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Kilimanjaro Mountain Information


Climbing with African Encounters

While there are hundreds of websites selling the climbing experience, you might be surprised to find ours quite different. Many of our staff members have actually climbed this giant themselves and we have a 100% success rate to date. This enables us to give our clients first-hand, accurate information about which route to take, what to pack, how to prepare and what to expect. We even have a 98% success rate for our 2005 Kilimanjaro climbing clients, and feel proud to have played a role in their adventures.

As the largest supplier of tourism to Tanzania we have a unique and strong relationship with our operators, suppliers and ground handlers in East Africa. We believe that a successful climb has a great deal to do with the support team that accompanies climbers up the mountain, and as a result we only utilize candidates of the highest standard. Our teams of guides and porters have all successfully climbed and summated Kilimanjaro at least 15 times before we've even considered employing them. All of them have subsequently undergone a strenuous training programme and have been certified by the Tanzania National Parks. To date some of our guides have had over 70 successful climbs!

Most of our "inside" information stems from the fact that Rodger, one of our directors, used to live near the base of Kilimanjaro and has first hand knowledge of the language, people, customs, culture, and just about anything else you can think of about the area. It should therefore come as no surprise that the quality of service you can expect to receive from African Encounters is much more personal and focussed than that of our competitors.

We offer more than just a Kilimanjaro Climb, as many of our satisfied clients will acknowledge. Through our personal contact we aim to ensure that your ascent up Africa's toughest mountain is an experience you will never forget.

The Mountain

Located on the Northern border of Tanzania, Kilimanjaro is Africa's highest mountain at 5895m (19340ft). It is also one of the world's highest free standing mountains with it's bulk looming 4800m above an undulating plain that averages around 1000m above sea level. Kilimanjaro from aboveThe mountain measures about 60kms across and 40kms wide. There is much confusion surrounding the name Kilimanjaro. Names translated from various dialects of Tanzanian and Maasai people are "Small Hill", "Caravan Hill" and "Mountain of Water", none of which can be confirmed as the original source.

Possibly the best thing about Kilimanjaro is the ability for the average man to experience the beauty of this natural monumental structure. Various routes are available for climbers ranging from novice to experienced.


Almost at the summit Kilimanjaro experiences about 11,500 climbers each year of which there is about a 65% success rate for those to reach the summit. The chances of success are more than doubled if climbers decide to take an extra day to climb the mountain. This allows the body to acclimatize and therefore there is less reaction to the harsh conditions. A child aged 7 years old* have successfully reached the summit, but this does not mean that potential climbers should take the task at hand less seriously, because the whole process is extremely tough, but well worth it.

If you would like to check out our climbers guide, we have a lot more information on what you need to do and get to summit.


* The youngest person to summit Kilimanjaro is Keats Boyd from Sherman Oaks, California.  He was 7-years old when he summited Kilimanjaro.  He did so legally with all proper permits on January 21, 2008. He climbed the mountain to raise money for Kids of Kilimanjaro, an non-profit that provides free lunches to hungry Tanzania school children and the Jane Goodall Institute.



On The Slopes

The journey to the summit of Kilimanjaro involves long strenuous walks through 5 distinct zones.


These zones include:

  • The Cultivation Zone (800m or 6000ft)Walking near the cone
  • Forest (2700m or 9000ft)
  • Moorland (4000m or 13000ft)
  • High Desert (5000m or 16500ft)
  • Summit (6000m or 20000ft)


Each zone is approximately 1000m and a temperature drop of 1°C for every 200m should be experienced. There is a strange interaction between altitude, rainfall, temperature, plants and wildlife that can be felt and seen as you ascend to the .

Cultivation Zone

Uhuru Peak - so close yet so far Altitude: 800m to 1800m
Rainfall: 500mm/yr on plains and 1800mm/yr on the forest border

Most of this zone is like walking through a tropical farmland where local people use the land for livestock to graze and cultivated farmlands. There are no large wild animals, but many smaller one's such as Galagos and the Tree Hyrax. If you are lucky you may also see a genet. By not buying hyrax blankets, you will be helping with the conservation of this area. Bird life is abundant here with species such as the Bronze Sunbird and Tropical Boubou.

The Forest

Altitude: 1800m to 2800m
Rainfall: +/- 2000mm/yr on the southern slopes and less than 1000mm.yr on the western and northern sides.

Kilimanjaro's forestsThis is by far the richest zone on the mountain where beautiful montane forest encircles the whole of Kilimanjaro. Much of the rain that falls is absorbed by the thick carpet of leaves and percolates through the soil and porous lava rock, to emerge as springs lower down the mountain. 96% of the water on the mountain originates through the forest zone. Due to all the moisture wide bands of cloud form around this zone, thus preventing evaporation and promotes areas of high humidity. In the forest you are most likely to see some wildlife as this is the most inhabited area. Monkeys are the most common with many Blue Monkeys, Black and White Colobus Monkeys found in most parks. If you are very lucky you will come across leopard and the occasional civet or genet. Buck are common in the area, the most popular species being Duiker, Suni, Bushbuck and Klipspringer.


Altitude: 2800m to 4000m
Rainfall: +/- 1000mm/yr

SeneciosThis area consists of two parts viz. Heath and Moorland. The heath is charcterised by the heather and heath-like scrubs. From Mandara Hut you will see the giant heather Erica Arborea. This whole area consists of strange vegetation, all unique and very beautiful. When entering the moorland you will see clusters of Giant Lobelias and Senecios. The Senecios have tall stems which act as reservoirs of water. Their cabbage like leaves protects them from the sub-zero temperatures. Some Senecios can grow up to 5m high. You are not likely to come across much wildlife in this area due to the cold temperatures and the altitude, however the vegetation is somewhat eerie but fascinating as it is unlike anything you have ever seen before.

Highlands Desert

Altitude: 4000m to 5000m
Rainfall: 250mm/yr

The name says it all, this area is like a desert. There is intense radiation, high evaporation The desert from a distanceand huge daily fluctuations in temperatures with nights well below 0°C and days in excess of 40°C. Water is very scarce so the soil maintains very little moisture. The conditions are extreme and this makes it exceptionally difficult for any pant life to exist. Only about 55 species of higher plants live above the 4000m level Lichens are one of the most successful plants having the ability to live and encrust on the lava rocks. Animals are very rarely seen in the area, but leopard, eland and wild dogs have been spotted here. The desert itself is not very spectacular, but the view of the two great peaks is beyond your wildest imagination

The Summit

Altitude: Above 5000m
Rainfall: Less than 100mm/yr

Extreme conditions dominate this arctic zone with temperatures well below freezing and intense burning sun during the day. Not much can survive here, except again for the lichens. These grow very slowly at not more than 1mm per year, so the grey and red one's you will see are very old. The oxygen at this level is half that at sea level. There is virtually no liquid and the little that does, immediately enters the porous rock. The rest is locked up in snow and ice. Most people when climbing Kilimanjaro end off at Gilman's Point. This however is not the end as there is still plenty more if you have the energy and is well worth the additional walk. Should you continue you would eventually reach the "real" summit, Kibo, where youWhat you have been working for - Uhuru Peak can access Uhuru Peak, Reusch Crater, the Eastern Icefield and the Northern Icefield. Uhuru peak is the highest point at 5895m, Not many people go to the crater, as this is for serious and experienced climbers only. The view from here is truly spectacular, and as we said, is well worth the walk. Not so long ago, along your trek to the summit, you would be greeted by a huge icecap. Sadly global warming is melting this away and experts reckon in a couple of years there will be very little left. Possibly for those interested in climbing this gigantic beauty, it is well recommended that you go earlier than later.


Day 1 Kilimanjaro

Lunch packet on the way:
Bun with salami and cucumber,
Green pepper, carrot and fruits

Soup of the day with bread
Fried beef with roast potatoes, rice, carrots, cabbage
Tea or coffee

Day 2 Kilimanjaro

Oats with milk
Boiled egg, Spanish omelette or fried egg with bacon
Bread with tea or coffee

Boiled egg salami sandwich, cheese, fruits

Spaghetti with meat sauce, or fish with rice
Tea or coffee

Day 3 Kilimanjaro

Boiled egg, Spanish omelette or fried egg with bacon
Bread with tea or coffee

Boiled egg salami sandwich, cheese, fruits

Beef goulash with beans
Bread with tea or coffee

Day 4 Kilimanjaro

On the way to the summit:
Tea or coffee and biscuits, orange squash or soup

French toast
Macaroni with meat sauce
Bread with tea or coffee

Roast chicken with vegetable fried rice, green pepper, carrots
Pancake with honey
Tea or coffee


Day 5 Kilimanjaro

Oats with milk
Boiled egg, Spanish omelette, fried egg with bacon
Bread with tea or coffee

From day 6 climbers will have a choice of meals to be served. The cook will discuss the options the day before, and climbers will be able to request favourite dishes.

Contact African Encounters on 0861 114 645 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

African Encounters is a tour operator run by travelers like you. We know & love Africa and believe that the African continent is there for everyone to exerience. From the rural townships to the lap of five star exclusive luxuary, our partnerships in Africa are unrivaled. We guarentee you the best holiday deal. Booking your honeymoon, holiday, safari, dive or beach holiday. We will make your dream vacation happen.

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