How Long Does It Take to Climb Kilimanjaro?
Mount Kilimanjaro routes and their variations take between five to nine days to complete. Although Mount Kilimanjaro is known as a "walk-up" mountain, you should not underestimate it and its risks. The overall statistics show that less than half of all climbers reach the summit.
Below are the Kilimanjaro success rates as reported by Kilimanjaro National Park (2006):
All climbers, all routes 45%
All climbers, all 5 days routes 27%
All climbers, all 6 days routes 44%
All climbers, all 7 days routes 64%
All climbers, all 8 days routes 85%
All climbers, all 9 days routes (no data)
The greater the number of days on the mountain, the better your chances of reaching the top. Therefore, the key to a safe, successful climb is to take the longest routes possible.
There are minimum days for each Kilimanjaro main climbing routes. However, that is not to be confused with recommended days for the route. Kiliquests® recommends adding an extra day or two to your trip to help you acclimatize to the altitude. We encourage customers to take 7-9-day routes for the best chance of success and the lowest risk of altitude sickness.
Some companies boast that their overall summit success rates are greater than 90%. We have seen competitor advertisements representing they have 95%, 98%, even 100% overall success rates. It is only a matter of time before someone advertises that they have a 150% success rate. The truth is that each of these figures are statistically impossible! Do not believe these claims!
Unless these outfitters are prescreening climbers, taking a very small number of climbers (less than 30) per year, or leading climbs only on 8-9-day routes, achieving those extraordinarily high success rates would be impossible to maintain for even a short period of time. Every outfitter knows this, but unfortunately it seems some don't mind attracting customers with misleading or blatantly false statements.
We are very happy that our real success rates are considerably greater that those reported by Kilimanjaro National Park. Client feedback regularly cites our guides and their support as the main reason they were able to summit. We have a consistent record of achieving high success rates year after year and would gladly put our success rates up against the actual success rates of our strongest competitors.
Our primary concern is that you have a safe, enjoyable, memorable Kilimanjaro climb.
It is possible to climb the mountain in five or six days, but why take the chance? Some clients want to minimize their days in order to save costs, which is understandable. But we feel that the additional cost is well worth it. Not only is it safer, but you increase the probability of your success, have more time to enjoy the experience, can take acclimatization hikes to other parts of the mountain you'd otherwise miss, and will probably feel better as well, given that there is less stress on your body.
Ask yourself this. How would you feel if you scheduled a route with the minimum required days, only to have to turn around within the first couple days because the rate of ascent was too quick? Wouldn't you rather have added a couple days to your trip to give yourself a better chance, to be fairer to your body? Were the 'savings' you got for not taking additional days’ worth the cost of cutting your climb short, not making it to summit, or even worse, putting your health at risk?
Kilimanjaro World Records
You may have read stories of people climbing Kilimanjaro in a matter of hours instead of days. How is this possible? The athletes who attempt these feats are acclimatized to the elevation of the entire mountain prior to the attempt. They camp at high altitudes until they are fully acclimated to the thin oxygen levels. This is the only way to avoid acute mountain sickness when attempting speed records.
Very young children and much older people have climbed Kilimanjaro as well. Although the minimum age for climbing Kilimanjaro is 10 years old, it is possible to get special permission for those who have shown exceptional ability. There is no maximum age.
Here are some of the amazing world record holders on Mount Kilimanjaro.
Fastest Summit (2014) - Karl Egloff of Switzerland climbed to the peak in just 4 hours 56 minutes. He also holds the record for the fastest ascent and descent, completing the round trip in 6 hours 42 minutes (achieved during the same record-breaking summit).
Fastest Summit by a Female (2018) - Kristina Schoou Madsen of Denmark made it to the summit in 6 hours 52 minutes.
Fastest Unaided Ascent and Descent (2006) - Simon Mtuy of Tanzania carried his own food, water and clothing to complete the round trip in 9 hours 19 minutes.
Oldest Climber to Summit (2017) - Fred Distelhorst of the USA climbed to the top at age 88.
Oldest Female to Summit (2015) - Angela Vorobeva of Russia is the oldest woman to climb Kilimanjaro at 86 years old.
Youngest Climber to Summit (2018) - Coaltan Tanner of the USA made it to the top of Kilimanjaro at just 6 years old.
Youngest Female to Summit (2018) - Montannah Kenney of the USA also climbed Kilimanjaro at 7 years of age to become the youngest female to summit.