Mount Kilimanjaro – The Facts

If you are looking for adventure, I implore you to check out the facts about Mount Kilimanjaro that may help form your decision to be at the highest point in Africa.

Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest freestanding mountain in the world and the tallest mountain in Africa that resulted from volcanic activity.

Uhuru point on this mountain, is the fourth highest summit at 5,895 meters above sea level, after Mount Everest, Aconcagua, and Mount McKinley. The other summits are Elbrus, Mount Vinson and Mount Kosciuszko.

The mountain is composed of volcanic cones of Kibo (which is dormant and last erupted over 360,000 years ago), Shira and Mawenzi (both extinct).

What makes Mount Kilimanjaro more popular than all the summits to visitors especially adventurers and hikers, is the fact that it is the easiest to climb, without the need for special equipment or technical skills. All that is needed is plenty of water and food, warm clothing and shelter.

It is estimated that approximately 30,000 people climb Kilimanjaro every annually though only half the number make it to the top mostly due to altitude sickness. The majority that fails choose to climb using the Marangu Route, which is the shortest path to the peak. Those who make it to the top use a longer route – the 8-day trek – for better acclimatization.

Mount Kilimanjaro

The History of Mount Kilimanjaro

The word Kilimanjaro is from two words, the Swahili word “Kilima” meaning Mountain and the Chagga word “Njaro” meaning whiteness.

The Kilimanjaro Mountain was formed from a repetitive process of an explosive eruption, several layers volcanic ash, magma, lava and tephra. It is a 3 million old stratovolcano.

Baron Karl Klaus Von der Decken along with an English geologist, R. Thornton were the first foreigner to attempt to climb the Kilimanjaro but didn’t make it to the summit due to adverse weather conditions.

In October 1889 a German geology professor Hans Meyer together with Ludwig Purtscheller a mountaineer reached the highest summit that Kibo and confirmed it had a crater. Along with them were African porters one of them being Yohani Kinyala Lauwo who is claimed to have climbed the mountain three times and lived until 10th May 1996.

The fastest round trip of Mount Kilimanjaro is by Swiss-Ecuadorian athlete, cyclist, and mountaineer Karl Egloff in 6 hours and 42 minutes in 2014. Given that the established Kilimanjaro routes range from five to nine days on the mountain, Karl is a pretty fast climber. He has the record for the fastest ascent of the volcano Cotopaxi, an active stratovolcano in the Andes Mountains, located in the Latacunga, Ecuador in December 2012.

Location of Mount Kilimanjaro

The mountain is situated in the Mount Kilimanjaro National Park in the northern part of Tanzania, about 205 miles from the equator. This mountain can be seen 48 kilometres away from Amboseli National Park and 123 kilometres away from the Tsavo National Park in Kenya.

The coordinates of the mountain are 3.0674° S, 37.3556° E.

Mountain Kilimanjaro is approximately 78 kilometres in length and 39 kilometres in width.

The convenient way to reach Mount Kilimanjaro is to fly into Kilimanjaro International Airport and then travel to Arusha or Moshi by vehicle. The distance from the airport to Arusha is 52 kilometres and to Moshi 68 kilometres. The average travel time to both cities from the airport is approximately one hour.

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro

Mountain climbing can be done all year round starting from the warm tropical forests. As you ascend you go through the plateaus with wildflowers and as you continue, the vegetation begins to get scarce as the air gets chilly. As you get close to the top it becomes arctic cold, with ice and snow visible. In total, the mountain climbers experience up to five ecological zones before they reach the top with each zone drier and colder than the last one.

It is not advisable to stay for long at the top of the mountain since the environmental conditions there are considered to be extreme, leading to body deterioration.

Though climbing the Kilimanjaro is open for all to climb, it should be taken seriously because of altitude sickness that pauses a real danger especially when travelling to extreme elevation. This is why 50% of all climbers fail to reach the Uhuru summit.

It is highly recommended that you seek the services of a guide when climbing the Kilimanjaro. Besides, going without one is illegal. However, you have to be careful when selecting a one. Look out for a quality and a well-branded company that has many years of experience with the best and highest client reviews.

There are packages to choose from that range from five to eight days with varying price tags. However, it should be noted that climbing Kilimanjaro is not a cheap event and the lowest price you should expect should be USD1,700. Any price lower than that would not cover many important things like porter wages, food and climbing equipment; things you should never compromise on.

Uhuru Summit

There are six major climbing routes which vary in cost, distance and scenery.

  1. The Marangu Route has other names like “The Tourist route” because of its popularity is the most crowded route. It is also called “The Coca-Cola Route” because of the sleeping huts along this route. Camping is not allowed and it is the same path that is used to climb up and back down. Its problem is that it lacks good scenery compared to the rest of the routes, it is crowded and its five-day trek does allow for acclimatization. That is why it has a lower success rate of climbers reaching the summit. However, it is the cheapest route.
  2. The Machame Route also called “The Whiskey route” is a much tougher route but with the seven-day trek, your chances to reach the summit are better. It is the most popular climbing route because of the beautiful scenery of the Lava Tower, the Shira Plateau, the Lava Tower and the Barranco Wall.
  3. The Lemosho Route takes seven to eight days to trek and is a reserve of people who love camping in the wilderness for long and do not mind about the route cost. It also allows for the beautiful scenery of the rain forest and wildlife. This route joins the Machame route so you have more to observe on your trek. This route is the most expensive due to the distance, the remoteness and the additional transport costs.
  4. The Rongai Route is a six-day climb that is slightly expensive but allows for the scenery of wildlife, a unique feel of the wilderness and you get to climb and descend both sides of the mountain. It is preferred for its gradual climb with not steep ups and downs.
  5. The Umbwe Route is the most difficult route of them all reserved for experienced mountaineers.
  6. The other route used is the six-day Shira Route, which later joins the Machame route and is known for its low traffic and excellent success rates, with high-level operators.


Much as climbing Mount Kilimanjaro can be a daunting task if you are prepared and determined it is an achievable feat. On 22nd October 2018, six-year-old Coaltan Tanner, an American, reached the summit. The same goes for 88-year-old Dr. Fred Distelhorst, a retired American orthodontist, who became the oldest person to climb this mountain.

So if you are between the age of 6 and 88 years, it is possible for you to make it at the Uhuru summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.


20 thoughts on “Mount Kilimanjaro – The Facts”

  1. Hi Edgar

    Climbing a mountain to most people will sound like hell, but to me it sounds like an ideal retreat. To climb such a beautiful mountain must take fitness, time and patience, which I have in plenty of supply.  Africa is such a beautiful continent, full of mystery and intrigue.

    You make the place sound wonderful and one day I would like to visit it, and maybe climb it. This will so much depend on my age, as I can’t imagine doing it at 88 years old. On average, how long would a person take to climb the mountain?



    1. Antonio, you appear to to be the right person for climbing the Kilimanjaro. You have what it takes to make to the summit. It takes 5 to 8 days to climb and descend this mountain but for a fit person like you I would recommend 6 days to allow for acclimatisation and enjoyment of the adventure.

      Thank you for comment Antonio. I wish you make it there one day.

  2. Thanks for your post about Mount Kilimanjaro! It was fascinating to learn about the different routes and their pros and cons. I didn’t realise that so many people climbed the mountain every year. I was really surprised to learn that a 6 year old completed the climb last year, that’s amazing. Having children myself who grumble about walking 500 metres on flat ground I am utterly impressed! 

    I imagine that much training is needed and preparation work beforehand? How do the guides help prepare to prepare people for what’s to come?

    I’m going to head on over and check out the rest of your site. Thanks

    1. Thank you Mellisa for showing interest in this article and posting your comment. I hope you chose the route you would take should you attempt to climb this great mountain and be on top of Africa. 

      indeed it requires training and building your mental strength to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. The majority fail due to ill preparation. Make sure you get a good company that will get you good guides with extended experience on mountaineering. A good guide improves your chances of a successful mountain climb.

  3. I heard about many Mountains, but never heard about Mount Kilimanjaro, sorry, I’m not a pro in this, but your article makes me want to understand more about this mountain! six major climbing routes part is awesome, with short words to let us know the difference between these six climbing routes, I also like to hear the history about something! And you did very well! If I have a chance to Africa, I will definitely go Mount Kilimanjaro! Thank you so much!

    1. Hello Lin, it is amazing that this post has built the imagination about mountaineering, what it takes and the various routes especially for Mt. Kilimanjaro. There is always a first time for everything and I hope when it comes to visiting mountains in Africa, this will come to mind for you.

      Lin I greatly appreciate your comment and I look forward to writing about the history of attractive places on Africa for your reading pleasure. 

  4. Hi Edgar

    This is an interesting article about mount Kilimanjaro facts. Mountain climbing is a interesting thing to me. But climbing in Kilimanjaro is a changing task I think. Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest freestanding mountain in the world. It is the tallest mountain in Africa. Because of its rough environment 50% people can’t reach the Uhuru summit. But I have a question do I need climbing training to go there?

    I think a adventure lover need to go there. Thanks for the interesting article.

    1. Rahman, you are right in your comment to state that mountain climbing is interesting especially if you like trekking and camping. I would like to make it clear that it is an activity that requires preparation especially by ensuring you have right climbing gear and selecting the right company with good guides. The change in altitude has an effect on the body and a gradual climb would be recommended especially if it is the first time you are mountain climbing.

      You may do some routine exercises to get your body in shape for the adventure; and to get to the mountain summit you definitely need to be in good health and physical condition.

      Thank you for your comment Rahman.

  5. Hello, I have read your entire article very carefully. I got excited about reading your article because Mount Kilimanjaro got to know about. It is the world’s highest frosting mountain and the long mountain in Africa that has resulted from volcanic activities. It is very difficult for most people to climb the mountain but it is very pleasant to me. Every step here is to deal with patience. Africa is a beautiful continent, full of mystery and intrigue. It was fascinating to learn about different routes and their pros and cons. I did not realize that so many people climbed the mountain every year. I was really surprised to learn that last year, that’s amazing Having kids myself who grumble about walking 550 meters on flat ground I am utterly impressed! I think there is a lot of training to get here. Thank you very much for sharing such a beautiful article.

    1. Parvez, I agree with you that patience is key when you embarking on climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Many that take the shortest route in an attempt to make to the top and back quickly have failed. If you fail on your first attempt, it is fine to try again. Many that have failed the first time have succeeded on their second attempt. 

      Since climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro is a unique and memorable experience, the positive reviews have attracted more visitors to come take on the mountain climbing challenge. I hope you one day take on the adventure as well.

      Thank you for comment.

  6. I recently saw some pictures of the mountain. It is really an amazing place. The fascinating thing about it in addition to the history and the view is the diversity of weather. The changing from hot to cold is absolutely unique. 
    Thank you for this informative post and for bringing attention to this natural sight. 


    1. Thank you Fadia for you nice comment. During the mountain climb, it is the excellent scenic views and climate variations that create a rich experience. Good enough you are advised on the weather variations and you will be with the right wear and climbing gear.

  7. Really awesome website. A very dynamic place, Africa. The histories known and unknown are too vast to even be realized even when vacationing there. Only to say that to see the magnificent structures and how the land truly was before all of the decay and weathering would have been more than breath taking. But still to vacation in Africa would be amazing. My experience of Africa is primarily of Egypt and only in study. But, as I stated, would be amazing to see. The whole world was immersed with pyramids throughout and the people had a different knowing and connection. 

    1. Thomas, it is great to read that you did your study in Africa. I hope you visited The Great Pyramids Of Giza, Egypt. The pyramids were built by man using stones, while Mount Kilimanjaro was formed by volcanic activity. Both are amazing features to look at though the climate has had an effect on them. There have been measures like planting trees at the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro in a bid to restore the balance needed to bring back the snow that is quickly dwindling at the mountain top.

      The world indeed has amazing features and Mount Kilimanjaro stands to be counted among the very best. Thank you Thomas for your excellent post.

  8. While trekking on the Himalaya I met somebody who had reached the Kilimanjaro top. I was jealous of him, I wanted to do it myself. Years have passed since then but dreams remain -sometimes dormant-, don’t they? I am not fit enough to do it up to the top anymore but the alternatives you propose are perfect for me. Thanks for waking up a dream of mine, Ahimbe!

    1. Effie, you have been on top of the world? But make it to the top of Africa as well! Each mountain climb has its unique experience but when you do come to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, you will come as a knowledgable climber. If your dreams had gone dormant, I am here to reactivate them! If your fitness levels are a deterrent, then the helicopter will be your option.
      Thank you Effie for your comment. I highly appreciate it.

  9. This was a very thorough article and guide on everything concerning Mount Kilimanjaro that laid out many facts and interesting anecdotes that surround the mountain. I have always dreamed of climbing this mountain, so needed a clear guide for planning purposes.

    You have provided that for me, and actually, this was much more than I had hoped to find. I feel much more ready to make the trek to Tanzania to get on with this bucket list adventure I will cross off soon. I know that for some seasoned climbers this is an easy climb to make. 

    Since I am not a seasoned climber, the more information I can gather the higher is my chance at success. I will follow your advice and employ a guide service, and not the cheapest one either, as you warn about. Thanks for your hard work putting this together, I feel a lot more ready for this coming climb, and I am looking forward to it!

    1. Thank you, Dave, for your comment and it is refreshing to know about your desire to one day stand at the Uhuru summit and tick off your bucket list this mountain climbing challenge. It is guaranteed that 50% make it and I see you have the mental strength already, the drive and motivation needed to make it. 

      I only hope that you share your experience with the rest of us when you accomplish the task. All I can say for now is that you stay healthy and strong!

  10. Amazing post. I’m glad to know the details of mount Kilimanjaro. Your detail is in depth and very interesting to read. It sparks a curiosity within me to go there. 

    I’ve noticed that it takes at least 6-7 day to climb the mountain! Is there no helicopter service available there? Because in my country there are certain temples located at high rise mountains, we utilize helicopter services to reach there. 

    Thanksa lot for sharing this awesome information. I look forward to visit there🙂

    1. Akshay, I like your engagement. It is possible to use a helicopter to the mountain top from Moshi Airport but this comes with two conditions. 

      It must be a dry season and that is in late June and all of July; otherwise, your view will be blocked by the adverse weather conditions; denying you a clear view of the mountain.
      Secondly, you should be ready to part with some good money because 4 seater helicopter may require about USD 10,000 though you will enjoy a birds view of the wildlife below as well as the climbing routes.

      It is important to note that there are helicopters on standby for search and rescue missions as well as running high altitude clinics.

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