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.