The Ultimate Guide to Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro
Mount Kilimanjaro is the fabled Roof of Africa. Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro demands determination, dedication, and energy. But it’s also a summit that rewards with visions of African ice caps, wanderings through moss-caked cloud forests, encounters with elephants, and – of course – a chance to stand at the highest point on the continent. Soaring 19,341 feet (5,895 meters) above sea level in the midst of northern Tanzania, it crashes through the clouds to a trio of volcanic cones that were formed millions of years ago.
You’ve stumbled across this post because you’re interested in Africa’s highest mountain. Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the most popular destinations for trekkers around the world. In this ultimate travel guide, you’ll discover expert information to help prepare you for one of the best climbing adventures of your life!
What’s in this Guide?
- My experience on Mount Kilimanjaro
- About Mount Kilimanjaro
- History of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro
- Getting to Mount Kilimanjaro
- An overview of Moshi, Tanzania
- When is the best time to climb Mount Kilimanjaro?
- Mount Kilimanjaro climbing routes
- Sample itinerary of Kilimanjaro’s most popular route
- Key sites while climbing Kilimanjaro
- Preparation and training
- Other adventures near Mount Kilimanjaro
1. My experience on Mount Kilimanjaro
Mount Kilimanjaro is a trek that asks a lot but gives a huge payoff. Seven days of climbing this sleeping giant from the farms around Moshi, Tanzania to the scree-rimmed summit took me through some of the most incredible landscapes I’ve ever encountered.
From my perspective, things looked bare from afar, but then I was greeted by groves of spider-like ferns and mkulo trees on the lower slopes that gave way to gnarled junipers and heathlands higher up. As I approached the trailhead, I saw elephants, Cape buffalo, and even leopards. From the saddle to the summit itself, where I spent (and you will too) the bulk of the trek, it’s like being on the Moon. Petrified volcanic stone speckles the plains there, and only hardy tufts of grass poke through.
I opted for the common and wildly popular Machame Route. It’s got the highest success rate of all the seven routes up Kilimanjaro and peppers the journey with welcome acclimatization camps. My summit push happened on day six of seven. It was the true highlight of the Mount Kilimanjaro hike, opening vistas that sweep north into the elephant-stalked savannahs of Kenya and across to mystical Mount Meru deeper into Tanzania. I’ll never forget that view and you must see it for yourself!
2. About Mount Kilimanjaro
Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa, located in Tanzania. It clocks up an altitude of 19,341 feet (5,895 meters) and anchors the amazing Kilimanjaro National Park in the far north of Tanzania. It’s actually a dormant volcano that’s formed of three main cones. They sit almost equidistant apart, running from Shira (the lowest) in the east to Mawenzi in the west. Hikers are usually aiming for Kibo, the middle cone. That’s where Uhuru Peak, the pinnacle of Kilimanjaro and the final goal of most treks, shoulders above the crater on a bluff.
Kilimanjaro is a mountain of two sides. The northern slopes are softer and host way less vegetation. They drop away towards the Tanzania-Kenya border in sinews of lava chutes and dusty scree. The south is encircled by a lush ring of montane forest and cloud forest, and the main peaks of Uhuru and Mawenzi loom steeper overhead.
One of the defining features of Kilimanjaro is what’s known as the Saddle Plateau. It’s where the mountain sort of flattens out at around 14,400 feet (4,400 meters), forming a tabletop region between the smaller craters with Kibo right in the middle. Good news for trekkers, it gives ample space for multiple acclimatization camps – the whole Saddle measures close to 14.9 miles (24 kilometers) from end to end! Still interested in learning more? Check out these 10 Fast Facts About Mount Kilimanjaro.
3. History of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro
The volcanic activity that formed the cloud-shattering tops of Mount Kilimanjaro is thought to have started around a million years ago and lasted something in the region of 500,000 years. It gave rise to a hulking mass of a peak that has itself inspired human legends. The Tanzania region’s Swahili Chagga people tell of ancient elephant burial grounds on the summit. Others have posited it as the potential source of the life-giving River Nile.
Recorded attempts to climb Kilimanjaro didn’t begin in earnest until the Germans came to East Africa in the second half of the 19th century. Hans Meyer and his Austrian climbing partner Ludwig Purtscheller are now hailed as the first Europeans to conquer the top of Kibo crater and complete the Kilimanjaro hike, which they finally managed in 1889 after a former failed attempt. They did it with help from a team of Swahili porters and camp builders. If this rich history excites you, check out our other Five Top Adventure Destinations for History Buffs!
Since then, the allure of the mythic Roof of Africa and the journey to climb Kilimanjaro has only grown and grown. Today, the mountain sustains a whole industry of climbers and climb assistants in Tanzania – one estimation is that it supports up to 11,000 jobs in the region. A whopping 35,000 to 50,000 trekkers are thought to attempt the Mount Kilimanjaro climb each year, with just over two-thirds of them making it to the summit and successfully completing the Kilimanjaro hike.
4. Getting to Mount Kilimanjaro
There’s no better way to get right into the base of the great mountain than with a flight to the Kilimanjaro International Airport where your quest to climb Kilimanjaro begins. It’s not only the gateway to the trailheads for Africa’s highest peak, though. It’s also one of the prime access points for the safari meccas of Arusha National Park, the Ngorongoro Crater, and the savannahs of Tarangire National Park. That means there will be high competition for airfare, so don’t hang around when you come to book.
Thankfully, there’s a good mix of long-haul carriers coming in from Middle Eastern hubs like Istanbul and Doha, along with big European changeover points like Amsterdam Schiphol. There are also plenty of arrivals from African destinations, including Nairobi, Dar es Salaam, and Entebbe.
From the Kilimanjaro International Airport, look to get to Moshi, Tanzania. There’s a good chance that the pickup and transfer will be included in your trekking package. If not, a private taxi from the terminals to any hotel in the town is set at a fixed rate of $50. There are also shared shuttle buses run by Precision Air that cost closer to $5 a head.
5. An overview of Moshi, Tanzania
Moshi is known as the loveable, ramshackle hub of the whole Kilimanjaro region. A cacophony of honking 4X4s and crying goat herds, it’s the launchpad for the vast majority of expeditions to climb Kilimanjaro. During peak climbing season (more on that below), you can hardly move for trekkers – some fresh-faced and raring to go, others tanned and tired but with one line less on the bucket list– completing the Kilimanjaro hike to the summit.
Don’t whiz out of Moshi for the trailheads too quickly. Take some time to delve into the frenetic Chagga Street bazaar or navigate the stalls of the Mbuyuni market down Double Road, taking in all that Tanzania has to offer. They are working trading places where you can buy everything from used hiking gear to unusual healing roots from Maasai medicine men (not recommended!).
Moshi also has a fine gastronomic offering to help you fuel up before the Kilimanjaro hike or rejuvenate after returning from the summit. That comes in the form of Indian cookhouses selling spicy curries from across the Arabian Sea, a few Italian kitchens, and plenty of coffee stops – you’re in one of Tanzania’s top bean-growing regions, remember?
If you’re doing an organized tour and you haven’t already joined your trekking group at the airport, then you’re likely to do it in Moshi. It’s where you’ll leave from on the first day, usually to the starting point of the Machame Route, which is roughly a 30- to 40-minute drive to the northwest of town.
6. When is the best time to climb Mount Kilimanjaro?
So you want to climb Mount Kilimanjaro when the time is best. The general rule for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is to dodge the wet seasons. Tanzania has two of those: the short monsoon season and the long monsoon season. The first – just as the name implies – is over pretty quick. It lasts from the start of November to the first or second week of December. The second spans about three months, from March until May. That really leaves two windows of opportunity for trekkers who want what I’d consider to be peak conditions for their Mount Kilimanjaro hike:
- July-October – This is the busiest time to hike Kilimanjaro but also strikes the best balance when it comes to trekking weather. Rainfall dips to a quarter of what it was only three months before (0.8 inches (20 millimeters) over 30 days on average) and that means clearer skies for better views of the Tanzania landscape as you climb Kilimanjaro. The main downside is the uptick in traffic on the Kilimanjaro routes. Popular trails to the summit, the Machame Route included, see their highest numbers of climbers between July and August. That’s largely because this is during the European holiday, so things should start to temper a little towards October with less people attempting to climb Kilimanjaro. Expect some sub-zero nights as this is the cooler time of the year in Tanzania.
- January-February – The hiatus between the short and long rainy seasons is one of the best times to climb Kilimanjaro. It’s a lot warmer than the window from July to October and generally stays dry, allowing for more comfort on your Kilimanjaro hike. What’s more, it doesn’t coincide with any major vacations in Europe or the US, which keeps crowds throttled a touch. The only thing to note is that you do risk losing the views come the afternoon. Mornings are typically clear, but heat hazes and clouds can gather by 1 o’clock in the early afternoon, disrupting the gorgeous views as you climb Kilimanjaro.
You don’t necessarily have to stick to the above seasons to make climbing Kilimanjaro a success. It’s actually possible to climb Mount Kilimanjaro at any time in the year. It’s just that the monsoons bring unpredictability into the mix and that means there’s less of a chance that your Kilimanjaro hike will be a success. More practically, traveling during the rainy season means contending with heavy downpours and muddy trails, so you’ll need to pack accordingly.
7. Mount Kilimanjaro climbing routes
How long does it take to climb Mount Kilimanjaro? Depending on your choice of climbing route, the trek takes between five to seven nights from base to summit. Choosing the right climbing route is arguably the single most important part of planning to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. There are seven routes up Kilimanjaro and each promises a unique experience of the mountain and varying cost to climb. These include the Machame, Marangu, Shira, Lemosho, Umbwe, Rongai, and the Northern Circuit routes.
One might be a slow slog to the summit over seven nights. Another could be a quick five-day romp from base to summit that requires pre-acclimatization and plenty of training to climb Kili on this route. Each trek crosses a different part of the peak on the way to the summit, so you’ll see different things as you climb Kili – cloud forest, montane jungle, scree – depending on which you choose. However, most converge on the upper Saddle Plateau where you prep for the final push to Uhuru Peak.
Here’s a closer look at each of the seven routes up Kilimanjaro:
- Machame – Now the most popular route of all for climbers on Kilimanjaro, Machame involves three days of trekking high and then sleeping at camps that are lower down on the way to the summit. That’s proven to help with acclimatization, which gives the Machame path an overall success rate of 85% on the seven-day version of the Kilimanjaro hike. See why Machame is popular? It’s harder than Marangu, though. In fact, the Machame Route is dubbed the ‘Whiskey Route’ precisely for that reason. Expect steep climbs after leaving the rainforests on the south slopes and camping the whole way along.
- Marangu – They call Marangu the ‘Coca-Cola Route’ because it’s one of the most popular routes and is the most well-established. It’s also rated the easiest way to hike Kilimanjaro. There’s now hut accommodations the whole way along the Marangu route, so you don’t need to pitch tents and carry loads of gear while you climb Kilimanjaro. Marangu can be completed in five days, though that speed usually requires pre-acclimatization on Mount Meru or elsewhere. It’s a steady up and back on the same path on the southeastern edge of Kilimanjaro, making Marangu a great choice for less experienced climbers.
- Shira – The Shira Route for climbing Kilimanjaro begins at the Shira Gate before skirting along the Saddle to join up with the Machame Route before the push to the summit. This route to climb Kilimanjaro is usually reserved for more experienced climbers and certainly not for those on their first long-distance trek, mainly because it begins at an already-challenging altitude of around 11,480 feet (3,500 meters).
- Lemosho – Widely considered to be the most beautiful of all the ways to hike Kilimanjaro to the summit, Lemosho starts on the western side of the park, close to the gate for the Shira Route. But it takes a different path of climbing Kilimanjaro through the lower forests and offers better acclimatization from the get-go (you begin at 7,500 feet (2,286 meters) above sea level – not 11,000!). Sightings of elephant herds and strange fauna are more common along this path to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, and you should find that the path is nowhere near as busy as the high-trafficked Machame.
- Umbwe – The Jimmy Chins out there might want to consider picking the Umbwe Route. The Umbwe route is the hardest of all the ways to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Umbwe starts with two days of very steep walking directly through the rainforests and then the exposed alpine zones of the south slope. Later, Umbwe either connects with the Machame Route to reach the top or takes the cutback path to the Western Breach, one of the few true technical sections on the Kilimanjaro climb that’s open to experienced mountaineers only. Either way, Umbwe is sure to be a challenging, yet rewarding, route for any trekker.
- Rongai – The sole way to climb Kilimanjaro to the summit via the northern side of the mountain, the Rongai Route basically begins right on the Tanzania-Kenya border. It’s a five- to seven-day trek that makes use of the relatively gentle slopes on this half of the peak, although that can make proper acclimatization a little difficult while climbing Kilimanjaro. Descents are usually done on the south side of the mountain.
- Northern Circuit – One of the newer additions to the lineup of Kilimanjaro routes, the Northern Circuit fuses the best of the Shira and the Rongai paths into one nine-day romp. The real pull is that you’ll get to see parts of the volcanic Saddle that other trails go nowhere near, allowing for a more unique way to climb Kilimanjaro.
You should also be aware of the Mweka Route of climbing Kilimanjaro. It’s reserved for descents of the mountain on the south side and has a single camp pitstop on the way. It finishes at the Mweka Gate, which is only a 35-minute transfer back to Moshi. Can’t decide which route is best for you? Contact my team at The Explorer’s Passage, the premier adventure tour company on the planet, for a free travel consultation to help you find the best fit for your Kilimanjaro hike!
8. Sample daily itinerary of the popular Machame Route
As we’ve already mentioned, the Machame Route is now by far the most popular way to scale Kilimanjaro and it’s easy to see why.
First off, it offers what we think is the most diverse array of scenery of any trekking path here, first in the lush jungles on the southwestern side of the peak and then along the lunar-like Shira Plateau.
Secondly, it’s been designed to fit with best practices in acclimatization, allowing trekkers to climb high and sleep low. It’s not for nothing that it has an 85% success rate – the best of all the paths on the mountain.
The Machame Route is one of the routes we offer on our very own Kilimanjaro expeditions. So, here’s a closer look at what to expect each day, from the moment you arrive in Moshi to the last descent through the Mweka Gate and your departure from Tanzania:
- Day 1: Arrival in Moshi – You’ll be greeted at Kilimanjaro International Airport and be taken to your hotel in Moshi. There, you’ll meet your guides and fellow trekkers. Expect everyone to be buzzing with excitement!
- Day 2: Cultural orientation to the Kilimanjaro region – Before starting the trek up the great peak, you’ll first get immersed in some cultural explorations. You’ll meet the local Chagga tribe, visit their farms, and see one of the oldest churches in Tanzania.
- Day 3: Begin the climb – It’s time to start your climb on the Machame Route. The trailhead is about an hour from Moshi itself. There, you’ll join a path that weaves through the native rainforest to reach the Machame Camp at 9,875 feet (3,000 meters) above sea level.
- Day 4: Up to Shira Camp – There’s a hefty altitude gain on the fourth day that sees you lift over 2,600 feet (790 meters) to the edge of the main plateau. There are big rewards for your effort during this session – clear days will reveal visions of Mount Meru far on the horizon, along with the outline of Kilimanjaro’s summit looming overhead.
- Day 5: Skirt the mountain edge – Your trek continues on as you push up to 15,000 feet (4,600 meters) and skirt the edge of the Shira Plateau past lava stacks. The main challenge will be completing the technically demanding Western Breach portion of the trail. However, you’ll be rewarded with scenic views. After that, you drop to lower altitudes to rest for the next day.
- Day 6: Karanga Camp – The sixth day of our itinerary is the fourth on the mountain. It’s also one of the most amazing, as you traverse deep canyons and gorges carved into the higher reaches of the plateau. On a clear day, this is where you’ll see the great ice walls of the Kersten Glacier.
- Day 7: Nearing the summit – Day seven crosses a final dash of exposed scree slopes to get you to the last camp beneath the main summit. It’s only three hours’ trekking but can be very tiring on account of the altitude. The remainder of the afternoon is spent resting in preparation for the big push to the peak that begins around midnight.
- Day 8: Summit day – The day begins in the darkness and on extremely steep slopes that lead the way to Kilimanjaro’s legendary Crater Rim. Sunrise usually hits as you push above 19,000 feet (5,790 meters). It’s truly an unforgettable moment, as you watch the light illuminate the African plains and the surrounding lava fields. Later on, you’ll conquer Kilimanjaro by hitting Uhuru Peak.
- Day 9: The descent – You will have dropped back to 12,440 feet (3,790 meters) above sea level straight after hitting the summit. That leaves the last day on the mountain for the descent to Mweka Gate, where you’ll be met by our team and returned to the comfort of your hotel in Moshi for a hard-earned shower and meal!
- Day 10: Lively breakfast and farewells – Breakfast on the final day of your trip will be a very contemplative and jovial affair. All trekkers buzz with the endorphins that come with hitting the highest point in Africa. From here, you can keep exploring the local safari parks or choose to depart Tanzania anyway you like.
9. Key sites while climbing Kilimanjaro
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro isn’t about checking off the sights like you do on a city break. It’s about moving through primeval cloud forests and jungles to scree ridges carved and blasted by ancient volcanic eruptions. It’s about scaling ridges above the clouds to survey plains dotted with elephants that look no bigger than ants below. To put it another way: Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is about the journey.
That said, there are a few points of interest on the Kilimanjaro hike that you should know about before setting off. They’re the key markers, the camps, the landmarks, and the geological features that you’ll meet along the way as you climb Mount Kilimanjaro:
- The Saddle – The vast plateau that joins Shira cone to Mawenzi cone, crossing the whole top of the mountain. This lunar-like area is where you’ll spend the middle sections of most treks to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.
- Barranco Wall – A famous scrambling section on four of the main routes to climb Kili, including the Shira Route, Lemosho route, Umbwe Route, and the popular Machame Route, the Barranco Wall is an 850-foot (259-meter) rock face that climbers need to traverse to make it to the upper portions of the mountain. It’s not technical but can take two hours to complete.
- Uhuru Peak – Standing at 19,340 feet (5,895 meters) above sea level, Uhuru Peak is the highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro and offers mesmerizing views of Tanzania.
- Furtwangler Glacier – Just one part of the ever-diminishing ice cap that crowns Kilimanjaro, this one’s worth knowing because you’ll likely pass its hulking, 20-foot (six-meter) snow walls on the final push to Uhuru Peak. This glacier can be seen on either the Lemosho or Machame routes.
- Lava Tower – A bluff of basalt and frozen lava that rises above a campsite along a short detour off the Machame and Lenosho Routes.
- Mawenzi Peak – The name for the second-highest summit on Kilimanjaro, Mawenzi is the easternmost cone of the mountain and can be seen on the Marangu or Rongai routes. It’s open to climbers but is a much more dangerous prospect than climbing Kilimanjaro. The first ascent here wasn’t until 1913 and it requires expert knowledge of pitching and rope climbing to reach the summit.
- Mweka Camp – Mweka Camp sits along Mweka Route, the main path down the mountain after hitting the summit. It’s here that you’ll get that dopamine rush and gaze back at the sleeping giant you’ve just conquered. Campfire parties and good vibes are the name of the game as you reminisce on your Kilimanjaro hike!
10. Preparation and training
Training for climbing Kilimanjaro is no easy task. The best prep for hiking Kilimanjaro is hiking itself. If you haven’t already, get walking. Try to clock up sessions of four to six hours on comparably rough highland trails close to where you live. Better yet, do that wearing the very same boots you’re taking to Africa (see below) and carrying a full day pack on your back.
On top of that, road running, trail running, and weight training can all work wonders for training to climb Kili. Climbing Kilimanjaro demands a decent level of all-round fitness. That’s why it’s a good idea to take a holistic approach while training to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro and up your trekking game across the board – in cardio, strength, and stamina.
What gear do I need to climb Mount Kilimanjaro?
There’s two pieces of good news when it comes to packing to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. One: This isn’t a technical climb, so you don’t need any fangled harnesses or fancy carabiners. Two: The bulk of your pack and gear – including all your food, your sleeping setup, and cooking utensils – will be transported by your team (hence why it’s not unusual to have three porters to every one trekker!).
Your responsibility will be to prepare and pack for long-distance trekking while climbing Kilimanjaro that can last upwards of seven days and involve very unpredictable weather conditions. The best time to climb Kilimanjaro is July to October when the weather is milder, however, Kilimanjaro can summon all four seasons in just as many hours. Snowstorms, torrential rains, sub-zero temperatures, soaring tropical humidity – you can have the lot in a single trekking session. That means layers are key and waterproofs are necessary as you climb Kilimanjaro.
Always pack thermals. If you don’t use them in the heat of the Tanzania day, then you almost certainly will at night when the mercury can plummet below nothing without warning. This is another reason why early fall is the best time to climb Kilimanjaro when the weather is milder. Strong hiking sunscreen is a must as you climb Kili in the open sun. Oh, and be sure to pick a pair of boots that you know are comfy. New boots that aren’t worn in already aren’t a great idea because there’s no way to swap them out once you’re up on the saddle!
Altitude considerations for climbing Kilimanjaro
There are many things to consider when hiking at high altitudes. The altitude adjustment as you climb Mount Kilimanjaro is surely the number-one enemy of climbers looking to hike Kili. But, as one of the great Seven Summits, no one said it would be easy, right? Thing is, Kilimanjaro has an added twist: It’s prominence. Whereas you can start the push for Everest at a basecamp more than 16,400 feet (5,000 meters) up, the Machame Gate is a mere 5,900 feet (1,800 meters) above sea level.
That has ramifications as you climb Mount Kilimanjaro. First, it means you have further to climb on this trek than you would between basecamp and summit on even the highest peak on the planet – it’s 11,433 feet (3,485 meters) from Everest Base Camp to Everest’s top but over 13,400 feet (4,084 meters) from the Machame trailhead to Uhuru Peak on Kilimanjaro!
Second, and most importantly, it means that you don’t have the pre-trekking to help you acclimatize. Here, you’re instantly dropped onto a path from relatively low altitudes and quickly gain as you climb Kilimanjaro.
Anyone who knows anything about Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) will tell you that it’s not good. Not good at all. However, there are ways to deal with it as you climb Kilimanjaro. In fact, one of the reasons that the Machame Route is now so popular is because it works in two or three nights of sleeping low and trekking high, which is perfect for acclimatizing before the summit push. The result? An overall higher success rate and happier trekkers to boot.
You can also work in treks before you hike Kilimanjaro proper. Mount Meru is a smaller option that’s close by and doable in three or four days and a great way to prepare to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Climbing Kilimanjaro is no easy task, and you are sure to learn a thing or two along the way.
It’s important to be aware that you’ll be trekking for extended periods above altitudes that are considered safe for humans as you climb Kilimanjaro. Estimations are that around 70% of climbers hiking Kilimanjaro suffer at least some symptoms of AMS. They could be anything from light fatigue to severe headaches and vomiting. Always communicate any level of symptoms to your guides and be ready to descend to lower altitudes if things get too bad as you climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Safety is our number one priority, so make sure you’re aware of the many important reasons to turn back during an adventure.
Mount Kilimanjaro permits
It’s been almost 30 years since the Tanzanian government imposed the requirement that all trekkers who wish to climb Kilimanjaro engage a licensed guide. There’s no going at this one alone, folks. You have to get help from a qualified company that specializes in trekking in the region, though those are certainly not all created equal, but that’s another story.
In addition, everyone entering the Kilimanjaro National Park is liable to pay certain fees. These actually make up a hefty chunk of the cost of most trekking packages, sometimes accounting for as much as 70% of the total cost to climb Kilimanjaro. They include a conservation fee of around $70 per day, a camping levy of $50 per trekker, per night, and $2 per porter and guide, per day. As you can imagine that all adds up over a seven-day expedition to climb Kilimanjaro– you’re looking at around $955 in fees for the normal Machame Route. Thankfully, these are usually included in quoted costs to climb Kilimanjaro as part of your travel package and are paid by the tour organizer beforehand.
All prices are in US Dollars.
Passports and visas to visit Tanzania
There’s a little visa admin to go through either before you touch down in Kilimanjaro or as you pass through the airport on the way to Moshi, Tanzania. That is, unless you’re from one of the 70 or so countries that get visa-free access to Tanzania. Sadly, the USA and the UK aren’t included in said list, though it is possible to get a 90-day visa on arrival. It costs $50 for non-US citizens and $100 for US citizens and must be purchased in dollars.
All prices are in US Dollars.
You can now also pre-authorize your visa to reduce waits at the airport (and there can be waits!) by applying for an eVisa on the official Tanzania immigration portal online. These expenses are important to factor in when considering the total cost to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. If all this sounds overwhelming, don’t worry! The Explorer’s Passage is always here to work with you and your preferences to craft a trip that fits your needs.
11. Other adventures near Mount Kilimanjaro
The desire to stand at the very top of Africa draws something like 50,000 trekkers to Tanzania to climb Mount Kilimanjaro every year. But that’s actually only a fraction of the total number of people who come to the beautiful country of Tanzania. Yep, the surrounding Kilimanjaro National Park can pull in 5,000 extra day visitors itself, and that’s not even mentioning the safari meccas, lakes, waterfalls, and other natural jewels that abound in the greater region.
Here’s a look at just a few of the most enticing adventures to be had near Mount Kilimanjaro:
- Climb Mount Meru – A little under 43 miles (69 kilometers) to the southwest of Kilimanjaro, Mount Meru is the next great peak that scores the Serengeti. It hits 14,900 feet (4,542 meters) and can be conquered in three or four days. It’s often seen as a fantastic acclimatization hike before climbing Kilimanjaro proper.
- Swim in the Marangu Waterfalls – As the name implies, these gushing waterfalls are close to the Marangu Route that goes to the summit of Kilimanjaro. They can be seen on a day trip from Moshi, too, offering wild swimming amid the vine-strewn tropical jungles under the mighty mountain itself.
- Bathe in the Kikuletwa Springs – What’s a volcano without hot springs? Cue the Kikuletwa Springs, where you can soothe post-hike muscles in lukewarm water beneath drooping palm trees.
- Lake Chala – Cruise down the A23 (a major road) from Moshi to the Tanzania/Kenya border and you’ll find this glimmering crater lake. It’s possible to kayak and swim in Lake Chala, but it is home to Nile crocs, so be wary!
- Lake Jipe – Eight-mile-long (13-kilometer-long) Lake Jipe is a good alternative to Lake Chala. Come here to see traditional fishing techniques in action and spot hippos between the reed-sprouting banks.
Cultural activities in the Mount Kilimanjaro region
The Mount Kilimanjaro region is a unique melting pot of East African peoples and cultures. It’s a land where the Maasai merge with the Chagga folk, where the Pare peoples of the highlands mingle with descendants of Indian émigrés. If that sounds like a great place for cultural excursions, then that’s because it is. Check out:
- The Olpopongi Maasai Cultural Village and Museum – See the traditional Maasai Boma huts made from dung and shop for folk trinkets at this cultural village on the west side of Kilimanjaro.
- Chagga Villages – Tour the hamlets north of Kibosho village and Moshi to see how the local Chagga folk cultivate exotic crops in the unique volcanic lowlands around Kilimanjaro.
- Coffee Union Café – No trip to northern Tanzania could be complete without a sampling of the local beans. Do it here, in a café that’s owned and run by the Kilimanjaro Native Cooperative Union, the oldest cooperative in Africa. It’s all roasted right there on site.
Safari options in Tanzania
Got some time left after your seven-day Kilimanjaro climb? There’s no better way to fill it than with a Tanzanian safari. In fact, the region around Moshi is considered one of the finest safari destinations on the planet. It’s got a string of five reserves (the Mount Kilimanjaro National Park among them) that are together referred to as the Northern Circuit, offering glimpses of diverse habitats and the fabled Big Five game.
- Ngorongoro Conservation Area – The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is one of Africa’s most famous safari destinations. On the edge of the Serengeti, it’s hemmed in by the crater rim of an old volcano, making it relatively easy to track lion prides and even more elusive creatures like cheetahs.
- Arusha National Park – Mount Meru crowns this compact park some 40 miles (64 kilometers) west of Moshi. It’s one of the safari jewels of Tanzania, replete with flamingo-filled tarns and gallery woods laden with blue and colobus monkeys. Arusha National Park is not the best for big-game viewing but it’s one of the more accessible and unique safaris in Tanzania.
- Tarangire National Park – The third fantastic safari option within reach of Moshi and Kilimanjaro, Tarangire National Park is a vast expanse that straddles the Maasai highlands and the East African Rift. It’s got swamplands and massive baobab trees, and really comes alive during the annual wildebeest migration between June and October.
- Serengeti National Park – Covering a whopping 18,641 square miles (48,280 square kilometers) of land at the heart of the Great Rift Valley, the Serengeti has become a byword for safari going the world over. And for good reason. It’s arguably the bucket-list destination, counting all of the Big Five and much more. It’s also the best place to witness the legendary great wildebeest migration across Tanzania.
This trip guide is just a taste of what you’ll experience on a remarkable trek up Mount Kilimanjaro. For more things you should know before climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, check out the curated list of educational blog posts located on our website.
Better yet, if you have more questions on hiking Kilimanjaro or need help planning your trip to Tanzania, let’s connect! Our knowledgeable Adventure Consultants would love to hear from you so contact us and let us show you what’s possible.
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Founder & CEO
The Explorer’s Passage
About Jeff Bonaldi
Jeff Bonaldi is the Founder and CEO of The Explorer’s Passage, an adventure travel company. His mission is to provide travelers with the opportunity to transform their lives and the planet through the power of adventure.
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