Summit Night on Mount Kilimanjaro with Ian Taylor Trekking is going to to be tough. All of our summit attempts start from Kosovo Camp 4,900m/ 16,076 feet. Normally, trips leave from Barafu Camp 4,650m/ 15,256 feet if you are are on a Lemosho route or Machame route trek. Check out our upcoming trips.
Kosovo Camp or Barafu Camp
Kosovo Camp 4,900m/ 16,000 feet offers our clients the best chance of success. We also have 1 to 1 support on the summit night, alongside Kilimanjaro’s Number 1 Guide leading the way. Barafu is a noisy, smelly and dirty camp and does not aid in a better chance at successfully reaching the summit.
On an already challenging summit night on Kilimanjaro, Barafu hut adds an additional hour to the summit night. When you leave Barafu Camp you are immediately faced with a hard start up deep rocky terrain in that first hour. This is best avoided and using Kosovo Camp offers you a better experience and chance at reaching the summit and actually enjoying it.
There are Many Reasons why we Climb Mount Kilimanjaro at Night
Firstly, the conditions at night offer you more favorable weather conditions with clearer sky’s early in the morning. There is normally a build up of clouds starting around mid day on Kilimanjaro. You can be lucky summitting later in the morning, but from our 20 years of climbing Kilimanjaro clear views are limited.
Secondly, by trying to summit early in the morning you have all day and more daylight hours to manage any issues on the descent. You don’t need to carry as much water which add so much extra weight to your backpack.
Thirdly, You need to be high on the mountain above Stella point to witness one of the most amazing sunrises high above the African plains. There is a 30 minute window when the lighting is amazing and Kilimanjaro casts a shadow across Mount Meru. You need to be high on the mountain to witness this spectacle.
Everything Comes Down to Summit Night
Barafu Camp sits at 4,650m/ 15,256 feet and Kosovo camp is at 4,900m/ 16,076 feet. Your Kilimanjaro climb will come down to one long summit night and day. If you are leaving from Barafu Camp, you will likely leave around midnight, and if you are leaving from Kosovo Camp, you will leave around 1am.
No matter where you leave from, it is a long, slow and mental challenge to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro at 5,895m/ 19,341 feet.
Our Approach to Summit Night on Kilimanjaro
After 17 years of climbing on Kilimanjaro we have developed the best approach to summit night to maximize safety and success. If weather allows and winds are low, we will be taking off from the higher camp of Kosovo.
The reason that our teams can do this is because we have taken adequate time to acclimatize lower down on the Shira Plateau. If you are only on a 5-7 day trip, it can be risky going all the way to Kosovo Camp for the night. The reason for this is that your body would not be able to cope with the altitude with less acclimatization.
Our teams aim to reach Barafu camp at 11:00am or Kosovo camp at 12 mid day. Indeed, this will give our bodies the time for additional acclimatization, along with rest and sleep. By staying at the higher camp, we will also position ourselves away from the noise of the main camp. Review the elevation gains.
Kilimanjaro’s Number 1 Guide
At approximately midnight it will be time to get up and to start getting dressed and your gear ready. It is important to start slowly drinking water. The goal would be to try and drink 1 liter of water before you leave on the summit night.
At 12:30am we will be served breakfast in the dining tent and you can fill your Nalgene bottles with boiled water for the night ahead. Some people like to have 2 Nalgene bottles (2 liters of water) for their summit attempt.
This is a personal choice on how much you carry. Make sure you keep well hydrated during the whole trip and even prior to joining the Kilimanjaro climb. Our Head Guide is Kilimanjaro’s Number 1 Guide so you will be in good hands.
Start Hiking to the Summit of Kilimanjaro
At 1am, we will start hiking towards the summit. We will aim to gain 200m/ 656 vertical feet, per hour on route to the summit. Our goal on the summit night is to keep a very strict routine while going up.
We will walk for an hour and then stop, drink water, eat some snacks and go to the toilet just off the trail. Each stop will be 5 to 7 minutes, depending on the weather. We will repeat this for the next 5 hours as we slowly edge our way above 5,500m/ 18,000 feet.
As we reach this elevation we may need to stop every 30 minutes as the lack of oxygen becomes more challenging. At this stage, we will begin to slowly move towards Stella Point, as light hits the horizon.
Steep Terrain up and down
The last section up to Stella point is one of the hardest during the night. The pace will be slow and steady as you focus on deep breathing. Once we get to Stella Point, it will likely be very cold, so we will rest for 5 minutes and have some hot tea. Then, we will continue the 50 minutes to the true summit.
The terrain is now a little easier than the previous hours to reach Stella Point. The lack of oxygen is challenging, so you need to make sure you are focusing on deep breathing all the way up to the summit.
Getting oxygen into your body is the most important thing you should be thinking about on your summit attempt. After 5 hours 30 minutes of walking up hill you will reach the summit of Kilimanjaro!
Standing on the Summit of Kilimanjaro
Enjoy the achievement of reaching the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro!! You will have dreamt of this moment for months even years. Savor the moment, as it will stay with you for the rest of your life.
After the struggle and challenge to reach the summit is over, remember you are only half way. The descent is steep and takes a lot of focus as the terrain is challenging under foot.
The Steep Descent
Next, we will begin to move as a team back to high camp, which should take about 3 hours. It is extremely important to get back down below 5,500m/ 18,000 feet as quickly as possible.
Depending on what time we reach high camp, you will have some time to rest, re-hydrate, eat a full lunch, pack your bag and slowly make your way down the trail. We will make our way all the way down to Mweka Camp at 3,100m/ 10,171 feet.
From the summit, this is a 2,795m/ 9,170 feet drop down to the camp! This WILL likely be one of the most challenging days of your life to cover this distance!
Why do we Descend so much after the Summit
There are a number of reasons we descend below Kosovo Camp 4,900m/ 16,076 feet after reaching the summit. Firstly, the main reason is high altitude. It is much better to descend to lower elevation to sleep and aid the best recovery.
If you look at the elevations where we sleep, you will see we spend a lot of time around the 4,000m/ 13,000 feet mark. It is important to get below this elevation to optimize sleep and recovery. After summiting, we want to get trekkers as low as possible.
Secondly, I have climbed Kilimanjaro 40+ times and I can tell you that returning to a lower elevation as quickly as possible makes a big difference. Sleeping at a lower altitude reduces symptoms of altitude sickness often will recover completely. Even those who have acclimatized well will feel much better.
Thirdly, There is no water source high on the mountain. We have to carry up 20 buckets of water from 3,900m/ 12,795 feet in the Karanga valley. This water has to be carried all the way up 1,000m/ 3,380 feet to Kosovo Camp.
Finally, Kosovo Camp is a small campsite and spaces are limited. Logistically, we need to move our equipment lower to offer up spaces to other teams looking to use this space.
Climbing Kilimanjaro at Night
We realize that a night ascent on Kilimanjaro can be challenging, due to the darkness, the cold and the wind. But the pros definitely outweigh the cons.
So, while it might not sound so enjoyable to climb Kilimanjaro in the middle of the night, know that there are compelling reasons behind why we do it and it is with your best interest at heart.
Pick 8 Days on the Lemosho Route
We highly recommend our 8 day climbs as you want to give yourself the best and safest chance at trekking to 5,895m/ 19,341ft. Watch the video above to see some raw footage from the summit night on Kilimanjaro. Read some REVIEWS from our trips.
Lack of Physical Preparation is Risking Safety
Ian has climbed Kilimanjaro over 40+ times now. From his experiences on the mountain, the place he sees clients struggle the most is on the final two hours to the Crater Rim. Usually because people never train doing long 5+ weekly hikes, building up their endurance.
You need to keep moving because of the cold, and the pace will be super slow. Therefore, you will be able to take your time the team can take multiple short stops at this stage. It is now a mental game and you have to believe in yourself and dig deep. Most of the hard work is done. Dig deep, breath deep and you can make it to the top. Read our training advice.
Sleeping Lower Aids in your Recovery
After you have enjoyed the summit of Kilimanjaro, you will then need to drop down out of this extreme altitude. As we said above, it will take approximately 3 hours to get back to high camp. After the break in high camp, you will pack up and have approximately a further 3/4 hours to Mweka Camp at 3,100m/ 10,170 feet.
You will be back in the rain forest and now you can celebrate you summit success. This can be a 12/14 hour day in total, and can be very difficult! Therefore, you need the best acclimatization in the lead up to this challenging summit night climb on Kilimanjaro. CLICK HERE for more information on our climbs.
Contact The Experts
GET IN TOUCH today for more information on our climbs of Kilimanjaro! We have helped over 3,000 to the summit. We want to help you reach your goal of standing on the Roof of Africa! If you want to be successful on Kilimanjaro, then check this link out with all you need to know about climbing Kilimanjaro.