Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro on Your Trip to Tanzania

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Mount Kilimanjaro, a towering dormant volcano in northern Tanzania, is the highest mountain on the African continent – an impressive 19,341 feet (5,895 meters) high. Obviously a mountain of this height is going to intrigue and beckon to climbers as a challenge they need to tackle. You might be one of those adventure seekers. You might even be planning a trip to Tanzania for the sole purpose of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. I get that.

Embarking on a climb to the iconic Uhuru Peak of Kilimanjaro is something more than 35,000 people attempt annually. While no technical climbing skills are required, this is no small feat, as your journey will take you through rainforests, alpine deserts, and arctic terrain, up to the peak. You need to be properly prepared.

Mount Kilimanjaro

When we started researching a trip to Kilimanjaro, we learned that there are multiple routes to choose from that cater to different experience levels, each providing a unique perspective of the mountain, so that’s your first decision to make. We’ll go from there. In this article, we’re going to share what we learned traveling to Tanzania for this challenge.

Where is Kilimanjaro

Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa’s tallest mountain. It’s located in northern Tanzania, near the border with Kenya. It’s obviously a prominent geographical landmark, but it’s more than just a mountain; it’s part of a larger national park. The Kilimanjaro National Park serves as a protective barrier for the mountain’s unique ecosystem and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, reflecting its global importance.

I would recommend combining your climbing trip with a safari, or even going to Zanzibar or Kenya while you’re there. We did all three on our trip and I was glad we optimized that way, because it’s a long journey to get there. You don’t want to miss the opportunity to go on a Tanzania or Kenya safari. We did a safari in Maasai Mara in Kenya. And we also spent a day at Giraffe Manor in Kenya.

Quick Facts

  • Elevation Gain: Kibo, Kilimanjaro’s highest cone, rises approximately 12,940 feet from base to summit.
  • Length of Climb: It typically takes 6-10 days, allowing for gradual acclimatization.
  • Recommended Routes: Marangu Route is shorter and more comfortable. Lemosho or Northern Circuit are longer and offer better acclimatization.
peak at Kilimanjaro

How to Visit Kilimanjaro

Visiting Mount Kilimanjaro requires careful planning. It’s not as easy as just showing up and climbing.

You should look for registered and experienced providers with a track record of success and responsible mountain practices. It is also essential to ensure that they offer good porter welfare standards. We’ll talk more about why porters are super important later.

I would highly recommend choosing and booking with a reputable tour operator for climbing Kilimanjaro and an African safari trip in one, like Altezza that offers customizable or group tours of any length, climbing any of the available routes, for a cost of around $2000-2300 USD per person. Altezza offers Kilimanjaro group climbs every 2-3 days, so you can find one that suits your schedule.

Machame Route
Machame Route (aka Whiskey)

Choosing the Right Route

As I mentioned before, Mount Kilimanjaro has multiple routes, each offering a different experience. You should choose based on your physical fitness, experience, and personal preferences. Here is a brief overview of the three most popular paths:

  • Marangu Route: Known as the “Coca-Cola” route because it’s the most chosen route, with 30% of climbers using this route. You will sleep in a shared hut rather than a tent, it’s a shorter journey, and uses the same route up and back.
  • Machame Route: Known as the “Whiskey” route is more challenging but rewards with stunning views. The Machame hiking trail is the second most popular on Kilimanjaro. It starts in the tropical rainforest on the southern slope. Beginners should choose the seven-day option for a better acclimatization profile. Many of the Altezza’s group climbs go via the Machame Route.
  • Lemosho Route: This is a longer and more scenic route with a higher success rate because it’s easier to acclimate. It also features the famous Shira Plateau and Cathedral Peak, which at 13,000 feet is the highest point of the western slope.

Best Time to Visit

The best times to visit are during the dry seasons. This is when the Kilimanjaro weather is nearly ideal. If you want the best chance of success, I wouldn’t really choose a time outside of these windows.

  • Late December to early March: Warmer weather with clear mornings and evenings.
  • Mid-June to late October: Cooler temperatures and less precipitation.

Keep in mind that even in the dry season, the weather on Kilimanjaro can be unpredictable, so you’ll need to prepare for all conditions. See our packing list below for some help with that.

Preparation and Training

Obviously you wouldn’t even start this planning thinking you might not complete the climb, so why not set yourself up for success from the start? Even if you’re an experienced and in-shape athlete, you can benefit from a preparation and training regimen. Altitude sickness is one of the biggest concerns that you shouldn’t ignore. Your training should take into consideration the oxygen deprivation at this high of an elevation.

Here is our 8-week training regime that we used for our climb. You can obviously adapt it to fit your preferred type of exercise.

WeekCardioStrength TrainingAltitude Training
3-44x2xOptional hikes
5-64x3xIncreased hikes
7-85x3xFrequent hikes
  • Cardiovascular exercises: Include activities like running, cycling, or swimming at least four times per week to boost your aerobic capacity.
  • Strength training: Focus on leg strength with exercises like squats and lunges. Strong core and upper body will help with longer treks.
  • Hiking: Go on regular hikes to adapt your body to similar conditions. Include varied terrain and gradually increase the distance and elevation. If possible, hike at elevations above 6,000ft to familiarize your body with lower oxygen levels.
clothing for climb
Clothing and gear to pack

What to Pack

Packing the right gear can really make a difference. We are light packers so I tried to keep it streamlined. I don’t like to carry a lot of things. I’d suggest doing some shopping for lightweight, quick-dry, and moisture-wicking items. And always pack in layers (you’ll be going from hot to cold frequently).


  • Base Layers: Quick-dry, moisture-wicking materials.
  • Insulating Layers: Fleece or down jacket for warmth.
  • Outer Layer: Waterproof and windproof jacket and pants for protection.
  • Head Gear: Warm hat, sun hat, and a balaclava or neck gaiter.
  • Handwear: A pair of warm gloves and lightweight gloves.

Gear and Equipment:

  • Backpack: A light daypack for your essentials and a duffel bag for porters to carry.
  • Sleeping Bag: A quality bag rated for at least -10°C/14°F.
  • Trekking Poles: Adjustable and sturdy to help with the walking.
  • Headlamp: Be sure to bring extra batteries or a charger.


  • Hiking Boots: Waterproof and broken-in to prevent blisters.
  • Camp Shoes: Comfortable, lightweight shoes you can wear after hiking.
  • Socks: Wool or synthetic, plus a couple of liner socks to wick away moisture.

Personal Items:

  • Hygiene: Travel-sized, biodegradable products, and personal medications.
  • Sun Protection: High-SPF sunscreen, lip balm with SPF, and sunglasses.


  • Water Bottles or Hydration System
  • Camera/Phone: In protective cases.
  • Documents: Passport, permits, and insurance that you can leave with your guide.
Shira Ridge
Group moving up Shira Ridge on Machame Route towards Camp 2 — Photo by mountaintreks

Why You Need Guides and Porters

Porters and mountain guides are invaluable. I can’t stress that enough. Actually, Kilimanjaro National Park requires that you have a licensed guide, thus our recommendation to work with a company like Altezza. They take care of leading the climb, safety, cooking, and pacing so you can properly acclimatize, and they ensure you have good porters that can take the strain off of your hike and hopefully ensure you make it to the top. Believe me, you don’t want to deal with these details yourself.

When we started looking around, I was worried about hiring the right company, because I’m always worried about fair wages, respectful treatment, and proper working conditions. As a regular traveler, I’ve seen so many different scenarios where I didn’t feel certain. So be sure to do your research on the company you use.

About Tipping

I was also wondering about tipping before we set out. This is something you should plan for in advance, if you wish to tip your guides and porters. I won’t go as far as to say tips are expected, but they are customary and are appreciated. They do contribute to the local economy and they put real money into the pockets of those who assisted you.

My recommendation is this. There’s no “expected” amount, so give what you feel comfortable with.

  • Porters $5 – $10 per day
  • Cooks $10 -$15 per day
  • Guides $15 – $20 per day

Extending Your Stay


After you’ve climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, you might want to stay in Tanzania for other experiences. I mean, you’ve traveled so far to get there, and there are other great things to do in the country, as well as nearby. You could go on a safari, take a beach vacation, or do a cultural tour.

  • Safari Destinations to see the Big Five (elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo, and rhino):
    • Serengeti National Park: See the great wildebeest migration (it’s pretty incredible), and go on a hot air balloon ride.
    • Tarangire National Park: Renowned for its large elephant population and spectacular baobab trees.
  • Relaxation Opportunities:
    • Zanzibar: Relax on the beach, dive, snorkel, or explore the historical Stone Town.
  • City & Cultural:
    • Kilwa Kisiwani: A UNESCO World Heritage site, this ancient city was once a significant trading post along the Swahili Coast. Tours explore the ruins of great mosques, palaces, and the famous Kilwa Fort.
    • Maasai Villages: Visiting a Maasai village gives insights into the life of one of Africa’s most famous ethnic groups. These tours often include traditional welcome dances, a walk through the village to learn about Maasai huts (bomas), and insights into their traditions.
    • Olduvai Gorge: Often referred to as the “Cradle of Mankind,” Olduvai Gorge is an archaeological site where you can learn about early human history.

Be Prepared For Travel
Planning is the most important part of any successful trip. Do it the easy way:

🧳 Travel Packing List | ✔️ Why You Need Travel Insurance | ✈️ What to Do Before You Leave Home

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro on Your Trip to Tanzania

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