Mount Kilimanjaro is the crown of Africa. Mount Kilimanjaro is the continents highest peak, and one of Africa’s most magnificent sight. The highest freestanding mountain in the world, rising from cultivated farmlands, through lush rain-forest to alpine meadows, and at last in between lunar landscape up to the twin summits of Kibo (5895 m) and Mawenzi (5149 m) peaks.
The view of this majestic mountain’s gigantic snow-capped summit dome, rising high above the surrounding savannah is the one of Africa’s classic images. At 5896 metes (19,344 ft), Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa, and one of the highest volcanoes in the world, attracting trekkers and climbers from every corner of the world.
Mount Kilimanjaro is a place of myth and folklore. Located 200 miles (325 km) from the equator, the mountain defies logic with its crown of ice. Climbing Kilimanjaro does not require any technical skills or special equipment, just some physical fitness and determination. People from all walks of life, from a 7 year old child to an 85 year old man, have successfully summited. But the challenge should not be taken lightly. You need to understand what lies ahead. Rest assured, you will find the answers to all your questions here - at Viber Tours and Safaris.
- Africa’s highest mountain, 5.895 m above sea level
- Three extinct or dormant volcanoes, Kibo (5.895 m), Mawenzi (5.149 m) and Shira (3.962 m)
- Rises 4.800 m up from the plains
- Cover 4 square kilometres 40 kilometres across at its widest point
The highest freestanding mountain
Mount Kilimanjaro is the continents highest peak, and one of Africa’s most magnificent sighs. The highest freestanding mountain in the world, rising from cultivated farmlands, through lush rainforest to alpine meadows, and at last in between lunar landscape up to the twin summits of Kibo (5.895 m) and Mawenzi (5.149 m) peaks.
The lower forests are home to many animals, including buffaloes, leopards and monkeys, and higher up, occasionally the mountain Eland, but these are all rarely sighted.
There are five distinctive ecological zones on Kilimanjaro, the lower slopes, forest, heath and moorland, highland desert and the summit. Every one of them has its own specifics, influenced by altitude, rainfall and temperature. Each zone covers altitude of close to 1.000 meters, and the temperature drops about 1 degree centigrade for every 200 meters of ascent.
An active volcano?
Kilimanjaro still vents periodic puffs of sulphur and steam. There have been many discussions, and quarrels about this phenomenon. But a thorough study in the 1950s found that the answer to the pressing question of an imminent eruption was that Kilimanjaro was dormant and all but extinct.
Fulfill a dream
Hiking up the highest and most famous summit in Tanzania. Mount Kilimanjaro stands almost 6000 meters above sea level, but one does not need to be an experienced mountain climber to reach its peak. To reach the summit, you need to be in a fit and healthy state with a good all-round condition, strong will power and a little bit of luck. All you really need is the ambition – we will do the rest.
Which route? Each route is unique in its own way:
Machame ("Whiskey") Route
- Known as the "Whiskey" route, the Machame route is now the most popular route on the mountain.
- This route is highly recommended for scenic value and has a medium to high success rate, especially if you choose the seven day itinerary. The six-day options is not recommended for first-time trekkers
- It is a good Kilimanjaro route for acclimatization as it has a climb high, sleep low opportunity for trekkers on day three. Here trekkers climb from Shira Camp 2 to Lava Tower at 4,600 meters, where they have lunch and then back down to Barranco Camp (3,900 meters) to sleep
- Like all Kilimanjaro routes, the Machame is a challenging trek with stunning scenery through four diverse climatic zones
- There is a good opportunity to split pre-summit day climb by adding an extra rest day at Karanga Camp (only available to seven day trekkers) to leave hikers well rested before summiting
- The route has however got very popular over the past few years which means it can get busy, especially at Barranco where climbers join up with trekkers from the Lemosho, Shira and Umbwe routes
- The Machame route only offers fully catered camping
Marangu ("Coca Cola") Route
- Known as the "Coca-Cola" route, the Marangu route is a classic trek on Mount Kilimanjaro.
- It is the oldest, most well established route.
- The Marangu route was Nicknamed the ‘Coca-Cola’ route as Coke used to be bought along the way in tea huts
- Many favor the Marangu route because it is considered to be the easiest path on the mountain, given its gradual slope.
- The route is often selected by unprepared, inexperienced climbers as a result of the reputation for being the “easiest” route, attributing to the lower success rate
- It is also the shortest Kilimanjaro route with a relatively poor acclimatization profile, which is a major contributor to the low success rates on the Marangu. The six day itinerary does give trekkers an opportunity to climb high, sleep low; however the elevation is moderate and not as effective as other climb high, sleep low opportunities that are present on other Kilimanjaro routes
- Out of all the Kilimanjaro routes, the Marangu route is the only one with dormitory style accommodation in huts for the whole duration of the climb. The huts come with mattresses and basic amenities, making them a popular choice for budget operators who don’t have the right equipment to tackle the other Kilimanjaro routes
- The Marangu offers beautiful views from the Saddle but can be considered less scenic than other Kilimanjaro routes due to ascent and descent on same trail
- The Lemosho is a beautiful route that departs from the West side of Mount Kilimanjaro
- Due to its route profile the Lemosho can be completed on a seven or eight day itinerary and offers lots of opportunities to properly acclimatize. Because of it’s versatile route profile it is a highly recommended Kilimanjaro route that has relatively high summit success rates
- It is also recommended as the starting point is relatively remote and hence provides trekkers with a rather untouched and wild start to their Kilimanjaro adventure. Spotting large wildlife, like antelope, buffalo and even elephant is unusual but not impossible
- The route also provides unparalleled and spectacular views of the dramatic gorges that characterize the western side of Mount Kilimanjaro
- The Lemosho offers trekkers the experience of hiking across the Shira Plateau – one of the largest high altitude plateaus in the world
- Trekkers on the Lemosho typically converge with Machame route on day 3 at Barranco camp and use the Barafu camp route to the summit; however, it is now quite common for Lemosho trekkers to veer north before Lava Tower to join the Northern Circuit which circles the north side of Mount Kilimanjaro and follows an assault passage via Gilman’s Point. The Lemosho route can also be used by trekkers planning to climb the Western Breach to the summit
- Like the Machame Route, the Lemosho is fully catered camping only
- Same as Lemosho, except Shira offers higher start point and therefore poorer acclimatisation
- It is a route that we wouldn’t recommend because of it’s high start point
- The Rongai route is the only northern start point to Kilimanjaro, beginning on the North East side of Kilimanjaro National Park
- The Rongai offers a true wilderness experience on the early stages of the climb, and like the Lemosho route it is possible to see large wildlife like buffalo, antelope and elephant
- The Northern slopes tend to be dryer than the southern slopes which makes the Rongai a great Kilimanjaro Route for trekking during the wet season. However, because the northern slopes are dryer they can also be considered less scenic. That being said, a northern approach is often characterized by clear views of Kilimanjaro – something that is not that common from the southern side
- The Rongai is also a flatter route for the first few days which makes for easy trekking. The route is usually completed on a seven day itinerary but has limited climb high, sleep low opportunities which means that acclimatisation opportunities are not as good as on other Kilimanjaro routes
- Typically the Rongai route uses the passage from School Hut up past Hans Meyer Cave and Gilman’s Point to Uhuru Peak
- The route descends via the Marangu route, hence the route has fully catered camping until the last night on the mountain – beers at Horombo Hut anyone?
- The Umbwe Route has a short and steep beginning profile up to Barranco camp where trekkers join climbers from the Lemosho, Shira and Machame route
- Some Umbwe route trekkers don’t join the southern circuit at Barranco but instead continue north, up to Lava Tower and then onto the Western Breach
- The Umbwe has poor acclimatization opportunities due to its rapid ascent and therefore success rates can be low on this Kilimanjaro route
- Fully catered camping only
- The Northern Circuit is the longest route on Mount Kilimanjaro, and has one of the highest summit success rates as the route offers lots of climb high, sleep low opportunities, and time to acclimatise
- The route departs from same start point as Lemosho but then joins the Northern Circuit near Lava Tower, before traversing the north slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro
- The summit assault is via Gilman’s Point
- The route can be completed on an eight or nine day itinerary
- The Western Breach is the most technically difficult approach to Mount Kilimanjaro, but perhaps the most rewarding!
- The approach to the Western Breach usually starts on the Umbwe Route and then continues north and up from Lava Tower
- The Western Breach was closed due to fatal rockfall in 2006, but reopened in 2007 with a new and safer route configuration. Nonetheless, many tour operators don’t offer the Western Breach on their route roster
- Only advised for experienced trekkers – it is recommended that all Western Breach climbers use helmets and it is not uncommon to need point crampons during the wet season and sub-surface ice can be an issue
- Success rates are typically moderate to high as the route is usually only tackled by experienced high altitude trekkers