• Kate Sielmann

Most Commonly Asked Questions About Climbing Kilimanjaro

Updated: Jun 7, 2020

I often have people reach out and email me their questions and concerns when it comes to all things mountaineering and trekking. So, instead of just answering each persona and their individual question, I decided to collect all the most commonly asked questions and make them into a blog. Readily available for you to read and learn. You may even have some of the same questions as the people who reached out to me but if you have a question that you can’t find here then please drop me a line on my Contact Page and I will happily answer and share my advice and experience.


Where Is Kilimanjaro – Tanzania, Africa.


Nearest Airport – Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO)


Kilimanjaro Height – 5,895m (19,340ft)


Kilimanjaro, How To Pronounce It – kil-uh-muh-n-jahr-oh


How Many Days Does It Take To Climb Kilimanjaro – Between 5 and 9 days depending on the route you choose


How Many People Climb Kilimanjaro Per Year – Between 35,000 and 50,000


What Is The Summit Success Rate Of Kilimanjaro – 60 to 70%


When Is The Best Time To Climb Kilimanjaro

You can climb year round but the two best times are between January and March and then June and October. January to March is generally colder but quieter while June to October is warmer but it coincides with the European holidays so there tends to be more people. March, April and November are the wettest months and although you can climb during those months, it’s much nicer to climb in the drier months.


Tell Me Three Interesting Facts About Kilimanjaro:

1. Kilimanjaro is the highest free-standing mountain in the world (free-standing meaning that it is not attached or part of an extended mountain range) and it is the tallest mountain on the entire African Continent.

2. From the starting point to the summit, you can find almost every kind of ecological system from cultivated land to rain forest to heath to moorland to alpine desert and finally to an arctic summit.

3. The fastest verified ascent of Kilimanjaro was in 2001 by Bruno Brunod (Italian) in 5 hours and 38 minutes. The fastest round-trip was in 2004 by a local guide, Simon Mtuy in 8 hours and 27 minutes.


Can You Climb Kilimanjaro Without Training?

No.


Just in case you missed that… I’ll say it again… No, you can’t climb Kilimanjaro without training.


Kilimanjaro will send you home without you having touched the roof of Africa, with aches and pains in places you never knew you had and wishing you had taken the time to properly prepare. Don’t underestimate the “worlds easiest trekking mountain”. Deciding to climb Kilimanjaro and booking your adventure is the easy part, properly preparing for it in terms of training, nutrition, gear and your mindset is the hard part. But the price you pay at sea level will make the difference whether you summit or not.


If working with a professional training coach personally is an option for you then I would absolutely suggest you do it. Of course I am biased to my own coaching program (Mountaineering & Trekking Training) but if I am not the right coach for you then simply keep looking until you do find the right one. Having a professional, especially a really good one, look after your training and nutrition plan will be invaluable to your adventure.

If you would prefer to follow your own plan but aren’t satisfied with downloading a cookie cut training plan then checkout my book “A Step-By-Step Manual To Mountaineering & Trekking Around The World”. I have written in detail the exact training steps you need to follow to create your own, personalised mountaineering & trekking specific training plan based on my High Altitude Training Formula, the 5 crucial cardiovascular and muscular systems that you should be training and a guide to using heart rate zones for training.


Why Kilimanjaro So Expensive?

There are simply more people, who climb Kilimanjaro per year because you can climb Kilimanjaro basically year round, which increases the demand for tour operators and increases the competition and prices. Unlike other mountains that have a shorter climbing season, like Aconcagua in Argentina which can be climbed from November to February. That’s a 4-month climbing season compared to a 12-month climbing season.

Beyond the demand to climb the mountain, the Kilimanjaro National Park Fees have been raised to about US $800 per person per six-day trek. There are also a lot of porters who help carry your gear and generally make the trek more comfortable for you.


Altitude Training For Kilimanjaro?

First off, I’ll be honest with you - you cannot outrain altitude. Meaning even the fittest people alive can suffer from altitude sickness and struggle at high altitude. What you can do is be in the absolute best physical condition, specific to mountaineering and trekking at high altitudes to give yourself the absolute best chance of acclimatizing properly and therefore not struggling as much as someone else who perhaps hadn’t prepared themselves properly.


There are two things that you should pay close attention to in order to get in the ultimate shape Kilimanjaro – your training plan and your nutrition plan. Using these two plans in combination, you should aim to have a light and lean physique. Carrying extra weight (fat or muscle mass) means you have to work harder at altitude than someone who is lighter than you. Working harder means your body is under even more stress in an already stressful environment, making you more of a candidate for exhaustion, dehydration, and general fatigue, which not only affects your mindset but also can be the stepping stones towards the struggles of high altitude.


So, although you cannot train for the altitude you will experience on Kilimanjaro, you can diligently prepare for it and bring your best physical condition to the adventure of a lifetime.


Kilimanjaro Training Tips

There are hundreds upon hundreds of training tips I could give you for Kilimanjaro but my best advice would be to pay attention to your aerobic endurance, leg and glute strength and above all do your best to simulate the same movements and physical conditions in your training plan that you will experience on Kilimanjaro. You can do this by always training with your backpack on, training on a variety of surfaces, and by wearing the boots you plan on climbing Kilimanjaro in.

Here are some of my top recommended exercises that I use in my client training programs:

  • Step ups

  • Uphill walking

  • Walking over uneven terrain for long periods of time

  • Walking lunges

  • Balance exercises

  • Core exercises (see question below for more detail)

  • Side step ups – going up and down a steep hill/flight of stairs

  • Banded squats – both traditional and crab squats

How To Mentally Prepare For Kilimanjaro?

Again, in my book “A Step-By-Step Manual To Mountaineering & Trekking Around The World” I wrote an entire chapter about how to mentally prepare for high altitude adventures, including seven of the most powerful mindset and attitude techniques that will make all the difference to your adventure. There is no doubt that mountaineering and high altitude trekking is extraordinarily challenging on the body but if you don’t have the right mindset you will find the challenge on your mind far, far greater.


Here is a little sneak peak from one of the techniques:

“The things we tell ourselves become our truth; the sentences we speak become the chapters in our life; the repeated words and sentences become our beliefs about ourselves. The words we speak, think and hear are so important. They have the power to shape us, direct our lives and, in this case, help you overcome adversity and the unknown at high altitude.


My power word for my last climb [on Aconcagua] was “Endure”. Every time I felt like giving up, not doing my planned training session, stopping a few meters short of my finish line, when things just felt too uncomfortable and too hard, I could hear the word “Endure” echo through my mind. It wasn’t loud, it wasn’t harsh, but it was quietly powerful. I drew an “E” on my summit night mitts and every time I looked down at my hands, I was reminded of my power word. I was reminded of what I am capable of and who I truly am. I am a fighter, I love the challenge, I don’t want an easier journey, I want to be stronger, to be better, to be more capable and to have the ability to endure all things. And that’s exactly what I did. I endured.”


How Difficult Is Kilimanjaro?

There are 6 different routes (read this blog for the pros and cons of each route), which make it possible to choose an easier or harder route depending on what you are wanting to experience. Regardless which route you choose, for most people, Kilimanjaro is a challenging climb.


How To Prepare For Kilimanjaro?

There is a long and a short answer to this.


The short answer – always with a plan.

I say it time and time again to those who ask for my best advice on training for a mountain or trekking route. Just have a plan. Even if it’s only an average plan, I can guarantee you will still be training more than someone without a plan. Of course a mountaineering & trekking training plan specific to your body and to the conditions you will experience on Kilimanjaro is the best option but if you can’t get that then make your own plan and follow it.


The long answer – read my other blog.

Checkout the training section of my blogs, you’ll find heaps and heaps of helpful information in there but first read “The 5 Essential Training Principles Of Mountaineering & Trekking”. Once you understand these 5 principles and their importance, you’ll be able to implement them and be in the absolute best physical condition to tackle Kilimanjaro and enjoy it because you are so well prepared!


Can Beginners Climb Kilimanjaro?

Absolutely! With proper training and preparation even an absolute beginner with no prior altitude or mountaineering experience will LOVE Kilimanjaro. There is something so very wonderful about Africa and even more so climbing it’s highest mountain. Kilimanjaro is the most wonderful mountain to experience your first summit and adventure at extreme altitude. If you are concerned about how to train and prepare for it, then check out my book (link above in previous question). You will find absolutely everything you need to know about how to prepare for your adventure and every adventure to come after that. If you’d prefer to work with a Coach personally then please check out my Mountaineering & Trekking Training Coaching.


If you’re debating whether you should or shouldn’t go and you’ve found you’re way to my website and this blog then take this as a sign…


GO!


Can You Climb Kilimanjaro In A Day?

If you are super human or one of the professional mountaineers of this world then yes you can. But I’m going with the assumption that you aren’t either of those because you’re reading the most commonly asked questions section. No offence, you are super human in your own way, just not climb Kilimanjaro in the one day kind of way.


Can You Climb Kilimanjaro Without A Guide?

No you can’t. According to Tanzanian law, at least one guide and two porters must accompany you on your climb.

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