The 6 official routes to the summit are well marked and maintained by the porters and park wardens annually. Walking conditions on Mount Kilimanjaro are challenging and changeable, but relatively easy compared to the other mountains of the seven summits.
The lush rainforest area at the base of Kilimanjaro can be wet and slippery underfoot if there has been heavy rain; the higher slopes are a mixture of heath covered land, alpine desert and finally the ice covered summit.
The terrain changes through the climate zones but are generally comfortable to negotiate with a good pair of 3-4 season waterproof walking boots; no specialist equipment is required to negotiate the terrain on Kilimanjaro; see clothing & equipment pages for guidance on what to take.
There are a few occasions on Kilimanjaro where the conditions may require some scrabbling and you may have to use your hands to negotiate larger rocks, such as the Barranco wall and Lava tower. The approach to Stella Point from Barafu Hut is also hard going due to the loose scree and sand.
You will be trekking through 5 climate zones during your Kilimanjaro climb, so you should be prepared for pretty much any weather condition you can imagine. But with good preparation and the right clothes and equipment, none of the factors should be of concern. Please see the Kilimanjaro weather page for more information.
Kilimanjaro Climate Zones
Bushland / Lower slopes – Altimeter: 2,600ft – 5,900ft
The first ecological zone on Kilimanjaro; the conditions are mainly cultivated areas of land with banana, vegetable and coffee plantations. There are also many villages at this level inhabited by local tribes who work the land. The amount of rainfall varies, but increases toward the top of this zone as it nears the rainforest.
Rain Forest – Altimeter: 5,900ft – 9,200ft
Highest amount of rainfall of all the zones, resulting in high levels of humidity. A vast array of vegetation and wildlife supported by this climatic zone, including brightly coloured plants, black and white colombus monkey and blue monkey.
Moorland / Heath Zone – Altimeter: 9,200ft – 13,100ft
A highbred zone that forms the transition from the rainforest to the alpine desert. Temperatures begin to drop at this level as does the rainfall. A variety of heathers and shrubs replace the trees.
Alpine Desert – Altimeter: 13,100ft – 16,400ft
The Luna like landscape is much drier; the weather is generally warm and clear during the day and temperatures can drop below freezing at night. There is very little vegetation or animal life at this altitude.
Arctic Zone / Summit – Altimeter: 16,400ft+
Barren icy wasteland with little or no rainfall, blazing sunshine during the day and sub zero temperatures at night. There is virtually no vegetation or animal life at this altitude and typically 50% less oxygen than found at sea level.