Mount Kilimanjaro poses a considerable challenge for climbers due to its high altitude. It is a mountain that demands proper preparation and training before attempting to climb. Over 50% of climbers experience mountain sickness during their ascent. Standing at a height of 19,341 feet (5,895 meters), Kilimanjaro requires careful planning and physical readiness.

While most days of the climb are not particularly difficult due to the moderate trails, the real challenge lies in coping with the altitude. However, the summit night is an incredibly demanding part of the journey. It is the coldest and windiest section, characterized by an ascent of 4,084 feet (1,245 meters) with significantly less oxygen and a subsequent descent of nearly 6,870 feet (2,094 meters). This part of the climb can involve up to 12-14 hours of continuous walking.

The question of how difficult it is to climb Kilimanjaro is one that we encounter frequently from climbers and see extensively discussed in various forums. However, the answer to this question is not straightforward, as it depends on numerous factors and varies on an individual basis.

How hard is it to climb Kilimanjaro?What one person perceives as “hard,” another might find “easy.” And indeed, the challenge itself often adds to the satisfaction of accomplishing it.

Many individuals have described Kilimanjaro as the most challenging endeavor they have ever undertaken, especially during the summit night. Surprisingly, some of them have even returned to climb it again. We have yet to come across someone who considers it “easy,” although this perception depends on the frame of reference.

How do you compare climbing Kilimanjaro with Climbing Mount Everest?  Kilimanjaro is definitely considered “easy.”

How do you compare climbing Kilimanjaro to a leisurely stroll along the beach? Kilimanjaro climbing will be regarded as “hard.”

Let’s delve into specific factors that contribute to the difficulty level of Kilimanjaro and explore potential measures to overcome them.

Technical Difficulty of Climbing Kilimanjaro

One of the initial concerns of aspiring mountaineers, especially those with limited experience, is whether climbing Kilimanjaro involves any technical difficulty. The answer is no. Kilimanjaro is classified as a “walk-up” mountain, which means it is a trekking peak that does not require the use of ice axes, ropes, or harnesses. You do not need any technical mountaineering skills to climb it.

Dealing with Altitude Difficulty on Kilimanjaro

One of the most challenging aspects of climbing Kilimanjaro is the altitude. Adjusting to the low oxygen levels in the air while trekking long distances sets Kilimanjaro apart from regular hiking. Maximizing your chances of acclimatization is crucial, and altitude training can be helpful, although its effectiveness may vary.

Opting for a longer route, lasting six or more days, allows your body more time to acclimatize and provides opportunities for sufficient rest and recovery. By not rushing to cover the miles, you give yourself a better chance of adapting to the altitude.

It is important to maintain a slow pace while climbing Kilimanjaro. Although it may seem counterintuitive, you will often hear your guide emphasizing “Pole pole,” which means “slowly slowly” in Swahili. By walking at a very slow pace, you conserve energy, avoid exhaustion, and greatly enhance your chances of adequate acclimatization. Remember, it’s not a race.

Consider consulting your doctor about taking Diamox to aid in acclimatization. Diamox requires a prescription and can be a helpful option in managing altitude-related challenges.

Your Fitness

It is evident that if you are physically unfit and unprepared, the trek will be much more challenging. There is often confusion about the level of fitness required. You don’t need to be an ultra-marathon runner, but you should have enough fitness to walk uphill for multiple hours with a weighted backpack and then repeat it the next day.

Your level of fitness will affect your recovery from each day’s hike. As mentioned earlier, the pace of the climb is very slow, to the point that if it weren’t for the altitude, you might find it monotonous.

Our advice, once you have consulted your doctor, is to strive for the highest level of fitness you can achieve. We have prepared an in-depth guide on how to train for Kilimanjaro to assist you in this regard.

Avoid making your climb more challenging by neglecting to put in the effort to improve your fitness. However, don’t make your preparation harder by thinking you need to be an elite athlete. Find a balance that suits your abilities and goals.

How Fit do I have to be to Climb Kilimanjaro?

Many people ask this question; trying to establish how fit one needs to be in order to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.

Determining the required level of fitness to climb Kilimanjaro is not a straightforward task as it varies for each individual. It is impossible to provide a definitive answer like “if you can do this, then you can climb Kilimanjaro.” People have different abilities and capabilities, and some may excel while others struggle even with training.

We always advise our clients to put sincere effort into their training and arrive in the best possible shape. This way, you can be confident that you have done your best, and the rest is up to fate.

Having a nonchalant attitude towards climbing Kilimanjaro can be dangerous and disrespectful. It is important not to transition directly from a sedentary lifestyle to trekking at high altitudes on a mountain that claims lives every year. Such a careless approach is irresponsible.

For most people, a reasonable degree of fitness is sufficient for climbing Kilimanjaro, provided they can acclimatize well. We recommend a minimum of two months of training prior to coming to Tanzania. If you are already in good hiking shape, that’s great. However, if you feel that your fitness level is lacking, it is advisable to start training earlier. Climbing Kilimanjaro carries inherent risks, and being physically fit gives you the best chance of climbing safely and successfully.

Camping & Sleeping on the Kilimanjaro Trails Difficulty

If you are accustomed to sleeping only in your own bed with soft, luxurious linens, you may initially find camping and sleeping on Kilimanjaro a bit challenging. Although we provide comfortable sleeping mats and warm sleeping bags, adapting to sleeping in a tent may require some adjustment.

For those who spend their weekends camping in the wilderness, sleeping on the ground, the camping experience on Kilimanjaro can feel almost luxurious, as you won’t have to prepare your own food or set up your own tent.

Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial for your recovery during the climb. If you anticipate finding this aspect of Kilimanjaro challenging, you may consider choosing the Marangu route, where you can sleep in huts. Alternatively, you can practice by borrowing a tent and spending a night or two in your backyard.

We have encountered individuals who were initially concerned about sleeping in a tent and camping. Surprisingly, many of them end up saying how much they will miss it when they return home at the end of the climb.

Other factors that affect the difficulty of Kilimanjaro climbing

Temperature & Weather

Adverse weather conditions can add to the difficulty of climbing Kilimanjaro. Mountains are known for their unpredictable weather, but certain times of the year are more favorable in terms of rainfall.

It’s important to note that it gets very cold on Kilimanjaro, especially as you ascend to higher altitudes. The temperature drops significantly during the night. If you are susceptible to cold, it is crucial to be well-prepared and equipped with the right gear. Inadequate gear can make your experience on the mountain much more challenging. You can refer to our Packing guide for Kilimanjaro for more information.

Your Health

If you have pre-existing medical conditions or injuries that make walking or carrying a pack difficult, you may find the climb more challenging than others. It is advisable to consult with your doctor to determine whether you are in good enough health to tackle Kilimanjaro. Take inspiration from those who have successfully climbed Kilimanjaro despite facing similar challenges.

Furthermore, maintaining good health on the trail is important. Pay attention to hygiene, particularly before meals, to minimize the risk of stomach issues. Additionally, ensure that the company you climb with maintains strict food preparation hygiene. You can find more information on food and water safety on Kilimanjaro.

Your Kilimanjaro Climbing Guide

Having a knowledgeable, experienced guide trained in high-altitude medicine can make a significant difference between a successful summit and an early descent due to altitude sickness. It is crucial to have confidence in your guide, as it alleviates mental strain and provides reassurance about coping with the altitude. Being able to communicate any symptoms to your guide and receiving daily medical check-ups can boost your confidence even on challenging days.

Joining a group can also provide emotional support and make the experience less daunting, although the physical demands remain.

Mental Fitness

Maintaining a positive attitude is essential. While physical fitness receives a lot of attention when it comes to climbing Kilimanjaro, mental toughness is equally, if not more, important. People often discover their mental resilience when faced with challenges.

The long days on the trail, being far away from home, sleeping in tents, and hiking in cold and rugged conditions can contribute to the emotional and mental difficulty of the climb. Summit night, in particular, with its long and strenuous uphill section, can feel never-ending, and it is your mental resilience that keeps you going.

Remember that you are likely tougher than you think. Remind yourself of your reasons for climbing Kilimanjaro and draw inspiration from them when facing tough moments. Stay positive and appreciate the beauty of the mountain. The challenge of the summit will create lasting memories.

Kilimanjaro climbing Gear

As mentioned earlier, proper gear is crucial for a successful Kilimanjaro climb. It’s not only about the gear you bring but also the gear provided by your tour operator. Ensure that the company you choose uses gear suitable for the mountain conditions. Even if you have all the right equipment personally, it won’t be of much help if the provided gear, such as tents or chairs, is subpar. Select your tour company wisely to ensure that all gear is well-maintained.

Breaking in your boots is essential. Don’t wait until you arrive in Africa to start wearing them. Take them on hikes, wear them around the house, or even on the treadmill whenever possible. Additionally, become familiar with the adjustments and fitting of your weighted pack, as well as different layering combinations. Practice layering your clothes until it becomes second nature.

Food & Drink while climbing Kilimanjaro

Staying hydrated is crucial for a successful climb. Dehydration can hinder your acclimatization and recovery after a challenging day on the trail. You should drink plenty of water during the climb. If you find it difficult, you can add flavorings in the form of electrolyte powders or liquids, or use squash if you prefer.

Considering the high-calorie burn during the climb, it is important to replenish your energy levels. Make sure you eat enough throughout the day to maintain energy and aid in recovery from strenuous exercise. Bringing your favorite energy bars or snacks from home can be helpful, as altitude can sometimes affect appetite. Having tasty treats may entice you to eat even if you’re not very hungry.

If you have any further questions about the difficulty of climbing Kilimanjaro, our team is ready to provide answers. We also encourage individuals who have climbed Kilimanjaro to share their experiences or provide advice in the comments section.

Other questions about Kilimanjaro Climbing difficulty

What is the minimum age to climb Mount Kilimanjaro?

The minimum age to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro, as per the Kilimanjaro National Park rules, is 10 years old. However, we exercise caution when it comes to climbers under 15 years old as they may find the long hikes boring and the last days of the climb may pose potential dangers. If you believe that your child under the age of 15 is capable of taking on the challenge of Kilimanjaro, please contact us so that we can make appropriate preparations to cater to your child’s individual needs.

Is it possible to climb Mount Kilimanjaro alone?

The answer is; It is not possible to climb Mount Kilimanjaro on your own. According to the Kilimanjaro National Park regulations, treks without a licensed guide are not permitted. This rule is in place for your safety. You will not be granted access to Kilimanjaro without a guide.

While technically it is possible to climb Kilimanjaro with only a guide, without the support of porters, a camp team, or cooks, it would be an incredibly difficult and stressful experience. Most climbers prefer to have a well-organized and enjoyable climb, which is why we provide a climbing team to assist you. Additionally, carrying all the necessary equipment yourself would make the trek much longer and more arduous.


In conclusion, climbing Kilimanjaro poses challenges that require proper planning, adequate time for acclimatization, and physical training. While it is a difficult undertaking, it is not unattainable. Whether you are aiming to complete the Seven Summits or seeking an unforgettable experience at Uhuru Peak, it is never too early to start planning for your Kilimanjaro climb.