Kilimanjaro is getting to be a very popular mountain and there are many popular routes. The highest mountain in Africa this volcano rises above the jungle plains and actually has a very good vertical ascent. Kilimanjaro is unique in that during the ascent you will climb through all climatalogical zones. Starting in tropical rain forest through moss and desert to the snow on the summit. I strongly recommend reading "Trekking in East Africa" by Lonely Planet.
Prices tend to run about $800- 1200 for a climb depending on route and number of days. Today it seems the Machame route is becoming much more popular due to the fact that a higher percentage of climbers make the summit on this route. The Marangu route is still the quickest and cheapest... but it also has the least chance of actually making the summit ( approximately 30%)
When I first climbed Kilimanjaro in 1996 it was easy to just book the trip with an agency upon our arrival in Arusha. However, now, because of recent popularity it is now recommended to book in advance if possible. With the help of tour agencies recommended in Lonely Planet or on this page or the Africa message board on summitpost you can get the names of many recommended tour operators. I suggest booking with an operator based in Tanzania rather than the USA because you can generally do the climb cheaper than tours organized in the USA. Often times many tour operators are just booking agencies for tour comapanies. By dealing directly you can usually save a couple hundred dollars by eliminating the middleman. Extra nights (recommended for acclimatization) tend to run about $100 per night. Good Earth Tours mentioned elsewhere on the message boards also has a US office, but books climbs similiar to the booking price to book in Tanzania. Our group used them for a successful climb in February 2005. They are a Tanzanian company, but they have a local office in Florida so it is easy to talk with a real person and get a good price too.
This information is also provided from John:
Kilimanjaro is one of the largest freestanding mountains in the world and is a large massif that is comprised of 3 volcanoes: Kibo (5894m, dormant), Mawenzi (5149m, dormant), and Shira (3962m, extinct).
There are many hiking routes to reach Kibo's summit (aka Uhuru Peak) and it is easier to explain these by first discussing the "around-the-mountain" circular trail that is comprised of the North Circuit Path and the South Circuit Path. There are 6 major forest/moorland routes that reach this around-the-moutain trail system and 3 hike/scramble routes that asend to the summit of Kibo. The 6 forest/moorland routes are (going clockwise with 12 o'clock = North): Rongai, Marangu, Mweka, Umbwe, Machame, and Shira. The 3 summit routes are: Normal (class 1-2 extension of Marangu), Barafu (class 2 extension of Mweka), and Western Breach (class 3 extension of Shira). If the forest/moorland route you choose does not have an extension route to the summit and you want to use one then you will need to traverse one of the circuit paths till you find one. The Rongai, Umbwe, Machame, and Shira routes are ascent only routes and climbers are currently required to use either the Marangu (for Rongai) or Mweka (others) for descent. See the Kilimanjaro National Park website for more information.
The Marangu Route on the East Side is the most popular with about 10,800 climbers per year while all other routes combined see less than 1,500 climbers per year.
There are also numerous technical glacier routes including the relatively easy Grade III Heim Glacier that saw the first ski/snowboard descent of Kilimanjaro by Stephen Koch in 1997. Ref: Mountain Zone.com It appears that this was not from the summit, but the top of the Heim Glacier.
There are many good trip reports here on the Trip Report link, but one recent one that I think is certainly accurate and very detailed is from fellow Summitposter Gard Karlsen: Gard Karlsen Kilimanjaro Trip Report
The most common routes are from Nairobi or Dar es Salaam then land to Arusha and Moshi. Some airlines will fly directly into the smaller Kilimanjaro airport also. If you are on an organized tour group they will usually pick you up at Kilimanjaro International between Arusha and Moshi.
John provided this additional information: The closest international airport to Kilimanjaro is Kilimanjaro International Airport (aka KIA, symbol: JRO). The 7 km airport access road connects to the town of Sanya on the A23 Arusha-Moshi road about halfway between the two towns and half way between Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru. There's no public transportation from the airport so you would have to hitch a ride or walk to the A23 if you didn't want to hire a taxi (or have a tour operator pick you up). A taxi from KIA to Moshi runs about $50 while the reverse runs about $30. A taxi from Marangu to KIA runs about $50. In Tanzania, it seems like KIA is used as the abbreviation for the airport, but it would be easier if everyone just used the airport symbol JRO ;-) : To help the economy guides and porters are required on the mountain, so they will get you along the trials.
The biggest red tape is the requirement to have a guide but it is relatively cheap. Most people also hire on porters. The total package these days will cost about 700 to 1000 dollars for the trek and guides porters etc... everything. You might save a few bucks by waiting til you get to Tanzania to book your trip, but you might have to wait also if the mountain is already booked. Waiting and paying for a hotel could eat up any savings. It is really best to book it in advance through an operator in Tanzania. See the summitpost bulletin board under Africa for the latest information and recommendations on tour operators. This link should provide you with a pricing guide based on your travel schedule and group size. Kilimanjaro Trip Information Generally there is a reduced fee the more members in the group.
January and February are popular months. July thru September are also the dry season and are "high" season. April to mid June tend to be the rainy season. Many people will combine a photo safari before or after the climb, so I would recommend going during the dry season.
Accomodations on the the most popular "tourist" Marangu "Coca Cola" route were very good... alpine A frames at Mandera the first night, then 8 man huts at Horombo and a large 40 person bunk house at Kibo Hut. We spent an extra acclimatization day at Horombo Hut.. but it wasnt enough to make a difference. Accomodations are more primative on the less popular routes and you will be sleeping in tents. This really isn't a problem and the guides and porters do a good job at making it pretty easy. The porters usually lead out and will pitch and break tents for you on the routes requiring tents if you so desire.
There are many routes.. we did the cheapest tourist route.. the Marangu route. It was an easy 3-4 walk up until the summit night and then it was very vertical and hard to acclimatize. None in our group made the summit... Only 10% make the summit from this route... mainly due to acclimatization and ascent problems on the last night. The idea is to set out about midnight to reach summit at sunrise before weather sets in. More information and detail on the routes is also available on the link above in the red tape section.
Two excellent trip reports have recently been posted on the trip reports pages for Kilimanjaro. I draw your attention to the report by Nelson Chenkin on March 9, 2005 and an extensive trip report which includes information about a recent tragedy on Kilimanjaro posted by alavigne on March 13, 2005. There are also some excellent older reports by John and Gard that should be read by anybody considering this climb.
Here is a link to a 3D daily image of the different routes on Kilimanjaro.
I have had the honor and pleasure to meet two of the directors of this non profit organization ( Jenni Lowe and Conrad Anker) and would encourage your support for their activities to help the people who live in remote regions of the world.
The Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation provides direction and financial support to community based humanitarian programs around the world. Currently the foundation is involved in establishing a climbing school for Sherpas as well as the Babu Chirri School Project to build schools in the Khumbu region where Babu was from. The organization is also active in promoting climbing safety and technique in Mongolia. There is very, very little over head in this operation, and a very high percentage of donations go directly to benefit the projects.
Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation
PO Box 6666
Bozeman, MT USA 59715
The Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation
Sadly, most people that climb Kilimanjaro never actually make it to the Crater. It is about a 45 minute hike each way from the Crater Camp. I was pretty tired after summiting so decided to rest rather than go to the crater, but now I wish I would have made it to the crater. These initial photographs here were taken by my climbing partner Mike Walden.
Hey you made it to the top.. now post it where the world can see it! Summitpost is an absolutely great site.. but each category can only hold 5 pictures.... hence a new category. ;-) Nothing better then lot of pictures of people on the top of one of the 7 summits. Post away! These photos will periodically rotated.
An addition from eza: Date: Jan 02, 2002 02:02 AM
Especially important for climbers on the Marangu Route: it is quite difficult to acclimatize properly on this route. In order to improve your chances to reach the summit, I'd recommend to visit Maundi Crater from Mandara Hut and the Zebra Rock from Horombo Hut. Both are placed between thirty and sixty minutes walk up the trail, and make for a nice stroll after lunch. ( I agree...even if you make the sumit ridge it still is another 2 hour slog to Uhuru peak. As a result, most people do not summit on the Marangu route. Only 10% actually make the official summit on this route.)
The book "Travels" by Michael Crichton has an amusing story about Kilimanjaro that will warm the hearts on anybody who has climbed Kilimanjaro or is thinking about it. Nchenkin adds that there is also a good story about Kilimanjaro in "Moment's of Doubt" by David Robert.
And lastly, an interesting Kilimanjaro tidbit courtesy of JScoles:
Why was the border to Tanzania moved to include Kilimanjaro?
Basically the border as it is today was moved about 200 miles or so NE at the instance of none other that Queen Victoria herself, after being petitioned by her nephew Kiser Willham, so the mountain would fall into German East Africa (Tanzania) instead of British East Africa (Kenya). The logic behind this was "The British Empire already had the greatest falls and second highest peak so it was only fair that German Empire got the highest peak." Yet there could still be concern if this is the truth.. or and urban legend... see additions posted here: Kilimanjaro Truth or Urban Legend?
I will be glad to respond to any emails for those considering this route.
Note: There are more comments on this truth/legend debate in the "view more" section of this heading.
Be sure to see the Additions and Corrections Section on this page- located in the upper left of the page. There is a lot of good information from history of Kilimanjaro to money saving tips. I have elected to keep it all together in that one section rather than make this main page any longer with information that might not be of interest to all.