Mount Kilimanjaro

Towering high above Tanzania at 5,895 metres, Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and the highest free-standing mountain in the world

Mount Kilimanjaro, at a glance

Once an active volcano, the last seismic activity recorded at Kili dates back more than 200 years, and there have been no major eruptions in over 100,000 years.

The most famous pictures of Kili are taken from the Amboseli National Park in Kenya, although the majority of summit hikes begin in Tanzania. 

The summit climb is not technical, Kili has a slow incline which makes it accessible even for less experienced hikers.

The summit hike typically takes 6-8 days. If you are more limited on time, there are shorter hikes that don’t take you to the summit. 

The origin of its name is unclear – many believe it is a mixture of the word kilima (‘mountain’ in Tanzania’s national language Swahili) and the word njoro (which in KiChagga, the local language, loosely translates to ‘whiteness’, referring to its snowy peaks).

When is the best time to climb Kilimanjaro?

The fewer clouds, the better your vision from the summit will be. Seeing the mountain scale up behind Moshi is an impressive site when there is little cloud coverage. We recommend waking up early to get the best views.

The rainy season in Tanzania is twice a year, from the end of March to the end of May, and again from November to mid-December. The wet ground and clouds make for difficult trekking and less vision at the summit.

The best conditions are in January and February, as well as August and September, although any time outside the rainy season will work well. 

March and October offer less crowded hikes as people fear the rains could come early. The period right after a rainy season can also hinder vision as clouds can often linger for much longer. Sometimes you are just out of luck and the weather will be too bad to even attempt to summit.

Accommodation options at Mount Kilimanjaro

While on the mountain, you will either stay in tents or huts. Huts are exclusive to the Marangu route, so this might be a decisive factor in your planning.

Your trekking team will be responsible for organising your gear and equipment. The tent quality will much depend on their services and how much money you are willing to pay. 

Before starting your trek, you will normally spend a few days in Moshi (or Arusha) to start acclimatizing and sleep off any jet lag.

How to get to Mount Kilimanjaro

Just under an hour from Fort Portal, nestled on the fringes of Kibale Forest, Bigodi Wetlands Sanctuary is a great spot for birders, and those interested in primates. 

Make your way through the swamp on wooden walkways, spotting all the birds and animals you may have missed earlier in the day while your full attention was (understandably) on the chimps. 

The Bigodi Wetlands Sanctuary pairs well with chimp trekking, as both can be done as half-day activities in Kibale Forest.