How Many Miles To Walk Up Kilimanjaro

There is nothing quite like standing on the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and gazing out into one of the most spectacular views on Earth. At 5,895 meters (19,341 feet) above sea level, it is the highest mountain in Africa and one of the world’s seven summits—an auspicious group of mountains that includes the highest mountains on each continent. It is no wonder that for adventurers and mountaineers, attempting to ascend Kilimanjaro is on many ‘must-do’ lists. But how many miles must be walked to get to the top?

Climbing Kilimanjaro is a popular endeavor, and as such, much of the routes to the summit are well-maintained. The majority of climbers attempt the Marangu Route, more commonly known as “The Coca Cola Route”, owing to its popularity and popularity. There are six days of walking to get to the top, with an average distance hiked per day of six to eight miles, which brings the grand total distance of the Marangu Route to around 30 to 40 miles total. This is the shortest and fastest way to the summit, as it allows for frequent stops for rest and acclimatization to the altitude. Other routes around the mountain, such as Lemosho, Machame and Rongai, take a little longer to reach the summit. While the additional routes are slightly further and take an additional day of walking, their advantage lies in incrementally ascending to the summit and taking the time for adequate acclimatization at a steadier pace. This can make for a safer journey and increase the chance of success in reaching the summit.

This extended approach to acclimatization is paramount to the safety of any mountain-goer. High altitude mountain sickness (AMS) is the most common health risk associated with climbing Kilimanjaro, and should not be taken lightly. It is recommended to book a longer trip of eight days above 12,000 feet, allowing for at least three days of rest at altitude and reducing the total amount of hiking to around 24 miles. This type of tour typically takes a more scenic route, allowing hikers to spread their ascent over a more leisurely pace while taking the time to enjoy Kilimanjaro’s many attractions along the way.

No matter which route you choose to take, mountaineering up Kilimanjaro is a feat of physical stamina, mental fortitude and a strong determination. Climbers must be in good physical condition and have adequate respect for high altitude terrain. Ultimately, the journey is about the experience and the beauty of the landscape, and not the end goal.

Physical Condition

With any mountain expedition, proper physical conditioning is essential to a successful climb. Kilimanjaro requires a great deal of cardio and endurance work to prepare for the arduous trekking conditions. Additionally, the many hours spent carrying heavy backpacks, inching one step at a time, takes a good amount of physical strength and agility. Climbers should start a training regimen several months before the journey, working on exercises that include lower and upper body workouts to build strength, cardo conditioning and become familiarized with hiking terrain.

Gear and Equipment

Having the proper gear and equipment is essential for any mountain climb, but especially for trekking Kilimanjaro due to its extreme environment. A complete list of necessary items and recommended items should include good quality, warm clothing and collective layers, rain gear, mountaineering boots, sleeping bag, and trekking poles for backpacking. Additionally, necessary pieces of equipment for the summit attempt include a headlamp, sunscreen, and a first aid kit.

Professional Guides

While it is possible to hike Kilimanjaro without a professional guide, it is not recommended. The mountain terrain is rugged and often challenging even to the best of trekkers. Additionally, the altitude environment can prove tricky and should be managed under the guidance and expertise of a professional guide. Professional guides have years of experience and intimate knowledge of Kilimanjaro’s terrain, making the journey smoother, safer and more enjoyable for the individual. Experiencing the mountain with a professional guide is the best way to ensure an enjoyable and rewarding experience.


When mountain-goers ascend too quickly, the climate and altitude can take an immense toll on the body. With that in mind, proper acclimatization to high altitude is critical for any expedition up Kilimanjaro, such as shortening the daily step count, or taking a day off to acclimate to the altitude before attempting a summit. A good way to think of the ideal altitude progression is, “climb high, sleep low”. This allows the body to adapt more easily to the changes in climate without overwhelming the system in one day. In addition to proper acclimatization, a healthy diet and access to healthy, clean water is equally important to the success of the journey.

Mental Preparation

Mountaineering has as much to do with the mind as it does with the physical body. Kilimanjaro is a unique experience and presents its own unique set of difficulties and extreme conditions along its way to the summit. Mental preparation and confidence can make or break the success of the climb. It is important to practice self-care and build positive mental affirmations about the journey, encouraging individual success and lessening the chance for disappointment.

Rest & Hydration

Rest and hydration are essential for any mountaineer attempting to climb Kilimanjaro. While the physical nature of the mountain can take its toll, if the individual is not well-rested they will be putting themselves at risk of exhaustion, altitude sickness and other issues. It is important to stay hydrated throughout the journey, as the altitude environment provides fewer means for the body to replenish lost fluids and electrolytes within the body. As such, it is recommended to bring sized bottles with electrolyte drinks to sip during the ascent.

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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