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Kilimanjaro Tanzania

Everything you need to know to successfully climb Kilimanjaro!


A Kilimanjaro climbing is a trip of a lifetime – so make sure you go with the best!

Surprisingly, Mount Kilimanjaro  many people still believe that Mount Kilimanjaro  is located in Kenya. While it is possible that this belief has come about because many Kenya guide books or promotional posters show what is perhaps the best long distance view of Kilimanjaro taken from within the relatively nearby Amboseli National Park in Kenya, on the northern side of Kilimanjaro, nonetheless the entire park boundary that demarcates the mountain’s official edges does indeed lie within Tanzania.
So, Mount Kilimanjaro  is definitely in Tanzania, not Kenya!
MOUNT KILIMANJARO is climable at any time of the year. However, the best time of year for climbing is January through mid-March and mid-June through October

This page tells you how to climb Kilimanjaro. It starts with picking the right time, getting yourself to Tanzania, then to the mountain.

You can read about the cost, selecting a trekking agency, selecting a route, and of course I discuss all the issues of the trek itself: training, fitness, altitude sickness…

Every issue that I mention here is explained in detail on another page, often several pages, but here you can get a good overview of what it takes to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.

Planning a Kilimanjaro Climb

You need to make three major decisions before you can climb Kilimanjaro:

  • You have to decide on a date.
  • You have to decide on the climb route and length (how many days/nights).
  • You have to decide on a trekking agency/climb Kilimanjaro operator.

Mount Kilimanjaro & Name

Mount Kilimanjaro  three peaks were formed after volcanic eruptions millions of years ago. One volcanic cone, Shira, is now extinct and eroded, while the other two, Mawenzi and Kibo, ‘melted’ together after subsequent eruptions. Kibo is now the highest with its famous Uhuru peak at almost 6000m above sea level.

Given the stature and greatness of Mount Kilimanjaro , there is relatively little recorded history of the peak. Even the origins of the name present somewhat of a dilemma. Many people believe the name derived from the Kishwahili tribal name, Kilima, meaning “mountain.” The local Wachagga people claim to have no name for Kilimanjaro, but did name the dual peaks “Kipoo” and “Kimawenzi.”

Kilimanjaro Climbing

Kilimanjaro Routes: which one to take

You’ll also need to decide what route you want to take up the mountain.

There are 7 routes on Kilimanjaro, and not all of these are created equal. In terms of acclimatization, longer routes have a much better success rate.

Other considerations are: how busy the route is, how scenic it is, whether you sleep in a tent or in huts. Whether you take the Western Breach or the Barranco Wall. Do you want a day or night time summit attempt?

Additional Mount Kilimanjaro & Service

Best Routes for a night at Crater Camp

The longest route possible! Typically, it is the Lemosho Route that climbers use, which has a good acclimatization schedule. For the very “tough”, try the Umbwe Route, but add extra days. Some operators on the Machame Route will offer a night at Crater.

Kilimanjaro Ash Pit: the Center of the Volcano

What happens at the top of the mountain? Are you camping in the Crater, taking a hike to the Ash Pit?

Most people who think about climbing Kilimanjaro, think about getting to the Summit, seeing the Uhuru Peak signpost for themselves, and taking photographs. However, there is so much more to the top of this mountain than just Uhuru Peak. The Kilimanjaro Ash Pit is the very center of the volcanic cone.

Uhuru Peak sits at the highest point of the crater rim, below this is the crater. Filled with glaciers and volcanic rock, it is possible to camp on the crater floor, if you are very well acclimatized.

Exploring the glaciers up close is an amazing experience, feeling the cold, hard ice under the blue skies and equatorial sun. Whilst inside the crater, a place where few people go is to the Ash Pit: the very center of the volcano.

Fumaroles belching forth their sulfurous gases, the raw sulfur on the sides, and the perfectly formed cone reaching down into the depths of the earth. This is where it all came from.

Whilst standing at the summit is an astonishing achievement, for us, it doesn’t really stop there. What is this place, apart from just being the “highest mountain in Africa” and the “highest free-standing mountain in the world”?

Sure, there are more dramatic “volcano experiences” in the world, watching active volcanos in Costa Rica, for instance. But once you are on the top of Kilimanjaro, in this inhospitable land of ice, rocks and thin mountain air, seeing the Ash Pit is an opportunity not to be missed.

What is the Kilimanjaro Ash Pit?

Kilimanjaro consists of three volcanic peaks. Shira (3962m), Mawenzi (5149m) and Kibo (5895m). Kibo is the youngest of these three peaks, it’s most recent activity being in the Pleistocene era.

What remains of both Shira and Mawenzi have been partially covered by volcanic material from Kibo. Only on Kibo can you see the concentric craters still intact.

At the top of Kibo is the Kibo Crater, the main crater you see from the summit and aerial photos. Within the Kibo Crater there is the Reusch Crater, and within this lies the Ash Pit. These three are all visible from the summit on a clear day.

All three are concentric craters, and the Ash Pit forms a perfect circle. The closer you get to the Ash Pit, the stronger the ‘rotten eggs’ smell of sulfur is. Which is not great if you are already feeling a bit nauseous from the altitude!

The Ash Pit is 395ft wide and is composed of shale and large boulders which have rolled down. Fumaroles, vents that emit sulfur and steam are found at the base of the Ash Pit, and it’s estimated that the temperature of these vents is that of boiling water.

The Reusch crater was named after a missionary who famously found a leopard frozen in the snow and cut of its ear as a souvenir. This leopard was the inspiration for the opening lines of Hemingway’s book The Snows of Kilimanjaro.

So why doesn’t everyone see the Ash Pit?

From the Crater floor, you have to climb up this steep slope to get there!

Normally, visiting the Ash Pit requires a night to be spent in Crater Camp. And you’ll only be able to do that if you are well enough acclimatized to sleep at over 18,000 feet. And your operator will have had to make the logistical arrangements for you to do so.

This can be costly, and it’s dangerous to sleep up there. Mostly it’s the high-end operators that offer it, on a longer trek to ensure good acclimatization.

Sometimes an operator will take you to the Ash Pit after you’ve reached the summit before heading back down the mountain. Obviously, this would only be possible if you were feeling fit, strong and well-acclimatized.

If you are looking for something a bit more than just getting to the top, then We highly recommend a night in the Crater and a visit to the Ash Pit.

Walking from Crater Camp, it will take about 30-40 minutes to get to the Ash Pit. You hike across the crater floor, past the glaciers, and up the ridge of the Reusch Crater. Once you get there, don’t lean over too far, if you fall down this, you won’t be getting out again!

Mount Kilimanjaro Tours

Umbwe route

Kilimanjaro Trekking : Umbwe Route 6/7 Days

Kilimanjaro Lemosho Route 7/8 Days

kilimanjaro marangu Route

Kilimanjaro Marangu route 5/6 Days

Kilimanjaro Trekking : Machame Route 7 Days

Rongai Route Kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro Rongai Route 6/7 Days

Kilimanjaro Climbing

Northern circuit route Kilimanjaro 8/10 Days