The name is believed to come from Swahili, Kilima (small mountain) and Njaro (shining or whitening). There are several routes to climb the mountain. We chose the 7-day Machame trail because it is a scenic route filled with different picturesque landscapes. 7 Days or more allow for greater acclimatization which makes this route a good choice for a successful summit.
Other routes include
The Shira Route: moderately challenging with a steep start
The Marangu Route: this is a challenging route and interestingly the most crowded route probably because it is the only route with hut accommodation. It is possible to complete the route in 4 or 5 days. We wouldn’t choose this route because of it’s low success rate and 1000m altitude difference between the day before and day of your summit.
The Rongai Route: known for the easiest route and dry to trek up. Especially if you are climbing during the rainy season.
The Lemosho Route: the most beautiful route, slightly longer with 7 or 8 days and for those with a higher budget
The Umbwe Route: a very steep, difficult route and not for people who are afraid of heights. However, experienced mountain climbers will relish at this challenge.
WEATHER ON THE MOUNTAIN
Kilimanjaro has 5 ecological zones with very distinct climates. The temperature does not fluctuate too much throughout the year. Instead, it changes based on the time of day and the altitude level.
We climbed the mountain in October and it literally felt like passing through different countries; Africa to Antarctica in only 5 – 7 days. We were based in the town, Moshi, South of the foot of the mountain. A very hot town.
What is interesting about Kilimanjaro is that the mountain creates its own weather. This is because of it’s height which makes the weather tricky to predict. At the start of our climb, the weather was 28 degrees Celsius (80 degrees F). As we climbed higher and moved through the different ecological zones, the temperature dropped very quickly. It was -16 C° (3 F°) on the summit.
Our best advice is to be prepared, regardless of what time of year you climb.
There are 2 trekking seasons which is the best time to climb. January to March and June to October. Climbing the mountain in October was a great choice for us. Coming towards the end of the season made the mountain less crowded and slightly more affordable. I do not know if we were lucky but it didn’t rain during our trek. The probability of having snow on the summit is higher during June to October. Although, there was none at the time we reached it.
What really took us by surprise was the melting of the glaciers. As we passed by one out of three, the Rebmann glacier, we could hear it melting. This made us feel a little sad. Our guide mentioned that there might be no glaciers left by 2020 due to global warming.
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro was a fascinating and unforgettable experience, day by day. Read more, here.
If you have any questions at all, feel free to reach out to us or leave a comment in the comment section. We are incredibly passionate about this journey and would be delighted to share more and more and more.