Where is Kilimanjaro?
Surprisingly, many people still believe that Mount Kilimanjaro is in Kenya. While it is possible that this belief has come about because many Kenya guide books or promotional posters show what is perhaps the best long distance view of Kilimanjaro taken from within the relatively nearby Amboseli National Park in Kenya, on the northern side of Kilimanjaro, nonetheless the entire park boundary that demarcates the mountain’s official edges does indeed lie within Tanzania.
How High is Mount Kilimanjaro?
There has been quite a lot of debate about the actual height of Kilimanjaro. The altitude measurement and therefore the official elevation that the Tanzanian authorities quote is that concluded by the 1952 survey that used Wild T2 theodolites and calculated a height for Kilimanjaro’s summit of 5895 metres above mean sea level. However, using more high-precision Leica Geosystems survey equipment (including the SR530) that ought to have arrived at a more reliable result, the 1999 survey team calculated Kilimanjaro’s altitudes as follows:
ITRF Ellipsoidal Height of Kilimanjaro = 5875.50 metres (correct to within 5cm)
Orthometric Height of Kilimanjaro = 5891.77 metres (based on EGM96 world geoidal model)
However, with respect to the accepted imperfections of translating world geoidal data into the Tanzanian datum, these results are converted to the following:
The Exact Height of Kilimanjaro is 5893m
Orthometric Height of Kilimanjaro (using Tanzanian geoidal datum) = 5892.55 metres
All this being said, when using a modern GPS that approximates the geoid globally, you can likely expect your GPS to tell you that the elevation of Kilimanjaro is 5895 metres. We tested this assertion very thoroughly when assisting a Swiss team of map makers to produce what we believe is still the best available topographical map of Kilimanjaro (in spite of a handful of very minor errors) to survey the mountain in 2005. As you can see from the slideshow below a GPS on WGS84 was observed carefully over a period of 17 minutes and fluctuated only between 5894 and 5895 metres.
How Long Does it Take to Climb Kilimanjaro?
This is a hotly contested question. The simple answer is that we recommend that if you want to enjoy your climb and haven’t recently been above 4,000 metres within the last fortnight, and want to summit, you should allow yourself 7 days for the ascent and descent.
‘Official’ Recommendations for Climb Durations
The Royal Geographic Society – of which our founder is a Fellow, and with which on this point he disagrees vehemently – states that it is not safe to obtain more than 300 vertical metres of elevation in any 24 hour period, and that at each successive vertical kilometre one should rest for an additional 24 hours. By this advice one should not attempt to ascend Kilimanjaro within fewer than 10 days.
Conversely, John Rees-Evans argues that prolonged exposure to high altitude has a deleterious effect and that there is therefore an optimum amount of time one should spend climbing Kilimanjaro that lies halfway between the minimum time within which one can gain adequate acclimatization to ensure safe summit access, and the minimum time after which evidence of enduring physiological malfunction is suffered. In Rees-Evans’ experience of overseeing in excess of 15,000 people in reaching Kilimanjaro’s summit, John argues that 5 and half days for the ascent is optimal.
To demonstrate the body’s ability to cope for very short periods at high altitude prior to obtaining acclimatization, John Rees-Evans has summitted Kilimanjaro from the park gate in 10 hours 25 minutes unacclimatized, and his wife, Rebecca has summitted in 13 hours 16 minutes, also unacclimatized. Their entire family has summitted together in 3 and a half days, including their son Bran who was only 5 years old at the time. However, in the case of the family, they had all climbed Mount Meru the week before and obtained a level of acclimatisation which meant that they were comfortable at 4,000 metres, and in the case of the single day ascents, John and Rebecca had made arrangements for rapid descent in the event that they succumbed to severe AMS during their ascent.
Fastest Ascent of Kilimanjaro
While attempted informally from as early as the 1960s by British ex-patriots who lived and worked near to Kilimanjaro, speed climbs on Kilimanjaro have been attempted frequently over the last few years with the feat now having been completed in just 4 hours 56 minutes by Karl Egloff on 13th August 2014. Karl rested 3 minutes on the summit and then ran down to the park gate in 1 hour 42 minutes, making his round trip time 6 hours 42 minutes, some 32 minutes faster than Kilian Jornet.
Best Kilimanjaro Route?
The question is often asked ‘Which is the best Kilimanjaro route?’. But there is not a simple answer that applies to all climbers at all times of year. Misleading information elsewhere on the Internet does however require that we offer what we hope will be a clarifying perspective. This will necessarily be quite a long page, so we will aim to arrange our titles in approximate order of relevance, rather than their being a logical progression of the overarching arguments that come into play when discussing how to choose a route on Kilimanjaro.
Popular Route Choices on Kilimanjaro
Before reading too much into the following estimates, we should point out that the route selection trends of Kilimanjaro climbers in general differ substantially from those of our own climbers and we do not necessarily recommend these modal choices as being advantageous in terms of maximising summit chances, avoiding crowds, and seeing as much as possible of the mountain’s beauty. The reason for this discrepancy in route selection guidance and criteria considered when trying to determine the best Kilimanjaro route for a group’s expedition, is that we believe that the general train of advice obtained from operators generally is based on considerations that ought properly not be prioritised when aiming to achieve the most advantageous circumstances for climbers with respect to what we believe that our climbers consider to be of prime importance.
…… [ Rongai Route ] ……….
Kilimanjaro Equipment Hire
Conscious of the weight and volume restrictions placed on climbers flying in to Tanzania from different countries around the world, and the already significant costs of committing to an expedition – before factoring in the cost of all the clothing and equipment that you’ll need – Viewpoint Adventures Safaris Ltd has built up a replete range of Kilimanjaro equipment hire, and would encourage you to bear this in mind before buying bulky, expensive equipment.
What We Hire
The primary items that we tend to hire to climbers are as follows:
Pairs of walking poles