In this series, we ask our Kilimanjaro guides questions about climbing Kilimanjaro. It is always great to have answers and insights from someone who has climbed the mountain hundreds of times.
Our guide for this Q & A is Brown. He has been working on Kilimanjaro for 7 years and has summited the mountain 43 times. He was first a porter for a year, then a cook for another year, then finally a guide for the past 5 years.
Peak Planet: Which route is the easiest for you to climb? Which route is the hardest?
Brown: The easier route which I like to climb is the Shira route. This takes more days – 8 days – and it has more time to acclimatize. The hardest one is the Marangu route (Coca Cola). It takes five or six days, has less [time for] acclimatization, and also is more steep on the summit day from base camp Kibo to Glilmans Point compared to Barafu to Stella Point.
Peak Planet: Can you explain why Marangu is the hardest route? It has the reputation of being the easiest route.
Brown: Yes, many books say that Marangu route is the easiest route. But it is a hard route for the clients to climb according to the percentage that do not make it to the top. The reason is because it takes only five days to complete. So there is not enough time for them to acclimatize.
If people want a shorter climb, Rongai is better. On Rongai, every camp we go higher to acclimatize then we sleep at a lower elevation, while Marangu we only go up.
Peak Planet: What do you think is the biggest reason people do not make it to the top?
Brown: The biggest reasons people do not make it to the top are altitude sickness and injuries. Also, some of the clients are not honest about the problems they have while on the mountain. They hide their issues so we do not know if they have any difficulties or problems. This prevents us from addressing the problem as soon as possible.
Peak Planet: What is the biggest mistake that most clients make on the mountain?
Brown: The biggest mistake that most clients make on the mountain is that some of the clients give up when they are close to summiting just because they are tired (not sick). Also others are careless when they hike and get injured.
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