1.1 About Mount Kilimanjaro
Mount Kilimanjaro is a dormant volcano in Tanzania. It is the highest mountain in Africa, and rises approximately 4,900 m (16,000 ft) from its base to 5,895 metres (19,341 ft) above sea level. The first recorded ascent to the summit of the mountain was by Hans Meyer and Ludwig Purtscheller in 1889. The mountain is part of the Kilimanjaro National Park and is a major climbing destination. The mountain has been the subject of many scientific studies because of its shrinking glaciers. Kilimanjaro rises approximately 4,900 m (16,000 ft) from its southern base in the plains near the municipality of Moshi to its summit height of 5,895 metres (19,341 ft). Kilimanjaro is the highest volcano outside South America.
Mt Kilimanjaro the famed ice capped mountain lies just 3° south of the equator. As Tanzania’s landmark, Kilimanjaro towers over the surrounding African plains. In fact, it is the highest freestanding mountain in the world (5,895 meters/ 19,341 ft). It is also the highest mountain that can be climbed without technical equipment and climbing skills. For the most part, it takes just putting one foot in front of the other. Although this sounds simple, it is most likely the toughest challenge you will ever face. Our success rate places us among the industry leaders and we guarantee that we will not compromise your safety; using only quality equipment and only the best experienced guides and cooks. Our guides are trained to monitor your physical condition and know how to pace the group accordingly; offering you the greatest chance of a successful summit.
A Mt. Kilimanjaro climb is unique in that within the span of a few days, you pass through a wide variety of climates and vegetation zones; from tropical rain forest to near arctic conditions. The mountain is regulated by Kilimanjaro National Park which has strict rules concerning routes allowed and climber’s safety. Of the route choices, the Marangu Route has sleeping huts for overnights. The huts are basic but have solar lighting. On the other routes, tents are used for overnights. Because of altitude acclimatization being a big challenge, adding an extra day to the climbing itinerary can improve the chance of success substantially. Let Africa Natural Tours help you choose the route and itinerary that is right for you.
Kilimanjaro is composed of three distinct volcanic cones: Kibo, the highest; Mawenzi at 5,149 metres (16,893 ft) and Shira, the shortest at 4,005 metres (13,140 ft). Mawenzi and Shira are extinct, while Kibo is dormant and could erupt again.
Uhuru Peak is the highest summit on Kibo’s crater rim. The height is based on a British Ordnance Survey in 1952. Since then, the height has been measured as 5,892 metres (19,331 ft) in 1999, 5,891 metres (19,327 ft) in 2008, and 5,888 metres (19,318 ft) in 2014.
Kilimanjaro has 2.2 square kilometers of glacial ice and is losing it quickly due to global warming. The glaciers have shrunk 82% since 1912 and declined 33% since 1989. It may be ice free within 20 years, dramatically affecting local drinking water, crop irrigation, and hydroelectric power.
1.2 Geology of Mount Kilimanjaro
The interior of the volcanic edifice is poorly known, given the lack of large scale erosion that could have exposed the interiors of the volcano. Eruptive activity at the Shira centre commenced about 2.5 million years ago, with the last important phase occurring about 1.9 million years ago, just before the northern part of the edifice collapsed. Shira is topped by a broad plateau at 3,800 metres (12,500 ft), which may be a filled caldera. The remnant caldera rim has been degraded deeply by erosion. Before the caldera formed and erosion began, Shira might have been between 4,900 m (16,000 ft) and 5,200 m (17,000 ft) high. It is mostly composed of basic lavas with some pyroclastics. The formation of the caldera was accompanied by lava emanating from ring fractures, but there was no large scale explosive activity. Two cones formed subsequently, the phonolitic one at the northwest end of the ridge and the doleritic “Platzkegel” in the caldera centre. Both Mawenzi and Kibo began erupting about 1 million years ago. They are separated by the “Saddle Plateau” at 4,400 metres (14,400 ft) elevation.
The youngest dated rocks at Mawenzi are about 448,000 years old. Mawenzi forms a horseshoe shaped ridge with pinnacles and ridges opening to the northeast which has a tower like shape resulting from deep erosion and a mafic dyke swarm. Several large cirques cut into the ring, the largest of these sits on top of the Great Barranco gorge. Also notable are the Ost and West Barrancos on the northeastern side of the mountain. Most of the eastern side of the mountain has been removed by erosion. Mawenzi has a subsidiary peak named Neumann Tower (4,425 metres (14,518 ft)).
Kibo is the largest cone and is more than 15 miles (24 km) wide at the “Saddle Plateau” altitude. The last activity here has been dated to between 150,000 and 200,000 years ago and created the current Kibo summit crater. Kibo still has gas-emitting fumaroles in the crater. Kibo is capped by an almost symmetrical cone with escarpments rising 180 metres (590 ft) to 200 metres (660 ft) on the south side. These escarpments define a 2.5-kilometre-wide (1.6 mi) caldera caused by the collapse of the summit. Within this caldera is the Inner Cone and within the crater of the Inner Cone is the Reusch Crater, which the Tanganyika government in 1954 named after Gustav Otto Richard Reusch upon his climbing the mountain for the 25th time (out of 65 attempts during his lifetime). The Ash Pit, 350 metres (1,150 ft) deep, lies within the Reusch Crater. About 100,000 years ago, part of Kibo’s crater rim collapsed, creating the area known as the Western Breach and the Great Barranco.
An almost continuous layer of lavas buries older geological features, with the exception of exposed strata within the Great West Notch and the Kibo Barranco. Kibo has five main lava formations: Phonotephrites and tephriphonolites of the “Lava Tower group”, on a dyke cropping out at 4,600 metres (15,100 ft), 482,000 years ago, Tephriphonolite to phonolite lavas “characterized by rhomb mega-phenocrysts of sodic feldspars” of the “Rhomb Porphyry group”, 460,000–360,000 years ago, aphyric phonolite lavas, “commonly underlain by basal obsidian horizons”, of the “Lent group”, 359,000–337,000 years ago, porphyritic tephriphonolite to phonolite lavas of the “Caldera rim group”, 274,000–170,000 years ago and phonolite lava flows with aegirine phenocrysts, of the “Inner Crater group”, which represents the last volcanic activity on Kibo.
Kibo has more than 250 parasitic cones on its northwest and southeast flanks that were formed between 150,000 and 200,000 years ago and erupted picrobasalts, trachybasalts, ankaramites, and basanites. They reach as far as Lake Chala and Taveta in the southeast and the Lengurumani Plain in the northwest. Most of these cones are well preserved, with the exception of the Saddle Plateau cones that were heavily affected by glacial action. Despite their mostly small size, lava from the cones has obscured large portions of the mountain. The Saddle Plateau cones are mostly cinder cones with terminal effusion of lava, while the Upper Rombo Zone cones mostly generated lava flows. All Saddle Plateau cones predate the last glaciation.
1.3 The history of the word Kilimanjaro
The origin of the name “Kilimanjaro” is not precisely known, but a number of theories exist. European explorers had adopted the name by 1860 and reported that “Kilimanjaro” was the mountain’s Kiswahili name. The 1907 edition of The Nuttall Encyclopædia also records the name of the mountain as “Kilima-Njaro”.
Johann Ludwig Krapf wrote in 1860 that Swahilis along the coast called the mountain “Kilimanjaro”. Although he did not support his claim, he claimed that “Kilimanjaro” meant either “mountain of greatness” or “mountain of caravans”. Under the latter meaning, “Kilima” meant “mountain” and “Jaro” possibly meant “caravans”.
Jim Thompson claimed in 1885, although he also did not support his claim, that the term Kilima-Njaro “has generally been understood to mean” the Mountain (Kilima) of Greatness (Njaro). “Though not improbably it may mean” the “White” mountain.
“Njaro” is an ancient Kiswahili word for “shining”. Similarly, Krapf wrote that a chief of the Wakamba people, whom he visited in 1849, “had been to Jagga and had seen the Kima jaJeu, mountain of whiteness, the name given by the Wakamba to Kilimanjaro….” More correctly in the Kikamba language, this would be Kiima Kyeu, and this possible derivation has been popular with several investigators.
Others have assumed that “Kilima” is Kiswahili for “mountain”. The problem with this assumption is that “Kilima” actually means “hill” and is, therefore, the diminutive of “Mlima”, the proper Kiswahili word for mountain.
A different approach is to assume that the “Kileman” part of Kilimanjaro comes from the Kichagga “kileme”, which means “which defeats”, or “kilelema”, which means “which has become difficult or impossible”. The “Jaro” part would “then be derived from njaare, a bird, or, according to other informants, a leopard, or, possibly from jyaro a caravan.” Considering that the name Kilimanjaro has never been current among the Wachagga people, it is possible that the name was derived from Wachagga saying that the mountain was unclimbable, “kilemanjaare” or “kilemajyaro” and porters misinterpreted this as being the name of the mountain.
In the 1880s, the mountain became a part of German East Africa and was called “Kilima-Ndscharo” in German following the Kiswahili name components.
On 6 October 1889, Hans Meyer reached the highest summit on the crater ridge of Kibo. He named it “Kaiser-Wilhelm-Spitze” (“Kaiser Wilhelm peak”). That name apparently was used until Tanzania was formed in 1964, when the summit was renamed “Uhuru Peak”, meaning “Freedom Peak” in Kiswahili.
1.3 Climbing history of Mount Kilimanjaro
In August 1861, the Prussian officer Baron Karl Klaus von der Decken accompanied by English geologist R. Thornton made a first attempt to climb Kibo but “got no farther than 8,200 feet (2,500 m) owing to the inclemency of the weather. In December 1862, von der Decken tried a second time together with Otto Kersten. They reached a height of 14,000 feet (4,300 m). In August 1871, missionary Charles New became the “first European to reach the equatorial snows” on Kilimanjaro at an elevation of slightly more than 13,000 feet (4,000 m).
In June 1887, the Hungarian Count Sámuel Teleki and Austrian Lieutenant Ludwig von Höhnel made an attempt to climb the mountain. Approaching from the saddle between Mawenzi and Kibo, Höhnel stopped at 4,950 meters (16,240 ft), but Teleki pushed through until he reached the snow at 5,300 meters (17,400 ft). Later in 1887 during his first attempt to climb Kilimanjaro, the German geology professor Hans Meyer reached the lower edge of the ice cap on Kibo, where he was forced to turn back because he lacked the equipment needed to handle the ice. The following year, Meyer planned another attempt with Oscar Baumann, a cartographer, but the mission was aborted after the pair were held hostage and ransomed during the Abushiri Revolt. In the autumn of 1888, the American naturalist Dr. Abbott and the German explorer Otto Ehrenfried Ehlers approached the summit from the northwest. While Abbott turned back earlier, Ehlers at first claimed to have reached the summit rim but, after severe criticism of that claim, later withdrew it.
In 1889, Meyer returned to Kilimanjaro with the Austrian mountaineer Ludwig Purtscheller for a third attempt. The success of this attempt was based on the establishment of several campsites with food supplies so that multiple attempts at the top could be made without having to descend too far. Meyer and Purtscheller pushed to near the crater rim on October 3 but turned around exhausted from hacking footsteps in the icy slope. Three days later, on Purtscheller’s fortieth birthday, they reached the highest summit on the southern rim of the crater. They were the first to confirm that Kibo has a crater. After descending to the saddle between Kibo and Mawenzi, Meyer and Purtscheller attempted to climb the more technically challenging Mawenzi but could reach only the top of Klute Peak, a subsidiary peak, before retreating due to illness.:84 On October 18, they reascended Kibo to enter and study the crater, cresting the rim at Hans Meyers Notch. In total, Meyer and Purtscheller spent 16 days above 15,000 feet (4,600 m) during their expedition. They were accompanied in their high camps by Mwini Amani of Pangani, who cooked and supplied the sites with water and firewood.
The first ascent of the highest summit of Mawenzi was made on 29 July 1912, by the German climbers Edward Oehler and Fritz Klute, who christened it Hans Meyer Peak. Oehler and Klute went on to make the third-ever ascent of Kibo, via the Drygalski Glacier, and descended via the Western Breach. In 1989, the organizing committee of the 100-year celebration of the first ascent decided to award posthumous certificates to the African porter-guides who had accompanied Meyer and Purtscheller. One person in pictures or documents of the 1889 expedition was thought to match a living inhabitant of Marangu, Yohani Kinyala Lauwo. Lauwo did not know his own age Nor did he remember Meyer or Purtscheller, but he remembered joining a Kilimanjaro expedition involving a Dutch doctor who lived near the mountain and that he did not get to wear shoes during the climb. Lauwo claimed that he had climbed the mountain three times before the beginning of World War I. The committee concluded that he had been a member of Meyer’s team and therefore must have been born around 1871. Lauwo died on 10 May 1996, 107 years after the first ascent, but now is sometimes even suggested as co-first-ascendant of Kilimanjaro.
1.3.1 Fastest male ascent and descent
The fastest ascent-descent has been recorded by the Swiss-Ecuadorian mountain guide Karl Egloff (born 16 March 1981 in Quito), who ran to the top and back in 6 hours and 42 minutes on 13 August 2014. Previous records were held by Spanish mountain runner Kílian Jornet (7 hours, 14 minutes on 29 September 2010) and by Tanzanian guide Simon Mtuy (9 hours, 21 minutes on 22 February 2006).
1.3.2 Fastest female ascent and descent
The female ascent record is held by Anne-Marie Flammersfeld. On 27 July 2015, she climbed to the summit in 8 hours, 32 minutes via the Umbwe Route, which is about 30 kilometres (19 mi) long. Born in Germany but living in Switzerland, she broke the record of Britain’s Becky Shuttleworth who climbed to the summit in 11 hours, 34 minutes on 20 September 2014.
Flammersfeld then needed 4 hours, 26 minutes to run down to the Mweka Gate, for a combined asent and descent time of 12 hours, 58 minutes. That broke the previous record of 18 hours, 31 minutes held by Debbie Bachman.
1.3.3 Youngest and oldest people to summit
Despite an age-limit of 10 years for a climbing permit, exceptions are occasionally granted, and Keats Boyd of Los Angeles was only seven years old when he summited Kilimanjaro on 21 January 2008. The oldest person to reach Uhuru Peak was Angela Vorobeva at age 86 years and 267 days. The oldest man to summit the mountain is American Robert Wheeler, who was 85 years and 201 days when he summited on 2 October 2014.
1.3.4 Ascents by people with disabilities
Wheelchair-bound Bernard Goosen scaled Kilimanjaro in six days in 2007, while in 2012 Kyle Maynard, who has no forearms or lower legs, crawled unassisted to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.
1.3.5 First Descent by Snowboard
The first descent by snowboard was accomplished by Ace Bailey on July1st, 1988. This descent, at the time, was also the highest altitude descent by snowboard ever accomplished. This record was held until July the following year. The ride was photographed by Barry Lewis.
1.3.6 Incredible Handicapped Climber Ascents
The allure of Kilimanjaro has led other incredible ascents. In 2011, paraplegic Chris Waddell used a hand-cycle to trek to the summit. Paralysed from the waist down, Waddell took six and half days and 528,000 revolutions of his custom-built wheels to reach the Roof of Africa. This amazing achievement was followed in 2012 by quadruple amputee Kyle Maynard, who took 10 days to crawl on the stumps of his arms and legs to the top
1.4 Trekking Kilimanjaro
There are a couple of things most travelers will already know about Mt Kilimanjaro: the fact that it is situated in the northern portion of Tanzania, within the Kilimanjaro National Park; The fact that it is Africa’s highest mountain. Most adventurers will also know that Mount Kilimanjaro is made up of three volcanic cones (Kibo, Mawenzi, and Shira) and is itself a dormant volcanic mountain. However, this certainly doesn’t mean you know ‘pretty much all there is to know’ about the spectacle that is Mount Kilimanjaro. Hans Meyer (a German geologist), Ludwig Purtscheller, and a local named Lauwo were the first people ever to have reached the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro in October of 1889. (It is possible that the mountain had already been conquered earlier by locals, but was never documented).
There are seven official routes on Mount Kilimanjaro, six of which are used for ascent (Machame, Umbwe, Marangu, Shira, Lemosho, Rongai), and one of which is used for descent only (Mweka).
Climbing Kilimanjaro requires no technical climbing or mountaineering experience. It is just a long trek from base to summit. Some parts of the mountain require basic scrambling skills (i.e. the Barranco Wall) but in general, anyone with decent fitness can climb Kilimanjaro. The challenge is the mountain’s high elevation. As high mountains go, the routes on Mount Kilimanjaro have rapid ascent profiles. Acclimatization opportunities are relatively poor and therefore the incidence of acute mountain sickness (AMS) is rather high. Some studies show that up to 75% of trekkers on summit night suffer from mild and moderate forms of AMS. Deaths on Kilimanjaro are often due to improper acclimatization and the onset of severe altitude sickness rather than falls.
Kilimanjaro is not a peak you can climb on your own. It is mandatory to climb with a licensed guide and have porters carry your equipment. This sustains the local economy and allows local people to reap the rewards of tourism.
2.2.2 Standard client to mountain crew ratio is 1:3
Climbers should know the number of crew members that will be assisting them from information obtained during the pre-climb briefing. This way the amount of tips can be prepared beforehand. We encourage you to meet your crew at your 1st campsite to make sure you have the number that was promised. You can write a list with your crew members’ names and refer to this list at the end of the climb when you give their tips.
Tips should be provided to crew members at the end of the trek at the Africa Natural Tours office in Moshi town and not on the mountain. Tips can be placed in individual envelopes and the climbers hand them directly to each crew member. We highly recommend tipping each crew member directly to ensure full transparency is observed.
Kindly note the above figures are merely recommended amounts that will help give you an indication of the amount and breakdown of tips provided to the mountain crews. Ultimately the amount of tips provided to the mountain crews will depend on your budget and level of satisfaction with our crew’s service.
1.4.1 Routes to Kili’s Summit
Six official routes climb to Kilimanjaro’s summit.
• The Lemosho Route and Shira Route start on the western side of the mountain.
• The Machame Route and Umbwe Route begin to the southwest and join hikers on the Lemosho and Shira Routes on day 2.
• The Marangu Route, also called the “Coca-Cola route,” starts southeast of the mountain and is the only route with hut accommodations for the entire duration of the trek. It also has an unfounded reputation for being the easiest route but in fact has one of the lowest summit success rates since its route profile is rapid and its final summit slopes are steep.
• Rongai, the last route, begins from the remote northeast side of Kilimanjaro and is flatter, drier, and less busy than the southern and western routes.
• There are variations on these routes. For example, the Northern Circuit is a popular alternative for trekkers on the Lemosho Route, and the Western Breach provides a challenging climb from a crater camp for trekkers approaching from the west or southwest.
Furthermore there are 3 main summit routes:
• The Southern passage via Barafu camp and Stellar Point (used by trekkers on the Lemosho, Shira, Machame and Umbwe Routes).
• The Eastern passage via Gilman’s Point (used by the Marangu, Rongai and Northern Circuit trekkers).
• The technical Western Breach, which is mostly used by experienced trekkers who approach from the western and southern routes.
• The Mweka Route is used for descent only.
Which Route Should I Use to Climb Kilimanjaro?
There are seven established routes to climb Mount Kilimanjaro – Marangu, Machame, Lemosho, Shira, Rongai, Northern Circuit and Umbwe. The Marangu, Machame, and Umbwe routes all approach from the south of the mountain (Mweka is used only for descent). The Lemosho, Shira and Northern Circuit routes approach from the west. The Rongai route approaches from the north. The illustrations below depict a three-dimensional view of Kilimanjaro’s climbing routes and a close up of the approaches to the summit.
Selecting a route is a tough choice for most. To find the best Kilimanjaro route for you, considerations should be taken for the route’s scenery, difficulty, foot traffic and its altitude acclimatization characteristics.
“As wide as all the world, great, high and unbelievably white in the sun was the square top of Mount Kilimanjaro”, wrote Ernest Hemingway of this highest mountain in Africa rising to 5,895 metres above sea level. Situated near the town of Moshi in northern Tanzania, Mount Kilimanjaro rises from the dry plains, through a wide belt of forest and high alpine heath to an almost bare desert and finally the snow capped summit, Uhuru Peak, just 3 degrees south of the Equator. One of the world’s highest free standing mountains, Mt. Kilimanjaro is composed of three extinct volcanoes: Kibo 5895 m (19340 ft.), Mawenzi 5149 m (16896 ft.), and Shira 3962 m (13000 ft.).
The ascent of Kilimanjaro can be done from six routes: Mweka, Umbwe, Shira, Rongai, Machame, and the Marangu Route which is the easier and the most popular. Depending on which route one wants to use, the climb of Kilimanjaro can take between four nights to six nights on the mountain. The two most popular routes are Marangu and Machame. On the Marangu Route, accommodation is in alpine huts while on Machame Route it is camping throughout. While expert guides and porters will accompany you on your climb, unlike Mount Everest, no technical equipment is required.