Even the name conjures up dream-like images: Mount Kilimanjaro. At 19,340 feet (5,895 meters) it is the tallest mountain in Africa and the tallest freestanding mountain rise in the world, rising 15,100 feet (4,600 meters) from its base. About 25,000 people attempt to climb to the top of Africa each year, but of course not all of them make it all the way.
Here you’ll find nearly everything you need to plan your trip to Tanzania and your climb of Kilimanjaro. This is a big and serious subject. Not only is getting to Tanzania and climbing the mountain fairly expensive, it’s also quite an adventure, especially if you aren’t prepared or choose a guide company that cuts corners to offer the cheapest trip possible.
Here are some of the main things you should be thinking about, with links to further information on each:
Flights to Kilimanjaro
Depending on your budget and your available time, there are a couple different options. No matter how you do it it’s going to be a major expense, and buying your ticket early is usually the best option.
Choosing your route
There are five main and unique routes to climb Kilimanjaro. The one you choose will have an impact on the duration of your climb and also your enjoyment. Read about the options and try to decide which is best for you early on.
Choosing an operator
Strict laws prohibit anyone from climbing Kilimanjaro without a licensed guide. You can arrange for this in Tanzania, but you are taking some risks in doing so. It’s best to research tour operators in advance and choose one who will arrange for an experienced and professional guide. The guide will lead a team of assistants and porters for your group, and choosing the right team is critical not only for enjoyment, but also for safety.
Decide when to go
Kilimanjaro is nearly on the Equator and it’s possible to climb any day of the year, but due to rain and other weather patterns some times of the year are far better than others.
Start your training early
Climbing Kilimanjaro is a unique challenge and starting to prepare yourself physically is important. You might run and play sports several days per week, but that won’t necessarily prepare you for all the challenges of this adventure.
Prepare your gear
Of course, climbing a huge mountain, even one you are walking all the way up, takes some special gear. If you climb already chances are you’ll have much of what you need, but you don’t want to put this part off until the last second.
Consider other options
Climbing Kilimanjaro normally takes between 6 and 8 days and a flight to east Africa is expensive. When you are in the area you might consider exploring more instead of jetting right back home. Five-day safaris are very popular additions to a Kilimanjaro climb to make for an awesome 2-week trip, and these trips begin from very near the base of the mountain.
By Peter Baxter
November 16th, 2007