As the tallest mountain in Africa, Kilimanjaro stands 19,340 feet above sea level. As the world’s highest free-standing mountain more than 15,000 people attempt to climb it every year.
Some take on the climb as a spiritual journey while for others it’s more of a personal quest. Either way, a walk to the summit is ranked among the greatest outdoor challenges in the world.
Choosing the Right Route
One thing that makes the Kilimanjaro climb stand out from other similar feats is that the mountain is a walking mountain. So it is more of a hike than a climb, and different routes leading to the top require different levels of fitness.
Some of these routes are more traveled than others which, in the case of those looking for a tranquil hike, is not usually the best choice. The Rongai routes provide 5-6 night trail experiences with lighter traffic and makes them some of the most popular routes for groups.
Climbers who follow the Kilimanjaro Shira routes are said to have the best chances of reaching the summit. However Shira route 7A is considered the most traveled route and is used by more operators than any other.
If you want to avoid crowds, this is the one route you don’t want to take as you climb Kilimanjaro. If you have the time, you may prefer the remote North routes which are less traveled and provide a longer trek (8 nights) that covers a spiraling circumnavigation of the summit.
Of all the trails accessing the Kilimanjaro summit, the most popular is what is known as the “Coca Cola route” because of its comfortable sleeping huts, rather than the sleeping on the ground, plus food and drink that is readily available for sale. While this is popular with tourists, this path is also crowded.
Cautions for Climbers
While climbing Kilimanjaro may not be as strenuous as other mountains, some people are tempted to climb quickly. Climbers who do so often suffer from altitude sickness and experience symptoms such as headaches, vomiting, and other distress of the digestive system.
The trek is not an easy one, but for those who reach the crater rim to take in the lunar landscape, there’s not a more beautiful mountain to climb. For those considering tackling Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa Travel Resource offers a guidebook with everything you need to know about climbing the mountain the help you prepare.