CLIMB KILIMANJARO WITH THE EXPERTS!

Experienced, safe, friendly, fun – and a lot cheaper than we should be!

Want to climb Kilimanjaro? Then you need the Experts!

We’re a company that’s made up of some of the most experienced guides and trek organisers working on the mountain.

We specialise solely on Kilimanjaro, its little brother Mount Meru, and safaris around Tanzania’s famous Northern Circuit. Our knowledge of the mountain is unrivalled. Indeed, we literally write the book!

Our aim is to provide  the safest, fun and most successful climbs on Africa’s highest mountain. We don’t try to be the cheapest: the ethical approach we take towards our porters and guides means we can never be that.

But we do aim to be the best value, offering a service that’s comparable to companies charging twice as much. And the feedback we receive from our climbers suggest we’re getting it right.

To find out why you need to climb with the Experts, click on the button below, or click here for more details about our treks.

WHY CLIMB WITH THE EXPERTS?

KILIMANJARO:

THE BASIC FACTS

Kilimanjaro is the largest mountain in Africa.

It is 5895m (19,341ft) above sea level at its highest point, Uhuru Peak.

The mountain is in the East African republic of Tanzania. It is in the north of the country, right against the border with Kenya.

The mountain actually has three summits, of which Kibo is the largest and highest. It is also the only one that has permanent snow and glaciers on it – and thus features on most of the classic images of the mountain.

As you ascend the mountain you’ll pass through several different vegetation zones, starting with cloud forest, then heath and moorland, alpine desert – before finishing at the snowy summit. This is why you’ll hear people saying that to climb up Kilimanjaro is to walk through four seasons in one week.

Though we say ‘climb Kilimanjaro’, it is actually just a hike. There is no ‘real’ climbing involved.

The first recorded successful ascent was by Hans Meyer, from Leipzig, along with his Austrian Ludwig Purtscheller, in October 1889.

Kilimanjaro is the largest mountain in Africa.

It is 5895m (19,341ft) above sea level at its highest point, Uhuru Peak.

The mountain is in the East African republic of Tanzania. It is in the north of the country, right against the border with Kenya.

The mountain actually has three summits, of which Kibo is the largest and highest. It is also the only one that has permanent snow and glaciers on it – and thus features on most of the classic images of the mountain.

As you ascend the mountain you’ll pass through several different vegetation zones, starting with cloud forest, then heath and moorland, alpine desert – before finishing at the snowy summit. This is why you’ll hear people saying that to climb up Kilimanjaro is to walk through four seasons in one week.

Though we say ‘climb Kilimanjaro’, it is actually just a hike. There is no ‘real’ climbing involved.

The first recorded successful ascent was by Hans Meyer, from Leipzig, along with his Austrian Ludwig Purtscheller, in October 1889.

Background information for climbers

The following is a brief guide for those who are thinking of climbing Kilimanjaro, but don’t really know where to begin. If you want more information on any then do check out our bestselling guide book, and which is now in its fifth edition. There’s also a lot of information on the comprehensive Kilimanjaro website that accompanies the book.

In the questions that follow, I have provided links to the Kilimanjaro website where appropriate for those who want further info on a topic.

You need to be at least ten years old to climb Kilimanjaro. (Those under ten are occasionally granted special permission to climb but this needs to be sought a few months beforehand.) There is no upper age-limit. Nor are there any other barriers to climbing the mountain. Basically, if you have the money and inclination, there is nothing to prevent you from trying to reach the top.

As for fitness, well, actually you don’t need to be that fit to get to the top of Africa’s highest peak. The main reason people fail to get to the top is altitude sickness, where your body fails to adapt to the lack of oxygen available to it at high altitudes. And whether you suffer from that or not on kili that has very little to do with fitness.

That said, the final push to the summit is undoubtedly a test of endurance – it’s a 6-8 hour ascent to the very summit from base camp in very cold conditions, followed by a lengthy descent to your final camp on the mountain.

OUR ADVICE:  While you don’t have to be super-fit to get to the top, any aerobic exercise regime you can do before your trek will make your time on Kili more enjoyable. Swimming, jogging and cycling are all good, and will make you feel more confident about your fitness (and in my experience, a lack of confidence in one’s ability to hike up Africa’s highest mountain is certainly a major factor in why many people fail to get to the top – more so, perhaps, than people’s actual fitness). Best of all, if you can go for a hike in your own country, preferably a multi-day one where you camp overnight, then that is the best practice for Kili; and it’s usually good fun too.

As for altitude sickness, well there’s not really much in the way of physical exercise that you can do – except visit somewhere else of a similar lofty altitude beforehand. On that subject, Mount Meru, Kilimanjaro’s little brother, is a fantastic 3-4 day trek and the ideal warm-up for Kili. The other solution is to take Diamox, a wonder-drug that is supposed to ward off altitude sickness.

The mountain is open 365 days a year.

There are two main trekking seasons on Kilimanjaro: January to March and June to October. These correspond to the two ‘dry seasons’  on the mountain. (That said, it’s a rare trekker that doesn’t experience at least one downpour during their time on Kili.)

OUR ADVICE:  Of the two main trekking seasons, we like January-March – it tends to be a little quieter at this time. There also tends to be a little more snow around (particularly in January), which makes the mountain even more beautiful.

If I had a favourite month to climb Kilimanjaro, then I would say either March or October. These months usually still have good, dry weather, but they are also a little quieter than the months that precede them, presumably because people are worried that the rainy season may come early and turn their trek into a soggy one. This does happen every few years – but most of the time March and October are bright, clear, sunny weather.

The January-March season has one more advantage that has nothing to do with the mountain. The wildebeest migration is coming down the eastern side of the Serengeti at this time. This not only makes it more convenient to visit and witness, but the wildebeest themselves are calving at this time – so there’s always plenty of action. If you are planning on taking a multi-day safari after your trek, then it’s worth bearing this in mind.

If you can only climb during one of the mountain’s rainy seasons (ie between April & May and November-December) then don’t despair: it doesn’t rain all day every day. Indeed, sometimes the rains fail and it hardly rains at all – bad news for the local farmers, but great news for climbers. What’s more, you can be certain that the mountain is wonderfully peaceful at these times.

The minimum number of days that you are allowed to take to climb Kilimanjaro is five. However, if you take just five days for your trek, that means that you are giving yourself just 3 1/2 days to get to the summit (it takes a day and a half to descend from summit to exit gate). This simply does not give you enough time to acclimatise safely. This in turn means the possibility of your getting altitude sickness is greatly increased, and your chances of getting to the top are reduced; your chances of dying increase too.

At the other extreme some people book nine and even ten-day treks. But most treks last for 6-8 days. 

OUR ADVICE: Book the longest trek you can afford, up to a maximum of eight days (or nine, if you are going to spend a night in the Crater at the summit, as some people like to do). At Kilimanjaro Experts we do not offer public  treks for five days, as we think they are just too dangerous.

There are six official routes up Kilimanjaro to the summit. Click on the map icon below for a bird’s-eye view of each of them (opens on a separate page):

Trekking route map for Kilimanjaro

For a detailed description and itinerary of every route, do visit the routes up Kilimanjaro section on the Climb Mount Kilimanjaro website. But for a brief overview of each path, read on:

Clockwise from north, the official routes are:

Rongai Route Beautiful and peaceful, it’s one of the quietest routes on Kilimanjaro. We advise that you don’t take the path that heads in a straight line to the summit from Rongai Gate, but instead take the diversion on the second day to the lower slopes of Mawenzi, Kilimanjaro’s second peak. This adds a day to your schedule but is good for acclimatisation purposes – and is also great for views across the Saddle to Kibo’s snowy summit.

Marangu Route The only route where you sleep in huts, not in tents. Has the lowest success rate, and also the only one where you take the same route down as you did on the way up. Nevertheless, still a beautiful route, though don’t take the five-day option – take six (at least).

Umbwe Route This is the steepest route up Kilimanjaro, though still just a walk, not a climb. It’s also the quietest route and (partly because it is so quiet) we absolutely love this trail – though we recognise that it’s not for everyone, and the steep ascent does mean that you may have problems acclimatising. There are ways around this, however – see our book and accompanying Umbwe description on the Kilimanjaro website for details.

Machame Route The busiest route on the mountain. If there was such as thing as a ‘bog-standard’ route, this would be it. It’s beautiful, and thanks largely to its proximity to Moshi, it’s cheaper than other routes too. It also has a very good success rate for getting people to the summit. Do try to avoid the really busy months of August-September and January-February, or you could feel like you’ve just joined a queue of people snaking up the mountain.

Lemosho Route This is the longest official route on Kilimanjaro and as such is best done over 7 or, preferably, 8 days. As a result it has perhaps the high success rate of any of these official routes. Given that it has some great forest at the start, and some great views of Kibo once you leave the forest, if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s more expensive than other routes – because it tends to take a day or two longer than other trails –  it would be far more popular.

Shira Route Seldom used by anyone these days as it’s largely a 4WD trek used by emergency vehicles. One major company uses it but the fact that you start walking above the forest, rather than in it, is a big drawback. Our advice: don’t take this route.

You can also see on the map the Mweka Route. This is a descent-only route. In other words, you take the Mweka Route to descend from the summit, not to climb up to it. If you take the Shira, Lemosho, Machame or Umbwe Routes then you will descend from the summit on the Mweka Route. For Rongai and Marangu, you descend via the Marangu Route.

OUR ADVICE: I could go into a great detail about the relative advantages and disadvantages of each route. But to keep it simple, I will just advise this. Of all the trails in the park, my favourite route is our own 8-day Alternative Lemosho Route – one of two routes that we devised especially to make the most of the mountain. It is, in my opinion, the route with the best forest for the first day or so; the best views and scenery once you leave the forest; it takes you away from the crowds that are on some other trails, choosing instead to opt for quiet paths away from the crowds and the noise; and because it is the longest route, so it gives you more time to acclimatise – and thus it also has the highest success rate of any on the mountain. It should be pointed out here that the standard Lemosho Route is good too, though this does have more crowds on it and the success rate is slightly lower.

The big disadvantage with both the Lemosho or Alternative Lemosho Route is that, because they are the longest routes, so they are best done over 8 days rather than 7 – and as a result are a little more expensive than the other routes. So if you can’t afford the time or money for an 8-day route, then the best seven-day route is Rongai. Again, this has some spectacular views, is quieter than many other routes – and again has a very high success rate of any seven-day trek.

Finally, if even a seven-day route is too expensive, then the best six-day route is Machame – it’s overcrowded at times but it’s cheaper and has, for a six-day route, a good success rate for getting people to the summit (though not as good as the seven- or eight-day routes, of course).

Do note that there are circumstances where other routes may be advisable: for example, I love the Umbwe Route and think it’s very, very beautiful. However, I didn’t recommend it as it is very steep, and thus may not give you enough time to acclimatise safely. But if you have already done some acclimatisation prior to climbing Kilimanjaro – by tackling Mount Meru, Kili’s little brother, first, for example – then I think that Umbwe may be perfect for you. Or, alternatively, you could try our own Full Circuit Umbwe – which gives you the advantages of the Umbwe Route, while allowing you a longer time to acclimatise and thus rech the summit safely. Just get in touch if you are uncertain which route you should take, and I will put on my guide book writer’s hat and give you an unbiased opinion.

One more thing to remember: If you don’t have a choice as to which route to take, don’t worry. Because Kilimanjaro is worth climbing, whatever route you take.

As we mention above, climbing Kilimanjaro is like living through all four seasons in one week. So you need to dress accordingly.

That means ‘summer wear’ (T-shirts, shorts, sunhat) for the daytime on the lower slopes, and full winter gear (thermal underwear or ‘base layer’, light fleeces, thicker fleeces and a summit jacket (often made of down), several pairs of socks, a woolly hat and two pairs of gloves (a thin pair and a thick pair) as you get towards the summit.

Plus, of course, you’ll need a rugged, waterproof, comfortable pair of trekking boots that have been thoroughly ‘broken-in’ before you set foot on the slopes; the last thing you need is blisters on Africa’s highest mountain!

OUR ADVICE: On the Preparing for your trek page you can see what we recommend to our climbers. Before you go out and spend a fortune on clothing and equipment for your trip, ask your friends/family if they have anything you can borrow.

Remember, too, that we have an extensive ‘wardrobe’ of clothing and equipment that you can hire. Indeed, you need only bring your boots, socks, underwear and fleeces – we can kit you out with the rest.

In line with just about every other operator on the mountain, we supply sleeping tents, a mess tent tables and chairs, cooking equipment (as well as a cook to use it!), cutlery and crockery. Unlike many other trek organisers, we also supply private toilets for every group. We also supply our climbers with sleeping mats – good ones, too, as we recognise how important it is to get a good night’s sleep on the mountain.

So you need consider bringing only the following items: Sleeping bag, head torch; water bottles/platypus/camelbacks (enough capacity to carry 3-4 litres of water); chapstick; suncream; sunglasses; medication; snacks/sweets from home; glasses/contact lenses; toiletries; smartphone; camera; earplugs; spare batteries/battery pack; wet wipes; pee bottle (and a She-wee or similar for women); and trekking poles.

You should bring two bags. The first bag is a large rucksack or duffle bag, about 80-90 litres in size. This should contain your sleeping bag, clothes etc. In other words, things that you won’t need while you’re actually walking, as this large bag will be carried by your porters and you won’t see it throughout the day.

The second bag you’ll need is a small daypack of about 30 litres in size, in which you’ll need to carry the things you may need while you’re walking: water, waterproofs, sunhat, sunglasses, suncream, snacks.

OUR ADVICE: Make sure you try out the daypack in the shop before buying it to make sure it’s comfortable and feels rugged, durable and waterproof, as this is the bag you’ll be carrying. Note, too, that plastic bags are now banned in Tanzania, so don’t bring them in your rucksack to separate items or provide an extra waterproof layer.

Kilimanjaro has its own airport. There are half a dozen main airlines that serve Kilimanjaro Airport (JRO), including KLM, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines.

OUR ADVICE: It’s a good idea, particularly if you’re coming from North America or Australia, to aim to be in Tanzania at least 24 hours prior to the start of your trek, to give yourselves time to rest, relax and recover from the flight, as well as prepare properly for you expedition.

While we don’t book flights, we can and do help our climbers choose the best flights for their schedule and budget if requested. Often, for example, a flight may appear cheap, but may arrive at 4 o’clock in the morning, necessitating another night in a hotel room – which may wipe out any savings made. We’ll help you choose the best flight for you.

About half a dozen climbers die every year on Kilimanjaro, as well as several porters. In nearly every case, people succumb to altitude sickness and complications following on from AMS.

OUR ADVICE: Most people suffer from some sort of symptom of altitude sickness on Kilimanjaro. The tricky part is determining whether your symptoms are sever enough to warrant giving up your trek, or whether you just need to rest and hope that you acclimatise successfully to allow your climb to continue. This is why you need a good guide leading your climb, because they are trained to spot symptoms of altitude sickness and to judge how severe those symptoms are.  It’s also a good idea if you read up on altitude sickness, how to prevent it, what its symptoms are, and what to do if you get it. But at the same time, don’t become obsessed by the thought of altitude sickness – or it could ruin your trek.

 

When I correspond with our climbers after the trek, and ask them what they thought of their trip, the responses I get are usually similar. Typically, they’ll start off by saying that it’s one of the best things they’ve ever done. That they’ve made new friends, both with their fellow trekkers and with their mountain crew too. They nearly always describe the whole experience as great fun too – at least until that final push to the summit. Indeed, some of our climbers even go as far as to say that they’ve never felt a greater sense of achievement, nor felt so alive, and that the whole trip has changed them forever and made them look at the world anew.

All of which is lovely, and which then leads me to the next question I ask them, namely: Would they do it again?

Unsurprisingly, the answer to that, it must be said, is a flat ‘no’ – suggesting that, no matter how much people love the experience, climbing Kilimanjaro is something you really need to do once – but, perhaps, only once!

Information about our climbs

Want to know more about our treks? Just click on the boxes below to find out all about our service both on and off the mountain.

Safaris too!

There’s no better way to celebrate your achievements on Kilimanjaro than with a safari. We visit all the parks of the Northern Circuit and further afield, including:

Serengeti Home of the incredible wildebeest migration
Ngorongoro Crater Simply jaw-dropping, you may not have heard of this huge collapsed volcano, whose crater plays host to an incredible array of wildlife . But you won’t be able to stop talking about it once you’ve been there.
Tarangire National Park Famous for its large elephant herds, this park really comes into its own at the end of the dry season (March and September-October) as it has one of the few permanent sources of water in the region – the Tarangire River – and thus attracts all sorts of animals from far and wide.
Lake Manyara National Park A small but fascinating park, famous for its tree-dwelling prides of lions.
Arusha National Park Centred around magnificent Mount Meru, Arusha National Park is the ideal day-trip for before or after your trek, with some wonderful wildlife and a location that’s convenient for the city.

From a simple day trip to a multi-day odyssey, a budget camping trip or an all-inclusive luxury package – we can arrange it all.

OUR SAFARIS

Our guides, Janeth and Noel, were incredibly knowledgeable, kind, empathetic, and able to meet and answer all of our needs while on the mountain. Also, major girl power and props to Kili Experts for having female chief guides!

Jennifer Nanney

“We had a truly wonderful experience! Our guides and porters were professional, caring and looked out for us every step of the way. They were also fun and entertaining! Our food was surprisingly good and we slept well on the thick mats provided to us. Henry was available to answer any and all questions ….our experience was everything I hoped for.”

Audrey Huntley

“Kilimanjaro Experts provided me with a team of guides and porters who were simply incredible. We ascended the mountain in a cocoon of professionalism and great support. In 40 years of climbing, I have never enjoyed a climb as much as this one. We were treated like honored friends by people who made our comfort a high priority and our safety an absolute priority. All four of us (ages 12, 14, 60 and 61) made it to the summit.”

Ray Wiss

” …my guides were beyond phenomenal. We connected with them as friends but they were constantly looking out for our health, comfort and general well-being, and genuinely wanted to get us all to the top of the mountain. If you can request Robert you will not regret it! “

Belle Turner

“Kili Experts staff were amazing from the beginning, Henry and David were very quick to respond to emails and provide detailed information. The actual hiking trip was as excellent, the guides (Kassim, victor and Philbat) were all very experienced and nice. The whole supporting staff (Abdullah, Amani, etc.) were some of the nicest and most dedicated people we had ever met. Such an amazing trip, with unforgettable people.”

Yashar Salek