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, climbers should also pay attention to the weather window. The ideal climbing season runs from late June to October, with August and September being the best months to ascend. Outside of this window, there are fewer hours of daylight, higher chances of heavy rain or snowfall, and greater wind chill factors.
As climbers ascend Mount Kilimanjaro, they will experience a steep decline in oxygen content in the air. This can cause altitude sickness, which is a potentially serious medical condition. It is characterized by headache, nausea, fatigue, and dizziness and can ultimately lead to fluid accumulation in the lungs and brain.
How to Reduce the Impact
In order to reduce the risks of altitude sickness, climbers should always set a slow and steady pace and pay attention to their body. They should stop and rest when needed and keep their energy levels up by eating and drinking regularly. It’s also important to not go any higher if symptoms begin to show and to descend to a lower altitude if they get worse.
Climbers should also give their bodies time to acclimatize to the altitude. This can be done by taking rest days or by making alternating ascents and descents. These strategies give the body a chance to adjust to the new altitude without pushing it too hard and without enduring the full effect of the altitude all at once.
Though it requires physical fitness and preparation, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is not a technical climb and does not require special equipment like ropes, harnesses, and ice axes. All that is required is the proper clothing and footwear, a good water container, and some snacks. A walking stick can also be helpful for balance and stability, especially on some of the route’s steeper sections.
The Importance of Hydration
Staying hydrated is essential during the climb and climbers should drink plenty of fluids every day. Drinking enough water helps the body to regulate its temperature, energize the muscles, flush out toxins, and protect against altitude sickness. It is recommended to drink at least 3 liters per day and more if the weather is hot or humid.
The Benefits of Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is an incredibly rewarding experience and one that offers a sense of accomplishment that few other activities can provide. Aside from the physical and mental benefits of the climb, there are several positives to be gained, such as the amazing views of the African plains and the unique and diverse natural habitats on the mountain.
The climb also gives climbers a chance to appreciate and understand the local culture and history and to learn more about the environment and conservation. It is an experience that few people can say they have attempted and one that can be enjoyed for many years afterwards.