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    How long does it take to climb Kilimanjaro

    10 minutes read
    how long does it take to climb mount kilimanjaro

    Planning to take on a thrilling climb? If so, you can climb Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. It’s the highest mountain in Africa and is one of the seven highest summits in the world.

    With that said, climbing its summit is a matter of pride.

    But, how long does it take to climb Mount Kilimanjaro? For a non-athletic person with an average fitness level, it’ll take five to nine days to reach the Mount Kilimanjaro summit. It’s crucial to go slow, not fast, to ensure a safe and comfortable hiking experience.

    There are shorter tours for Mount Kilimanjaro consisting of 5 days of adventure. However, this isn’t advisable for inexperienced hikers. But, no worries, as there are climbing programs for everyone!

    Understanding the Time Commitment for the Kilimanjaro Summit

    Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is a challenging yet rewarding endeavor that requires careful consideration of the time involved. The duration of your Kilimanjaro summit attempt depends on various factors, including the chosen route, acclimatization schedule, and overall fitness level. Here’s a breakdown to help you better understand the time commitment to reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro:

    1. Route Selection

    The choice of route significantly influences the duration of your climb. Routes like Marangu and Rongai tend to have shorter itineraries, while routes like Machame and Lemosho offer longer and more gradual ascents, allowing for better acclimatization.

    2. Number of Days

    Kili climbs usually range from 5 to 9 days. A longer itinerary allows for better acclimatization, reducing the risk of altitude-related issues. Choosing a duration that aligns with your fitness level and experience is essential.

    3. Acclimatization Days

    Most itineraries include acclimatization days, where climbers stay at higher elevations for a brief period before continuing their ascent. These rest days are crucial for adapting to the altitude and minimizing the risk of altitude sickness.

    4. Altitude Gains

    Uhuru Peak, Kili’s summit, stands at 5,895 meters (19,341 feet). The altitude gains each day, especially during the summit push, impact the overall duration. Slow and steady ascents are key to preventing altitude-related issues.

    5. Fitness Level

    Individual fitness plays a role in the pace of the climb. A good level of physical fitness can help climbers maintain a steady and sustainable pace, ensuring they can endure the challenges of the ascent.

    6. Weather Conditions

    Weather conditions on Kilimanjaro can be unpredictable. Rain, snow, and extreme temperatures can affect the pace of the climb. It’s essential to be prepared for varying weather conditions, which can influence the time needed to reach the summit.

    7. Group Dynamics

    If you are part of a guided group climb, the overall pace of the group can impact the schedule. Factors such as group size, individual fitness levels, and group dynamics can influence the time commitment for the entire expedition.

    Understanding these factors and carefully selecting an itinerary that aligns with your goals and capabilities is crucial for a successful Kilimanjaro summit. It’s recommended to work with experienced guides and tour operators who can provide personalized advice based on your preferences and abilities.

    Planning Your Kilimanjaro Ascent and Time Factors to Consider

    Embarking on a Kilimanjaro ascent requires meticulous planning to ensure a safe and successful climb. Various time-related factors play a crucial role in shaping your climbing experience. Here’s a detailed exploration of the key considerations when planning your Kilimanjaro ascent:

    1. Route Selection:

    Choose a route that aligns with your preferences, fitness level, and the amount of time you can dedicate to the climb. Each route has a different itinerary, with variations in duration ranging from 5 to 9 days. Research and select a route that suits your goals and allows for proper acclimatization.

    2. Acclimatization Strategy

    Adequate acclimatization is essential for adjusting to the high altitudes of Kilimanjaro and minimizing the risk of altitude sickness. Factor in rest days at higher elevations during your ascent to help your body acclimate gradually.

    3. Number of Days on the Mountain

    The duration of your climb directly impacts your chances of reaching the summit successfully. Longer itineraries provide more time for acclimatization and increase the likelihood of summit success. However, shorter itineraries may be suitable for experienced climbers or those with limited time.

    4. Pre-Climb Preparation

    Allocate time for pre-climb preparations, including physical fitness training, obtaining necessary permits, and acquiring the right gear. Adequate preparation ensures that you are physically and mentally ready for the challenges of the ascent.

    5. Climbing Season

    Consider the climbing season when planning your ascent. Kilimanjaro can be climbed year-round, but the dry seasons (January-March and June-October) are generally preferred for better weather conditions. Weather conditions can affect the pace of your climb, so plan accordingly.

    6. Altitude Gains and Distances

    Understand the altitude gains and distances covered each day on your chosen route. Kilimanjaro’s diverse landscapes and varying altitudes require a strategic approach to pacing and rest. Longer and more gradual ascents are often recommended for better acclimatization.

    7. Group or Solo Climb

    Decide whether you will join a guided group climb or attempt the ascent solo. Group climbs often have fixed schedules, while solo climbs provide more flexibility. Group dynamics and the pace of the climb can influence the overall time commitment.

    8. Emergency Contingencies

    Plan for unforeseen circumstances by including buffer days in your itinerary. This allows flexibility in case of adverse weather, unexpected health issues, or any other challenges that may arise during the climb.

    9. Guide and Operator Selection

    Choose experienced guides and reputable tour operators with a proven track record of successful ascents who prioritize safety. Their expertise can significantly contribute to a well-paced and organized climb.

    10. Post-Climb Recovery Time

    Factor in time for post-climb recovery. After reaching the summit, your body may need some rest before descending. Consider this when planning your post-summit schedule and return.

    By carefully considering these time-related factors, you can create a comprehensive plan that enhances your chances of a successful and enjoyable Kilimanjaro ascent. Collaborate with experienced professionals to tailor your climb to your specific needs and preferences.

    So you've decided to climb Kilimanjaro

    Climb kilimanjaro

    As you’ve decided to take on the challenge of climbing the highest mountain in Africa, you know it won’t be easy. There are several preparations you need to make and gears to equip.

    You also have to take climbing programs to prepare your body for what’s to come. Although you don’t need to have professional climbing skills, it’s required that you must have done aerobic exercise or extensive hill-walking in the run-up to your Kilimanjaro Climb.

    If your current fitness level is low, it may take several months of training before you reach the level where you can enjoy the climb.

    How long does it take to climb Kilimanjaro?

    Tanzania - how long does it takes to climb kilimanjaro - how long does it take to climb kilimanjaro

    The amount of time to climb Kilimanjaro depends on the route you take. There’s a shorter tour route with a hike time of 5 days, but as discussed above, it’s not an ideal route for beginners.

    The Machame and Rongai routes are ideal for everyone with a 6 to 7-day climb duration via Lemosho (8 days). This is considered to be the best route for every climber for the following reasons:

    The longer the program you take, the more your body gets accustomed to the irregular Kilimanjaro altitudes.

    Taking the said route is also crucial for smooth and successful acclimatization Hiking Mount Kilimanjaro is a remarkable feat and experience. However, it’ll take passion, determination, confidence, grit, and stamina to reach Uhuru Peak—the highest free-standing peak in Africa!

    Thus, if you want to attempt to climb Kilimanjaro, you need to prepare professionally, have a good acclimatization transition, and lastly, have a positive attitude! Ideally, it’s best to take the longer program for safer trekking and better acclimatization transition.

    So, with proper preparation, good acclimatization transition, and grit, you’ll surely reach your Kilimanjaro Trekking goals!

    Climb Kilimanjaro seasons

    Tanzania - mount kilimanjaro climbing seasons - how long does it take to climb kilimanjaro

    When you challenge yourself to climb Kilimanjaro, one of the considerations you need to take is the weather.

    Thus, it would be best to climb Kilimanjaro in the most favorable weather conditions—during January through March and June through October. These months give the best views, sunshine, and clear skies, making your hiking experience better and worthwhile.

    Routes up mount Kilimanjaro

    Tanzania - routes up mountain kilimanajaro - how long does it take to climb kilimanjaro

    Mount Kilimanjaro has a total of seven routes, but the Marangu route is the easiest, meaning it’s beginner-friendly.

    1. Marangu route aka the 'Coca-Cola route'

    The Marangu route, also known as the ‘Coca-Cola’ route, is the classic route to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. This is the only route that provides dormitory-style huts, instead of camping.

    Both the Kibo Huts and Mandara have 60 bunk beds, while the Horombo Hut has 120. This is the oldest, well-established route and most favoured by trekkers because it’s the easiest path.

    However, if you’re a seasoned trekker or physically prefer more adventure, you may also try the following routes:

    2. Shira route

    The Shira route is another path to Kilimanjaro, approaching from the west side. This route is almost similar to Lemosho but less improved.

    Although this route is diverse and beautiful, the Lemosho route is recommended over this route. This is due to the comparably high altitude of Shira’s starting point, which can be accessed by car quickly.

    3. Lemosho route

    The Lemosho route is one of the fresher tracks on Mount Kilimanjaro, which begins in the west. This route also crosses from the Shira Ridge to Shira Plateau, like the Machame route.

    This route is deemed the most beautiful among the courses on Kilimanjaro and gives the best panoramic sights of the mountain. It’s the most balanced among all the trails, considering traffic, views, and success rate.

    4. Umbwe route

    The Umbwe route is a short, steep, and direct course to Kilimanjaro. It is deemed to be strenuous and is the most challenging trail to Mount Kilimanjaro.

    It also has a quick ascent and doesn’t give the essential stages for altitude acclimatization. Due to its route difficulty, the success rate and traffic on this route are low.

    5. Rongai route

    The Rongai route is close to the Kenyan border and the only course coming from the north. Though this has become a popular route, the traffic on this trail is low and is an excellent alternative route for those who love to hike remotely.

    6. Northern circuit route

    The Northern Circuit is one of the newest and most recommended routes to Kilimajaro. This is an exciting route that approaches Kilimanjaro from the west. This trail crosses the mountain around the infrequently visited northern slopes, unlike the most west-approaching paths that follow the southern traverse.

    This route is the longest, taking nine days with the highest success rates compared to all courses on Mount Kilimanjaro. The days spent at 13,000 feet are excellent for acclimatization, contributing to the highest success rates on this trail.

    What is acclimatization?

    Tanzania - what is acclimatization - how long does it take to climb kilimanjaro

    Acclimatization refers to the process wherein the body gets accustomed to the lower oxygen availability in the air. This can be achieved by spending some time at various altitude levels before going higher.

    The ideal acclimatization for Kilimanjaro trekking is a minimum of 8 days on the mountain. This means you have to sleep five nights below 13,000 feet before going higher.

    Who is the fastest climber up Kilimanjaro?

    Tanzania - fasted climber up kilimanjaro - how long does it take to climb kilimanjaro

    The recorded recent fastest climb was set by a Swiss-Ecuadorian, Karl Egloff, with just 6 hours, 56 minutes, and 24 seconds in August 2014. He used the Umbwe Route and descent via Mweka.

    Ascent and descent time

    Tanzania - ascent and descent - how long does it take to climb kilimanjaro

    It takes around five to nine days using the longer route to reach Mount Kilimanjaro Summit: the Uhuru Peak. Meanwhile, it would take two days to descend from the Uhuru Peak Summit to the finish point.

    The descent could take up to five hours to reach the camp for an overnight stay and the subsequent day for four to six hours, depending on the route and experience.


    Regardless of which route you decide to take, you will need to spend at least 6 to 8 days on the mountain. Mount Kilimanjaro has an intense acclimatization process, and many routes to choose from. If you need help choosing the best route, Easy Travel is here to help you craft the hike of your dreams.


    1. How long does it typically take to climb Kilimanjaro?

    How long it takes to climb Kilimanjaro depends on which way you go. If you pick a shorter route like Marangu, it might take about 5-6 days. But if you choose a longer and more beautiful path like Lemosho or Machame, it could take 7-9 days. The extra days on these longer routes help your body get used to the high altitude, making it more likely for you to reach the top successfully. So, the route you pick decides how many days your climb will be and how ready your body will be for the big summit!

    2. Can I climb Kilimanjaro in a shorter time if I'm physically fit?

    Being fit is important, but if you try to climb Kilimanjaro too quickly, it doesn’t mean you’ll definitely succeed. The mountain’s high altitude means it’s safer to go up slowly to avoid altitude sickness. Longer plans for climbing have built-in times to help your body get used to the height, making it safer to reach the top. So, taking your time and choosing a longer climb can make it more likely for you to reach the summit safely.

    3. Are there specific seasons that affect the duration of the climb?

    When you decide to climb Kilimanjaro can affect how long it takes. The best times are during the dry seasons, which usually happen from January to March and June to October. Climbing in these times might make the climb faster because the weather is nicer.

    But remember, even in these good times, the weather can still be a bit unpredictable, and that might influence how long it takes to get to the top. So, when you choose to climb can impact how quickly you reach the summit!

    4. Do I need climbing experience to climb Kili?

    No professional climbing skills are required, but a good level of fitness is essential. Participants should have engaged in aerobic exercises or extensive hill-walking in the months leading up to the climb. This preparation is crucial for adapting to the physical demands of the ascent.

    5. How does the altitude impact the duration of the climb?

    Altitude plays a significant role in the climb’s duration. Longer itineraries include gradual ascents and rest days at higher elevations, allowing climbers to acclimate to the thinning air. Adequate acclimatization reduces the risk of altitude-related issues and contributes to a safer and more enjoyable climb.

    6. Can I customize the duration of my Kilimanjaro climb?

    Many tour operators offer customizable itineraries based on your preferences and fitness level. While altering the number of days, it’s crucial to maintain a balance to ensure sufficient acclimatization. You may contact Easy Travel to tailor the climb to your specific needs.

    7. What factors, besides fitness, can affect the time commitment for a Kilimanjaro climb?

    Weather conditions, group dynamics, and unforeseen challenges can impact the climb’s duration. Flexible itineraries with buffer days account for unexpected circumstances. Additionally, the choice of route, the pace of the group, and individual adaptability to high altitudes contribute to the overall time commitment.

    Musaddiq Gulamhussein - Owner - Easy Travel Tanzania

    About the author: Musaddiq

    Meet Musaddiq Gulamhussein, owner of Easy Travel Tanzania, a tour company creating life-changing safari experiences for over 35 years. Musaddiq has explored Tanzania, developing a deep understanding of the local cultures and traditions. Follow his journey and gain insights into the African Safari experience through Easy Travel's social media and blog.

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