How Long Does It Take to Climb Mount Kilimanjaro?

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro takes at least five days. However, to increase your chances of reaching the summit, it’s recommended to allocate at least six days, with seven or eight days being ideal. For those with more time, there are several more gradual and scenic ascent routes that can be done over ten or more days.

Kilimanjaro is an extraordinary natural icon. As the world’s tallest freestanding mountain, it rises nearly 5km (3mi) above the hot dusty plains of northeast Tanzania. Its jagged glacial peaks, framing the gaping Kibo Crater, support a year-round cover of snow, despite lying only 400km (249mi) south of the equator.


Things to Consider before hiking Mount Kilimanjaro

Mount Kilimanjaro tops the bucket list of many keen hikers and peak-baggers. Not only is its 5,895m (19,340ft) Uhuru Peak the highest point in Africa, but it can also be summited without specialized mountaineering experience or equipment. However, this majestic mountain should not be underestimated. Climbing Kilimanjaro requires a fair degree of fitness and determination. Hikers should be alert to the health risks associated with the rapid gain in altitude. All climbs must be arranged with a registered Tanzanian tour operator, who will provide guides, porters, camping gear, meals, and water. The duration of a Kilimanjaro climb is usually agreed upon in advance, depending on the chosen route, budget, fitness level, and time allowed for acclimatization.


The world record for climbing Kilimanjaro, set in 2014 by Swiss mountain runner Karl Egloff, is under seven hours for the full ascent and descent. On the other end of the spectrum, some hikers may dedicate two weeks to circumnavigating the upper slopes before summiting. Most commercial hikes, however, take between five and seven days.

How Long Does It Take to Climb Mount Kilimanjaro

Recommended Kilimanjaro Hiking Duration & Success Rate

The longer you allocate to a Kilimanjaro expedition, the greater your odds of summiting. Data from Kilimanjaro National Park shows that fewer than 30% of those who attempt a five-day climb reach the top. For six- and seven-day climbs, the success rate increases to around 45% and 65%, respectively. In contrast, more than 85% of those who allocate eight days or longer reach the summit. A longer climb is safer, reducing the risk of altitude-related illness and fatigue-related accidents. It also allows for quieter, more scenic routes, providing a greater chance to appreciate the diverse landscapes and wildlife.

However, a longer climb increases costs due to additional park fees and reduces time for exploring other iconic Tanzanian attractions. Despite this, considering that the climb is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, we strongly recommend allocating at least six or, better yet, seven days for Kilimanjaro.


Kilimanjaro Route Choices

The duration of a Kilimanjaro climb largely depends on the chosen route. There are six main Kilimanjaro hiking routes, each with its pros and cons:

Marangu Route (Minimum 5 Days; Recommended 6 Days): The most popular route, it is quicker, cheaper, and offers proper huts with bathing facilities throughout. However, it tends to be overcrowded and has issues with litter.


Machame Route (Minimum 6 Days; Recommended 7 Days): The second most popular route, it offers a gentler ascent and more scenic views, but requires camping.


Umbwe Route (Minimum 6 Days; Recommended 7– 8 Days): This less-used route starts at a higher altitude, offering a gradual ascent and potential wildlife sightings. Additional days are recommended for better acclimatization.


Lemosho Route (Minimum 6 Days; Recommended 8–10 Days): One of the most beautiful routes, it starts at a lower altitude and converges with the Shira Route on the second day, reducing the risk of altitude issues on the first day.


Northern Circuit (Minimum 9 Days; Recommended 10–11 Days): The most remote and longest route, it offers a gradual ascent and the highest success rate, but is the most expensive option.


Rongai Route (Minimum 6 Days; Recommended 7 Days): The only route from the northern side, it receives less precipitation during the rainy season and offers a gradual ascent with wildlife sightings.


Factors Affecting the Kilimanjaro Climb Duration

Several factors affect the likelihood of a successful summit:

  • Altitude: The rapid gain in altitude is the biggest obstacle. Proper acclimatization by allocating more days to the ascent increases the success rate.
  • Seasons: Weather conditions vary, with dry seasons (January to March and July to October) being preferable for hiking.
  • Fitness: A reasonable level of fitness is required. Training and building aerobic fitness through hiking, running, and cycling are recommended.


Other Preparations

Kilimanjaro’s climate requires specific gear:

  • Windproof and waterproof clothing
  • Warm clothing layers
  • Waterproof gloves
  • Thick and thin hiking socks
  • Wide hat and UV sunglasses
  • Waterproof hiking boots and lighter evening shoes
  • Trekking poles
  • Four-season sleeping bag and high-quality ground mat
  • Water bottles or a bladder with a 2L capacity
  • Medical kit
  • Energy-rich snacks


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