Kilimanjaro Budget Travel

Kilimanjaro Facts and Figures

Mount Kilimanjaro is located in North-eastern Tanzania three degrees south of the equator.  It is the tallest mountain in Africa, and is the highest free-standing mountain in the world. Kilimanjaro's highest peak is Uhuru Peak which stands at a height of 5895m. Kilimanjaro is made up of three volcanoes: Shira, Mawenzi, and Kibo which is the tallest situated in the middle. Kilimanjaro is one of the 7 summits of the world.

Kilimanjaro's Biomes

You will encounter several different biomes as you climb up Kilimanjaro. The land is cultivated and inhabited up to about 1900 meters in elevation. Hiking up Kilimanjaro begins at the edge of a dense rainforest with extremely high trees, as you pass through the forest it the trees become shorter with moss and giant ferns appearing until around 2800 meters.

The next biome is the heather biome which goes up to 3300 meters. This is where Moorland appears with unusual Senecio Kilimanjari trees. The biome after this starts at 4000 to 4800 meters which will see you going through the Alpine Desert where some mosses, lichens, and starchy flowers are all that remain. The final biome is the area around the summit which has Arctic conditions. It's a stark environment consisting of only rock and glacier.

The 6 Hiking Routes on Kilimanjaro

When climbing Kilimanjaro there are several routes one can take. These routes are as follows: Marangu, Rongai, Lemosho, Shira, Umbwe and Machame. The most scenic of these routes by far is the Machame Route; however this route is the steeper route up Kilimanjaro. The Rongai route is the easiest camping route and the Marangu is the easiest accommodated route where you will spend the nights in huts. The Marangu route is the busiest route and you will ascend and descend following the same path.

The two main routes on the mountain are the Marangu and the Machame routes which tend to be the most popular routes; another great alternative route which is not crowded at all is the Rongai Route. All three routes are not particularly technical.

Of the three routes mentioned above the Marangu route also called the Coca-Cola Route, is the most popular. It takes a minimum of 5 days to complete, and been an accommodated route climbers are housed in huts with simple beds. For all other routes you sleep in tents.

The Machame route is the second most popular and it is sometimes referred to as the Whiskey Route. This route is a minimum of 6 days as the route is characterised by longer hiking distances and requires a steeper summit ascent than the Marangu Route. Accommodation is in tents. This route is more beautiful, and generally speaking more of the climbers doing this route summit.

The Rongai Route is more scenic and on the whole and is easier to hike than Marangu Route. This route starts on the north side of the mountain, and you will descend down the Marangu Route on the south side of the mountain. This route receives less rainfall and as a result is drier route with a sparser rainforest to climb through on the first day. This route is a 6-day trek, and you once again you will sleep in tents.

Other less popular routes on offer are the Umbwe Route, Shira Route, and the longer Lemosho Route (8 days). As with the above 3 routes these routes are not technical in nature.

Preparation and Altitude sickness

If you planning to climb Kilimanjaro you will have to ensure that you are properly equipped and physically capable. Though the climb is technically very easy, the low temperature and altitude make this a difficult trek, which can be dangerous if you do not take the correct precautions. Acclimatisation is essential, and still most people suffer some degree of altitude sickness. Kilimanjaro claims the lives of up to 10 climbers each year together with around 10-20 local porters. Kilimanjaro summit is at a significantly higher altitude at which high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE), or high altitude cerebral edema (HACE) can occur. The symptoms that most climbers will feel are a shortage of breath, hypothermia and headaches. As a result of altitude sickness a substantial number of trekkers abandon the attempt at a lower altitude, so preparation is essential.

It is highly advisable that when climbing Kilimanjaro you budget for another day on the Mountain to acclimatise, this will significantly increase your chance of reaching the summit.

From a climbing difficulty perspective Kilimanjaro of all the seven peaks in the world is the easiest to get to and the easiest to climb. It requires no technical climbing experience, and should you be moderately fit you should be able to summit.

What the weather is like

The weather characterising Kilimanjaro is as follows. The main rains fall from early April to late May, and there is also a short rain period in November. These months tend to have the least climbers. Snow can be expected every day but generally speaking not the entire day. With Global Warming been a reality this is becoming more evident for hikers climbing Kilimanjaro with less and less snow falls been  encountered. July and August are the busiest months to climb.

It is possible to climb Kilimanjaro all year round. Generally speaking though the best time to climb is December-March, and again from September-October as these months tend to be the warmest and driest. The next best two months are July and August, but it does tend to be colder. It is important to know however that these are general patters and rain and snow can be encountered any time of the year!

The temperatures you will experience will depend on the altitude. At the foot of the mountain Temperatures range from 25 to 30 C which can drop as far as -15 to -20 C at the summit plus wind chill. On the lower part of the mountain it can be wet and humid this gives way to a much drier and colder climate as you ascend. Kilimanjaro is at its most beautiful after the main rainy season with the snow been visible.

The mornings and evenings are usually quite clear on Kilimanjaro, but by late morning clouds tend to fill in sometimes bringing rain or snow in the afternoon. Views of the summit can be viewed early morning and again at sunset. You will also get to see some amazing stars in the clear air and in the distance you will see Mount Meru. At night-time, you will be able to see the lights of Arusha and Moshi below.

The time of sunrise and sunset do not vary significantly from one season to another due to Kilimanjaro's proximity to the Equator with Sunrise been around 6:30am and sunset  around 6:30pm. All this makes for an early to rise early to bed attitude amongst most climbers.

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Google Map of Kilimanjaro

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Tours Focused on Kilimanjaro

Climb Kilimanjaro via the Lemosho Route

Duration 09 Days, Travel Style Walking Safaris & Hiking Tours
Priced from pps R36355 $2580 £2002 €2284 A$3612 C$3417 NZ$3759 Full pricing info
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Kilimanjaro ice-sheet Hike up Kilimanjaro Africa's tallest Mountain and one of the world's seven Summits. The Lemosho Route is the longest and one of the most scenic routes. It is also uncrowded.

Trip Style Kilimanjaro Adventure Travel

Climb Kilimanjaro via the Machame Route

Duration 08 Days, Travel Style Walking Safaris & Hiking Tours
Priced from pps R29450 $2090 £1621 €1850 A$2926 C$2768 NZ$3045 Full pricing info
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Kilimanjaro clouds Hike up Kilimanjaro Africa's tallest Mountain and one of the world's seven Summits. The Machame is the most scenic Route.

Trip Style Kilimanjaro Adventure Travel

Climb Kilimanjaro via the Marangu Route

Duration 08 Days, Travel Style Walking Safaris & Hiking Tours
Priced from pps R29450 $2090 £1621 €1850 A$2926 C$2768 NZ$3045 Full pricing info
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Kilimanjaro ice-sheet Hike up Kilimanjaro Africa's tallest Mountain and one of the world's seven Summits. The Marangu Route is the easiest and most popular Route up Kilimanjaro. Stay in huts on this affordable, fully inclusive guided Kilimanjaro Hike.

Trip Style Kilimanjaro Adventure Travel