Travelers planning to climb Mount Kilimanjaro frequently ask how long does it take to climb Mount Kilimanjaro? It takes between five to nine days to complete but the other answer is, It depends on a number of different variables, not the least of which is which route you choose. But, there is another important thing to consider when answering this question as well – how badly do you want to get to the summit?
Simply put, the more days you spend on the mountain acclimatizing, the better your chances of reaching the top. Climbers who spend only 5 days on Kilimanjaro have the lowest success rate, while those who spend 8 or 9 days trekking have a much better chance of standing on the Roof of Africa.
Just how much of a difference do those extra few days make? The statistics are a little outdated now, but in 2006 Kilimanjaro National Park released estimates of the success rate based on the number of days spent on the mountain. At that time, only about 27% of those who opted for the 5 day trek were able to make it to the summit, while about 85% of trekkers who spent 8 days on their climb were successful. Those numbers have no doubt improved since then thanks to better guides, improved gear, and a better understanding of how to successfully hike the trail. But, they give you an indication of the importance of taking your time on the mountain.
Each of the routes on Kilimanjaro also have a minimum number of days that are required to hike them as well. For instance, the Marangu Route requires as few as 5 days to reach the top, as does Umbwe Route. Meanwhile Machame Route, Rongai Route , and Lemosho Route take at least 6 days to complete the climb. Each of those routes have options for longer treks that improve acclimatization dramatically, making it much more likely that trekkers will become accustomed to the altitude and have an easier time in reaching the summit.
Some trekkers only have a limited number of days available to make the trek, which is why many choose the 5 or 6 day options. Those who have a more flexible schedule are encouraged to consider a longer trek due to the increased success rate.