To climb Kilimanjaro means taking a leap. It typically means flying halfway around the world to scale the Roof of Africa. And in order to make this large commitment, you need the trip to be successful—it might be your only chance.
Also, sifting through reviews on how best to climb Kilimanjaro can be as daunting as reaching the summit itself. You can find armies of information regarding the best routes and optimal numbers of days, but all you have to remember are these simple words: Slow and Steady.
Why? Because each year 35,000 to 50,000 people climb Kilimanjaro and the single most common inhibitor to making that sunrise summit is this: altitude sickness. But if you go slow and steady and choose a trip with enough days to acclimatize, your success will skyrocket.
Beware of the Five-Day
Kilimanjaro National Park won’t let you climb their beloved Kili in fewer than five days, so technically you have 5 to 10 days to complete the climb. Some of these five-day treks may be alluring because of their lower cost, but beware: they have far lower summit success rates. This is simply because there is less time to properly adjust to the elevation change.
Choose your Own Adventure.
There are seven official routes on Mount Kilimanjaro, and we’ve highlighted four of our favorites below for you to better understand the options for a successful Kilimanjaro trek:
1 – Marangu (5-6 days) – “The Coca-Cola Route.” Traditionally this was the most popular, economical, and direct route. There is permanent hut accommodation the whole way, though it does have lower summit success than the others. Best to choose six days.
2 – Machame (6-8 days) – “The Whiskey Route.” This is quickly becoming Kilimanjaro’s most popular route. It’s scenic and gradual, with an average duration of 7 days. Machame gives you proper adjustment to higher elevations.
3 – Rongai (6-7 days) – Rongai approaches the summit from the north and offers some remote and gentle climbing. You’ll come across fewer trekkers on this route, too.
4 – Lemosho (7-10 days) – Considered one of the most scenic routes, Lomosho has smaller crowds but increasing in popularity. It’s more remote with a generous southern traverse.
Take at least a week. Any fewer than seven days and you begin to compromise your Kilimanjaro summit. Each additional day increases your chances for success. Ideally, 7-9 days (10 if you have extra time) will enable you to ease into the elevation and position both your head and heart for one of the most stunning sunrises of your life. Few places on Earth compare to Kilimanjaro so take it slow and steady (pole pole in Swahili) and your daydream might just step into reality.