Safari planning and review site, Your African Safari (YAS), has seen an increase in reviews for Kilimanjaro tour operators since the start of 2021.
“In fact, Kilimanjaro is now the second-most-reviewed destination on Your African Safari, following the Maasai Mara, Kenya,” said YAS founder, Jennifer Goetz.
She said YAS had surveyed about 950 tour operators, all of whom indicated they offered tours to Kilimanjaro, and asked them questions regarding which routes received the most bookings and during which months. Roughly 25% offered their feedback and participated.
Goetz said, depending on the resource, between 35 000 and 50 000 people attempted to summit Africa’s tallest mountain each year.
Here are some of the key take-outs from the survey.
Which are the best/most popular routes?
Tour operators indicated that Machame was the route they booked most often, with 46% indicating that it was their clients’ top choice. Marangu Route came second, with 25% of the votes, followed by Lemosho, with 22%. Shira and Umbwe did not receive any votes.
However, while Machame may be the most-booked route, when asked which route they personally preferred, tour operators opted for Lemosho Route. It came in first, with 35% of all votes. Machame was a close second at 32%, followed by Marangu with 22%. Once again, Shira and Umbwe did not get any votes.
This is what operators had to say about the respective routes:
- Excellent views
- Highest rate of successful summit
- Gradual incline facilitates acclimatisation
- Less crowded when compared with Machame
- Rich in flora
Machame Route – Whisky Route
- Can be done in fewer days
- Busiest route
Marangu Route – Coca-Cola Route
- Only route with built in bandas (huts)
- Cheapest option
- Quicker route
- Easy to climb
- Same route in and back
- Low traffic
- Fantastic wildlife viewing opportunities
- Stellar views
- Can require more days
- Best for experienced climbers
- Excellent views of Kibo and Mawenzi peaks
- Starts from northern side of Kilimanjaro
When is the best time to climb?
August was chosen as the best month to climb Kilimanjaro by nearly one-third of tour operators, noting that the dry conditions gave increased chances of a successful summit and enjoyable climb. The arid, clearer air provides better visibility and nicer vistas.
July was the second choice, again for weather reasons. February and September tied for third, with each garnering 13% of the votes. February is warmer than August and, aside from full-moon climbs, is not as busy as August, either.
Tour operators who voted for September indicated that they felt it had the clearest skies. April and May, which coincide with the rainy season, received no votes. Those wishing to avoid the crowds and experience what some tour operators call ‘amazing snowfall’ may wish to consider trekking Kilimanjaro in March.
How long is the average trip?
Some 38% of tour operators said seven days was what most of their guests booked for Kilimanjaro treks. Six days was the next popular choice, with 24% of the vote.
Eight days came in third, at 16%, which means that roughly 80% of all tourists book between six and eight days to climb Kilimanjaro; 13% of companies said five days was their average number of days for a Kili trek and 5% said their average was more than 10 days.
YAS is a safari-planning resource featuring information on over 2 600 tour operators, including company and vehicle descriptions, user reviews, safari itineraries and photos.