The Best Trips to Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Mount Kilimanjaro is located in northern Tanzania, not far from the border of Kenya. It is the highest mountain in Africa and the highest free-standing mountain in the world. Each year, more than 35,000 climbers attempt to summit the mountain’s steep slopes, hoping to take in the view from Kilimanjaro as they climb. But to successfully reach Kilimanjaro’s peak, you have to do some planning – not to mention some training!
Step One: Select Your Trekking Guide
Planning and preparation are the keys to a successful Kilimanjaro climb. And by successful, we don’t mean simply reaching the summit. Planning and preparation will determine how much you enjoy (or don’t enjoy) your entire trekking Kilimanjaro tour!
First thing first – picking a reputable trekking agency is critical to your success! Additionally, it is required by Tanzanian law. Mount Kilimanjaro is protected by the Kilimanjaro National Park. Access is restricted to those who have reserved a spot with a registered trekking agency. A good climb operator will also supply guides, a cook, porters, food, water, and camping equipment (if you are camping). Yes, this can be very expensive! But in order to enjoy your trip to Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, you don’t want to pinch pennies. Make sure you book with a responsible operator who treats their staff well – this is no time to choose a budget operator over a quality guide.
Step Two: Make Sure To Pack Only The Essentials
During your trekking Kilimanjaro tour, you will be responsible for carrying a day pack with the essentials for your climb. However, the bulk of your gear will be carried by a porter. To make their job easier as they carry your luggage from base camp to base camp, make sure you select a large backpack or duffel bag. Hard shell luggage is a no-no!
- Luggage weight is limited to a maximum of 33 pounds. If your bag exceeds that weight, an extra carrier must be hired (and paid).
- Clothing can be the deciding factor for a successful hike. In the course of your climb, you will cross five climate zones, from equatorial rainforests to near-arctic conditions. Pay attention to the packing list your guide sends you to make sure you have the proper gear!
- Pack moisture-wicking layers (synthetic, no cotton). The inner layers should be moisture-wicking, while the middle layer should be insulating. All top layers should be waterproof but breathable.
The list of gear, clothing, and accessories for your trip to Kilimanjaro, Tanzania can be overwhelming. However, make sure you purchase and pack each item on the list. From sleeping bags rated for artic temperatures to hiking boots, your guide has listed the items that will guarantee a successful summit attempt. Again, bargain hunting or settling for something that “sort of” fits the guidelines is not a good idea. Having the proper gear can be a matter of life and death on Kili’s slopes.
Step Three: Enjoy The View
Climbing Kilimanjaro is a challenge, but the feeling of accomplishment a climber gets at the summit is more than enough to make up for cold toes and numb fingers. Of course, the views from Kilimanjaro as you climb offset any of the physical discomfort you might feel. Here is a short list of the seven best views from Kilimanjaro that you will experience on your climb.
- Shira 1 Camp – when you hit this base camp, it will be the first time you’ve climbed above the treeline of the forest at the base of the mountain. Take in the rolling sky and be on the lookout for Kibo’s snowy peak in the distance. You can also enjoy the night sky and endless stars from your tent. With no trees to block the view, the sky goes on for miles.
- Shira 2 Camp – this site will be your base camp on the second night, and once you reach it you will be treated to a spectacular sunset view behind Shira Peak. You’ll also get your first view of Uhuru Peak – Kili’s summit.
- The Barranco Valley – as you climb to the Barranco Valley camp, you can take in the surreal landscape of the giant groundsel plant. The valley boasts funky flora, crystal-clear waterfalls, and impressive views of the glaciers shimmering on Kili’s slopes above your head.
- Karanga Camp – from this camp, you’ll feel like you can reach out and touch the clouds surrounding you! On a clear night, you’ll be able to see Mt. Meru in the distance, too.
- Barafu Camp – an early wake-up call will reward you with a magnificent sunrise over the jagged outline of Mawenzi Peak. From there, you will begin your ascent to Kili’s summit.
- Crater Camp – although this detour is not on the regular summit route, it’s one worth taking. Towering blue glaciers are an incredible contrast to the ash and lava-covered floor of the crater. This bizarre landscape is a mix between a lunar and arctic environment and is like no other landscape on Earth.
- Uhuru Peak – congratulations! You’ve reached Kilimanjaro’s summit on your trekking Kilimanjaro tour. Once you see the summit sign, the Roof of Africa is not far off. From the summit, you can take in the view all around you and enjoy the rush of reaching your goal.
A Stunning View From Kilimanjaro’s Peak
Once you reach Kili’s summit, your guide will make sure to snap a group photo (or a solo shot of you) for the memory book. After a brief moment to look around, you will start your descent down the mountain. Lingering at the summit is not encouraged, because of the steep altitude. But don’t worry – you’ll be able to see all the incredible views you encountered on the way up for a second time as you head back after your incredible adventure.