‘Climbing Kilimanjaro’ – myths busted

January 8th 2024  |   Mount Kilimanjaro Climb, Countries, Experiences, Tanzania  |  by   Francis Naumann
‘Climbing Kilimanjaro’ – myths busted

There are few other thrills as great as that experienced when standing on Africa’s highest point, the 5,895m Uhuru Peak of Mount Kilimanjaro. Many people love the idea of taking on this iconic challenge and, with the right team alongside you, it’s possible to do it in greater comfort than you imagine. 

climbers walking through snow near summit of Kilimanjaro

Heading through the snow near the summit of Kilimanjaro

Myth: You need to be a climber to take this on  
Fact: With a good level of general fitness, a bit of training and the right planning, climbing Kilimanjaro, the world’s tallest freestanding mountain, is entirely accessible to anyone. Reaching the summit requires no special expertise or mountaineering equipment. In fact, it is not a climb, it’s a hike. With a degree of stamina and determination it’s very possible to make it to the top. 

camp set up on the flanks of kilimanjaro

Comfortable camps with toilet tents and hot showers

Myth: You don’t get to wash for days 
Fact: Yes it’s a challenge keeping up appearances – although no one’s bothered! All our climbs are well equipped to provide basic comforts including toilet and wash tents and the option of a hot shower each day. We offer three different climb styles, standard, luxury and VIP for Kilimanjaro which means we can ensure you are matched with the right level of equipment to suit your personal comfort requirements (eg. thick mattresses to ensure a good night’s sleep).

Trek team group photo

A great trekking team to support you all the way on the climb

Myth: Not many people make it to the summit due to altitude sickness 
Fact: Our success rate for climbing Kilimanjaro is currently 98%. We attribute this to careful planning, regular and intense guide and staff training, and a choice of the longer, slower routes. Our team will look after you all the way on the mountain and combine with our skilled guides who have constant training to keep their knowledge up to date (my colleague Alice said that the trek team were so supportive, and that when a porter handed her an energy bar when she was flagging near the top it made all the difference). The guides and camp teams use new, top of the range kit and equipment. 

mealtime selection of fresh fruit

Fresh fruit and vegetables with every meal throughout your climb

Myth: Meals on the mountain are limited to pot noodle
Fact: Every expedition offers plentiful, good food. The camp team provide three cooked meals a day, even breakfast and lunch feature something hot and freshly cooked. Hot drinks are available whenever climbers want them, and a plentiful supply of safe drinking water and snacks are available all day. Evening meals are taken in a spacious and cosy dining tent with tables and chairs. Nutrition and hydration are key to keeping you going on the mountain. Resupplies are done on a couple of occasions with a whole team of porters coming up behind you to bring the catering team fresh fruit and veg to keep meals interesting.

zebra roaming the plains in the shadow of Kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro standing above the African plains

Myth: Kilimanjaro climbs can be really crowded
Fact: There are a number of routes up the mountain, we recommend three of the quieter routes which means you are less likely to encounter other groups. Each route offers something different in length and in scenery and terrain. The Machame Route is a nine day climb, with great scenery and a high success rate. The ten day Lemosho Route is a little-climbed route, one of the longer, and most scenic, routes available and gives a very good chance of success as it allows a slow steady acclimatisation to the altitude.The Rongai Route is one of the most peaceful and least used routes of all.

Machame route trekking through lower slopes vegetation

The lower slopes have ever changing scenery

Myth: It’s a slog from bottom to top 
Fact: The ever changing scenery and habitat adds interest and provides great distraction from the physical effort. The lower slopes of Kilimanjaro have more vegetation and wildlife than you might expect. Sightings of many bird species, antelope and elephants tracks are common, making the first few days feel more like a walking safari than a mountain trek. Chatting to the trek team staff is a big part of the experience, the guides are extremely knowledgeable, also the porters who are budding guides and keen to share how much they already know.

Francis standing at the summit of Kilimanjaro

Francis at the summit of Kilimanjaro for the second time

Quote from Francis a member of the Aardvark Safaris team: Kili Climb 2018

I’m over 50, a little overweight, not especially fit, have misshapen feet and dodgy knees, and I’ve recently climbed Mount Kilimanjaro for the second time, got to the top, and loved every bit of it.

Essentially, you just turn up with your own clothes and everything else is taken care of. We had a team of 48, including three guides, looking after six of us. Kilimanjaro is a very beautiful mountain, with fascinating flora and fauna, complex and intriguing geology, and reaching the summit is a truly rewarding feat. If I can do it, then anyone can.

What next?
We would be delighted to help plan your perfect Kilimanjaro climb. Many of our team have climbed the mountain themselves.  If you want to read more about Francis’s climb his blog is here, and Alice shares her 5 top tips on climbing Kilimanjaro in this article.

Do get in touch – chatting to people by phone or email is what we do best. We listen, we explain, we answer all sorts of questions even those you didn’t know to ask, and finally we make suggestions. If this is your first time to Africa or your twenty first, we have a team standing by to help make the planning easy and the journey the best ever. Please get in touch whatever stage you’re at.

2 responses to “‘Climbing Kilimanjaro’ – myths busted”

  1. Roger Sargent says:

    Hi I’m a young 69 year old mail, usually fairly fit for my age, have one new knee 10 months ago which is good. Played sports till I was 50 odd, and walk quite a lot with some cycling. Thinking of doing the careful slow route with my daughter and son. What do you think? Any advice as if I leave this too long I’ll never do it? I’ve been to Kenya many times along with Tanzania once and I’ve always thought about taking this on , carefully, for years, cheers Roger

    • Katy Duncan says:

      Good morning Roger, thank you so much for reaching out. This is an incredible climb to do with loved ones. Several of our team have climbed Kilimanjaro and will be able to offer you the advice and guidance you need. Our office is closed over the weekend but one of the team will be in touch early next week. Best wishes, Katy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.