Best Daypacks for Hiking for 2022& How to Choose
Backpacking is a popular form of hiking that just keeps gaining traction. Instead of packing up a whole vehicle with supplies to rough it, all that is taken is what a person can carry. With that comes the need for suitable gear and a good bag to carry it all in.
Daypacks aren’t just a backpack. They are made to carry enough gear to make it through a hike and any unexpected turns for at least a day. They also each have unique features that will make or break a hiking experience, so it is important to select a good one. A daypack has to be as comfortable to wear full of gear while also being able to hold up to the hiker’s needs. Keep reading to learn how to choose the best hiking daypack so that hike becomes something to remember for all the right reasons.
What is the Difference Between a Backpack and a Daypack?
There is only a subtle difference between a daypack and a backpack. The long and short of it is that all daypacks are backpacks, but all backpacks are not daypacks. A daypack is a small backpack that is meant to be lightweight and to only carry around the things needed for a shorter day hike.
Best Daypacks for Hiking for 2022
There are a lot of daypacks out there, but they aren’t all made equally. Depending on individual needs and the circumstances of the hike, something that is good for one person might not be the greatest for another.
Here are 10 great hiking daypacks to consider:
- Osprey Talon 22 (men’s) and Tempest 20
- Osprey Salida 12 Hydration Pack – Women’s
- Osprey Daylite Pack Special Edition
- Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Travel Day Pack
- Wy’east Daypack
- Patagonia Nine Trails 28L Pack – Men’s
- Mountain Designs Hydration Backpack
- Vibrelli Hydration Pack & 2L Hydration Water Bladder
- TETON Sports Oasis 18L Hydration Pack with Free 2-Liter water bladder
- Gregory Citro 30 H2O Hydration Pack – Men’s
Best Daypacks for Hiking for 2022
BEST DAYPACK OVERALL FOR COMFORT & FUNCTIONALITY
WEIGHT: 2 lb. 0.64 oz. / 1 lb. 14.6 oz.
CAPACITY: 22L / 20L
PROS: Comfortable, padded/ventilated back panel, supportive hipbelt, good pocket arrangement, helmet clip for commuting, good value for the price, durable
CONS: Heavier than some other daypacks, hipbelt isn’t removable
BOTTOM LINE: The Osprey Talon 22 (men’s) and Tempest 20 (women’s) provide an exceptional balance of comfort, convenience, and functionality. Our favorite feature of these packs is how they form to our bodies. With cushy hipbelts, padded shoulder straps, and ventilated back panels, the Talon and Tempest ride very comfortably on the trail. These packs have plenty of room for a full-day adventure and convenient storage compartments to keep our gear organized nicely.
BEST ULTRALIGHT BUDGET DAYPACK
WEIGHT: 14 oz.
PROS: Affordable, ultralight, good pocket organization, removable hip belt, comfortable, packable
CONS: Not as supportive as some others
BOTTOM LINE: The affordable and ultralight REI Flash 22 has been a staple on our hikes for many years due to its exceptional comfort and simplicity. For full-day adventures, you may want a pack with a more substantial hip belt and carrying capacity, but we often find that a small pack like the Flash 22 is all we really need for short day hikes with a lightweight load. This pack has a variety of convenient storage pockets, easy to reach water bottle holsters, and enough structure to feel comfortable against your back. This pack also comes in a Flash 18 model, but we prefer the Flash 22 because of its water bottle and top lid pockets.
BEST HYDRATION DAYPACK FOR HIKING
WEIGHT: 2 lbs. / 1 lb. 15 oz.
PROS: Hydration bladder included, very comfortable, supportive, transfers weight to hips well, good pocket organization, durable
CONS: Heavier than some, side pockets fit narrow water bottles great but are tight for wide bottles
BOTTOM LINE: If hydration bladders are your jam, it’s a good idea to buy a daypack that includes one. You’ll save money, and you won’t need to worry about finding a specific bladder that fits your pack. The Gregory Citro 24 H20 (men’s) and Juno 24 H20 (women’s) are our favorite hydration packs because they’re comfy, supportive, and they have a simple, yet organized design. The suspended mesh back provides good ventilation and effectively transfers weight to the padded hipbelt. You’ll also find the Citro and Juno at the top of our Best Hydration Packs list. If you prefer to use water bottles or already have a hydration bladder, the Citro 24 and Juno 24 are available without the bladder.
SMALL & DURABLE HIKING DAYPACK WITH COMFORTABLE PADDING
WEIGHT: 1 lb. 1 oz.
PROS: Affordable, durable, comfortable, ultralight, padded back panel, removable hipbelt, large/convenient opening for main compartment
CONS: Front stash pocket is somewhat inconvenient to access
BOTTOM LINE: The Deuter Speed Lite 20 is comparable in size, shape, and comfort to the REI Flash 22, but with a bit more padding and durability. It’s a fairly simple pack, but the lightweight design is often all we need on short day hikes with light loads. Like the Flash, the Speed Lite comes with a simple, removable nylon hipbelt. Overall, we like the storage design of the Speed Lite with its large main pocket opening, but we wish the front stash pocket was a bit easier to access. We think the Speed Lite 20 goes toe-to-toe with the Flash 22 for the best small daypack design. If you’re looking for more carrying capacity, Deuter also makes this pack in 24 and 32 (men’s sizes)/22 and 30 (women’s sizes) liter models.
ROOMY PACK THAT’S GREAT FOR TRAVEL & LONG DAY HIKES
WEIGHT: 3 lbs.
PROS: Excellent pocket organization, large/convenient opening for main compartment, durable, spacious, supportive hipbelt, rain cover included
CONS: Heavy, more room than necessary for short hikes
BOTTOM LINE: The REI Trail 40 (view women’s) are great choices for those who need one pack that can do it all. The supportive hipbelt makes the Trail 40 one of the best options on our list for hikes where you need to carry a little extra weight. The wrap-around zipper on the main compartment makes it easy to pack and access your items when traveling. The Trail 40 can even work as a school backpack because of all the organizational pockets and the padding on the back. While it may be a bit large for most casual day hikes, the Trail 40 is versatile enough to be practical in many situations. If you’re looking for something smaller, the Trail Pack also comes in a 25L size for men and women.
COMFY & SUPPORTIVE HIKING DAYPACK FOR LONGER HIKES
WEIGHT: 2 lbs. 12 oz. / 2 lbs. 9 oz.
PROS: Very comfortable, supportive, transfers weight to hips well, good pocket organization, rain cover included, durable
CONS: We would prefer a mesh front pocket over the zippered pocket, heavier than some others
BOTTOM LINE: The Osprey Stratos 24 (men’s) and Sirrus 24 (women’s) have some of the most comfortable frames of any daypacks we’ve used, hands down. Their stretch-mesh back panels feel cushy against the back and seamlessly transition into their hipbelts for excellent weight transfer. These packs have a solid organizational system too, with convenient gear storage pockets, two hipbelt pockets, and easy-to-access water bottle holsters. The Stratos 24 and Sirrus 24 are exceptionally comfortable daypacks built for extended adventures, and we recommend them for those who like having extra support.
STYLISH DAYPACK WITH A LARGE CAPACITY
WEIGHT: 2 lbs. 3.3 oz. / 2 lbs. 0.6 oz.
CAPACITY: 28L / 26L
PROS: Stylish design, excellent pocket organization, large/convenient opening for main compartment, durable, spacious, comfortable, padded back panel, supportive hipbelt
CONS: Expensive, heavier than some others
BOTTOM LINE: The Patagonia Nine Trails 28 (men’s sizes) and Nine Trails 26 (women’s sizes) have a sleek design and straightforward features. We love the style and comfort of the Nine Trails, and it has a lot of storage space for extended day hikes. The wrap-around zipper on this pack makes accessing gear easy and the front mesh pocket is durable and secure. The hipbelt on the Nine Trails is comfortable, transfers weight well, and has two slim pockets for snacks and gear. The comfort, capacity, and organization of this pack make it a good choice for travel, commuting, and longer day hikes. The Nine Trails comes in a variety of sizes, but our favorite is the 28L model.
HIGHLY WEATHER-RESISTANT & DURABLE HIKING DAYPACK
WEIGHT: 1 lb. 3 oz.
PROS: Ultralight, highly water-resistant, durable, feels more spacious than 17L, supportive/stashable hipbelt, high-quality materials/construction
CONS: Expensive, no hydration bladder pocket
BOTTOM LINE: The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Daybreak is a tough, ultralight daypack built for a full day on the trail. Though not fully waterproof, the Daybreak is the most weather-resistant pack on this list, shedding moderate precipitation with ease. The Daybreak is made of ultralight and durable DCF, which is a big part of the reason it’s so expensive. Though it’s listed at 17L, the Daybreak feels roomier than that, and the front pocket adds a lot of space. We love that the hipbelt feels secure and can be tucked away when not in use. Though the cost of this pack will be prohibitive for some, the Daybreak is a well-constructed, tough-as-nails, ultralight daypack.
AFFORDABLE DAYPACK WITH A MINIMAL BUT FUNCTIONAL DESIGN
WEIGHT: 1 lb.
PROS: Affordable, ultralight, removable hipbelt, good pocket organization
CONS: Not as supportive as some others, small capacity
BOTTOM LINE: The Osprey Daylite is a simple, sleek, and affordable daypack that has similar features to the REI Flash 22, and Deuter Speed Lite 20, but with slightly less capacity. The Daylite is a great option for short trips with light loads. Hydration bladder users will find the external hydration sleeve on the Daylite convenient. This pack is a bit small for full-day adventures, but for short hikes, it’s often all we really need to carry our gear comfortably. If you need a little more space, Osprey also makes the slightly larger 20L Daylite Plus.
ULTRALIGHT & PACKABLE DAYPACK FOR SHORT HIKES
WEIGHT: 2.5 oz.
PROS: Ultralight, very compact (folds to about the size of Clif Bar), affordable
CONS: Not as durable as some others, only has one pocket, no frame, can be uncomfortable if not packed well
BOTTOM LINE: The Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil daypack is a different type of backpack than the others on this list – it’s essentially a nylon stuff sack with a zipper and two shoulder straps. This simple design isn’t great for long days on the trail, but it’s convenient for short hikes. We also love how lightweight and compressible the Ultra-Sil is, which makes it easy to throw in a larger suitcase or backpack when we’re heading out on longer trips. The Ultra-Sil only has one pocket and no frame, so packing it carefully is a must for comfort (we place a padded insulation layer against our back). When all you need is a simple pack for a minimal load, the Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil is a nice solution.
ULTRALIGHT PACK FOR LONG DAY HIKES & QUICK OVERNIGHTS
WEIGHT: 1 lb. 4 oz.
PROS: Ultralight, frame is a removable sit pad, shoulder strap pockets, roomy, durable
CONS: Wide shoulder straps don’t sit well on all body types, more room than necessary for short hikes
BOTTOM LINE: The Wy’east from Six Moon Designs is one of the lightest daypacks we’ve tested with this much capacity. This pack is great for long hikes when you need to carry bulky items, and it can even work as an overnight bag for those with truly ultralight setups. The Day breaker comes with two convenient shoulder strap pockets and the frame doubles as a foam sit pad. Our one gripe with this bag is that the shoulder straps are pretty wide, so it’s not a great fit for those with narrow shoulders or small frames.
While there’s enough packs on a retailer’s shelf to make someone’s head spin, by narrowing down exact features and needs, the best hiking daypack could be just within reach.
How to Choose the Best Daypack for Hiking
It’s best to find a place that will allow daypacks to be tried on or returned if they don’t work out. Try them on with some weight for a short period of time and see how they feel. There’s nothing worse than a bag that’s annoying to carry, even only for a few miles. Remember that no matter how many people say a pack is great, everyone is unique. Be as picky as needed, it will pay off in the end.
Consider Needs for the Daypack
If the plan is to go to a place with carefully manicured trails for a short hike of a few miles at best, there isn’t going to be much of a need for a high-end and ruggedly built daypack. However, if the intention is a long through hike with a sleep stop built in, or even simply a hike taking place in rougher conditions, opting for a heavier-duty bag might be worth considering.
Here are some questions to ask when considering needs for a daypack:
- Is it adequate for the planned kinds of trails?
- Is it comfortable to wear?
- Is it light enough to be worn long term while being filled with gear?
- Is it sturdy and/or easily repaired if something happens?
- Is it easy to access?
- Is it big enough for the Ten Essentials and any other gear?
- Is it aesthetically pleasing?
- Is it breathable?
- Is it suitable for the season?
- Does it have a hydration reservoir?
- Does it come with a rain cover?
- Does it have reflective components?
- Does it have enough pockets?
- Does it have a suspended back panel?
- Does it have a sleeping bag compartment?
Some of these questions might not matter, but they are still worth asking. This can help even find unexpected features that might help with the decision-making process. Making a list of absolute needs followed by general likes and desires is always a good route to go when trying to assess needs for an appropriate pack.
Stick to a Budget
Unfortunately, things cost money. Keep an eye out on what needs cost and budget accordingly. Don’t be swindled into overpaying for something unnecessary or cuts into the budget for other things. If nothing else, keep a close eye on sales, clearance, or membership rewards to spring for the best price.
Just know that just because something is expensive, doesn’t mean it’s good. The same goes for if something is cheap, that doesn’t always mean that it is going to fall apart quickly. Also consider looking at similar bags to the dream bag to see if there’s something more budget friendly while still doing everything the other brand did.
There is nothing worse than having a pack that is too small for everything needed for the trip, so things have to be put in other containers and thus negating the point of having a nice hiking bag. Second to this is a pack that is too big, heavy, and wasting too much space. That bag with a ton of space for winter hiking is going to weigh down and be far less comfortable in the summer.
Here are some good sizes for daypacks based on what season the hike is taking place:
Overstuffing a pack is dangerous. It can damage the gear inside or cause unnecessary stress to the bag leading to more repairs down the line. Spring and autumn tend to be cooler months needing less gear, summer benefits from less stuff to carry but more hydration, and winter needs the most gear to combat the cold temperatures.
Weight is a Factor
The weight of the pack itself is rather crucial when it comes to selecting the appropriate bag. A bulkier bag will take more energy to carry around, whereas an ultralight barely weighs anything itself. There is no point in going for the biggest, heaviest bag if it is a chore to carry everything inside of it for long. If it’s going to be a short hike, strength training, durability is a serious concern, or some other means where weight isn’t as much of a factor, then by all means go for a heavier bag.
Conversely, not everyone wants to or can get away with bringing along only the bare minimum. In this case, an ultralight won’t be ideal. Their point is to be as light as possible to reduce the energy consumed while hiking, making these excellent choices for a significant hike. They are also good choices for someone who is trying to really rough it and get closer to nature without a lot of extra bogging them down.
On top of the weight of the bag itself, the gear weighs a lot too. If it’s known that there is going to be a lot of gear, opting for a lighter bag might be a way to balance out the weight of everything.
Comfort is Key: Check the Fit
It can be tempting to just order whatever bag seems to be the one with the best reviews. However, everyone is shaped differently. What might be excellent and comfortable for one person could drive another insane and make for a miserable experience. A well-fitting bag is almost as important as a good pair of jeans.
Here are some points to check while trying out a bag for fit:
- How does the weight carry?
- Does it sit flush against the back or is there a suspended backing?
- Are the straps comfortable on the shoulders?
- Is there a waist strap to redistribute weight?
- Is there a frame inside the bag that digs in?
- Does it ride well on the back?
- Is it cool or does it trap heat?
- Does it fit around the waist if it has a hipbelt?
- Are there load lifter straps?
- Is there a sternum strap?
Some stores will even let people try on the bags with some weights in them in order for them to get an idea of how it will be for a little bit of walking. If it was something ordered, be sure to check it as soon as possible so if it doesn’t work out it can be exchanged for one that will.
What is the Water Storage?
Water is important no matter the season of the hike. Some smaller daypacks don’t have much space, if any, to store water bottles. This would mean that any water would need to be carried, stuffed inside the bag, or clipped somewhere else. For a short hike, this might be fine. After a while though, that gets tedious. Make sure the pack has plenty of storage for water bottles and always bring more than expected.
There are also hydration packs, which are usually daypacks that have a built-in water storage compartment. Typically, they also have long tubes, so they don’t need to be fished out of their confinements either. These are excellent during the summer months or for people who need a more obvious reminder to drink, or those who might need more than others.
Most daypacks will have a regular large pouch at the very least. Typically, these are top loading, but some are side. However, it can be annoying to dig through a pack to find that package of bandages or that missing key at the end of the trip. Therefore, finding a bag with plenty of pockets, hooks, pouches, and other built-in organization management tools can be a serious lifesaver.
A common practice is to put the hike’s itinerary, a map, and any identity or medical information on a strap or chest pouch so it’s easy to access. It’s also common practice to put first aid materials in an external pocket for the same reason. Some higher-end daypacks even have pouches specifically marked for these making it easy if someone else needs to help in the event of an emergency.
To Waterproof or Not to Waterproof
Since they are built for only a day trip, most day packs don’t come in waterproof material. That doesn’t mean none of them do. Some are waterproof, while others might have a built-in rain guard. An alternative is to carry around other waterproofing materials just in case things get a little wet on the trail.
Here are some methods to waterproof a daypack that isn’t:
- A large trash bag over the whole pack
- Specialty waterproofing sprays
- An unattached rain guard
- A poncho draped over
Remember that technically, nothing is waterproof. It’s merely water resistant. So, storing things within stuff sacks helps to keep them dry even if other options fail. Most of the moisture comes through the seams and zippers anyway, though they can usually handle a light drizzle without concern even if they aren’t proofed.
Waterproofing is pretty much essential if the intention is to go out during the winter as well, so be sure to account for that when considering the potential and need for a waterproofed pack. It can be the difference between dry gear at the end of the trip and soaked gear because of melted snow.
Ventilation Doesn’t Just Mean Holes
In some places, ventilation means having holes for air to escape. That’s not entirely accurate when it comes to ventilation in a daypack. Good ventilation usually appears in packs with a mesh back panel so that there’s more airflow between the back and the daypack. It helps cut back on how sweaty that area is going to be.
Additionally, some packs have this mesh cushioning along the straps too in order to make them both more breathable and more comfortable. A lot of weight is going to be resting on those shoulders and that back, so it’s good to keep them as comfortable as possible. The main issue with this is that these packs are going to be a bit heavier overall.
Opening and Closing the Load
Not every backpack is closed the same way, so it stands to reason that neither will daypacks. The way they close and are accessed can be a make-or-break feature of the pack, so it’s important to consider the different options when looking to purchase one. Also consider extra pockets on top of the style, as that could sway its usefulness as well.
These packs have a big opening where the zipper forms a giant U around the pack. It can then be lifted up like a lid, leading to easier access to all of the gear inside. This is great for lots of organization, especially in designs with multiple enclosures within it. There isn’t a concern for things shuffling and falling to the bottom which is a definite plus.
Panel-loading daypacks are extremely popular options which makes them easy to find. They typically have a blockier look than others, but they also tend to have good support. Their ease of access is really what lets them shine though, so they’re a good option for someone needing that feature.
A roll-top is just what it sounds like. Instead of using a zipper, they roll over. This style of pack tends to have a ton of storage space as it can expand while still being able to close. They also do amazingly well when waterproofed since there are fewer areas where water can really seep through. There’s also no concern for the zipper to break in the main enclosure.
These packs sometimes even have an additional flap on top of the roll-top, which adds yet another layer of protection against the elements. Typically, these are extremely durable packs capable of long trips. If the plan is for an overnight hike in questionable weather, this is definitely the closure style to outdo the others.
These packs take from their stuff sack counterparts and close themselves with a cord. These packs typically do great when stuffed with a ton of gear, but they don’t usually close completely. Many of them are made with an extra flap on top of the cinch that closes with a clip or something, so they do make for good options for people with trouble handling zippers.
Unfortunately, another problem with cinch-top designs is that they tend to be saved for larger packs and don’t show up often in smaller daypack styles. They also don’t always like to stay cinched shut, so they might need to be tied out on the trail or have their cording replaced from time to time.
Hiking Doesn’t Have to be Drab
So many things are marketed to be bland and boring when it comes to hiking. That is what some people want, but others want something different. Having a funky daypack doesn’t discredit the hiker if it serves its intended purpose of carrying all their gear comfortably.
Therefore, don’t feel pressured into buying a daypack that feels hideous. There are tons of options out there beyond camouflage, bright blue, and various shades of browns. If nothing else, add on patches or something to add a bit of a personal touch. Plus, that gives it the added bonus of being identifiable.
Decide Based on What Goes into the Daypack
Hiking has been a hobby for long enough now that people have really narrowed down what is actually needed and what can be left behind. Ultralight backpackers are professionals at this, carrying only exactly what they need and nothing else. The bare minimum gear for hiking, even just for a day, is known as the Ten Essentials.
The Ten Essentials
The point of these is to be prepared should the worst happen, as it’s definitely better to be prepared and not need something than to need it and not have it. Also always leave a copy of the itinerary in the car, with a family member or friend, and with the park staff so that they have an idea of where to look if need be.
These are the Ten Essentials and some examples of each:
*plus extra batteries
*always well beyond minimum expectation
*always well beyond minimum expectation
*At least one extra set, especially socks
These essentials can ensure that the hiker can survive until help arrives should something go wrong. Most experienced hikers will recommend at least one day extra worth of supplies in order to have the best chances. These essentials at least need to go into the daypack, so make sure to get one that will fit them while still being comfortable.
Just because people have figured out the essential things to bring along, doesn’t mean that those are the only things that can ever be brought along. However, if more is going to be brought, the pack might need some extra space to accommodate them.
Here are some popular additions to the daypack gear:
- A camera
- Art supplies
- Trekking poles
- Board games
- Extra tools
- Bear bell
- Rope or paracord
- Reflective tape
- Emergency whistle
- Mess kits
When hiking around during hunting season, it’s also a good idea to ensure that there is plenty of reflection on the hiker and their pack in order to prevent accidents. Reflectors also help search and rescue locate should they get lost. It’s also typically considered a good idea to carry things that can serve multiple purposes in order to cut down weight.
A daypack is more than just a backpack. They are survival tools to make sure that the hiker is going to be okay should the worst happens while they are out on trail. So, it’s important to pick one that is suitable for their needs and comfort while also being able to carry all their gear. Just like with most things, there are many different kinds to choose from.
No two people are alike, so expecting a one size fits all daypack is silly. What works for one person might not work for the next no matter how many experts or reviews say otherwise. As long as the hiker is safe and comfortable while out, that’s what matters.
Which is Harder, Kilimanjaro or Everest Base Camp?
Both an Everest base camp trek and a Kilimanjaro trek have their difficulties. There are many similarities between the two such as they are both high altitude treks (EBC is at 5,364 meters and the summit of Kilimanjaro is at 5,895 meters). Both adventures do not require any technical climbing experience or trekking expertise however it is highly beneficial to be physically fit. The cost is relatively similar for both EBC and Kilimanjaro. Everest base camp costs between $2,099 to $4,500 while Kilimanjaro costs between $2,400 to $3,500 depending on route selection. The starting elevation of a Kilimanjaro is 2,300 meters which is similar to the starting elevation of Everest base camp which is 2,800 meters.
Difference Between Kilimanjaro and Everest Base Camp
With all the similarities there are also some major differences. A Kilimanjaro trek is easier in some respects while being harder in other aspects. While the days on EBC are longer, what makes Kilimanjaro tougher is how quickly you ascend to higher altitudes. A Kilimanjaro trek (depending on starting point) will gain 3,600 meters during the duration of the hike. A Kilimanjaro trek will be between 6 to 9 days. An Everest base camp trek will gain around 2,500 meters over the course of 14 days. This means you will ascend much slower on an Everest base camp trek which will give the body more time to acclimatize. This is one of the main reasons why Kilimanjaro is considered to be harder.
The trail to Everest base camp has more ups and downs throughout the trek, they are also more challenging under foot. On the Everest base camp trek you will be hiking for longer hours each day as well as covering longer distances. On the Everest base camp trek, you will be spending more nights at high altitude which can create problems for people physically. The Kilimanjaro trails for the most part are smoother and are considered to be an easier walk. There are more opportunities to “climb high, sleep low” while on the Kilimanjaro trek. This philosophy gives the body a better opportunity to acclimatize to the altitude. The thought is to bring your body to a higher elevation during the day than the elevation you sleep at night. Your body creates more red blood cells at higher elevations to counteract the lack of oxygen. When you go back to a lower elevation you will feel much stronger.
Hardest Part On Mount Kilimanjaro
The hardest part of either trip is without a doubt the summit night on Kilimanjaro. You will not experience anything like summit night on Kilimanjaro while on the Everest base camp trek. Summit night on Kilimanjaro is extremely challenging no matter how physically fit you are. It is just as much a mental grind as it is a physical one. Summit night on Kilimanjaro starts around midnight which is something most people are not used to. The hike to the summit takes between 6-8 hours with another 2-4 to come back down. Moving your body for up to 12 hours is hard at sea-level, add the factor of being above 15,000 feet the entire time, this adds a whole new level of difficulty.
Remember that not everyone feels the same way and there is not a “correct” option when picking between the two adventures. While both goals are highly attainable for an average trekker. The fact that you will be reaching a summit while on Kilimanjaro gives it an appeal that Everest Base Camp does not have. Always consult your physician to see if your body is healthy enough to be at high altitude!
Tallest Mountains in The World
Mountains are colossal giants towering about the world, waiting to be explored. Which mountains make the list for the tallest in the world? That could all be determined by how you measure a mountain. The final measurement could depend on one of three measurements. These three mountains rank highest in three units of measurement mentioned in Geology.com.
Mauna Kea’s height from the base to summit surpasses Mt. Everest and takes the title of Tallest Mountain. While the altitude is 4207m above sea level, it measures 10,203 meters or 33,476 ft from the base to the peak.
Most mountains are categorized by height according to how far they tower above sea level but can also be measured differently from the Earth’s core. We will find out how these measurements stand against each other and change our perception of the world’s tallest mountains.
Mauna Kea the Tallest From Base To Summit Surpasses Everest
Mauna Kea is argumentally the tallest summit in the world. That is because Mauna Kea literally goes deeper than just the surface. Mauna Kea is a Mountainous Island and its base can be measured from below sea level to it’s very top. This dormant volcano is located in North central Hawaii on the Big Island and is planted inside a forest preserve.
The highest point measures at 13,796 ft or 4,207 meters above sea level, but when measured from base to summit it is over 10,000 meters. This places Mauna Kea as technically the highest Mountain peak in the world.
Mauna Kea means “White Mountain,” and some call it “Mauna O’ Wakea.” Mauna Kea is sacred to the Hawaiians and is the home of their deity Wakea. This sacred mountain is a connection for the natives to their creation and creators. They say it is home to not only the divine deities but also their ancestors. It is to them the place where “sky father” and “Earth Mother,” meet. This land is also a sacred burial ground for high chiefs and priests.
Mauna Kea is not like most mountains, it is made up of many volcanic cinder cones. Mauna Kea is easily accessible for those wanting to climb. Unlike many other mountain treks no heavy mountain gear is needed, it is more like hiking. To climb you would start at the Ellison Onizuka Visitor Center and follow the Mauna Kea trail also known as the Humuula Trail.
Top Ten Tallest Mountains According to Altitude
Mountains are measured many ways, the most popular one being altitude. Altitude measures the tallest point above sea level. Mountains are often measured more than once as time goes on because the Earth’s plates are constantly shifting and so too are the mountain formations. With today’s technology mountains can be measured using GPS and satellites. In each study these mountains listed are still ranking as the top ten mountains with the highest altitude to date.
|Mountain||Height meters||Height Feet||Location|
|Mauna Kea||10,203 m||33476 ft||Hawaii,USA|
|Mt. Everest||8,848 m||29,031.7 ft||Nepal, China|
|K2||8,611 m||28,251 ft||Pakistan & China|
|Kangchenjunga||8,586 m||28,169 ft||Nepal & India|
|Lhotse||8,516 m||27,940 ft||Nepal & China|
|Makalu||8,485 m||27,838 ft||Nepal & China|
|Cho Oyu||8,818 m||26,864 ft||Nepal & China|
|Dhaulagiri I||8,167m||26,795 ft||Nepal|
|Nanga Parbat||8,126 m||26,660 ft||Pakistan|
|Annapurna I||8,126 m||26,510||Nepal|
Mt Everest Ranks Number One In Highest Altitude Above Sea Level
Mount Everest stretches across the lands of Nepal, China and the Tibetan border in southern Asia. Mt. Everest measures in at 8,848.86 meters or 29,031.7 Ft. Everest is part of the Himalayan Mountains which is home to a handful of the highest mountain peaks in the world above sea level.
Local Tibetans have named Everest Chomolungma, which translates to “Goddess of the World or of the Valley.” Sanskrit calls it “Peak of Heaven”.” It was officially labeled the highest peak in 1852. Amazingly, Everest has not stopped growing, thanks to tectonic plates it reaches a little higher to the heavens every year.
While many mountain climbing enthusiasts have attempted to climb Mt. Everest and survive, over 300 people have lost their lives trying to climb the famous and very dangerous mountain. The first ascension to Mt. Everest was made in 1953 by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Noragay. They reached the summit at 29,035ft and were dubbed the first people to stand upon the world’s tallest mountain of the 1900’s.
The wind speed alone can reach up to 200 km/hour and temperatures are prime for frostbite or worse. Oxygen is very thin, the higher you climb and without oxygen, we cannot survive. Even with air tanks in tow, many people never climbed back down the mountain. It is best to admire the mountain from below.
K2 Mountain Is the Second Tallest Mountain
K2 is also known as Qogir Feng or Mount Godwin Austen, named after the mountain’s first surveyor and English geographer Colonel H.H. Godwin Austen. K2 is the second tallest mountain in the world measured above sea level reaching 28,252 Ft or 8,611 meters.
K2 is the second towering peak in the Karakoram Mountains and is the tallest of the two. That is why it is called K2. The Karakoram Mountain range is located in Pakistan and stretches into China’s Kashmir region.
The locals refer to it as “Dapsang” and you may also hear them call it “Chogori.” It is a savage and treacherous mountain prone to severe storms making it practically unclimbable, it has of course been done, but not without many losses. Out of every four who climb, one person does not make it.
Kanchenjunga Is the Third Tallest Himilayan Rock Giant
Kangchenjuna is one of the massive, towering mountain peaks in the Himalayas where Everest resides. Kangchenjunga measures in at 8586 meters or 28169 Ft.
Though its name is long, this is a simplified version of the longer name Khangchendzonga. The name means “The five treasures of the high snow.” The local Lhopro people believe these hidden treasures reveal themselves to devout people when the world needs them the most. It is also the mythical home of the Yeti or “kanchenjunga devil.”
Kanchenjunga is one of the most difficult mountains to climb and sees less climbers than neighboring mountains. Due to the difficulty and length of the trek Kanchenjuna typically limits climbers yearly to under 34.
Lhotse Is the South Peak Mountain
Lhotse is the 4th highest mountain in the world above sea level measuring at 8,516 meters and 27940 ft. Lhoste is located in China on the border of Nepal and Tibet and is part of the same mountain range as the infamous Mt. Everest. Lhotse means “South Peak” in Tibetan.
It is the part of the South Col which connects to Everest. Lhotse is made up of additional smaller summers the Lhotse middle on the East which measures at 8414meters or 27605 ft and the Lhotse Shar which measures at 8383 meters or 27503ft.
Lhoste is climbable and is often looked at as a steppingstone before attempting to climb Everest. While it may not be as difficult as Everest, it is still a steep climb and is harder to climb than Cho Oyu. Climbing Lhotse is gaining in popularity as it’s less crowded and costs less for an expedition compared to some neighboring climbs.
Makalu Mountain Is Named After a Hindu God
Makalu is the 5th tallest mountain above sea level measuring at 8485 meters or 27838 ft, located in the mahalangun, a section in the Himalayas on NE Nepal and South central Tibet, China. Makalu lies just east of Everest. Makalu is more isolated and is recognizable by its four sided pyramid like faces.
The mountain is known for its steep ridges and is considered one of the most challenging mountains to climb. Below the mountain lies the Makalu-Barun valley, a Himalayan glacier valley inside the Makalu National Park. The valley is full of breathtaking beauty such as cascading waterfalls and some of the deepest gorges surrounded by lush forests nestled below the snowy ice caps above.
Cho Oyu The Sixth Tallest Mountain
Cho Oyu is the 6th tallest mountain above sea level measuring at an elevation of 8188 meters or 26864 ft. This is another massive formation of the mighty Himalayas and lies on the west side of the Khumba (Everest) region.
Cho Oyu means “turquoise Goddess” in Tibetan. Cho Oyu is considered an easier mountain to climb and is relatively safer than other vigorous mountains found in the region. A typical mountain climb on Cho Oyu can take up to six weeks.
Dhaulagiri I Of the Himalayan Mountains
Dhaulagiri is the 7th tallest mountain in the world above sea level with an elevation of 8167 meters or 267795 ft and another prominent formation of the Himalayas. Dhaulagiri does not share a country like many of the himalayan peaks but is completely inside the borders of Nepal.
Dhaulargiri derives from the Sanskrit word “dhawala giri” which translates to “Dazzling or beautiful white mountain.” Dhaulagiri is the highest point of the Gandaki River Basin. The Gandaki River flows down below.
Something special about Dhaulagiri is that it is a folded mountain, which means it has been formed by two tectonic plates pushed together to make the new formation.
Dhaulagiri I is more difficult to climb but has over 500 successful climbing attempts since it’s first initial climb in the 1960’s and over 30 casualties.
Manaslu Mountain Is The Eight Tallest In the World
Manaslu is the 8th tallest mountain above sea level. Manaslu measures at an elevation of 8163 meters or 26,781 ft. It belongs to the Mansiri Himal of the western Nepalese Himalayas. Manaslu derives from the Sanskrit word “manasa” (spirit) so is known as “mountain of the spirit.”
This mighty mountain is the highest summit of the Gorkha District of Nepal. From afar Manaslu looks like a wall of snow and ice hanging in the sky.
While Manaslu Mountain is not as treacherous as the neighboring mountains, it is still viewed as a dangerous trek. Over 60 people have died attempting to climb the mountain and so locals will often call it the “killer mountain.” Aspiring climbers will often attempt to climb this mountain to practice for the bigger and even more dangerous Mt. Everest.
Nanga Parbat Of the Himalayan Mountain Range Is the 9th Tallest Peak
Nanga Parbat is the 9th tallest mountain peak measuring at 8126 meters or 26660 ft above sea level. It is located in the Damer District of Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan on the western Himalayas.
The name Nanga Parbat means “Naked Mountain” originating from the Sanskrit words “Nanga” and “Prava,” but the Tibetan nickname (Diamer) “Huge Mountain” is more widely known.
Nanga Parbat towers above what is known as Fairy Meadows or “Joot” National Park. It has also been labeled a “Killer Mountain” due to the many lives that have been lost attempting to scale the terrain.
Annapurna In Nepal Is the Tenth Tallest Mountain
Annapurna is the 10th tallest mountain measuring at 8,091 meters or 26,545 ft. This magnificent mountain is also located in the Himalayan Mountains of Nepal.
The highest peak on Annapurna of the Himalayas is what reaches the record over 8000 meters, but it is also made up of many smaller peaks that make up the massif. Annapurna when translated from the Sanskrit language means “the giver of food and nourishment.”
One special area Annapurna encloses is a high basin named the Annapurna Sanctuary. The Annapurna sanctuary is a high glacial basin surrounded by a ring of mountains. This sanctuary is full of a variety of ecosystems such as a jungle in one area and a drier and colder climate in another.
It is full of hidden natural gems like waterfalls, caves and more. The variation of these ecosystems in the Annapurna sanctuary are due to the limited 7 hours of sunlight that makes it into the valley. The natives believed this place to be very sacred. The natives believed it to be a sanctuary for their deities and a place where treasures were stored.
Annapurna has been climbed by hundreds of people since its first ascent in the 1950’s. The first ascent was led by French Native Maurice Herzog. The first expedition reached the Annapurna summit at 8,091 meters. While over 200 people have successfully climbed Annapurna, around 54 climbers never returned. Annapurna has the highest fatality to summit ratio. It is still a dangerous climb and is best to climb in “climbing season, which is from October to May, these are prime months for climbing to avoid the monsoon season.
Top Ten Tallest Mountains by Height From the Earth’s Core
When looking at our list of the world’s tallest mountains in order from the Earth’s core, the list looks quite different. There are a couple of mountains that make both lists, but one of the most surprising facts about this form of measurement is that the famous Mt. Everest falls in tenth place and Chimborazo takes first.
|Mountain||Distance From the Core||Distance From the Core in Miles||Elevation Above Sea Level in Feet||Location|
|Chimborazo||6,384.4 K||3,967.1 mi||20,561||Ecuador|
|Huascaran Mountain (Sur Summit)||6,384.4 K||3967.1 mi||22205 ft||Peru|
|Yerupaja`||6384.3 K||3967.0 mi||21834||Peru|
|Cotopaxi||6384.1 K||3966.9 mi||19347||Ecuador|
|Kilimanjaro||6384.0 K||3966.8 mi||19341||Tanzania|
|Cayambe||6384.0 K||3966.8 mi||20981||Ecuador|
|Siula Grande Mountain||6383.8 K||3966.7 mi||19000||Peru|
|Mount Everest||6382.3 K||3965.8 mi||18875||Nepal|
Chimborazo The Tallest Mountain Measured from Earth’s Center
When measuring the distance from the center of the Earth, Chimborazo ranks number one. Chimborazo is 6,384.4 kilometers or 3,967.1 miles from the Earth’s center, placing it as the highest point on Earth by this form of measurement. Chimborazo is located in Ecuador and is about 6,267 meters above sea level. It can also be considered the mountain closest to the moon.
What does the name Chimborazo mean? Though the exact history and translation of Chimborazo is not specific, the meaning behind the name basically translates to “the snow on the other side.” However, in the chimbo language the mountain is dubbed “Icethrone of God.”
Chimborazo is more than just a mountain; it is an inactive double volcano. Chimborazo is not just any volcano it is a stratovolcano, which means its steep profile is a composite volcano built by layers and layers of hardened lava. The farthest point on the planet away from Earth’s center. The Earth is not a perfect sphere, in fact it bulges at the Equator (equatorial bulge) and this mountain is very close to the equator, and that bulge gives Chimborazo that extra dynamic.
Chimborazo is considered a “fast climb” compared to other mountains. This is because it does not take any hiking to reach the summit, instead it should only take about seven hours. Fast does not mean easy and it is not to be taken lightly. The most popular route to the summit is called El Castillo. While Chimborazo was probably climbed to the summit for years before the first documented climb by natives, the first documented ascension was in 1823. Joseph Goodrich, an American missionary recorded his ascent in one day.
Huascaran The Sur Summit Is the Second Tallest Mountain From the Core
Huascaran is the second tallest mountain in the world with the farthest distance from the Earth’s core. The Sur Summit is located in Yungay province of Peru and measures 6384.4 meters or 3,967.1 miles from the center of the Earth. Below the mountain lies the village of Huashco which is also the root for the mountain’s official name.
The Huascaran Mountain actually has two summits, the south summit is the highest peak and the north peak is the smaller. The mountain tops are separated by Garganta which is shaped like a saddle creating a distinction between the two peaks.
Yerupaja Mountain of Peru Is The Third Farthest From The Core
The famous Andes mountains are more than a good chocolate. The Andes hold many towering mountain peaks. Yerupaja is one of those peaks and makes for the third tallest mountain in the world from the Earth’s center. Yerupaja is 6,384.3 Kilometers or 3,967.1 meters from the core and about 6635 meters above sea level. Yerupaja is located in Peru, this spectacular mountain peak is part of the Huayhuash mountain range in the Andes.
Not too many people have successfully climbed and conquered Yerupaja, because the mountain is difficult to climb, but its beauty continues to draw people in who are brave enough to attempt its slopes.
Cotopaxi Mountain Is an Active Volcano
Cotopaxi is a stunning mountain that sits on the planes of Cotopaxi National Park. Cotopaxi measures in at 6, 384.1 kilometers or 3,966.9 miles from the center of planet Earth. Unlike Chimborazo, Cotopaxi is an active volcanic mountain in Ecuador. Since 1738 Cotopaxi has erupted over 50 times and is not done letting the world know it’s presence.
There is a crater on Mount Cotopaxi that is shaped like a crescent moon. When referring to the native language Cotopaxi translates to “neck moon.” The locals considered this mountain sacred for generations and looked upon it as the “rain sender.” That very rain would ensure a healthy crop and plentiful harvest for the villagers. To these people, it was a home where the God’s resided, so it was looked at with reverence more than fear of eruption.
Huandoy Mountain Fifth Tallest from the Center of Earth
Huandoy Mountain is the 5th tallest mountain when measured from the center of the Earth. Huandoy measures at 6384.0 kilometers or 3966.8 miles. This monstrous rock formation is located in Peru. This magnificent mountain is nestled in the Huascaran National Park and belongs to the cordillera mountain range of the Andes. It is recognized by its four peaks that somehow resemble a fireplace.
Mount Kilimanjaro the Famous Tanzania Giant
Mount Kilimanjaro is the 6th tallest mountain from the Earth’s core. This dormant volcano measures at 5895 meters or 19340 ft and is located in Africa. Kilimanjaro is highly popular with adventurists; it is easier to access and climb than some of its competitors. Kilimanjaro is easy to hike for the hiker of any skill or lack thereof. No high-tech climbing gear is needed to scale this giant. However due to its height many people get altitude sickness, so only about 50% of people make it to the summit.
The first person to record their ascent to Kilimanjaro was a crew of German geologists in 1889. It is assumed that locals have climbed the famous mountain for years before the first documented climb.
Kilimanjaro is unique not only because of its location directly on the equator, but it is also the World’s tallest free standing mountain. This means that it is not part of a mountain range like the Himalayas. The national Swahili people call the mountain the “Mountain of Greatness.”
Cayambe Is a Massive Volcanic Mountain of Ecuador
Cayambe ranks as number seven in the world’s tallest mountains in relation to the Earth’s core. Cayambe is more than a mountain range, it is a Volcano located in the Pichincha Province of Ecuador. Cyambe measures at 6384.0 kilometers or 3966.8 miles from the center of the Earth and is another magnificent formation of the Andes. When measured above sea level the Cayambe is 5790 meters.
Antisana Is a Volcanic Mountain
The Andes is full of mountains as well as volcanoes. Antisana is one of five Andes volcanic mountain formations of the Andes in Ecuador. It might be the fourth highest mountain in Ecuador, but it ranks at number eight on our list of the world’s tallest mountains from the Earth’s center. Antisana measures at 6383.9 kilometers or 3966.8 miles from the core and about 18, 875 ft above sea level.
Siula Grande Of Peru
Siula is the 9th tallest mountain from Earth’s Center at 6383.8 Kilometers or 3966.7 mi and 5,790 meters or 19,000 ft above sea level. Siula is a Peruvian mountain with two peaks, Siula Grande (large) and Siula Chico (smaller.)
Siula Grande was brought to the public eye when a British Mountaineer Joe Simpson and Simon Yates documented the father and son’s survival story and climbing experience. His 1989 book was later made into a movie called “Touching the Void.”
Mount Everest Is the Tenth Tallest
Mount Everest of Nepal falls into tenth place when measuring distance from the Earth’s center and is the tenth farthest from the moon. Mt. Everest is 6,382.3 kilometers or 3,965.8 miles from the core. It is 8,848 meters or 29,029 ft above sea level. It has long been labeled as the tallest mountain on Earth but when measured from the center of the Earth, that is not so.
Point of View or Measurement Means Everything
Traditionally Mountains have been measured solely by elevation above sea level, however we have learned through time and study that there are other factors that can determine the true height of a mountain. A mountain can also be measured from base to summit which ultimately would make Mauna Kea the tallest mountain in the world or when measured distance from the center of the Earth and closest to the moon, Chimborazo becomes the world’s tallest mountain.
Machu Picchu or Kilimanjaro: Which to Climb First?
There are few things more satisfying than conquering a summit and completing a long and arduous climb. And there are few such climbs you’ll find to be as rewarding and as arduous than the Kilimanjaro and Machu Picchu treks – two among the most world-renowned hikes in all the world. But with both having such widespread reputations among athletes, tourists and hobbyist hikers alike, a question must be begged – which mountain should you aim to conquer first?
The answer to that is not quite as straight forward as it may seem, as it depends on many personal factors to do with one’s condition, but primarily you ought to know this:
Machu Picchu is tough, but easier
If you’re looking to challenge yourself and are an experienced trekker with decent experience, then you needn’t jump straight to Kilimanjaro. Machu Picchu’s famed Inca Trail is not exactly a cakewalk, taking usually around 6-7 days to walk with a maximum altitude of 4,215 meters. And though this is a challenge, you’ll find that it’s both shorter and easier to scale than Kilimanjaro.
Machu Picchu is actually considered to be great preparation for a Kilimanjaro climb, and gives you a taste of what you can experience on the Tanzanian mountain minus the extreme African heat. Nonetheless, preparation doesn’t make it easy – safety regulations ought to be followed as readily as they would be on Kilimanjaro.
Training and Acclimatization
You also need to take into consideration just how ready you are for either of the mountains. Though Machu Picchu is the easier climb, once again, that doesn’t make it easy or safe in the slightest. It needs to be said that you need to be prepared for both, and a mutual foe that you’ll face across both treks is going to be altitude sickness.
As mentioned prior, the famed Inca Trail along Machu Picchu can go up to a maximum of 4,215 meters up, which means you’ll be dealing with very high altitudes. The situation will be even worse when climbing Kilimanjaro which can get up to 5,895 meters in maximum altitude. The threat of altitude sickness is going to be the most pressing matter on both trails, given that people die annually on both mountains with the cause typically being the altitude.
You’ll find that it’s best to acclimatize to Kilimanjaro by spending a week along Machu Picchu’s Inca Trail, and in that same respect, it’s also a good idea to acclimatise to Machu Picchu prior by making smaller climbs and treks. Mount Fuji in the Japanese alps is a great trek on which to prepare for Machu Picchu.
Look at your price range
Both trails cost money to get onto and trek along. For Machu Picchu, you could find yourself spending anywhere between 300-800$ overall, with prices varying depending on whether or not you purchased a travel package for your trip to Peru – in which a trip to Machu Picchu often tends to be included. If sought this way, the overall price may be higher. It’s an expensive journey, but a fairly cheap on when compared with Kilimanjaro pricing:
Being the more dangerous climb with a more limited number of expert guides with the knowhow to safely guide a troupe of people up, Kilimanjaro is bound to be the more expensive option, though everything you’ll need to take care of (including hotel pricing) is usually covered in the total costs, which should be between 2,000-6,000$. Be sure not to go any lower than 1,700$ for your pricing at the very minimum, as cheap prices for Kilimanjaro are highly unusual and may often be a sign of inexperienced guides or otherwise.
Safety ought to be your priority on either mountain, so don’t cheap out on the booking process, no matter how hard it makes your wallet pocket itch! You’ll be glad you invested in your own safety (and that of your family and friends).
Consider your time frame
Not everybody has two or three week to spare out of their busy work schedules during the same time of year. Whether you manage to finally secure some time off during the early, middle, or late period of the year, this particularity should also factor into your decision on where to go first – or even whether to go at all.
When it comes to Kilimanjaro, you can really make the hike during any time of the year – but time may affect beauty, and even difficulty. The two recommended time periods are between January and March, and between June and October. Between January and March you’ll find the journey to be much more pleasant in terms of heat, with a cooler ascent though more likely a larger amount of snow to contend with near the summit. Between June and October, the weather is dryer, but you’re likely to find it to be a bit more crowded during this time of the year.
The least recommended months are April and November, given that these are when the country experiences the most rain and can lead to troublesome ascents.
When it comes to Machu Picchu, there’s really only one time of year where you’d want to go on the trek, and that’s between May and September – when the mountain is at its driest. The trail is actually closed to the public for maintenance across every February annually, given that it’s so wet that it’s considered a real danger.
Going up Machu Picchu is in no way recommended across the December to February periods.
Overall, whichever mountain you climb first, you’re bound to come away with a memorable and pleasant experience that will stay with you forever. But safety and preparation are always important to consider, so consider them well – make the climb up Machu Picchu first if you can afford it, and remember first and foremost to enjoy the trip.
The Best Mountains to Visit in Tanzania
Tanzania is home to some of the richest mountain habitat on earth, from towering volcanoes to lush and verdant forests home to a plethora of rare animals. Trekkers will be glad to know the trip doesn’t end once you summit Mount Kilimanjaro – there is so much more to see! We’ve made a list of some of the best mountain destinations in Tanzania, whether for day trips or multi-day hikes. Please note, as many of these mountains are located in protected national parks, we always recommend checking the latest park fees before you go.
Mount Meru is often considered an acclimatization hike for Mount Kilimanjaro, but it’s also a spectacular destination in its own right. Located in Arusha National Park, Mount Meru is Tanzania’s second-highest mountain and offers views of the Momela Lakes and Ngurdoto Crater, as well as plentiful wildlife including monkeys, buffalo, and elephants.
Routes here generally take around four to five days. Trekkers will travel through forests and glades before reaching the horseshoe-shaped crater of the dormant volcano with its imposing drop-offs. At 4566m above sea level, Mount Meru is quite a lot lower than Mount Kilimanjaro. Though it doesn’t have the glaciers at the top, it is more than high enough to trigger altitude sickness, so come prepared.
When to go: June to March
Ol Doinyo Lengai
Ol Doinyo Lengai (2878m) is Tanzania’s only active volcano, and the only volcano in the world that ejects carbonatite lava. This lava, which is much cooler than regular lava, starts out black but turns white almost instantly when it comes in contact with humidity, making it a highly peculiar sight.
Ol Doinyo Lengai means “Mountain of God” in the Maasai language, and this mountain has religious significance for the Maasai. Ol Doinyo Lengai is nestled in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, with views of Lake Natron, the Great Rift Valley, and Mount Kilimanjaro.
This is the perfect destination for intermediate climbers looking for a short trek. The lower slopes are covered in vineyards and citrus trees. Vegetation gets scarcer the higher you go, with beech and oak trees giving way to barren ashes and lava. For the best views, aim to summit Ol Doinyo Lengai at sunrise.
When to go: June to September
Usambara Mountain Range
Part of the Eastern Arc mountains in northeast Tanzania, the Usambara mountain range is actually comprised of two mountain ranges, the West Usambara Mountains and the smaller, rainier East Usambara Mountains. The Usambara Mountains are home to a wide swathe of perfectly preserved rainforest that is home to many endemic species.
This is the perfect place to spend a few days or weeks exploring the local culture with its charming farms, villages and accessible hiking trails. In the area you’ll find the German Amani nature reserve and former colonial town of Lushoto (Wilhelmsthal), as well as the Muzumbai University forest. There’s something for everybody here, from bird watching to mountain biking.
When to go: June to November
Udzungwa Mountains National Park
Wildlife lovers need look no further than the Udzungwa Mountains National Park, where you’ll find leopards, buffalos, elephants, lions, wild dogs and six species of primates, as well as endangered birds and a plethora of insects and butterflies unique to the region. The Udzungwa Mountains are part of the Eastern Arc mountain chain that stretches from Kenya to Tanzania.
Cars are off-limits here so hikers are free to roam the forest on their own terms, where hiking trails of varying levels take you through the park. While you’re here, don’t miss the chance to take a swim in the plunge pools of the majestic 170m-high Sanje waterfall.
When to go: June to October
The Mahale mountains are a remote mountain chain situated in the Mahale National Park, which is famous for its huge protected population of chimpanzees. Hiking here gives you a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to co-exist with the chimpanzees in their natural habitat.
The highest peak in the mountain chain is Mount Nkungwe, at 2462m above sea level. If you decide to tackle the 3-day mountain trek up the mountain, go with a local guide and be sure to keep an eye out for lions.
The Mahale National Park is bordered by Lake Tanganyika and accessible by plane or boat. The lake also offers opportunities for relaxing on the beach or snorkeling with the myriad colored fish.
When to go: May to October
Mount Rungwe Nature Forest Reserve is located in the Mbeya region in southwest Tanzania. Rungwe Mountain is a dormant volcano that stands at 2960m above sea level. Experienced hikers who start early can hike it in a day. From the peak you’ll have views of Poroto Ridge, Mbeya Peak and Loleza Peak. Local wildlife includes two of the world’s rarest primates, as well as a rare species of antelope.
In the nearby Kiwira valley you’ll find a unique natural bridge, named the Daraja la Mungu or “Bridge of God.” Also not too far away is Lake Ngosi, nestled in a volcanic crater in the Poroto Ridge Forest Reserve. This region is among the rainiest in Tanzania, so pick your dates carefully and avoid the wet season.
When to go: June to October
Last but not least is Mount Kilimanjaro, renowned for being Africa’s tallest peak and one of the seven summits. As it doesn’t require any technical skills to summit, this dormant volcano attracts thousands of trekkers every year who want to take a stab at conquering the mountain for themselves.
There are six principal routes up Mount Kilimanjaro, ranging in length from seven to ten days. The mountain is home to a variety of microclimates including rainforests, alpine meadows and glaciers. Trekking Mount Kilimanjaro isn’t a walk in the park, but with a bit of preparation it’s an achievable goal for most people – and a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
When to go: January to March or June to October
If you are a hiker or just a general lover of nature, you have certain items on your ‘bucket-list’ that you want to experience. For many people, the ‘Seven Summits’ is at the top of their list of things to do. You may be wondering what the Seven Summits are and what it takes to hike these mercurial and majestic beauties?
The Seven Summits are made up of the highest mountain peaks from each continent. Most of these excursions require a professional guide, that you have a higher skill level, and that you take special equipment to make it safely to the top.
If you are interested in learning more about the Seven Summits and how you can experience their breath-taking beauty, continue reading this guide.
The Feeling of Being at the Top
Nothing beats the rush you get when you finally reach the summit at the end of a majestic mountain top trail, and you’re standing on the snow-covered peak miles above the rest of the world. Your tired muscles are quivering with exhaustion and excitement as you quickly breathe in the thin, crisp mountain air.
You are encompassed in the feeling of being free, as though for just one moment, you are the only human on this Earth. If you have never had the pleasure of that feeling, then it is highly recommended that you begin training so you can start checking off that bucket list.
The Seven Summits of the World
As mentioned earlier, seven mountain peaks make up what is known as ‘The Seven Summits.’ They are made up of the tallest mountain peak from each continent. You may be surprised by the fact that Mount Everest is considered to be the least difficult. This list is based on the combined experiences of hikers all around the world.
The seven summits listed in order of difficulty from greatest to least are:
- Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
- Mount Elbrus, Russia
- Denali, Alaska (formerly known as Mount McKinley)
- Aconcagua, Argentina
- Vision Massif, Antartica
- Puncak Jaya, Oceania
- Mount Everest, Nepal/China
7. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Elevation: 19,341 ft.
Best times to hike: Any months except April and November due to severe daily monsoons
There are seven different routes that one can take to reach the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro. They all have their pros and cons and depend on:
- The weather conditions
- The amount of time you have. Read more on how many days it takes to climb Kilimanjaro
- Your skill level
No matter which route you choose, it is necessary that you are in your best possible physical condition.
It is recommended that you train for weeks prior to attempting any of these climbs. Hiking Kilimanjaro will take at least seven days, depending on which route you take. There will be days where you hike for up to 16 hours.
It is also imperative that you are acclimated to the higher elevations, as the higher you get, the harder it is to breathe.
6. Mt. Elbrus, Russia
Elevation: 18,510 ft.
Best times to hike: May – September
Be prepared to take some time off of work for this expedition. You can choose from two different routes. Either way, you are looking at a minimum of 11-12 days for your trek, so make sure you have everything on that checklist you will be given and check it twice.
This is a great hike for those who need to work on their alpine skills. The weather conditions unexpectedly change, so it is important to have gear to cover all types of weather.
5. Denali, Alaska
Continent: North America
Elevation: 20,322 ft.
Best times to hike: May – July
Being in top physical condition is essential, as well as you need to be current on your glacier-travel and winter camping skills because you will definitely need them for this trek. You had also better set aside plenty of vacation time for this trip. There is a reason they call this trek ‘The Great One.’ Typically, this expedition takes about three-weeks round-trip and requires pulling a sled overloaded with all of the necessary gear for survival.
It is prudent to have a GPS and/or a map and compass because there are no marked trails to the summit. You can expect to encounter extreme weather on this trip, from:
- The baking sun
- Gale-force winds
- To snow
Be sure to have the proper clothing to keep you warm and dry. This is definitely an expedition that would best be taken with a guide who knows the safest and most scenic ways to get to the top.
4. Aconcagua, Argentina
Continent: South America
Elevation: 22,838 ft.
Best times to hike: December – March
Aconcagua is the second highest peak of the seven. This hike is considered a ‘trekking peak’; however, that does not mean that it is easy by any means. If you plan on climbing to Aconcagua’s peak, you had better be in good physical condition. This climb can take multiple days, depending on weather conditions and skill levels. You will be expected to carry approximately 45-50 pounds of gear for around six hours per day.
This hike is known for having bad weather that can quite frequently cause people to turn back. Although this is no easy trek, it is well worth the effort when you get to the top. Beautiful scenery and breath-taking views of the Andes mountains await you at the summit.
3. Vision Massif, Antartica
Elevation: 16,050 ft.
Best times to hike: Summer season
The only way to get to Vision Massif is by using exclusive guide services. The peak of Vison Massif is 660 nautical miles from the South Pole. There are many stipulations and requirements that you must meet before you can take this trip.
Be sure that you have everything in order and approved before you get there and are told that you have to leave. There are two campsites above the base camp along this trip; Low Camp and High Camp. This is another long trip, so be prepared to be away from home for at least 15-20 days, including travel time.
This is one of the coldest treks with temperatures dropping down to -40°ᶜ, be sure to pack those extra base-layers and down jumpsuits.
2. Puncak Jaya, Indonesia
Elevation: 16,024 ft.
Best times to hike: Year-round
This trek takes 14-20 days, depending on your skill level and the weather. This is the only trek on the list that requires actual rock climbing, so it is imperative that you are experienced in this discipline and up to date on your knowledge of rope work. If hiking the entire route, you will begin in the lower jungle and work your way up through the jungle to another base camp where there is a helicopter pad for those who don’t want to do the initial hike from the jungle and prefer to be flown in.
This trek also requires that you have all of your paperwork in order before taking off. There are many permits required in order to take this trek.
It is also required that you have a guide escort you. They will know the safest ways to go and how to handle the local terrain and weather. Once you reach the summit, you will be overcome by the view of the Carstensz Pyramid and glad you made an effort to get to the top.
1. Mount Everest, Nepal/China
Elevation: 29,029 ft.
Best times to hike: Typical expedition lasts around two months, beginning in March
Mount Everest is the mountain peak with the highest elevation and Its located on the border of Nepal and China, in the Asian continent and the highest mountain in the world. Its summit is 29,035 feet (8,850 meters) above sea level.
This expedition is best taken with an experienced Sherpa guide. In fact, it is one of the requirements of going on this hike. While it may be listed as the least difficult trek on the list, it is by no means an easy trip.
Blistering cold and ever-changing weather make this a challenging trek. It can take weeks of preparation for this excursion. Being acclimated to the high altitudes and low oxygen levels is one of the hardest things for people. This hike also requires special permits and requirements, so make sure you have checked all of the requirements boxes before you take off.
Being Prepared Prevents Possible Disaster
Having the right gear and clothing is imperative to successfully climbing these mountain peaks without having to be rescued. If you do not have the proper gear, you can freeze when you get to the higher elevations. Once you are up that high, you can’t just run back to the base camp and grab an extra layer.
Experts recommend that you have multiple pairs of footwear depending on which peaks you are climbing. Generally speaking, the higher the elevation, the more insulated you need to be.
Some of the basic items you should include in your pack are the following:
- 1-2 pairs of thermal long-underwear tops and bottoms
- 3 pairs of boots
- 1 pair of 7,000-meter double-boots
- 1 pair of 8,000-meter double-boots
- 1 pair of sturdy trekking boots
- Big down jacket (800 fill)
- Crampon ice cleats
- Down jumpsuit
- Figure-eight carabiner
- For upper body clothing, use wool or synthetic materials
- Hand protection
- Lightweight liner gloves
- Midweight climbing gloves
- Heavy-duty mittens
Hardware and accessories:
- Hiking backpack
- Ice axe
- Insulated pants
- Jacket with a hood
- Lightweight Gortex™ shell pants
- Locking carabiners
- Non-locking carabiners
- Nylon trekking pants
- Sattelite phone/weather radio
- Sleeping bag rated for extreme conditions
- Sleeping pad/air mattress
- Soft-shell climbing pants
- Trekking poles
Not Just a Stroll in the Park
These hikes are not for the faint of heart or the weekend stroller. If you plan on tackling these treks, you had better be in the best shape of your life and be fully versed in survival skills because you will encounter extreme weather and physically challenging conditions. Physical strength is a must, but just as important is a positive attitude and the will to keep going when it gets tough.
Shaping-Up for the Summit
As mentioned previously, you must be in the best physical condition possible. You can do the following things to get physically prepared for these strenuous excursions:
- Altitude training. Get your lungs used to less oxygen. Train at a higher elevation whenever possible to increase your stamina.
- Cardio training. Keep that heart pumping strong. This is another important key to not passing out when you reach higher elevations.
- Core training. Work those muscles. Get a good aerobic and weight routine in place and stick to it. It will pay off when you get to the top.
- Proper Diet. Eating healthy and heartily is important for your body to perform the best it can. Hiking and climbing will burn an extreme amount of carbs and calories, so be sure that you are prepared with foods that provide energy and strength.
Don’t Go Up Alone – Hire a Guide
Many people think that they are experienced enough to take one of these hikes on their own without a professional guide. This can sometimes be a deadly mistake. Unless you are an expert climber who has already conquered these hikes, it is not recommended that you tackle them on your own. Also a Mountain like Kilimanjaro the national park authorities requires you to use a guiding company.
There are expert hiking guides that climb these peaks for a living. An experienced guide can lead you safely to the peak and add an extra level of awesomeness to your hike by keying you in on tips and local information that you may not get if you do it on your own.
Other Hiking Tips and Advice For Tackling the Seven Summits
- Always tell someone where you are going and how long you expect to be gone. In case of an emergency, they will have a general idea of where to search. If possible, leave a map of the trail you plan on hiking.
- Bring plenty of dehydrated/non-perishable food and water.
- Bring sunscreen and chapstick
- Don’t go it alone. Always bring a hiking buddy.
- Go slowly to avoid altitude sickness.
- Have an emergency plan in place.
- Have some sort of emergency shelter with you, such as a tent or tarp in case of unexpected extreme weather.
- If you take medication regularly, be sure to bring a few doses with you in case you cannot get back to your base in time.
- Keep a basic first-aid kit on hand
- Keep flashlights/fresh batteries
- Keep waterproof matches
- Pay attention to the weather as it can change rapidly at higher elevations.
- Stay on the trail (if there is one). Don’t wander around aimlessly, as you’ll likely get lost. If you do decide to go rogue, make sure that you have the proper gear with you and that someone knows the general direction in which you have gone.
- Stay well hydrated and eat plenty of high calorie/carb foods.
- The following tech devices are helpful when taking any kind of trek:
- Satellite phone
- Walkie talkies
- Weather radio
- Wear proper clothing/gear.
Get Your Wallet Out – Climbing is The 7 Summits is Expensive
Not only do you need to physically and mentally prepare for these strenuous hikes, but you need to financially prepare because these excursions are not easy on the pocketbook.
You can expect to shell out thousands of dollars. by the time you:
- Get your gear
- Get trained
- Get the itinerary planned and paid for
You will also have to be sure that all of your identification is up-to-date:
- State IDs, etc.
- Most of these hikes require special permits and other special requirements in order to go to the top
All of these are added expenses that you need to consider when planning your trek.
The following list is a general idea of what each trip to the summit will cost you, from the least expensive to the most expensive:
|1||Mt. Elbrus, Russia||$800.00|
|5||Puncak Jaya, Oceania||$13,000.00|
|6||Vision Massif, Antartica||$32,000.00|
|7||Mt. Everest, Nepal/China||$42,000.00|
|Total cost for all seven trips:||$133,800.00|
Nine Interesting Facts About the Seven Summits
- Denali is the farthest north of the seven summits at 63° north latitude.
- In 1985 Richard Bass was the first person to climb all seven summits.
- Kilimanjaro is composed of three volcanic cones.
- Mt. Vinson was named after a Congressman from Georgia named Carl Vinson, who served from 1935-1961
- Some people have different definitions of what the seven summits are depending on what they consider to be the true continents.
- The youngest person to date to climb all seven summits was a 13-year-old boy.
- Those wishing to climb to the peak of Mount Everest must engage in a Puja ceremony, seeking permission from the Mountains Gods to climb. This is an ancient Buddist ceremony usually performed by two or three monks at the base camp before a climb.
- To date, only around 280 people have successfully climbed all seven summits.
- To date, the oldest person to climb the seven summits was 76 years old.
The Seven Highest Mountains in the World
The seven highest mountains in the world are all located in the Himalayan mountain range.
|1||Mount Everest||29,029 ft.|
|6||Cho Oyu||26,906 ft.|
The End Result is Well Worth the Time and Effort
After all of the time and effort you have taken to get to the top of the peak, you will be greeted with the most breath-taking views that are hard to put into words. It’s a feeling that simply cannot be described.
If you have a passion for nature and experiencing the things that make you realize how truly small we are in this world, then these seven treks may be just what you need. Get yourself in shape, start planning, and book your expedition today!
One of the most popular “bucket list” destinations for avid hikers and climbers is Mount Kilimanjaro. A long-dormant volcano, Mt. Kilimanjaro boasts the highest peaks in Tanzania, as well as the entire African continent. Considered the easiest to climb of the Seven Summits, the highest peaks on each continent, Mount Kilimanjaro is a popular destination for both experienced and amateur hiking hobbyists.
Uhuru Peak, at 5,895 meters above sea level, is the highest free-standing peak in Africa. Located on the volcanic cone Kibo, as part of Mt. Kilimanjaro, reaching Uhuru Peak is the end goal of 20,000-35,000 hikers each year. With beautiful scenic views of Tanzania, Uhuru is a breathtaking hike.
Also known as “Everyman’s Everest,” Mount Kilimanjaro is a popular hiking destination because making the climb is possible for hikers of all skill levels. While climbing a peak the size of Kilimanjaro is not a simple hike, with the right provisions and preparation, even a novice can reach Uhuru Peak and take in the beauty of Africa’s highest point and one of the most beautiful of the Seven Summits.
More about Uhuru Peak
Uhuru Peak is the final destination goal for tens of thousands of hikers each year who attempt to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. For those that attempt the hike, an impressive 40% actually reach the summit. With five to eight different routes, all with varying levels of difficulty, hikers are offered guided trips up the peak, with experienced climbers available to help visitors reach their goal.
Uhuru peak meaning
Uhuru Peak is located on Kibo, which is the highest of the three peaks that make up Mount Kilimanjaro, along with Mawenzi at 5,149 meters high and Shira at 3,962 meters high. The name Uhuru is Swahili for ‘freedom’ and was given to the site back in 1961 when Tanganyika, now part of Tanzania, was granted independence from the United Kingdom.
Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain in Africa, and the highest free-standing peak in the world, meaning it is not part of an actual mountain range. Mount Kilimanjaro is considered a stratovolcano, made up of layers of hardened lava, volcanic ash, and tephra, forming three separate volcanic peaks. Two of the peaks are considered to be extinct – Mawenzi and Shira, and the third peak, Kibo, the highest, is considered dormant but not yet extinct, with the last volcanic activity occurring approximately 200,000 years ago.
Mount Kilimanjaro is also unique due to its climate, as from base to peak, it passes through five distinct ecosystems or climates. Hikers who make the trek up Mount Kilimanjaro will pass through each of the following climates during their journey, which typically takes five to eight days:
- Alpine Desert Zone
- Arctic Zone
- Cultivation Zone
- Heather-Moorland Zone
- Rainforest Zone
The average temperatures at Mt. Kilimanjaro’s base are between 69º and 80º Fahrenheit (21º to 27º Celsius). In contrast, at the top, at Uhuru Peak, the temperature can range between 32º and -22º Fahrenheit (0º to -30º Celsius).
Fun Facts about Uhuru Peak
- While it may be the highest peak in Africa, experienced athletes and climbers can make the climb from the base of Kilimanjaro to Uhuru Peak in less than a day!
- There are seven established Kilimanjaro routes – Marangu route, Machame route, Lemosho route, Shira route, Rongai route, Northern Circuit and Umbwe.
- The Marangu, Machame, and Umbwe routes all approach from the south of the mountain (Mweka is used only for descent). The Lemosho, Shira and Northern Circuit routes approach from the west of the mountain. The Rongai route approaches from the north. They vary in difficulty. Some are easy enough for beginners, while others are so difficult, even athletes struggle with the steep climb and quick altitude changes.
- While not an active volcano, Uhuru Peak is situated on a volcano that could see another eruption one day.
- For the majority of hikers who can’t complete the trek to Uhuru Peak, the hike isn’t the challenge; altitude sickness is the most common barrier.
- There is a book located at Uhuru Peak, protected by a wooden box. The book is for visitors to record their thoughts when they reach the mountain’s peak.
- While the base of Kilimanjaro is only 205 miles (330 km) from the equator, Uhuru Peak is still an arctic ecosystem, which cannot sustain life for extended periods.
Making the trip to Kilimanjaro
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is a popular trip because, while offering breathtaking views, a trek through 5 distinct climates and ecosystems, and a visit to the highest point in Africa, it requires no special equipment, rigs, or ropes on the majority of pathways. Rather than climbing a mountain, it is truly a 5 to 8-day hike through gorgeous scenery, African rainforest, and dry savanna; to the final arctic peak.
There are hundreds of choices for those seeking a Kilimanjaro adventure with guided tours that include meals and sleeping tents to help make the trip educational and comfortable. Visitors select the length of the tour they prefer and can pick their tour based on various factors. Ideally, visitors should consider the following when picking a tour:
- Amenities – porters, food, sleep accommodations
- Equipment included – touring companies should include oxygen, first aid, sturdy tents.
- Experience level of tour guides
- Overall success rate
- Safety – look for certifications in mountain rescue, CPR, etc.
With hundreds of different packages available, it can be daunting for a visitor to select the perfect tour to create an amazing Kilimanjaro experience. Still, by keeping safety, experience, and comfort in mind, visitors are bound to find a tour to suit their needs. Read more on How to choose the best Kilimanjaro operator for your climb.
Preparing for the Hike to Uhuru
While hiking up Kilimanjaro doesn’t require any serious climbing skills, there are still many things that visitors should do in preparation for their journey. For the best chance of success in reaching the breathtaking Uhuru Peak, it is important to prepare thoroughly for the trip. These are some preparation ideas from experts:
- Select at least an 8-day tour – Climbing Kilimanjaro is an experience of a lifetime and while plenty have made the trip up and back in five days or less, eight days (or more) offers the best chance for success, especially when battling the changes in altitude, the most challenging aspect of the hike.
- Pack sensibly – While it is important only to take what is absolutely necessary, comfort is important. Clothes should be easily layered to meet the challenge of wildly fluctuating temperatures; air mattresses and comfortable sleeping bags will help to ensure proper rest. Most importantly, don’t forget to bring a camelbak or water bottle. You should aim to drink around 3-4 liters of water per day. We recommend bringing an electrolyte formula to add to your water, and any flavoring drops if you find plain water too boring. Do read our full packing list for Kilimanjaro and contact us if you have any questions about brands or particular models.
- Build up endurance – Prior to the trip, hikers should consider some simple endurance and strength training. Long daily walks with weighted packs will help simulate the day-to-day treks that hikers can expect on their tour. Cardio training is also key, as building up the heart and lungs will help with altitude changes.
- Get proper vaccinations and a check-up – It is vital for vacationers to get a full physical in preparation for tackling Kilimanjaro, as well as any needed vaccinations to avoid any surprise illness or other health catastrophe. Altitude changes can cause a variety of medical symptoms and discomfort, so being in good health before the trip is important. You can read more on training to climb Kilimanjaro and our Kilimanjaro training program page to help you prepare accordingly.
- Research when to plan the hike – There are tours available all year long, but different times of year may suit different travelers. While weather and temperature vary widely from top to bottom. The best time to climb Mount Kilimanjaro are the months of January through early-March and June through October.
The Beauty of Uhuru Peak
For many, reaching the highest point in Africa provides more than just a beautiful view and a sense of accomplishment. In fact, it is often described as a spiritual experience, where travelers feel at one with nature and the universe.
With gorgeous views of snow-capped peaks, sunlight cutting through the clouds, and miles of natural beauty to be found in each direction, Uhuru Peak offers even the inexperienced hikers a remarkable opportunity to:
- Experience the beauty of nature in a truly unique and beautiful way
- Find strength they didn’t know they had
- See the world from a different perspective
With many tours designed to bring travelers to the peak just as the sun rises, the views are often overwhelming, with more than a few visitors describing being moved to tears by the experience.
Mount Kilimanjaro Summit
Secrets of Mount Kilimanjaro Summit
Mostly when we see photos of Kilimanjaro’s summit, it’s of tired, but exhilarated climbers celebrating their epic achievement in front of the Uhuru Peak sign, taking photos and high-fiving each other.
But there’s a lot more to the summit of this great mountain, than just the signboard.
So what makes Kilimanjaro’s summit different from other mountains? Why is it unique? Read on to learn the secrets that lie at the top of this great mountain.
Geology of the Kilimanjaro Summit
Unlike mountains such as Everest, that are part of a mountain range, and have an actual ‘peak’ at the top – the highest point often being a small, narrow section of rock, Kilimanjaro is a volcano crater, where the summit is not, in fact, a peak, but simply the highest point on the crater rim.
Mt Kilimanjaro is a stratovolcano, made up of three cones: Shira, Mawenzi, and the highest: Kibo. Kibo is a dormant volcano, the last eruptive activity happened around 200,000 years ago, forming the crater we see today, with an almost symmetrical cone around the caldera (crater).
Inside the caldera, is the inner crater, or ash pit, known as the Reusch Ash Pit, which is the true center of the volcano, where sulfurous fumes still belch out, reminding us of the mountain’s active past.
It’s in this caldera that during the last ice age, massive glaciers formed, at one time completely covering the top of Kibo These days, the glaciers are melting, as can be seen clearly when looking at modern pictures versus pictures of Kilimanjaro from the past.
But that’s not to say that the existing glaciers are not still impressive! Huge ice structures, glistening in the sunshine, against the barren rocks and scree of this inhospitable place.
Camping in the Crater
Crater Camp – the highest camp in Africa is 18,700 feet above sea level. From the crater rim, hikers descend into the caldera, and camp, below the summit, on the dry, rocky scree, with only the glaciers for company. It’s bitterly cold, the sun is harsh, and the air is thin.
The occasional cracking sound as a giant wall of ice moves ever-so-slightly is the only sound, apart from the whistling wind. Nothing grows here – no animal life and the only plant life is ancient lichens that form very slowly on the black volcanic rocks. It’s not a place you want to spend too much time.
But it’s spectacular! For well-acclimatized climbers, the chance to spend a night in the crater is not to be missed. It’s tough here, with the glaciers for company, the thin air, and bitter cold makes sleeping difficult, and the faint smell of rotten eggs reminds you that you’re in a volcano.
If you wanted to spend a night in the crater, you’d have to arrange it in advance with your tour company, as most climbs don’t include this as standard.
The Ash Pit
Most climbers don’t make it to the ash pit. They stop at the signboard, take pictures then descend. But for those who have arranged to camp in the crater, it’s possible to hike to the very center of the volcano.
About 30-40 minutes from crater camp, up a steep slope, you’ll come across a perfectly formed volcanic cone – almost a perfect circle. Looking down, it’s seemingly never-ending, and the smell of sulfur is strong. About 400 feet wide, and comprised of shale, scree, and large boulders, with fumaroles at the base, which emit sulfur and steam.
No, you can’t go down, as it’s estimated the temperature of those fumarole vents is the same as boiling water!
Named the Reusch Crater, after the first person, apparently, to ‘find’ it, Richard Reusch, a Lutheran Missionary, living in Marangu, who climbed Mount Kilimanjaro multiple times, and was notably the 7th European to sign the register at the summit, at which time he planted a Christian flag.
The Frozen Leopard
Is it a myth? Or is it real? Ernest Hemingway’s book The Snows of Kilimanjaro begins with a reference to a leopard: “Close to the western summit there is a dried and frozen carcass of a leopard. No one has explained what the leopard was seeking at that altitude.” Apparently, Richard Reusch, on one of his climbs, did indeed find a frozen leopard on the crater rim and cut off an ear as a souvenir, and possibly to prove to his friends that he wasn’t hallucinating!
Uhuru peak (which isn’t a peak, as mentioned earlier) is the highest point on the crater rim that encircles the inner caldera. It stands at 19,340 feet above sea level and is the official summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Formerly known as Kaiser Wilhelm Spitze, it was named by Hans Meyer, a German geologist and the first European to summit. At independence, in 1961, the Tanzanian government renamed it Uhuru Peak, the word “uhuru” meaning “freedom” in Swahili.
Around the crater rim are other notable place names, Stella Point is the first stop on the rim for climbers coming up from Barafu camp, and it is named after Stella Latham, the wife of a member of the South African Mountain Club, Kingsley Latham. In 1925, they reached this point together. For some reason, the name has stuck. To end up in the Barafu camp you use the following routes : Machame route, Lemosho route and Umbwer route
For climbers on the Marangu route, coming via School Hut, the first point reached on the rim is Gilman’s Point. This is named after one of the founders of the East African Mountain Club (set up in 1926, arguably the first ‘tour operator’), Clement Gilman.
On the western side of the crater rim, is where the leopard was apparently found, and it’s colloquially known as “Leopard Point”, though there isn’t a signboard.
Getting to the Kilimanjaro Summit – Uhuru peak
Depending on how long your chosen route has taken you, you’ll end up at one of three main ‘basecamps’ on Mt Kilimanjaro. School Hut and Kibo hut take you up to the rim from the east via Gilman’s Point, Arrow Glacier Camp means you’ll be scaling the Western Breach, and lastly, the most-used route is via Barafu Camp in the south east.
From Barafu, it’s mostly a night-time climb, leaving camp at around midnight, and reaching the crater rim by dawn. This allows for spectacular views of the sunrise and allows enough time to descend in time for lunch. For those planning to camp in the crater, a daytime summit attempt is possible.
The trek to the summit is tough. Bitterly cold, there’s very little oxygen in the air, and the trail is comprised mostly of volcanic scree. It’s a tough, 7-9 hour hike, the biggest challenge is the thin air. Which makes it all the more worth it when you do make it to the top!
On the west side of Kibo, the crater rim has collapsed, creating what is known as the Western Breach. Looking at it from below, it’s like a giant bulldozer has crashed through the crater rim, leaving boulders down a deep gash in the side of the mountain.
It’s known for being a dangerous and difficult route to the summit. Sadly, there have been deaths due to rockfall on this side of the mountain, and for a while, the route was closed.
While it’s not technical in the sense that a mountain such as Everest is, requires some scrambling and is very much a ‘straight-up’ route to the crater. Very steep, you climb via switchbacks and need a good head for heights.
It’s not possible to descend via this route, you’d have to cross the crater floor – or go up to Uhuru peak and descend via Stella point.
A Note About Kilimanjaro Summit Success Rates
Summit success rates, overall, for Kilimanjaro are very hard to come by. The National Parks Authority does not release figures. So we’re left with estimates from tour operators. No one has 100% success rate, as this simply isn’t possible.
What is true, however, is that some routes have much better success rates than others. And the longer routes tend to come out on top. Your operator’s summit success rate is only one indicator of how good they are, more important is their safety record.
Anecdotally, the official figures have been quoted as low as 40%, and as high as 67% – either way, a good number of people attempting to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro fail.
The Journey to the Summit
Climbing Kilimanjaro is an incredible journey, from the equatorial forest to the frozen tundra, and it doesn’t need to end at the Uhuru peak signpost. There’s much more to Kili’s summit than that, so if you’re wanting to plan your next adventure, and would like us to show you the secrets of Kilimanjaro, get in touch now, and we’ll arrange the trip of a lifetime on this great mountain.
Ready to get started? You’ll need these guides to walk you through your preparation for climbing the highest mountain in Africa:
Is Climbing Kilimanjaro Worth It?
Amidst the blazing heat of the Tanzanian grasslands towers the gargantuan snow-covered peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro. As the tallest mountain in Africa and one of the tallest mountains globally, Mt. Kilimanjaro is an achievement many hikers, athletes, and nature lovers have set their eyes on. But towering 19,341 feet, with a nearly 50% fail rate, reaching the peak takes a hefty amount of work against significant odds.
Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro is absolutely worth it. Of course, there are risks to conquering this peak, but these are easily overcome by knowing what to expect and taking the necessary precautions to ensure it is a safe experience. With the proper preparations, your odds of reaching the peak and earning that life-altering view improve significantly.
There are several reasons the everyday person should set their eyes on Kilimanjaro and render it a worthwhile experience to have in their lifetime. However, you shouldn’t walk off the streets and up the mountainside. There are life-threatening risks to consider when attempting this peak and simple but vital precautions one can take to prevent serious injury or potentially life-threatening situations.
Why Climb Kilimanjaro
There are a wide array of reasons why climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro should be on your bucket list, but here are just a few of the most significant ones that are sure to sway your mind towards getting those hiking boots out.
It’s One of the Seven Summits
The Seven Summits are mountains that are classified as the highest peak in their continent, and conquering these seemingly indomitable peaks is the pinnacle of mountaineering challenges.
As the tallest mountain in Africa, Mt. Kilimanjaro is not only one of the Seven Summits, but it also has the unique title of the world’s tallest free-standing mountain.
Therefore, climbing this mountain is a unique and record-breaking experience that any avid hiker would love to achieve.
Arguably the Most Accessible of the Seven Summits
Let’s get one thing straight, climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro is not easy. When it is labeled as one of the easiest of the Seven Summits, that doesn’t mean it’s going to be a cakewalk to top.
What it actually means is that Mt. Kilimanjaro is quite accessible for its height because it does not require any advanced equipment or climbing techniques in order to reach the peak.
Therefore, as long as the hiker is educated on what to experience from the hike and physically fit enough to travel the nearly 40-mile route, then figuratively anyone could do it.
This has been proven by the oldest and youngest individuals that claim they conquered Mt. Kilimanjaro. In 2018, Coaltan Tanner summited Mt. Kilimanjaro at age 6, rendering him the youngest individual to achieve this impressive feat.
In 2019, 89-year-old Anne Lorimor broke the record for the oldest person to climb Kilimanjaro. So, don’t sell yourself short just yet. With the proper training and provisions, you too can reach the top.
The Natural Beauty of its Surroundings
The geography, natural diversity, and wildlife of Africa are utterly unique and the perfect setting for this incredible hike.
In Tanzania, you’ll have the chance to see bushbuck and red duiker, impressive cape buffaloes, blue monkeys, and leopards can be found throughout the forest. If you’re lucky, you’ll be gifted with the sight of elephants lining the rivers.
As you climb the mountain, be sure to gaze at the grasslands and lush forests before you disappear into the clouds.
See the Ice Cap Before it Melts
Unfortunately, there are several unique locations that won’t be the same in five years. The colors of Morning Glory will continue to fade. The architecturally and culturally sublime city of Venice will continue to sink, and the snow-covered peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro will continue to melt.
If you want to have the true experience of hiking from the blistering brushes of the base to the icy peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro, you might want to start planning your expedition sooner rather than later.
What Are the Risks of Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro?
There are risks to any hiking experience, whether it is 5 miles long or 40 miles long. The first step in preparing for your hike so that these risks can be diminished is educating yourself on what they are and what to expect in the worst-case scenario.
Mt. Kilimanjaro is a Dormant Volcano
Mt. Kilimanjaro consists of three volcanic cones. The first two cones, Mawenzi and Shira, are extinct and therefore have no chance of erupting. However, the highest peak, Kibo, could still potentially erupt and, therefore, renders the mountain a dormant volcano.
Is it likely that Kibo of Mt. Kilimanjaro will erupt while you are taking your victory photo at the peak? No.
There has been no significant activity from the volcano in nearly 200 years, and the last major eruption was 36,000 years ago. However, volcanoes are inherently unpredictable, so it is not impossible that activity would occur on Kilimanjaro unexpectedly.
High Rates of Failure
Of the 35,000 individuals that attempt to conquer Mt. Kilimanjaro annually, nearly 50% of these individuals will not reach the peak. About 1,000 people are evacuated from the mountain, and anywhere between 10-30 deaths occur annually.
Considering this hike is supposed to be the easiest of the Seven Summits, these figures might seem shockingly high. There are two significant reasons for this. Poor packing and altitude sickness.
By far the most impactful risk of the hiking experience, altitude sickness occurs when an individual gains elevation too quickly before their body has had enough time to acclimatize to the new conditions.
The lower levels of oxygen at higher altitudes can severely affect the body and cause headaches, nausea, shortness of breath, fatigue, and dizziness.
Altitude sickness affects individuals differently. Some might experience mild cases, while it might prove fatal to others.
Typically, the easiest way to alleviate symptoms is to slowly descend, effectively ending the hiking experience. Rate of accent is vital in staving off altitude sickness, which will be discussed further later on.
How Can I Reduce these Risks?
Reaching the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro is a goal nearly anyone could achieve, and the last thing you want after traveling all the way out to Tanzania is to be sent back down from a preventable illness or a lack of equipment.
Here is a simple preventative measure you can take to ensure you reach the top and come back to the base safe and sound.
Choose the Best Route
There are 6 main Mount Kilimanjaro routes which lead to the summit, Uhuru Peak, one of which starts on the Northern side of the mountain and the rest on the Southern side. After making the decision to climb Kilimanjaro, you’ll need to choose your route. Some are shorter than others for the elite hiker that can race to the top and back, and some are longer for those who need the extra time to acclimatize as they gain elevation.
Unless you are a trained athlete that has been acclimatizing and is used to the elevation changes of the mountain, we recommend you take the longer route.
By embarking on a longer route, you are less likely to feel discomfort adjusting to the incremental decreases in oxygen as you gain elevation.
This will effectively reduce your risk of getting altitude sickness on Kilimanjaro, which causes most hikers to cut their life-altering journey short.
Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro is like walking through the tropical weather of the rain forest, which is only found at the equator, and slowly making your way towards the frozen tundra of the Arctic.
The base of this mountain is typically 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, while the peak is 20 to -20 degrees Fahrenheit. You need to be well-equipped for both conditions. This means multiple articles of clothes and the in addition to plenty of water and food which will be provided by the company to last the journey.
Additionally, since the hike expands nearly a week, you will need proper camping gear, survival gear ( first aid kit), and to top it all off, experts recommend all of your equipment weigh no more than 30 pounds, so the weight isn’t too cumbersome for the porters.
Without some of these essentials, it is impossible to climb Kilimanjaro safely. So, be sure to look up lists and guides of what to pack before embarking on this lengthy hike. Once you start, you don’t want to turn back.
Get the right Kilimanjaro outfitter / Guide company
Your odds of having a safe and successful climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro will increase exponentially if you are accompanied by a professional mountain guide. These individuals are trained and well-practiced in the routes of this mountain and will be sure to look after you every step of the way.
Not only will they help with navigation, but they will also ensure you have packed properly, you have enough supplies for the journey, and they will have emergency contacts if ever necessary. You will definitely be in good hands with the guides.
Packing is Key for a Successful Climb
Many inexperienced hikers will hear that Kilimanjaro is a massive hike that almost anyone could accomplish, and so they embark on this 40-mile journey without the proper supplies.
The hike from the base to the tip of Kilimanjaro typically takes anywhere from 5 to 9 days to complete. You might not need mountaineering tools to complete this hike safely, but you will need ample food, water which the guiding company will provide and basic hiking equipment :
- Sleeping bag
- Waterproof hiking boots
- Trekking poles
- First aid kit
- Extra clothes
This is by no means an all-inclusive list of the equipment you need for Kilimanjaro. Still, simple mistakes, such as not drinking enough water, have severe enough consequences that send plenty of hikers down the peak unfinished or, unfortunately, sometimes they don’t come down at all.
Reaching the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro is unlike any experience most human beings have in their lives. The sheer height of this mountain puts you right in the clouds, and the panoramic views are purely spectacular.
Be sure to bring your camera because you’ll be bragging about this accomplishment to your friends and family your whole life. As long as you are smart about your preparations and you are fully aware of the risks this mountain poses, conquering one of the Seven Summits is absolutely a worthwhile experience.
High-altitude trekking carries some inherent risk, and even the most experienced mountaineers in the world rely on the tutelage of local guides their first time up a mountain. For this reason, the authorities at Kilimanjaro require all trekkers to hire a guide.
Among other dangers, Mount Kilimanjaro is home to quickly changing microclimates and sections of dangerous rock fall. Choosing the right guide could literally save your life.
We know you’re putting your life in our hands, and we are humbled to accept this responsibility. We equip our guides with all the tools they need to make sure each and every trip to Kilimanjaro is a success.
There’s no substitute for experience on your trek up Kilimanjaro
An experienced guide increases your chances of a successful summit, which is why Climbing Kilimanjaro only employs expert guides with hundreds of successful Kilimanjaro summits under their belts.
Most of our guides are locals who have worked their way up through the ranks, starting from porters, on to assistant guides and maybe cooks, and eventually gaining their guiding certifications.
No team is complete without the assistant guides, cooks, and porters. At Climbing Kilimanjaro, every trek is a well-oiled machine with a professional touch. Our staff have years of experience working together. We’re much more than just a trekking crew – we’re family, and we’re excited to welcome you into our family!
With the aim of being the best tour operator at Mount Kilimanjaro, we offer competitive wages that attract the best people. Furthermore, we have an excellent guide-to-client ratio, with at least one guide for every two climbers. Our success rate speaks for itself: we’ve helped thousands of climbers safely reach the top of Kilimanjaro, and we’ll help you get there too.
Training and Certifications: Safety First!
Our guides have abundant experience working at high altitudes, and it goes without saying that they are equipped with all the equipment necessary to guarantee your safety on the mountain, including oxygen, portable stretchers, and first-aid kits.
All guides on Mount Kilimanjaro require a license from the Kilimanjaro National Park, or KINAPA. In addition to this basic requirement, every one of our guides also has Wilderness First Responder training. This is a certification that equips guides with the skills to provide first aid and carry out emergency response and evacuation procedures when necessary in remote locations.
We strive to help each and every one of our clients attain their goal of summiting Kilimanjaro, but sometimes altitude sickness or other injuries make this impossible. That said, we believe that prevention is key, so we carry out daily medical checks of all clients and crew members to catch problems before they arise.
You can trust our guides to make the right decision and help you get down the mountain safely should it be necessary to turn back. When needed, they can also arrange for evacuation by helicopter in partnership with Kilimanjaro Search & Rescue.
All of our team members follow Leave No Trace principles and encourage our clients to do the same. Mount Kilimanjaro is an extraordinary gift and we hope to take care of the mountain so generations can enjoy it for many years to come.
Relax, Keep Calm, and Pole Pole
Just about anybody can learn the technical skills of summiting a mountain, but it takes a special type of person to make it fun.
Our guides live and breathe Kilimanjaro. They speak fluent English and will set your mind at ease by answering any questions during the daily briefing – how long to the next campsite, what will the weather be like tomorrow, how warmly to dress.
We know a trip up Kilimanjaro is much more than just putting one foot in front of the other, so our guides are happy to share insights about local history and culture, flora and fauna.
Passionate about getting outside, staying active and connecting with nature, our guides will accompany you up the mountain at a pace that works for you, and all of this with a flexible attitude and that signature sense of humor that can turn the most gruelling hike into a rewarding experience.
We never get tired of climbing Kilimanjaro. But what really makes it special is the chance to meet people from all around the world and share this national treasure with you. Our guides have made it their mission to provide a once-in-a-lifetime experience for every trekker.
You’ve trained hard to get here, and it’s time to hand over the reins to our guides. We’ll take care of organizing the logistics and keeping it safe. Let us do the worrying so you can enjoy your trip!