How do I successfully summit Mount Kilimanjaro

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If you are asking the question how do I successfully summit Mount Kilimanjaro find the key to success  formula with Ian Taylor Trekking, a number one trekking guide. 

In 2019 Ian Taylor Trekking’s head guide Athumani became one of Kilimanjaro’s best mountain guides.  Over the past decade, they have developed their own unique itinerary with more acclimatization and using Kosovo Camp 16,076 feet for our High Camp. Ian Taylor has personally worked with their head guide for over the past 10 years.  

They also have an excellent team on the ground and do not outsource any of their trips!  Athumani, their head guide, has been to Colorado, USA and trained in Nepal with them. He has summited Kilimanjaro over 300 times and works full time with Ian Taylor Trekking. 

They have an excellent understanding of climbing in a range of weather conditions and how to pick, and execute, the right acclimatization program. The Lemosho route is the best route over 8 days. 

“How do I successfully summit Mount Kilimanjaro?” tips:

  • Every trip is different
  • Kilimanjaro’s number 1 problem
  • Physical conditioning
  • Moving of oxygen in the body
  • Camping
  • Climb high sleep low
  • What I have learned
  • The key to your success

Every trip is different

Every time I have climbed Kilimanjaro, been to Everest Base Camp, or out on any multi-day trip, there are lessons to be learned, because each trip is different. Sometimes on Kilimanjaro we can get hit with unexpected rain, strong and cold winds on the summit, cyclones, or slippery and muddy trails. We can experience different effects of altitude as well as different issues with sleeping and eating at altitude.

The National Park entrances can have issues, vehicles can break down, road works can cause delays, and sometimes other people in your group may come without enough training and preparation.  All of these things can happen that can affect a group.  Coming on a trip like Kilimanjaro requires a relaxed and positive attitude.  Remember… this is all part of the adventure!

Kilimanjaro’s number 1 problem

There is one main reason why people are not successful on Kilimanjaro. Going to high altitude and standing at 19,341 feet above sea level requires specific acclimatization. Your safety and success will come down to how you adapt to the lack of oxygen.  You can not fully prepare for this type of altitude, but there are things you can do.  From years of experience, the best way to make the journey is on our 8 day trip. This gives you, and others around you, the best chance to acclimatize as best you can, enjoy the climb up Kilimanjaro and come back down safely.

Physical conditioning

Specific physical training, prior to the trip, is essential. You will be walking up and down hills, with 6kg+/ 12lbs on your back, for 8 days back-to-back. The ideal preparation is multi-day hiking at home, building up to carrying double the amount of weight you will carry on the mountain.  If you can pair this with strength and endurance training in the gym, carrying your weighted pack on a stair master or inclined treadmill, 4-5 days a week, we consider this the best preparation for your Kilimanjaro climb.  Always consult your doctor and fitness instructor before you take on a more intense training program like this.  You do not want to over stress your body if it is not used to this type of training.  If you want to talk to us directly, and are signed up to one of our trips, CONTACT US today and we can set up a time for a call to fully understand the training needed.

Movement of oxygen in the body

Once you go above 10,000 feet, your body will produce more red blood cells.  This is to move oxygen more efficiently around the body to your muscles. If you condition your body to carry more weight prior to the trip, then your body becomes used to being under pressure.  The muscles adapt to the hard work walking up hill with weight on your back. This will help in your preparation and vital physical conditioning at high altitude. High heart rates and interval training help, but only when you have put in months of base training and improve your endurance capacity.


Another thing to consider, is your comfort while camping. When you are on the mountain, you will be sleeping in tents. If this is not something you have done before, it can add to your discomfort on the trip.  We always suggest camping before the trip to get comfortable with your sleeping bag, mattress, and pillow. Getting good sleep on the mountain is extremely important!  Learning how to keep clean and organized while sleeping in a tent will help you to enjoy the trek a lot more.

What I have learned

After climbing Kilimanjaro 38 times now, I have found that you really need 8 days on the mountain for a safe and successful ascent.

The main reason people do not make the summit of Kilimanjaro is because they are not spending adequate time at altitude, to acclimatize to the lack of oxygen. Above 18,000 feet is where the body can no longer fully adjust to the lack of oxygen.  This is where your body is slowly deteriorating, and you are pushing the limit of what the body can take. This is a dangerous place and should not be underestimated. I want to make sure our clients have all the relevant information about extreme altitude before they decide to take on a trip like Kilimanjaro.

The key to success

The key to success on Kilimanjaro is coming with excellent physical conditioning and the right acclimatization schedule. Spending more time acclimatizing to the lack of oxygen is your first and most important decision when picking a trip. I have climbed Kilimanjaro in 5,6,7 & 8 days over the years, but now realize that the only way to climb Kilimanjaro is to spend a minimum of 8 days on the mountain. The goal is to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro and enjoy the entire journey there, not just endure it!  This is the only way to approach this climb.

Ian Taylor Trekking has a 95% success rate on our 8-day Kilimanjaro climbs and 85% success rate on our 7 day treks. We don’t run 5- or 6-day treks anymore. Climbing Kilimanjaro is a challenge. Why make it harder than it needs to be or put yourself and others at risk by choosing a shorter itinerary?

We fully prepare you with training information, a 35-page dossier, and are available five days a week to answer any question you may have if you join one of our treks. Get in touch and we can help you make your adventure on Kilimanjaro a safe and successful experience.

If you would like to know more, just EMAIL US or CALL US. We are happy to help you get the information you need for your Kilimanjaro climb.

You might also enjoy a “Reflection of Kilimanjaro”

A vacation suits you when you travel with confidence!


  • Alissa Reply

    February 5, 2022 at 12:35 pm

    Such practical info and tips. Thank you

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