Everything you need to know about visiting Kilimanjaro

Mount Kilimanjaro, located in Tanzania, has to be one of the most iconic and well-known destinations for adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts. Rising majestically above the African plains, Mount Kilimanjaro (actually a dormant volcano) offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience for those who dare to conquer the summit. In this guide, I’ll tell you all the essential information you need to know about visiting Kilimanjaro, including its location, transportation options, popular routes, costs, and how to book an expedition.

Where exactly is Kilimanjaro?

Mount Kilimanjaro is situated in northeastern Tanzania, near the border with Kenya. It is part of the Kilimanjaro National Park and is approximately 300 kilometers south of the equator. The mountain’s proximity to the equator gives it a unique range of climates and diverse ecological zones, making it a truly remarkable destination.

One of the fascinating aspects of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is the opportunity to cross various climatic zones within a relatively short distance. Kilimanjaro’s location contributes to this remarkable diversity in climate, as the mountain is affected by both equatorial and regional weather patterns.

The equatorial influence is most prominent in the lower zones of the mountain, where lush rainforests thrive. These dense forests are characterized by high humidity, frequent rainfall, and rich biodiversity, including a plethora of plant and animal species. And as you ascend higher, the equatorial climate gradually transitions into more temperate conditions. The rainfall becomes less frequent, and the temperature begins to decrease.

Getting There

To reach Kilimanjaro, the most convenient option is to fly to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO). This airport is served by several international airlines and is located near the town of Arusha, which serves as a gateway to the mountain and to safari in Tanzania. From the airport, you can arrange transportation to your accommodation or directly to the starting point of your chosen route.

Popular Routes

Marangu Route

The Marangu Route, also known as the “Coca-Cola” route, is the oldest and most established trail on Kilimanjaro. It offers comfortable hut accommodation along the way, making it a popular choice for those seeking a less harrowing experience. The ascent and descent follow the same path, providing a varied landscape with stunning views.

Machame Route

The Machame Route, often referred to as the “Whiskey” route, is renowned for its scenic beauty and relatively high success rate. It’s a challenging but rewarding option that allows trekkers to experience the diverse ecosystems of Kilimanjaro, including rainforest, moorland, and alpine desert. Camping is the preferred accommodation option on this route.

Lemosho Route

The Lemosho Route is considered one of Kilimanjaro’s most picturesque and least crowded trails of all. It offers stunning panoramic views, a gradual ascent profile, and plenty of time for acclimatization to the altitude. This route is known for its natural beauty and is recommended for those seeking a more remote and pristine experience.

Trip Cost

The cost of a Kilimanjaro expedition can vary depending on factors such as the chosen route, duration, group size, and level of service. On average, you can expect prices ranging from $2,000 to $2,300 USD per person. It’s important to remember that this cost typically includes permits, park fees, guide services, meals, camping equipment, and transportation during the trek. Additional expenses may include flights, visa fees, travel insurance, and personal gear.

Safari near Kilimanjaro

It’s possible to combine a Kilimanjaro trek with a safari experience near the mountain. Tanzania is renowned for its incredible wildlife and offers several national parks and reserves in close proximity to Kilimanjaro, providing an excellent opportunity for an unforgettable safari adventure. Here are a few options for safari destinations near Kilimanjaro.

Serengeti National Park

Located in northern Tanzania, the Serengeti National Park is a world-famous safari destination known for its vast open plains, abundant wildlife, and the annual Great Migration. This migration, where millions of wildebeest and other herbivores traverse the Serengeti in search of fresh grazing, is an incredible sight. The park is home to the Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, and rhinoceros) and offers exceptional game viewing opportunities.

Ngorongoro Conservation Area

Situated just a few hours’ drive from Kilimanjaro, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to the Ngorongoro Crater. The crater is the largest intact volcanic caldera in the world and harbors an incredible diversity of wildlife, including lions, elephants, zebras, and a high concentration of rhinoceros. Exploring the crater on a game drive is a truly unforgettable experience.

Tarangire National Park

Located southwest of Kilimanjaro, Tarangire National Park is known for its stunning landscapes, baobab trees, and large elephant herds. The park’s Tarangire River attracts a wealth of wildlife during the dry season, making it an excellent spot for game viewing. Visitors can expect to see lions, giraffes, zebras, wildebeest, and an abundance of bird species.

Lake Manyara National Park

Situated at the base of the Rift Valley escarpment, Lake Manyara National Park offers a diverse range of habitats, including dense forests, open grasslands, and the picturesque Lake Manyara itself. The park is renowned for its tree-climbing lions, large herds of elephants, and an impressive variety of birdlife, including flamingos and pelicans.