Kilimanjaro National Park is home to the highest mountain in Africa and the highest free standing mountain in the world. Mount Kilimanjaro is made up of three volcanoes, Shira in the west (4,269 m) Mawenzi in the east (5,280 m) and the youngest volcano Kibo (5,895m). Shira and Mawenzi are extinct and the last major eruption of Kibo was between 150,000 and 200,000 years ago. Today Kibo is dormant but could awaken any day.
The origin of the name “Kilimanjaro” is not precisely known, but a number of theories exist. European explorers had adopted the name by 1860 and reported that “Kilimanjaro” was the mountain’s Kiswahili name.The 1907 edition of The Nuttall Encyclopedias also records the name of the mountain as “Kilima-Njaro”.
Johann Ludwig Krapf wrote in 1860 that Swahilis along the coast called the mountain “Kilimanjaro”. Although he did not support his claim, he claimed that “Kilimanjaro” meant either “mountain of greatness” or “mountain of caravans”. Under the latter meaning, “Kilima” meant “mountain” and “Jaro” possibly meant “caravans”.
Jim Thompson claimed in 1885, although he also did not support his claim, that the term Kilima-Njaro ” has generally been understood to mean” the Mountain (Kilima) of Greatness (Njaro). “Though not improbably it may mean” the “White” mountain might be due to snow level covered the Mountain wayback.
“Njaro” is an ancient Kiswahili word for “shining”. Similarly, Krapf wrote that a chief of the Wakamba people, whom he visited in 1849, “had been to Jagga and had seen the Kima jaJeu, mountain of whiteness, the name given by the Wakamba to Kilimanjaro….” More correctly in the Kikamba language, this would be Kiima Kyeu, and this possible derivation has been popular with several investigators.
Others have assumed that “Kilima” is Kiswahili for “mountain”. The problem with this assumption is that “Kilima” actually means “hill” and is, therefore, the diminutive of “Mlima”, the proper Kiswahili word for mountain. However, “It is … possible … that an early European visitor, whose knowledge of [Kiswahili] was not extensive, changed mlima to kilima by analogy with the two Wachagga names; Kibo and Kimawenzi.”
A different approach is to assume that the “Kileman” part of Kilimanjaro comes from the Kichagga “kileme”, which means “which defeats”, or “kilelema”, which means “which has become difficult or impossible”. The “Jaro” part would “then be derived from njaare, a bird, or, according to other informants, a leopard, or, possibly from jyaro a caravan.” Considering that the name Kilimanjaro has never been current among the Wachagga people, it is possible that the name was derived from Wachagga saying that the mountain was unclimbable, “kilemanjaare” or “kilemajyaro” and porters misinterpreted this as being the name of the mountain.
In the 1880s, the mountain became a part of German East Africa and was called “Kilima-Ndscharo” in German following the Kiswahili name components.
On 6 October 1889, Hans Meyer reached the highest summit on the crater ridge of Kibo. He named it “Kaiser-Wilhelm-Spitze” (“Kaiser Wilhelmpeak”). That name apparently was used until Tanzania was formed in 1964, when the summit was renamed “Uhuru Peak”, meaning “Freedom Peak” in Kiswahili.
The vegetation on the mountain is also very varied and some 2,500 species of plants are found here including the endemic and beautiful red and yellow impatiens Kilimanjaro as well as the colorful violet viola. The lower regions of the park are dominated by lush green montane forests with almost 140 species of trees. A bit higher up, distinctive giant lobelias grace the moorland zone. Above 4,000 m one finds the moonlike desert, where not much grows and the land is full of rocks and dust. Closer to the summit, hikers will be rewarded with beautiful sights of glaciers and a deep crater
Out of the approximately 140 mammal species that live in the park, 87 of them are forest species. Animals that roam here include elephants, leopards, buffaloes, varies antelopes including the rare and endangered abbot duiker as well as primates such as the colobus and the mitis monkey. In addition hereto, 24 species of bats and 179 highland bird species have also been spotted in the Kilimanjaro National Park
The majority of visitors to the park are hikers. As is to be expected, all have the same goal in mind – to make it to Africa’s highest peak. There are seven official Routes to choose from with Marangu being one of the easiest routes for inexperienced hikers and those in search for a bit more comfort (overnights take place in huts). The Rongai route is the quietest route and the best choice if you are climbing in the rainy season as this part of the mountain gets the least precipitation. Camping routes include Lemosho, Shira and Machame and all are a bit more challenging but also much more scenic. The most demanding but also the least used route is Umbwe. Apart from Marangu and Rongai all other routes descend on the Mweka route.
- The height of Kilimanjaro is usually given as 5895 m or 19,340 ft.
- The most accurate altitude of Kilimanjaro as measured in 2008 is 5891.8 m or 19,330 ft.
- Kilimanjaro is the tallest freestanding mountain in the world. It rises 4877 m above the surrounding plains.
- The base covers an area of about 388,500 ha.
- The whole area lies between 2° 45′ to 3° 25’S and 37° 00′ to 37° 43’E (not far south of the equator).
- There are 18 larger “forest villages” in the forest reserve that surrounds Kilimanjaro National Park.
- Villagers use the forest (illegally) for firewood, farming, beekeeping, hunting, charcoal production and logging.
- Kilimanjaro started forming about 750,000 years ago.
- Kilimanjaro has three main volcanic peaks (Shira, Mawenzi and Kibo) and a number of smaller parasitic cones.
- Shira is the oldest peak, Kibo the youngest.
- Kibo’s last major eruption occurred about 360,000 years ago.
- Kibo has two concentric craters, 1.9 x 2.7 km and 1.3 km in diameter, respectively.
- The central ash pit is 350 m deep.
- Uhuru Peak on the southern rim of the outer crater is the highest point on the mountain.
- Since 1912 Kilimanjaro has lost 82% of its ice cap.
- Since 1962 Kilimanjaro has lost 55% of the remaining glaciers.
- Today, the total glacier area is about 2.5 square km.
- The latest forecasts predict that Kilimanjaro may lose the plateau ice within the next 30-40 years, but the slope glaciers may remain much longer.
- There are two wet seasons, November to December and March to May.
- 96% of all rain on Kilimanjaro falls below 3000 m.
- The mountain has five main vegetation zones, Savanna bush land (700-1000 m on southern side and 1400-1600 m on northern side).
- Montane forest belt (the rainforest, from 1300 m to 2800 m on southern side, above 1600 m on drier northern side).
- Sub-alpine moorland and alpine bogs (the heath and moorland, 2800-4000 m).
- Above this is the alpine desert.
- 140 species of mammals (87 forest species) live on Kilimanjaro. Species include 7 primates, 25 carnivores, 25 antelopes and 24 species of bat.
- At least seven larger mammal species have been recorded above the tree line: Kilimanjaro tree hyrax, grey duiker, red duiker, eland, bushbuck, buffalo and elephants.
- Three primate species live in the Montane forests: blue monkey, black and white Colobus and bush baby.
- Size of the national park: 75,353 ha.
- Size of the surrounding forest reserve: 107,828 ha.
Distance covered: 70km
Days to complete: between 7 and 8 days
The Lemosho route is an improved version of the older Shira route that has only recently been introduced by the Kilimanjaro National Park (KINAPA). The original Shira route started much higher (3600meters) and offered relatively little acclimatization. While it was prone to altitude sickness, the Shira route had been popular because of the fantastic scenery it offered. The new Lemosho route joins the older Shira route after the first day, providing the same fantastic climb with a much improved safety profile.
Until the Northern Circuit opened recently, the Lemosho Route was widely considered to be the overall best route to climb Kilimanjaro. It combines all the best feature of the Machame route in terms of success rate but by starting further round to the West it takes you up and over the spectacular Shira Plateau and at the same time avoids the crowds on the early part of the Machame route. Over 8 days, you have a fantastic journey and a great chance of summiting successfully.
The climb begins at Londorossi Gate, at an altitude of 2360 meters, with an approach far to the west of the mountain. It then circles around Kilimanjaro to the south, passing through majestic rainforest where some of the region’s most unique wildlife can often be seen. The route continues up to the mountain’s third summit at Shira Ridge. From there you will cross the famed Shira Plateau and see the awe inspiring Shira Cathedral before reaching Shira Camp on the main Machame route on day three. This allows a few days of quiet climbing overlooking some amazing terrain before taking the more heavily travelled route to the summit. After reaching the summit, you will descend by the Mweka trail, rather than retracing your steps along the ascent route.
The Lemosho route is a good eight day ascent for those who have not trekked much at high altitudes, as the single pre-summit day of the 7 day Lemosho route is split into two easier days, giving a better success rate. Experienced and already acclimatized mountaineers may opt for the more difficult 7 day ascent along the Lemosho route.
Machame Route “Whiskey Route”
Distance Covered: 62km
Number of Days: Minimum 6 Days
The Machame route is our most popular and successful route leading to the summit of Kilimanjaro. Hikers sleep in tents which are carried up the mountain by porters. The Machame route is a very scenic and beautiful route, which can be completed in 6 days; however we strongly recommend hiking the route in 7 days, allowing for more time to acclimatize. The key to the success of the Machame route is its topography, allowing hikers to climb high and sleep low, helping towards better acclimatization.
According to statistics from Kilimanjaro National Park approximately 50% of trekkers use the Machame Route to ascend Kilimanjaro. The route is very scenic, providing hikers with incredible views and varying landscapes.
The Machame route is relatively difficult as climbers need to be able to ascend the Barranco Wall on day four and contend with a steep incline up Kibo on summit night. That being said, there are no parts on the route that require any technical climbing skills. One can complete the Machame route on a 6 or 7 day itinerary. Both options include a climb high; sleep low up to acclimatization day, which favor the summit much.
There is however two drawbacks on this route, Firstly hikers will need to pass an area just before the Shira ridge and hike the Barranco Wall, both of which are physically demanding and also present a potential problem for hikers with a fear of heights.
The second problem relates to the route’s high success rate, compounded by the fact that other routes join the Machame route from day 3 onwards – higher numbers of hikers can be therefore be encountered on this route.
Marangu Route “Coca Cola”
Also known as the “Coca Cola route” – the Marangu route is one of the most popular routes leading to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. This is far from the truth to be honest! The fact that it requires a minimum of 5days to complete it does not mean that it is easier than any other route, since it is the only route which can be hiked in 5days (making it the cheapest option). It is also the only route offering accommodation on the mountain, in A-frame huts.
It is unfortunately a well-known fact, that the 5 day Marangu route has one of the lowest summit success rates of all the routes up mountain. If you choose the Marangu route, we strongly recommend hiking the route over 6 days, to increase your chance to reach the summit successfully.
This is the only route, which provides comfortable communal sleeping huts, equipped with beds and mattresses at every overnight.
However the downside for this route might be the fact that trekkers us the same route for the ascend and descend.
The Umbwe route has a well-deserved reputation of being the most challenging route on Mount Kilimanjaro. Due to the fast ascent to high altitude, this route does not provide the necessary stages for acclimatization. Although the number of people on this trail is very low, the chances of success are also low. Umbwe is considered to be very difficult, taxing route – one that should only be attempted by strong hikers who are confident in their ability to acclimatize quickly to altitude.
Approaching from the south, the Umbwe route is a short, steep and direct climb. After reaching Barranco Camp, the trail turns east and traverses underneath Kilimanjaro Southern Ice Field on a path known as the Southern Circuit before summiting from Barafu. We offer Umbwe as a six or seven day private climb. The seven day variation adds an acclimatization day on day three at Barranco Camp. Descent is made via the Mweka route.
The Rongai route is the only route that approaches Kilimanjaro from the north, close to the Kenyan border. Though gaining popularity amongst climbers, this route still experiences low crowds. Rongai has a more gradual slope than the mountain’s other routes. It is the preferred route for those looking for an alternative to the popular Marangu route, for those who would like a more remote hike, and for those who are climbing during the rainy season (the north side receives less precipitation). Rongai is a moderately difficult route, and is highly recommended, especially for those with less backpacking experience.
Although the scenery is not as varied as the western routes, Rongai makes up for this by passing through true wilderness areas for nearly the entire way. Descent is made via the Marangu route.
We Offered Rongai as a seven day group climb or a six or seven private climb. The six day variation does not have an acclimatization Day on day Four at Mawenzi Tarn.
The Northern Circuit Route
The Northern circuit up Kilimanjaro is the newest and lesser-used route that circles the north side of Kibo peak. It is also regarded as one of the best routes up Kilimanjaro. Climbers using this route must use another one to reach the summit. The trail follows the alpine desert band around the peak and offers amazing views over the lowlands below.
It is good for acclimatization and is incorporated into custom-made trips. This is a very long route, its total length depending on the access route. The Northern circuit Kilimanjaro is a rewarding and challenging climb for those who choose this option.
Kilimanjaro climb will be really unique adventure if someone considered sleeping on the Roof of Africa. At 5730 metres, The Crater Camp on Mount Kilimanjaro is an almost untouched and unvisited wilderness. Considering it’s only 5% of whole population of approximately 50 thousand climbers each year that overnight in the Crater Camp that what makes it Unforgettable & unique experience for anyone who is highly fit and with excellent acclimatization.
Despite of the Camp considered to be worse with Altitude Sickness that knockout most of the Climbers but if you are well-prepared and backed up by very experienced guides: if you are warmly clothed and strongly housed, warm tents during a restless, uncomfortable night, the headache you will inevitably suffer will be repaid by amazing Experience of a mind-changing, beautifully landscape, totally unexpected on an Mountain.
Whilst everyone else is heading back down with little time to explore the Kilimanjaro rooftop, you can enjoy the summit and go down into the Kilimanjaro crater where your camp will have been set up. You will explore the remaining glaciers in the crater and visit the still smoking ash pit before getting to the Western ridge to watch the sunset. You will also be rewarding with view of remaining Glaciers in the crater, the still smoking ash pit and amazing sunset before being the first one to visit the Eastern ridge for sunrise.
To minimize the dangers we only offer the option of sleeping in Crater Camp on the Machame route, Lemosho route .You will also spend more time at the summit itself before descending down into the crater to sleep, following the golden rule of acclimatization – ‘climb high, sleep low’
It is possible to climb Kilimanjaro year round; however it is best to climb when there is a lower possibility of precipitation. The dry seasons are from the beginning of December through the beginning of March, and then from late June through the end of October. These are considered to be the best times to climb in terms of weather, and correspondingly are the busiest months (high season). From January through mid-March are the warmest months, with clear skies in the mornings and evenings.
Apart from Provided Camping Equipment for Kilimanjaro, Personally as trek to Kilimanjaro highly required personal you to have this Climbing Gears:
1 – Waterproof Jacket, breathable with hood
1 – Insulated Jacket, synthetic or down
1 – Soft Jacket, fleece or soft-shell
2 – Long Sleeve Shirt, light-weight, moisture-wicking fabric
1 – Short Sleeve Shirt, light-weight, moisture-wicking fabric
1 – Waterproof Pants, breathable (side-zipper recommended)
2 – Hiking Pants (convertible to shorts recommended)
1 – Fleece Pants
1 – Shorts (optional)
1 – Long Underwear (moisture-wicking fabric recommended)
3 – Underwear, briefs (moisture-wicking fabric recommended)
2 – Sport Bra (women)
1 – Sleeping Bag, warm, four seasons
1 – Sleeping Bag Liner, for added warmth (optional)
1 – Trekking Poles (recommended)
1 – Head lamp, with extra batteries
1 – Duffel bag, (waterproof recommended) for porters to carry your equipment
1 – Daypack, for you to carry your personal gear
1 – Gloves, warm (waterproof recommended)
1 – Glove Liners, thin, synthetic, worn under gloves for added warmth (optional)
1 – Hiking Boots, warm, waterproof, broken-in, with spare laces
1 – Gym Shoes, to wear at camp (optional)
3 – Socks, thick, wool or synthetic
3 – Sock Liners, tight, thin, synthetic, worn under socks to prevent blisters (optional)
1 – Gaiters, waterproof (optional)
1 – Sunglasses or Goggles
1 – Backpack Cover, waterproof (optional)
1 – Poncho, during rainy season (optional)
1 – Water Bottle (Nalgene, 32 oz. recommended)
1 – Water Bladder, Camelback type (recommended)
1 – Towel, lightweight, quick-dry (optional)
1 – Pee Bottle, to avoid leaving tent at night ( recommended)
Stuff Sacks or Plastic Bags, various sizes, to keep gear dry and separate
1 – Brimmed Hat, for sun protection
1 – Knit Hat, for warmth
1 – Balaclava, for face coverage (optional)
1 – Bandana (optional)
-Wet Wipes (recommended)
-Snacks, light-weight, high calorie, high energy (optional)
-Pencil and Notebook, miniature, for trip log (optional)
-Camera, with extra batteries (optional)
-Visa (available at JRO)
How much should my day pack weigh?
Try to keep it under 20 lbs. In fact, try to keep all of your belongings to less than 40 lbs.
What is your success rate?
We do not keep close statistics of these records and it is extremely rare to have a group not reaching the summit. The rate would vary between 97% and 99% depending on the routes, with the highest success level being Lemosho and Rongai routes, and the lowest being Marangu and Umbwe.
If I climb during the dry season, do I need rain gear?
Yes the Mountain makes its own Weather. It can rain and snow all year round no matter what weather we have on ground & other place of the country. The base of the mountain is in the rainforest. A quality waterproof jacket and pants is an absolute must.
Can you cater to special diets?
We can accommodate vegetarian and vegan diets. For more specific requirements, we try our best to cover Client diets needs to ensure a successfully trek so please make sure you let us know your Dietary Requirement.
Can I use the bathroom on the mountain?
At each campsite, we set up a private toilet tent, which contains a plastic toilet. Each campsite also has public “long drop” toilets. If you need to use the bathroom on the trail, find a spot behind a tree or rock.
What safety measures are taken by the staff?
Our guides are highly experienced and trained to manage altitude sickness, which is the biggest obstacle on the mountain. They are certified Wilderness First Responders. They conduct twice daily health checks to measure your oxygen saturation and pulse. A rescue plan is in place in the event of an emergency. Bottled oxygen, a portable stretcher, and a first aid kit is carried on every climb in case of emergency. The emergency training that guides take is WFR (Wildness First Responder) and all our main Guides are highly trained to deal with altitude related complications or symptoms. The price of the Kilimanjaro does include the insurance for emergency evacuation in case of any serious complication.
Is it possible to obtain my visa at the airport?
USA, Canadian, British and most European citizens can obtain their visas upon arrival at Kilimanjaro National Airport. The cost is $100 for USA passport holders and $50 for others. If you are a citizen of a different country, please check with your embassy whether you can obtain a visa upon arrival.
Where do I fly into?
Our climbs begin and end in both Arusha and Moshi depend on Clients Interest. Both Moshi and Arusha are located 1hr drive from Kilimanjaro Airport through Tarmac Road. You should fly into Kilimanjaro International Airport and we will pick you up. For some clients who find cheap flights Deals to Kenya(Jomo Kenyatta Airport) especially those Travel in one group( from 10) we can arrange the pickup with extra cost.
What is the difference between accommodation levels?
When you contact us for a quote, we will provide you different levels of luxury for your safaris. The most different one is the standard one, which is included in the daily price of the safari. It normally refers to public campsites where we will bring our own tents (you do not need to put them up, our staff will do it for you), camping equipment (sleeping bags, pillows, mats, sheets, etc.), a cook to prepare your meals, food and cooking equipment.
Now, if you upgrade to any other level of accommodation, the level of comfort will increase drastically. On any level above the basic one, you will stay in private tented camps or lodges, with large tents or rooms with plenty of space, real beds, private en-suite toilets and showers. In this case, we will not send a cook with you because all the meals will be prepared by the camps/lodges (full board is always included).
There will be more than one option for upgrades, ones more expensive than the others, but they will all have beds and en-suite bathroom as mentioned above. The main difference between further higher levels of luxury will be the comfort level, the quality of the tents/rooms, decoration, service level, quality of the restaurant, location of the camp/lodge in the park, etc. The higher the level, the more comfort and luxurious your stay will be.
What are the method payments available?
Once we have designed your itinerary (only Kilimanjaro trek or also including transfers, flights, hotels in town, etc.) we will send you a contract with everything. We require a down payment which can be paid via bank transfer. The remaining payment can be paid using the same method or, if you prefer, can be made once you arrive in Tanzania, in cash.
What is your cancellation policy?
- Up to 30 days before departure: Penalty of 20%
- Up to 21 days before departure: Penalty of 50%
- Less than 7days before departure of no show: Penalty of 100%
Where does the water come from?
From the mountain. Porters collect water from the streams and it is boiled before use. This water will be used to fill your water canisters. You don’t need to use purification tablets, but it is recommended.
What vaccines and medication should I take?
We cannot legally provide medical advice as we are not a health institution, but most travelers take vaccine for Yellow Fever and take prophylaxis pills for Malaria. Some travelers do not take the prophylaxis pills and instead protect themselves by covering their body at night, using mosquito repellant and/or mosquito nets. If you plan to go to Zanzibar or if you come from an Endemic yellow fever country (or do a stop-over there) we recommend taking the yellow fever vaccine as it may be requested upon arrival at the airport.
Are you able to accommodate food restrictions, preferences or specific diets?
Yes, it does not matter if you do a budget camping safari or upgrade to a higher level of accommodation, we are able to accommodate any specific request (vegetarian, vegan, halal, kosher, gluten-fee, specific allergies, etc.). These are very common requests and not an issue at all thou we prefer clients to be specific and let us know his/request concerning special dietary requirement.
What should I bring for the safari?
Following the art of parking light we recommend the following things during your safari.
- Khaki, green, beige and neutral colors (dark blue and black clothing should be avoided as it attracts Tsetse flies)
- Shirts with long sleeves (even in summer, as protection from the sun, mosquitoes and Tsetse flies)
- T shirts
- Shorts or a light skirt
- Jeans or safari trousers for evenings and cooler days
- A jacket and sweater are recommended for early morning and evening game drives
- Lightweight water-proof jacket
- Swim and beachwear
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Sun block, sunglasses, hat, moisturizer and lip-salve are all essentials Strong but natural insect repellent
- Camera equipment
- Good quality safari clothing is available in safari shops
- Bath towels and emergency toilet paper (only if you do a budget safari. Otherwise the hotels will provide the towels)
Climbing “The roof of Africa” in visuals!
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