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Climb Kilimanjaro

Adventures One Step Beyond
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The top questions people ask about climbing Kilimanjaro

Q1How fit do I need to be to climb Kilimanjaro?

Climbing Kilimanjaro is the classic tortoise challenge: you need to go slowly and just keep at it. Absolute fitness is not as important as determination and guts. While we always recommend people do some proper aerobic and strength training before they attempt the climb and have advice in "Getting Ready" that covers this, we have helped lots of people summit who have done no more than weekend walking.

Q2How many days do I need to do the climb?

Although it is feasible to climb Mt Kilimanjaro in 5 days we strongly recommend all climbers take at least 7 days. The reason why people fail to summit is mainly because they allow too little time to acclimatise to the altitude and no matter how fit you may be this is still the same. Our 7 day climbs average over 95% success rates.

Q3Which routes do you recommend?

When people first inquire, they nearly always say they would like a really quiet route with a great success rate. This is sort of the holy grail of route choosing. Sadly though, the routes with high success rates are popular, and quiet routes are often quiet because they have a low success rate, or because they are much longer and more expensive.

Trying to balance this out, our advice is to focus on the success rate: we can honestly say we have never had a client summit who has then complained the route was too busy, whereas we have had clients choose one of the quieter routes then be very disappointed at not making it to the top.

So taking this into account we strongly recommend clients climb Kilimanjaro by either the 7 day Machame Route or, if they have the time and can afford it, the 8 day Lemosho Routes. Both routes have fantastic views and a great range of scenery and critically they allow you great acclimatisation. This in turns means you have the best chance of summiting safely.

Q4When is the best time of year to climb Kilimanjaro?

A bit like choosing the best route, deciding on when to climb is a compromise. If it is certain to be dry and warm, it is equally certain to be busy.

Kilimanjaro is close to the equator so there is very little change in temperature during the year and compared to the change as you ascend, the temperature change during the year is insignificant. What really changes during the year though is how much it rains.

Mid November to mid December are traditionally the short rains and April and May are the long rains. The rest of the year is generally dry although this is not so clear as it used to be.

Not surprisingly, most people want to climb Kilimanjaro when it is going to be warm and dry but that of course means the drier months are very busy. We try to mitigate this by starting most of our group climbs away from the weekend when almost half of all climbers start. If you don't mind a bit of rain on your climb though, the off-peak months will be very quiet and there are often many days that are still dry. And of course in the off-peak months, flight prices and our prices are lower.

Q5How much does it cost to climb Kilimanjaro?

The cost of climbing Kilimanjaro depends largely on how many days you take on the mountain. We recommend you take at least 7 days as the success rate for 7 day climbs is almost 50% higher than shorter climbs. Prices for a 7 day climb start from £1399 and are a little more than this for private climbs.

Flight prices vary quite a bit during the year and are now a lot more expensive if you do not book early. Typically though you should budget between £700 to £800 for a flight from Europe and $2000 for a flight from North America.

The only other significant cost you will have on top of this for your Kilimanjaro climb is tips for your crew. We are a member of the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Program and stick to their tip recommendations. This means for a normal 7 day climb, tips will be about $200-$250 per person.

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Our favourites routes to climb Kilimanjaro

For the best chance of success

Machame route

The Machame route has the best success rate mainly because it offers great acclimatisation allowing you to naturally "walk high, sleep low" every day. So far this year we have had a 100% success rate on 7 day climbs on this route.

Prices

From £1299
From $2150
From €1689
6 Days
From £1249
From $2100
From €1624
7 Days

For fabulous scenery

Lemosho route

The Lemosho route undoubtedly has the best scenery. It starts in jungle to the far west of Kilimanjaro and provides a fantastic panorama as it crosses the Shira plateau with great views of the the dramatic peaks of Cathedral and Needle.

Prices

From £1599
From $2450
From €2079
7 Days
From £1649
From $2804
From €2144
8 Days

New for 2014: the complete Northern Circuit

Northern Circuit route

New this year, the Northern Circuit route deserves its' billing as the "grand traverse" of Kilimanjaro from west to east. It is by far the most quiet and remote route taking you on a circumnavigation of Kilimanjaro far away from the crowds. It offers a very high summit success rate due to its longer walk in which helps to improve acclimatisation.

Prices

From £1999
From $2950
From €2599
9 Days

For the ultimate challenge

Crater Camp routes

Are you looking for a really unique adventure? Try sleeping in Crater Camp on Mt Kilimanjaro. Crater camp stands on the Roof of Africa and is an incredible wilderness environment. If you have experience at altitude and love something challenging then sleeping overnight in Kilimanjaro's Crater Camp is a fantastic option.

Prices

From £1774
From $2975
From €2306
8 Days
From £2174
From $3575
From €2826
9 Days
From £2374
From $3875
From €3086
10 Days

When is the best time to climb Kilimanjaro

January - March
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Dry and quiet
April - May
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Quiet but wet
June - October
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Warm and dry but busy
November - December
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Some rain and colder

Mt Kilimanjaro sits very close to the equator and has none of the seasons we are used to in either the Northern or Southern Hemispheres. Temperatures vary very little throughout the year and certainly by comparison with the change in temperature you experience climbing Kilimanjaro because of the altitude the seasonal variations are inconsequential.

What Kilimanjaro does experience though is big seasonal variation in rainfall. It has two rainy seasons: what they call the short rainy season, traditionally between mid November and mid December, and the long rainy season in April and May. In both these periods you can expect some rain most days and in the April-May period this rain can be prolonged.  

So if staying dry is critical, aim for January to March and May to October. Remember though that nearly everyone else wants to do the same so these are the busiest months. If you can tolerate a little rain climbing off season can be fun, not just because it will be quiet but also because there is a good chance of snow on the summit.

Why climb Kilimanjaro with Private Expeditions

  • Your safety is our number one priority so whether its emergency oxygen, daily health checks or pulse-oxymeters we go the extra step to ensure you are in safe hands.
  • As specialists in high altitude trekking we know how to help you reach the summit successfully. Our great guides, great food and comfortable tents make a big difference.
  • Unlike nearly everyone else you find on the internet we actually run our climbs ourselves and with no middleman you get a high quality climb at a great value price.
  • Whether it's porter treatment, caring for the environment or supporting local charities we do everything you would want from an ethical operator.
  • And of course you don't have to trust what we say, check out what past customers say below!

News and reviews

Our news and views

Melanie at Machame gate with Private Expeditions

Melanie takes on the Machame Route on Kilimanjaro

Day 3 and Melanie takes the route up to Lava Tower for...

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Paul and Ben at Umbwe Gate with Private Expeditions

Paul and Ben take the Umbwe route on Kilimanjaro

Paul and Ben took their last walk on Kilimanjaro today from Mweka...

Read More
MHW Trango PE logo

New Mountain Hardwear Trango tents arrive for Kilimanjaro!

We are very excited to have just taken delivery of our new...

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Clan BP at Machame Gate with Private Expeditions

Clan BP climb Kilimanjaro together

No more news or photo of Clan BP has arrived yet.

Read More

Kilimanjaro reviews

5 Star Review 12 11 2014 Kilimanjaro Hardest Trek made easyest Trek After seeing Chris Moyle's and crew climb Kilimanjaro a few years ago on the TV, Karen my wife at 50, decided we should have a go. Roy & Karen Cunningham
5 Star Review 05 11 2014 Professional, excellent in every way, made a dream come true! From the moment we met our guide we felt in safe hands. The guides and porters were all amazing - efficient, professional and very friendly, we really felt part of... Wendy Hardiman-Evans
5 Star Review 27 10 2014 Professionals is the word I would use to describe the team of Private Expeditions They helped me reach the UHURU summit of mount Kilimanjaro at 06:20 on Sunday the 19th of October. Now I am back home, safe, happy and satisfied with that increadible lifetime... Jamal Saleh
5 Star Review 22 10 2014 Professionals! An adventure of a lifetime Just came back yesterday from climbing Kilimanjaro, a trip organised by PE.  I was impressed by the level of follow up and coordination between companies teams. The Booking was organised superbly... Dr J Saleh
5 Star Review 20 10 2014 Could not have accomplished Kili without them!! Private Expeditions were amazing. Their team of guides and porters were fantastic. Whilst there were many moments of fun and laughter, we also had some tough mental & physical challenges... Anuschka

Three styles of expedition to climb Kilimanjaro

We offer three expedition styles to climb Kilimanjaro: private climbs, open groups and Kilimanjaro charity challenges. Whichever you choose, our experienced team will help you achieve your goal of climbing Kilimanjaro: Africa's highest mountain.  

Private climbs
Private trips to climb Kilimanjaro are your own personal tailor-made adventure, giving you total flexibility and the highest chance of success. Just choose your date, route and any of our tailor-made options. Perfect for a group of friends or a charity group or a couple looking to celebrate a special birthday or anniversary. Upgrades to private climbs start from £100 per person depending on the size of the group.

Open group climbs

If you want the company of others while you climb Kilimanjaro then an open group is perfect for you. Our group climbs run every week during the main climbing season from June - October and December - March.  They are limited to a maximum of 12 climbers to make sure you get the best chance of summit success. Particularly popular are our open group full moon climbs which run every month.

Charity challenges to climb Kilimanjaro
We do not offer the complicated sponsor funded climbs, just great value, tailor-made challenges so that more of the money you raise goes to charity.  We also offer our charity climbers special low deposits so that they can get on with fundraising for their chosen charity while our PR team offers a helping hand to promote their charity challenge.

Learn all about Kilimanjaro before your climb

Before you set off on your adventure to climb Kilimanjaro why not check out its geology and the plants and animals you should expect to see. If you want to know the detail have a look at wikipedia here but for a condensed guide see below.

Geology

Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and fourth highest of the so-called Seven Summits, the highest peaks in each of the world's 7 continents. It is considered the tallest freestanding mountain in the world, with Uhuru Peak rising to an altitude of 15,100 feet (4,600 m) from base to summit, with an overall height of 5895m. It is composed of three distinct volcanic cones: Kibo 19,340 feet (5895 meters); Mawenzi 16,896 feet (5149 m); and Shira 13,000 feet (3962 m). Uhuru Peak is the highest summit on Kibo's crater rim.

Kilimanjaro is a giant strato-volcano that began forming a million years ago, when lava spilled from the Rift Valley zone. Two of its three peaks, Mawenzi and Shira, are extinct while Kibo (the highest peak) is dormant and could erupt again. Kilimanjaro lies on a tectonic line intersection 80km east of the tectonically active Rift Valley. The activity which created this stratovolcano dates back less than a million years and the central ash pit on Kibo, the highest volcanic centre, may be only several hundred years old. Steam and sulphur fumaroles here are indicative of residual activity. 

The last major eruption has been dated to 360,000 years ago, while the most recent activity was recorded just 200 years ago. Kilimanjaro has 2.2 square kilometres (0.85 sq mi) of glacial ice and is losing it quickly.The glaciers have shrunk 82% since 1912 and declined 33% since 1989. It might be ice free within 20 years, dramatically affecting local drinking water and crop irrigation.

Vegetation 

As you climb Kilimanjaro you pass through 5 distinct climate and vegetation zones

giant lobelia

  • The Lower Slopes/Cultivation - Between 2,600 feet and 5,900 feet the climate is tropical with an average of 45 inches of rainfall each year. The lowlands are now densely cultivated with coffee and banana plantations and the deforestation is a factor in the shrinking glaciers on Kilimanjaro.
  • Rain Forest - The zone between 5,900 and 9,200 feet receives the highest amount of rainfall, up to 78 inches per year. The moisture results in a belt of dense tropical rain forest.
  • Moorland - The moorland zone is between 9,200 feet and 13,100 feet and is covered with heather and bright flowers. Above the heath is a black moorland where plants such as lobelias and groundels grow. 
  • High Desert - Between 13,100 and 16,400 feet there is a semi-desert region that receives less than 10 inches of rain annually. Temperatures range from the mid 80s to below freezing at night. Only plants such as moss or lichens can survive here.
  • Arctic Zone/Summit - The summit zone above 16,400 feet is an icy wasteland, baked by fierce sunshine during the day and frozen at night. The thin air here contains half as much oxygen as at sea level.

 

Wildlife

kilimanjaro monkeys

As you climb Kilimanjaro make sure you ask your guide to try and spot animals for you. There are plenty to look out for, as in spite of the tough climate there are over 140 species of mammals living on Kilimanjaro. At least seven larger mammal species have been recorded above the tree line including tree hyrax, grey duiker, red duiker, eland, bushbuck, buffalo and elephants. Three primate species also live in the montane forests: blue monkey, black and white colombus monkeys and bushbabies. 

kilimanjaro birds
Over 180 species of birds have been recorded as living on Kilimanjaro's slopes including Hartlaub’s Turaco,  Hornbills and Speckled Mousebirds or the Malachite Sunbird.