Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro holds an almost mythical fascination for the adventurous traveler. This snowcapped peak near the Equator is the highest freestanding mountain in the world – yet can be summited without using technical climbing gear. Towering over the vast African savannah below, it still presents challenges even for the very fit – including choosing the right guided trip to the top. Stride can act as your Mount Kilimanjaro trip planner, helping you reach the heights of adventure alive without the pitfalls, all based on your own comfort level.

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Top Trip Memories

  • Summiting Africa’s tallest point is a never-to-be-forgotten thrill. Uhuru, the highest peak, is more than 19,000 feet above sea level.

  • Climbing one of seven Mount Kilimanjaro routes for the amazing views of the Tanzania plains below.

  • Surveying Furtwangler Glacier atop the mountain (before it recedes even further).

  • Catching glimpses of unique wildlife -- a true taste of Africa -- through five distinct eco-zones: rainforest, heath, moorland, alpine desert and glacier.

  • Witnessing never-to-be-forgotten sunrises and sunsets from an extinct volcano.

  • Taking advantage of the rare opportunity to see snow by the Equator.

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Tour Tips

  • Choose a Mount Kilimanjaro tour that matches your conditioning level. Seven main ways snake to the top, and they vary significantly in difficulty and the overall experience.

  • Keep in mind that the longer the trip up, the more time your body has to adjust to the altitude, which makes it less likely you will suffer from altitude sickness.

  • The five-day Marangu Route is the shortest and easiest, but is also more crowded.

  • Diehards should look for tours offering the tougher, yet more scenic, Machame Route (six to seven days).

  • If you’re concerned about your ability to reach the summit because of age, keep in mind that fitness level and determination are the most important factors.

  • Only about 40 percent of those who set out actually reach the summit. Many decide not to try the final, icy ascent, but still have a wonderful experience.

  • Tour accommodations range from tents to mountain huts to view lodges. Choose an accommodation level that meets your comfort level and budget.

  • Some local, independent tour operators are very reliable and can offer a better value, so those on a tighter budget may want to check out these options.

  • Not all tours include park fees and food in their prices, so check the trip details carefully.

  • Groups vary in size and guide-to-traveler ratio, so search for what you feel comfortable with.

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    Mt. Kilimanjaro Trips & Tour Advice

    Many Americans first heard about Mount Kilimanjaro through Ernest Hemingway’s famous short story, “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” published in Esquire magazine in 1936. A 1952 film starring Gregory Peck, Susan Hayward and Ava Gardner further popularized the mountain by bringing The Snows of Kilimanjaro to the silver screen.

    While Hemingway’s fearless spirit took him to Africa on his own, planning a Mount Kilimanjaro trek can be intimidating – there are a number of routes to choose from, for starters, each offering differing levels of difficulty and other advantages and disadvantages. Sorting these out is essential: while ascending to the peak is not as strenuous as some other mountains of its size, this is still a long trek even for those with extra lung capacity.

    Fortunately, you can choose among a wide variety of trusted tour operators, who can provide you with a selection of itineraries, group sizes, and accommodation options, allowing you to keep the adventure alive without the worries. Tanzania mandates that a native guide escort travelers; your Tanzania tour operator will always take care of this requirement. Pick a “Stride Preferred” trip to ensure you get the best guides -- knowledgeable and friendly escorts who go along on the adventure.

    Most guided tours of Mount Kilimanjaro take five to seven days to reach the summit, with stays in tents or mountain huts. The trails showcase a diverse landscape. Your trek begins as you leave the African savannah, then head into jungle, through cloud forest and into surprising hanging-moss forests before reaching a landscape reminiscent of high desert. As you climb toward the peak, an even starker desert unfolds, and a glacier appears nearby. The latter is receding rapidly -- a third of the glacier has melted away in just the past quarter century -- so it’s advisable not to put off a Mount Kilimanjaro tour if you want to witness the striking natural wonder of ice near the Equator.

    But before you head off, let Stride act as your personal travel advisor, showcasing the Mount Kilimanjaro guided trips that will best meet your comfort levels. And while you’re here on the site, why not consider adding a Tanzania wildlife safari to your trip? The Serengeti plains, Ngorongoro Crater, and other wonderful wildlife parks aren’t far away.

    While Hemingway was able to wring remarkable literature out of his Kilimanjaro experiences, you may well be rendered speechless as you trek. That’s OK. Take it all in. Ponder. Then ask your seasoned tour guides for suggestions on the best spots to nab those brag-worthy photos that will leave your friends envious. If they utter one word, it’s likely to be, “Wow!

    Once you’ve booked your tour...

    • While Tanzania in general has a tropical climate, be sure to pack cold-weather gear for your Mount Kilimanjaro trek. You may be by the Equator, but it gets freezing up there!