Kilimanjaro Expedition – General Information

Mount Kilimanjaro – from the equator to the pole vertically

About Tanzania

The United Republic of Tanzania occupies an area of ​​945,087 square km and is the largest country in East Africa in the African Great Lakes region formed along the Great Rift Valley.
It borders Uganda to the north; Kenya to the northeast; Comoros Islands and the Indian Ocean to the east; Mozambique and Malawi to the south; Zambia to the southwest; Rwanda, Burundi and D.R. Congo to the west. The capital is Dodoma and the largest city is Dar es Salaam. The borders of Tanzania cross the largest lake of the continent – Lake Victoria, the longest lake in the world – Lake Tanganyka and Lake Malawi.
Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world, with about 40% living below the poverty line. Life expectancy is about 50 years. I live here approx. 47,000,000 people, 95% of whom belong to the Bantu tribes. 35% of the people are Muslim, 30% Christian, 35% other traditional indigenous faiths.
Three official languages ​​are spoken in Tanzania: Swahili, English and Arabic. The national language is Swahili. Some Swahili words and their meanings: karibu = welcome, pole pole = slowly, asante = thank you, uhuru = freedom, machame = salts, mweka = put it on, umbwe = vacuum, lemosho = memory, rongai = move on, marangu = hard, salaam = hello, lala salaam = sleep bye, moshi = smoke.

About Kilimanjaro
Mount Kilimanjaro is located in Africa, in northern Tanzania, in the Kilimanjaro region, close to the equator and has coordinates: 03°04′33″S 37°21′12″E. It is 70 km from the East African Rift.
Kilimanjaro is not only the highest mountain in Africa, it is also one of the largest volcanoes on the entire planet, covering an area of ​​approximately 388,500 hectares. Thus, it is among the “Volcanic Seven Summits” which are the highest volcanoes on each of the seven continents.
Mount Kilimanjaro is an inactive volcano and is part of the Mount Kilimanjaro National Park. It is the highest mountain in Africa – 5,895 m above sea level – and the highest free-standing mountain in the world – 4,900 m above the base of the plateau. In its area there are three main peaks that betray its origins as a result of three huge volcanic eruptions: Kibo, Mawenzi and Shira.

Climatic zones of Mount Kilimanjaro

Mount Kilimanjaro consists of five major ecological climate zones. These are as follows: Cultivated Zone, Rainforest Zone, Moorland Zone, Alpine Desert Zone and Peak Arctic Tundra Zone.
Kilimanjaro’s five distinct climate zones, from rainforest to the summit’s arctic tundra, have been compared to walking from the equator to the North Pole.
Each climate zone has its own unique characteristics, both in terms of vegetation and fauna.
1. Cultivated Area:
Altitude: 800 – 1,800 m Temperature: daytime: 21 – 32 C / night: 4 – 15 C

As you leave Arusha or Moshi to head to the park gates to begin the climb, you will see plenty of evidence of human activity. The southern part of the mountain, richer in precipitation, with a fertile volcanic soil, offers ideal conditions for cultivation.
2. Rainforest Zone:
Altitude: 1,800 – 2,800 m Temperature: daytime: 21 – 32 C / night: 4 – 15 C

The entire mountain is surrounded by a tropical, montane forest. Dense and humid, this forest is home to various species of birds and animals. The trees are covered with “old man’s beard”, orchids grow on the branches of old trees. Black and white Colobus monkeys and baboons live in the treetops.
3. Moorland:
Altitude: 2,800 – 4,000 m Temperature: daytime: 10 – 27 C / night: (-1) – 15 C

The forest ends abruptly as you enter the Moorland and suddenly magnificent views open up. The marsh area is characterized by the presence of scrub shrubs and tufock grasses. As we climb, we will see “Senecios” and “Giant Lobelia”. These plants have developed unique characteristics that allow them to withstand drastic changes in temperature. As ‘Senecios’ ages, its leaves die and remain on the plant, forming a sheath around the trunk. Lobelias close their leaves at night, covering their core to provide warmth. Very few animals live here. Keep an eye out for birds of prey.
4. Alpine Desert Zone:
Altitude: 4,000 – 5,000 m Temperature: daytime: (-12) – 15 C / night: (-12) – 4 C

The intense rays of the sun beat down during the day, and at night the temperature drops below the freezing point. There is very little water in this area and only the hardiest plants can survive. It is barren and inhospitable. We will encounter small hardy plants, very few flowers and the odd tussoky grass. The landscape is dominated by rugged rock formations and panoramic views.
5. Arctic Tundra Area of ​​the Peak:
Altitude: 5,000 – 5,895 m Temperature: daytime: (-12) – 4 C / night: (-26) – (-7) C

Also known as the arctic zone, this area is dry, freezing cold at night and subject to intense sun during the day. With half the oxygen available than at sea level, the area is dominated by glaciers and large boulders. There are no resident animals or plants, except for a few very hardy, slow-growing and probably ancient lichens. It is very cold here with strong winds and nighttime temperatures below freezing. On the way to the summit, there may be ice and snow on the ground, even at noon, and the sun’s radiation is harsh. Sunscreen is essential on all exposed parts of the body, the dry air will dehydrate you quickly and you’ll need warm layers to maintain your temperature.
The glaciers of Kilimanjaro. Everyone knows the snow cap at the top of Kilimanjaro. You would think that due to the strong equatorial sun, glaciers would not exist on Kilimanjaro at all. In fact, the bright white color of the ice allows it to survive because it reflects most of the heat. On the other hand, the dull black lava rock on which the glacier rests absorbs the heat; so while the surface of the glacier is relatively unaffected by the sun’s rays, the heat generated by the sun-baked rocks below causes the ice to melt. Kilimanjaro’s retreating glaciers are thought to disappear between 2025 and 2035.

The weather
The best forecast is from August to October, and the worst is in April. Temperatures are best from January to March. The month with the least precipitation is July. The most sunny days are in August and December. Less humidity is in October and from January to March. Most tourists climb in July, August and December. All things considered, the 3 best months to climb Kilimanjaro are by far August, September and October, and the worst is April, followed by May.

Route Map

(click on objectives for extended version)

Technical Box

Difficulty: difficult
Duration / distance: 6 days / 61 km
Marking: Machame Route, unmarked
Minimum altitude: 1,650 m above sea level, at Mweka Gate
Maximum Altitude: 5,895 masl, on Uhuru Peak,
Difference in level: +5,500 m / -5,000 m
Remarks: access only with a guide

1. Flight via Amsterdam

I flew with KLM via Amsterdam. We saw wonderful scenery during the flight as we left mainland Greece and crossed the Nile twice over Egypt. The nearest airport to reach Mount Kilimanjaro is Kilimanjaro Airport, located 40 km (1 hour drive) from Moshi, the main town used as a starting point for mountain trails. At the airport there were some formalities that did not go exactly smoothly.





The Nile in Egypt

The Nile in Egypt

Kilimanjaro Airport

Kilimanjaro Airport

2. Accommodation at the base of the mountain

I recommend taking into account one night’s accommodation before and after the expedition to start resting and also to have a reserve.

Breakfast in Moshi

Hibiscus in Moshi

Hibiscus in Moshi

Palm tree in Moshi

3. Transfers

The organizer took care of all the transfers. There are 6 gateways to Kilimanjaro National Park: Mweka, Umbwe, Machame, Lemosho, Rongai and Marangu and can be reached by car. After one night bed and breakfast in Moshi, we had to drive less than 1 hour to reach the entrance gate – Machame Gate. On the 30 km we crossed poor villages and some fog.

At the end of the big hiking tour, I was brought from Mweka Gate back to Moshi, 25 km in 1 hour. I had dinner on the way. The trip ended at Kilimanjaro Airport the same afternoon we had come down from the mountain.


Transfer to Machame Gate

Transfer to Machame Gate

Transfer from Mweka Gate

Flora in the cultivation area

banana trees

Coffee trees

Transfer from Mweka Gate

Transfer from Mweka Gate

4. “Goodbye, Kilimanjaro!”

The route of the expedition will be presented by day in separate posts.



Mount Kilimanjaro

Barafu Camp



Organizing such an expedition is very important. Do not disregard any recommendation.

All the best!