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How long does it take to climb Mount Kilimanjaro

How long does it take to climb Mount Kilimanjaro

About 25% of beginner climbers fail to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro. This is often because they choose a shorter itinerary than they need to acclimatize well. Travel Route Africa has been organizing Kilimanjaro expeditions for both beginners and seasoned athletes, and we know how long the ideal duration of the trip is for various categories of climbers. In this article, you will learn whether you should consider shorter five and six-day treks, or opt for longer trips.

In short: Climbing Kilimanjaro can take five to nine days, depending on the route. If you opt for expeditions that include crater camping, the journey might extend to ten days. The most recommended routes for beginners span seven days. Shorter variations lasting 5 or 6 days are better suited for experienced hikers who have acclimatized beforehand.

Among the Seven Summits, the highest peaks on each of the seven continents, Kilimanjaro is one of the least time-consuming. For comparison, climbing Denali and Aconcagua requires at least 18 days. Expeditions to Everest can take about two months. And Puncak Jaya usually needs 10-11 days. In contrast, you can climb Mt Kilimanjaro in only about a week.

What’s the shortest time to climb Kilimanjaro?

The minimum duration for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is determined by the Kilimanjaro National Park Authority. Currently, this is set at five days for the Marangu and Rongai routes and six days for all other routes.

It doesn’t imply that climbing Kilimanjaro in a shorter time is impossible, but rather that climbers must pay park fees for at least this minimum duration. These fees make up almost half of the total package cost. For example, on a six-day Marangu route, the park fees amount to $800 per person. Even if a climber with excellent fitness and acclimatization finishes the climb in fewer than six days, there is no reduction in these fees.

The durations set by the park authority consider the distance an average hiker can comfortably cover between two camps daily while getting reasonable acclimatization.

Longer routes provide better acclimatization

Beginners should not consider shorter itineraries to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Years of industry practice revealed that the climbers need more days to acclimate successfully. Typically, an average hiker without previous hiking experience in the mountains requires seven days for this trip to acclimate successfully.

Note: In this article, the numbers for the duration of the Kilimanjaro trek include two days for descent, not counted towards acclimatization. For example, in a seven-day trek, hikers summit on the night of the fifth day. Then they spend the sixth day descending and exit the park on the seventh. So there are only five days spent for acclimatization.

What is acclimatization?

Uhuru Peak, the summit of Kilimanjaro, stands at 5,895 meters/19,340 feet. At this height, the atmospheric pressure is only approximately 40% of what it is at sea level. At the summit of Kilimanjaro, with the air being almost twice as thin, it can feel akin to breathing through a narrow straw. You might struggle to take in enough oxygen as if you’re constantly short of breath.

If a climber were hypothetically transported directly to the top of Kilimanjaro by helicopter, they would likely experience acute mountain sickness (altitude sickness) within 1-2 hours. This condition can rapidly progress to cerebral or pulmonary edema, both of which are potentially fatal. The body needs time to adapt to the decresed oxygento avoid these serious health risks.

To ensure your body gently adjusts to the high altitude, time is essential. For most of the hikers, a 7-8 day itinerary is ideal for climbing Kilimanjaro while avoiding altitude sickness.

Over this time, several physiological changes occur to cope with decreased oxygen levels.

  • The breathing rate increases, even at rest, to take in enough oxygen molecules.
  • The heart rate also rises to pump more oxygen-rich blood throughout the body.
  • The production of red blood cells increases, enhancing the capacity to transport oxygen to the body’s vitals.
  • The blood vessels in the brain dilate to improve blood flow and oxygen delivery.

These adaptations help the body function more efficiently in environments with lower atmospheric pressure, like at high altitudes on a Mount Kilimanjaro hike.

Who should choose a 5-6 day Kilimanjaro climb?

Shorter 5-6 day treks on Kilimanjaro can be appropriate for experienced trekkers who have been active in other high-altitude environments within six months before attempting to climb Kilimanjaro. Their recent experience in similar conditions means they are already acclimatized to high altitudes. If you’ve hiked to an altitude of over 5,000 meters (16500 feet) within two weeks prior to your Kilimanjaro trip, your recent acclimatization will significantly benefit and likely suffice for a 6-day Kilimanjaro itinerary.

Shorter programs are more physically demanding. One will need to cover large distances each day. These condensed itineraries typically skip one of the camps along the trail, creating a more demanding schedule, especially for those of average fitness levels.

Take, for example, the six-day Machame route. On this itinerary, a hiker would start in the morning from Barranco Camp and trek directly to Barafu summit camp, covering a challenging distance of approximately 11 kilometers (7 miles). The physical exertion doesn’t end there. On the same night, after only 3-4 hours of rest, the hiker embarks on the summit attempt, followed by a descent to Millennium Camp. It means undertaking another 15 kilometers (9 miles). In total, within less than 30 hours, the hiker completes a 27-kilometer (17 miles) journey with minimal sleep, gaining over 2,000 meters (6,562 feet) in elevation.

While feasible for fit and experienced hikers, this compact Kilimanjaro climb schedule can be extremely taxing for those with average fitness.

Is it possible to climb Kilimanjaro even faster?

At Travel Route  Africa, some hikers occasionally complete these six-day treks in four or five days. However, these cases are exceptional. For most people, especially those new to high-altitude trekking, opting for a longer itinerary is safer and more advisable.

Who should choose a seven-day climbing Kilimanjaro itinerary?

Most beginner trekkers should consider the longer trip options. When referring to “average” or “beginner” hikers, we’re talking about travelers who occasionally hike in the countryside and can walk up to 10-15 kilometers (6-9 miles) a day but haven’t experienced mountains as high as Kilimanjaro. For this category, seven-day itineraries to climb Kilimanjaro are the most suitable. These itineraries offer a balance of smooth acclimatization and a moderate physical challenge, with manageable distances between camps.

Using the mentioned Machame Route as an example, the seven-day trek adds a night at Karanga Camp between Barranco and Barafu summit camp. This extra night allows for a full night’s rest before attempting the summit night hike. Rather than covering 27 kilometers (17 miles) in under 30 hours towards the end, the seven-day trek spreads 21 kilometers (13 miles) over about 15 hours, making it easier for average fitness-level hikers.

Kilimanjaro climb duration and success rate

Since 2014, Travel Route Africa has gathered data from hundreds of our Kilimanjaro climb expeditions. One clear conclusion that has emerged from it is that seven-day hikes to Mount Kilimanjaro summit have a notably higher success rate than shorter itineraries. These longer treks consistently result in a more pleasant and enjoyable experience.

Who should consider eight-day or longer hikes?

Certain categories of climbers may need more than seven days for the trip. Those might include:

  • Senior hikers, who may need more time for acclimatization
  • Those who haven’t hiked before at all
  • Travelers climbing Kilimanjaro with children aged 10-15
  • Hikers who have been on high mountains before and discovered that they need more time for acclimatization than usual

Some travelers simply wish to spend more days on Kilimanjaro than the typical itinerary offers. The KINAPA permits extended stays on all routes(“Coca-Cola route”). It’s important to remember that choosing to extend your trek will result in additional costs. This includes extra park fees, along with the need to cover increased expenses for mountain crew wages, meals, taxes, and other expedition-related costs.

What are Kilimanjaro crater expeditions and how long do they take?

Every year, fewer than a hundred climbers choose the Kilimanjaro crater camping expedition. After summiting, they don’t descend but camp in the crater at about 5,750 meters (18,865 feet). These expeditions last over ten days and are more demanding than usual treks, where the hikers spend only several hours above 5,700 meters (18,865 feet).

Camping in the Kilimanjaro crater is a unique experience. However, these trips are also more expensive. The park authority charges special fees for camping there. Additionally, unlike standard trips where only guides and their assistants accompany climbers to the summit, crater trips involve the entire crew – porters, camp masters, and chefs. This team ascends to the summit area to carry supplies and water, pitch tents, prepare meals, and conduct medical check-ups, all under challenging conditions at 5,750 meters (18,865 feet). For this, we pay them extra wages, which are reflected in the tour price.

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2023-12-18
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Ema My friends and I went on safari with Travel Route and we had an amazing time!! I recommend Travel Route!!
asha M
asha M
2023-11-05
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Amazing trip with friends ???? We had an amazing trip to ngorongoro … was such a great experience…. Good customer service…. We spent a whole day enjoying the view of beautiful ngorongoro… we had our favorite lunch… everything was perfect… i hope to bring my family again … thank u
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2023-11-02
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Wonderful Experience!! I really enjoyed spending time with my family visiting the beautiful Tarangire National Park. Tariq and the team were very accommodating and made sure all our need and wishes were catered too hence making the experience one to definitely remember. Looking forward to booking them in the future for a well deserved visit to Serengeti!! would def recommend to anyone looking to enjoy a safari visit
Taty
Taty
2023-10-26
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Moshi kilamanjaro I went to moshi and did the waterfall coffee tour. The tour was amazing and fun. The locals were so kind and accommodating. Tariq was a great tour guide. Even though Im afraid of heights they made me feel safe during the hike. Getting to the waterfall was a Beautiful experience. I would recommend this company to a friend. Moshi is so beautiful I wanted to live there.
gilard
gilard
2023-10-18
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well organised trip and affordable prices I loved my trip up Kilimanjaro withTravel Route. I was picked up at the airport by Emmanuel. The hotel I stayed at the day before the trek was nice and even had a pool which was good for relaxing before the climb. I went on the Machame route, which was great. It's beautiful and the climb was manageable. The guides were encouraging, helpful, cheerful and knowledgeable. The tents we stayed in on the climb were nice and we even had sleeping mats, which made for a comfortable sleep. The food on the climb was plentiful and better than I expected it to be. Overall it was a great experience and I would highly recommend Travel Route to anyone thinking about about climbing Kilimanjaro.
Downtown G
Downtown G
2023-10-18
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Best experience Had a lovely Trip in Tanzania thanks to travel route would definitely recommend them for your trips they have fair and suitable prices and service .Be assured to get the best experience with them cheers!
Charlie R
Charlie R
2023-10-15
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Trip was absolutely amazing, From the Itinerary to the Wildlife our guide was so professional with a lot of stories Highly recommended. Best in the Wild, the team is so friendly makes every guests feel comfortable, very professional and informative
Malcom K
Malcom K
2023-08-16
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Highest Point of Africa with Friends An incredible experience with Travel Route Africa on Mount Kilimanjaro! The guides (Inno, Tadei, Urio, Tariq, too many names to mention:) were knowledgeable and supportive, ensuring safety and comfort. Well-planned itinerary from Niko and the team, breathtaking landscapes, and a fantastic team. A dream fulfilled with my friends as we summited Kilimanjaro together. Highly recommended!
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2023-08-16
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6 DAY MARANGU ITINERARY if you need to enjoy your tour in Tanzania especially hiking mount kilimanjaro this company are the well expert. Every single day towards our Dream was spotless. The whole team made the experience unique and precious and something that we will never forget.
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