Mount Kilimanjaro Hike Distance And Elevation Gains

Knowing how to prevent Mount Kilimanjaro altitude sickness by implementing effective acclimatization systems, as illustrated in the how-to climb Kilimanjaro distance and elevations’ guide, will greatly improve your chances of reaching the mountain’s summit. — Tim Z.

Did You Know That Acclimatization Is A Critical Component Of Reaching The Summit Of Kilimanjaro?

Acute mountain sickness is the leading cause of summit failure, so knowing how to acclimate while hiking Kilimanjaro will greatly improve your chances of success. This article will teach you how to hike the six distances of Kilimanjaro as well as the various ways you can avoid altitude sickness while on the mountain.


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Kilimanjaro Height Vs Everest Basecamp

Everest base camp is located at 5,364 meters above sea level, while Kilimanjaro’s highest point, Uhuru Peak, is located at 5,895 meters. This is not to be confused with Everest’s highest peak, which is around 8,848 meters high. Both mountains offer easy hikes; you don’t need any special mountaineering skills to trek to the summits of these mountains, but you will need to be physically fit.

If acclimatization systems fail, you will have to resort to supplemental measures such as Diamox in order to alleviate discomfort during your hike. With your doctor’s approval, we recommend taking Diamox for a 2-4 day trial period to see if you experience any side effects. This avoids misinterpreting the side effects of the medication as altitude sickness on the mountain.

Since the mountain stands at 5,899 meters (19,354 ft), you do not need oxygen for Kilimanjaro climbs. Supplemental oxygen can be dangerous sometimes when used at very low altitudes. Pulmonary or Cerebral Edema (liquid in the lungs or brain, respectively) are potentially fatal side effects of high altitude exposure. Continuous oxygen may help alleviate the headaches, nausea, and shortness of breath that are common at altitude. However, when these symptoms become severe, they are the body’s warning sign of more serious problems. Masking them puts a climber’s health at risk. It’s one thing to use supplemental oxygen when you’re close to the summit, but it’s not a good idea to start using it just after 3,000 meters.

How Long Does It Take To Climb Mount Kilimanjaro?

If you’re wondering “How Long Does It Take To Climb Mount Kilimanjaro,” you’ll be surprised to learn that a Kilimanjaro trek takes at least 5 days and can last up to 9 days of continuous hiking. The summit, on the other hand, takes four to eight days to reach. The more days you spend hiking up the mountain, the better your body will adapt to elevation changes along the trails. This is important because altitude sickness is the leading cause of failed summit attempts on Kilimanjaro, with the majority of failures occurring a few stretches away from the mountain’s summit or basecamps.

Mount Kilimanjaro Hike DistancesMount Kilimanjaro Elevation At The Beginning Of The Hike
5 Day Marangu Route72km/
45mi
1,843m/
6,046ft
6 Day Marangu Route72km/
45mi
1,843m/
6,046ft
6 Day Umbwe Route53km/
32mi
1,600m/
5,249ft
7 Day Rongai Route81km/
50mi
1,951m/
6,398ft
7 Day Machame Route62km/
37mi
1,640m/
5,380ft
7 Day Lemosho Route71km/
43mi
2,360m/
7,742ft
8 Day Lemosho Route71km/
43mi
2,360m/
7,742ft
9 Day Northern Circuit Route82km/
50mi
2,360m/
7,742ft

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Mount Kilimanjaro Base Camp Elevations

Mount Kilimanjaro base camp elevations can be structured into 3 tiers as there are three base camps on Mount Kilimanjaro. These camps serve as the final rest stop before climbers attempt the final push to the summit. They are also the first camps that all climbers pass through on their way down from the peak. Kilimanjaro’s three base camps are as follows:

Hikers on the Lemosho, Machame, and Umbwe routes use the Barafu base camp. The route from here takes a zigzag path up Kibo’s slopes to Stella Point (5,739 meters), a sub-summit of Kilimanjaro.

Hikers on the Northern Circuit, Marangu, and Rongai routes use the Kibo base camp as a resting ground before attempting to summit. The route up Kibo’s slopes from the Hut to the second sub-summit, Gilman’s Point (5,685 meters), is slightly steeper and longer than the route leading to Stella Point from Barafu Camp.

The highest camp on Mount Kilimanjaro is Crater base camp. Crater base camp is located in Kibo’s volcanic crater. Because of the altitude, one must properly acclimatize before sleeping at this base camp.

Distance From Kilimanjaro Summit Height To Base CampElevation Of Kilimanjaro Base Camp
Barafu Camp
5km/3mi
4,670m/15,322ft
Kibo Hut
6km/4mi
4,700m/15,420ft
Crater Camp
1km/0.6mi
5,800m/19,029ft

This Is How To Prevent Mount Kilimanjaro Altitude Sickness

The Pole-Pole and Trek-High, Sleep-Low methods are the two systems that are widely used to prevent AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) on Mount Kilimanjaro. These systems assist you in anticipating elevation changes while also prompting your body to adjust to various altitudes.

The pole-pole (slow-slow in English) method requires you to hike at a very slow pace in order for your body to acclimate to various elevations. For the pole pole method to be effective, travelers should spend at least 7 days hiking Kilimanjaro.

The second method is known as trek high, sleep low. As the name implies, the method requires you to hike to higher elevations and sleep at lower altitudes. This system works well on gradual slopes like Lemosho, Machame, and the Northern Circuit. This is because your body anticipates elevation changes more effectively on gradual slopes than on uneven inclines.

Pole-Pole (Slow-Slow in English) Acclimatization System

  • Hike at a very slow pace
  • Helps the body adjust to various elevations
  • Better utilized on Kilimanjaro’s longer trails

Trek High & Sleep Low Acclimatization System

  • Trek to high elevations and sleep at low altitudes
  • Helps the body anticipate elevation changes
  • Better utilized on Kilimanjaro’s longer trails

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