How tall is Mount Kilimanjaro? Kilimanjaro is an extremely tall mountain, standing 5,895 meters or 19.341 feet high. Based on its height, the mountain is considered to be in the “extreme” altitude category, which ranges from 18,000 to 25,999 feet. Above 26,000 feet is the “ultra” category, which includes mountains like Everest and K2. From 13,000 to 17,999 feet is the “very high” category and that includes mountains such as Pikes Peak in Colorado and Mount Blanc in France.


What makes Kilimanjaro unique? Kilimanjaro is the highest freestanding mountain in the world. That means that Kilimanjaro is not part of a mountain range. She stands entirely on her own in Tanzania, located in East Africa. The highest mountains in the world, Mount Everest and K2, are part of the Himalayan and Karakoram mountain ranges in Nepal and Pakistan, respectively.

Mount Kilimanjaro is a stratovolcano, and was born millions of years ago from volcanic eruptions.  There are three volcanic cones – Mawenzi, Shira, and Kibo. Kibo is the highest peak. The last major eruption was 360,000 years ago. However, Kilimanjaro is a dormant volcano, and she could erupt again.


Kilimanjaro has legendary ice fields near the top. There were 16 named glaciers but currently there are 12 and all of them are retreating. The glaciers are believed to have been formed in 9700 BC, or about 12,000 years ago. The existence of glaciers here is counter intuitive given that the mountain itself sits very close to the equator, where the sun is strong. Geologists estimate that there have been at least eight ice ages during this time that have allowed the glaciers to grow.

What does Kilimanjaro mean? There are a lot of theories as to the origin of the name Kilimanjaro. Swahili is the dominant language of Tanzania. Kilima means “small hill” and Njaro means “greatness”, so “great, small hill.” The use of the world hill here could be intentionally sarcastic. Another possibility is that Kilima is a corruption of the Swahili word for “mountain,” which is Mlima. Njaro also means “caravan” in Kichagga, the language of the Chagga people. Kilimanjaro was a classic caravan route for traders and explorers.


Why do people climb Kilimanjaro? Kilimanjaro is a very popular tourist destination because the mountain, although very high, can be climbed with no technical mountaineering skills or equipment and does not require more than average physical fitness. The chance to climb one of the seven summits – the highest peaks on seven continents – is an alluring achievement for those seeking adventurous vacations.

Additionally, climbs are fully supported with local guides and porters. That means that one does not need to plan the logistics for their trip or haul tents and food.  Guides lead the way. All equipment is carried by porters. Meals are prepared for tourists, who can relax in a dining tent equipped with a table, chairs and lantern. It is one of the most comfortable expeditions that one can be partake in. But in climbing Kilimanjaro, tourists are giving much needed jobs and supporting the local community.

Climbers ascending the crater rim of Mt. Kilimanjaro, up from Stella Point, as seen from the summit area.

How do you climb Kilimanjaro? It is required that tourists climb Kilimanjaro with a licensed local guide. There are thousands of guides and hundreds of Kilimanjaro outfitters that service the mountain. An internet search will yield what seems like an unlimited number of options. However one needs to be careful when booking a trip. The vast majority of operators are lacking in professionalism, competence and service. Be sure to research the companies diligently to form an educated opinion before making a decision.

Climbing Kilimanjaro can be dangerous. About 10 tourists die every year. Most as a result of altitude sickness. The best Kilimanjaro companies are focused on safety, first and foremost. Their guides will have the proper training and equipment to monitor the health of their clients. Look for guides that are Wilderness First Responders (WFR) and companies that carry emergency oxygen, portable stretchers and pulse oximeters.

Additionally, the best operators will: have a long, established history of leading climbs; use quality, brand name equipment that is appropriate for the mountain; serve fresh, delicious meals; lead climbs on routes that are better suited for acclimatization; are members of the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project (KPAP), an independent organization that monitors the treatment of porters; practice Leave No Trace (LNT) ethics; be recognized as a solid operator by its past customers, the public as a whole, and its peers.

About Ultimate Kilimanjaro

ultimate-kiliWith nearly a decade of experience, Ultimate Kilimanjaro has a proven expertise on Mount Kilimanjaro. We lead over 150 climbs per year, with more than 1,000 adventurers climbing with us annually. Literally thousands of climbers have stood on the top of Kilimanjaro with us. Our clients have included celebrities, film makers, senators, ambassadors, authors and journalists.

Our expert guides were hand selected to work for us. We have the best local guides who have received extensive training in first aid and mountain rescue. With unrivaled experience and competence, they are among the most talented and respected professionals in the industry. Our guides have over 150 years of combined experience and 3,000 successful summits.

Ultimate Kilimanjaro is focused on safety, understanding that our top priority is to keep you out of harm’s way. Our guides perform regular health checks on all climbers, and they are prepared to prevent, detect and treat altitude sickness. We include rescue oxygen on every climb and have evacuation plans in place in case of emergencies.

We only use high quality camping equipment to keep climbers as comfortable as possible while outdoors. Our Mountain Hardwear tents are warm, waterproof, and roomy – and perfectly suited for the rigors of Kilimanjaro. We provide thick foam sleeping pads for all clients. Mountain Hardwear Lamina sleeping bags, rated to -30F, are available for rental.

All food and drink is provided on the mountain. Our mountain chefs prepare delicious meals with fresh, local ingredients. These meals are nutritious and calorie dense, specifically designed to sustain the energy of climbers. An ample amount of clean water is provided so climbers stay well hydrated throughout the trek. We also cater to all speciary dietary requirements.

Ultimate Kilimanjaro specializes on Kilimanjaro’s best routes. With many routes to choose from, we avoid trails that are very crowded, less scenic, and have poor acclimatization profiles. We operate primarily on routes that offer a combination of high success rates, scenic beauty and foot traffic. This ensures our clients have the best chance of reaching the summit and have a good time doing it.

We take porter welfare very seriously and do our best to ensure our staff is treated well. As a partner company of the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project (KPAP), we comply with all established guidelines on porter wages and welfare. We supply our porters with the proper food and shelter, and restrict porter loads to reasonable weight limits.

We are a member of Leave No Trace, an organization dedicated to enjoying the outdoors responsibly. Our guides and porters practice Leave No Trace ethics on the mountain so that everyone can enjoy a clean, litter free environment on one of Africa’s most majestic landscapes.

With Ultimate Kilimanjaro, you get high quality service without the inflated cost. Our goal is to work with you to create the ideal itinerary based on your needs, abilities and desires. We can help you plan every aspect of your climb, providing everything you need for a successful summit and enjoyable experience. Won’t you join us on the roof of Africa?