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The Definitive Guide to Kilimanjaro Part One: Should I climb Kili?

The Definitive Guide to Kilimanjaro Part One: Should I climb Kili?


If you want to tackle and ultimately tame this beast you need to do your research and that is what this series of articles will help you to do. Over the coming weeks and months we at Sandgrouse Travel & Expeditions will be posting a series of informative articles on realising your Kilimanjaro ambitions so watch this space. 

Maybe you are considering climbing Kilimanjaro? You are not alone. People have been drawn to this challenge since men in tweed first attempted it in 1889 when no-one really knew what to call this goliath. This is a physical and mental challenge where strength of mind is as important as strength of legs. 

The climb is not technical but when you factor in altitude sickness, the thinning air, the prospect of trekking uphill for a week or longer – through biomes each as contrasting as the previous - you need to know what you are considering. Only 60% of the 20,000 people who attempt to climb it each year make it to the top. Summiting to Uhuru Peak is by no means a given.

If you want to tackle and ultimately tame this beast you need to do your research and that is what this series of articles will help you to do. Get the planning wrong and join the 40%. 

Success rates vary enormously on Kilimanjaro - the below summarises the direct corrolation between number of days on expedition and success rates.

  • 5-6 day treks (72% of success), 7-8 day (88% of success) and 9-10 day (99% of success). These statistics speak volumes.

(A glimpes of the snow capped-summit zone seen through the clouds). 


Kilimanjaro: This snow-capped icon of Africa is invariably photographed as the backdrop to an elephant: at over 19,000 feet this is the highest volcano in the world outside of South America. It is a living moving mountain.

"This is a conquest that will last a lifetime."

The roof of Africa is easily the highest peak in Africa. Luckily at the moment it is dormant – a sleeping giant with a history of over 2.5 million years of eruptions. Now is the time to climb it, before the slumbering beast reawakens and changes the landscape of Tanzania again. 

There are several climb routes that we at Sandgrouse Travel & Expeditions know and love, each of these with their own advocates but all pass through the belts of rainforest on the lower slopes before scree and harsh rock dominate the landscape. Some take you across the legendary Shira Plateau, through columns of glacial ice, others circumnavigate the three caldera at the summit. 

The peak of Kilimanjaro has its own weather systems – harsh winds and a year round average temperature of minus 7 degrees mean that as soon as you reach the summit: your thoughts turn quickly from elation to getting back down to comfort. This is a conquest that will last a lifetime.

"To climb Mount Kilimanjaro, one has to be well prepared physically, mentally and also emotionally. Kilimanjaro is not a technical mountain thus you do not have to force your body to train on technical climbing, however general training for Kilimanjaro is very important. Before you start training it is better to see your physician (Doctor) for a health check-up of course, but I suggest long walks, even walking up and down stair cases.


I would recommend trekking with your daily back packs (8-10kgs) so you get used to the weight. And running (jogging 3 to 4 times a week) 3 months before the trek – this improves all your muscle groups equally." - Msafiri Munna, Kilimanjaro Expedition Leader and Wilderness First Aid Responder. 

(Sunrise at 6:30am over Mt Mawenzi part of the Kilimanjaro massif). 


You need to know that you are putting your trust in the right people and the right outfit to maximise your chances of success, we will come on to the logistics in the next article but for now it’s time to consider if this is a challenge you can face?

If you would like to climb Kilimanjaro in Tanzania take a look at some of our exciting sample itineraries by clicking here: Climbing Kilimanjaro . To speak to a Sandgrouse Travel & Expeditions African travel expert please call 0131 622 4731 or email to arrange a call time. 

(Rongai 3 Caves Camp on the North Eastern flanks of Kilimanjaro). 

Leave a comment

Andrew Mathias

Andrew Mathias says: October 1st, 2016 at 10:30 am

Kilimanjaro guide to climb Kilimanjaro by Sand Grouse Travel is useful and helps tourists prepare Kilimanjaro trekking well. Travel tips by Sandgrouse Travel & Expeditions African travel expert helps all Kilimanjaro climbers to be comfort and hike successful.

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