How Difficult is it to Climb Kilimanjaro

The question how difficult is it to climb Mount Kilimanjaro is a very tough one to answer! There are a few factors to consider that, combined, will help to assess the difficulty of the climb.  Once you have considered each, then you can make an educated decision whether or not you think it is difficult.

Understanding High Altitude

First of all, you need to understand altitude, and what effect the lack of oxygen has on the body. This alone is the number one reason why people are not successful on the mountain.  The success rate on Kilimanjaro ranges between 50% – 60% overall. On a peak that is not technical, why would so few be making it to the top?  Answering this question is simple. The reason so many people do not make the summit is because they are not allowing enough time to acclimatize when going to those heights. It takes a long time to acclimatize to low oxygen environments.

What we are trying to achieve on Kilimanjaro is gathering enough red blood cells in the body to carry more oxygen around the body.  This will help to keep the body functioning while we move higher on the mountain. Above 5,500m/ 18,000 feet, you move into the lower realm of the death zone. Nothing lives, survives or can stay long term above this height. It is a potentially dangerous place to be.

Moving into the Alpine Desert at the Lava Tower

Remember, Kilimanjaro’s summit sits at 5,895m/ 19,341 feet. You are trying to sneak to the summit, then get down below the death zone, as quickly as possible. You also need to be able to have enough red blood cells to actually make this happen. So, the more days you spend acclimatizing lower down, then the better chance you have at a safe and successful summit.  You also limit your risk of serious altitude issues.

Spend Enough Time on the Mountain

Ian has personally climbed Kilimanjaro over 35+ times. He has done so over 5, 6, 7 and 8 days. After years of running different trips and routes up the mountain, we have come to the conclusion that the only way to climb Kilimanjaro is in 8 days.  If you want to have a safe and successful summit of the mountain, you have to have a minimum of 8 days in order to do so.  Any less than this will not give your body enough time to acclimatize to the lack of oxygen. The reason people try and climb the mountain in less days is simply because of cost.  The more days you spend on the mountain, the more expensive it is.  However, if you are taking on this once and a lifetime trip to Tanzania, why not give yourself the best chance!

The Roof of Africa

Train for the Terrain

The next most important aspect of how difficult you find the Kilimanjaro climb is your training.  You are going to be walking, on uneven, up and down hill terrain for 8 days.  These days will be a minimum of 4 hours of walking and a maximum of 14 hours!  You MUST come prepared for this. On the summit night, if you are on one of our trips and start from Kosovo Camp, you will be walking up almost 1,000m/ 3,280 feet at extreme altitude.  Then, you still have to continue down from the summit all the way to Mweka Camp, which is at 3,100m/ 10,170 feet.  This is a huge amount of terrain to cover in one day both uphill and downhill. This is a very challenging day and you must ome prpared for it. CLICK HERE for some training advice.

What Training you Need to Do

We recommend that you spend at least four or five days a week, doing some sort of intense physical exercise.  This should be done for approximately six to eight months prior to your start date of your trek.  We recommend spending at least four days a week either walking up hill on a treadmill or on a stair-master (stair master is best) for one to two hours a day.  You will also want to build up to carrying 10-12 kilos (22 – 25 lbs) in a backpack on your back.  Doing this type of daily training sessions, along with one longer day a week out in the hills, is ideal. In your longer session in the hills, you will want to walk from 4 – 7 hours, going up and down hills with the weighted pack on. We cannot stress enough how important this is to your training.

If you do this type of training, building strength and endurance, you will be ready for the trip. If you do not have access to mountains or hills to train on, you can always add extra weight to your backpack.  Also, you could just do longer walks on the stair master in the gym if need be. CONTACT US and we will help you prepare and train for this amazing adventure. CHECK OUT our day by day video’s from each day on the trail.

Leaving Karanga Camp and heading to Kosovo Camp

Bringing These Two Things Together

Going into a low oxygen environment is both physically and mentally challenging.  By training hard and approaching the climb with respect and doing your research, you will be better mentally prepared for the climb. If you go into the climb with confidence, strength and good physical conditioning, then you are giving yourself the mental strength to know you can achieve the summit and return safely.  If you decide to sign up on one of our climbs you will have access to our team who have the expertise and knowledge on Kilimanjaro.  We want to make sure you get the right information for your trip!  GET IN TOUCH TODAY!  

How Difficult is it to Climb Kilimanjaro

You can definitely make Kilimanjaro a much more difficult climb than it needs to be!  Make sure you choose the right itinerary, with a minimum of 8 days on the mountain.  Also, make sure you are doing the correct training and preparation, to give yourself the best chance of success!  Make sure you choose a team that has the correct acclimatization, professional guides, support, pacing, tents, safety equipment and food to give you a better overall experience.  Our team is award winning in Kilimanjaro and our head guide was named the Guide of the Year! We have the team both before your trip and on the mountain that will give you the best guidance and support to make your goals a reality!

Kilimanjaro views from the top of the Barranco Wall

Ian Taylor Trekking have put over 2,000 people on the summit of Kilimanjaro with a 98% success rate on our 8 day Lemosho route climbs. Join our one of our amazing trips up Kilimanjaro and sign up for a trip of a lifetime!

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