Is Mount Kilimanjaro Too Crowded?

Crowds on Mount Kilimanjaro are dependent on the time of the year, you are climbing Kilimanjaro. You can read our article on how to climb Kilimanjaro and avoid crowding here. When we embark on our journeys to distant and unexplored natural areas, our hearts are filled with a hopeful yearning for tranquillity, solace, and seclusion. Yet, as the passage of time unfolds and the allure of these specific locations grows, the realization dawns upon us that the inevitable truth awaits us: the likelihood of numerous adventurers joining us on our paths, sharing their moments and experiences, whether we yearn for their presence or not. Thus, we find ourselves in a delicate dance of accepting the camaraderie and comradery that comes with fellow visitors, as we navigate through the terrain that once held the promise of solitude and individual connection with nature’s untouched beauty.

  1. Barafu Camp (4,673 meters/15,331 feet): Located on the southern slopes of Kilimanjaro, Barafu Camp serves as a base camp for the final ascent to the summit via the Machame, Umbwe, and Lemosho routes. Climbers from these routes converge here before starting the summit push.
  2. Stella Point (5,685 meters/18,651 feet): Situated near the rim of the Kibo crater, Stella Point marks a significant milestone on the summit route from both the Machame and Lemosho routes. Climbers from these routes meet here before making the final push to Uhuru Peak, the highest point on Kilimanjaro.
  3. Uhuru Peak (5,895 meters/19,341 feet): As the highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro, Uhuru Peak is the ultimate goal for climbers from all routes. Whether ascending via Machame, Lemosho, Marangu, Rongai, Umbwe, or Shira routes, climbers converge at Uhuru Peak to celebrate their achievements and enjoy panoramic views from the summit.

The most crowded routes

You are more likely to encounter crowds on Mount Kilimanjaro along the Marangu and Machame routes. These routes are among the most popular options for climbers due to their relatively easier access, shorter duration, and higher success rates. As a result, they tend to attract more climbers, especially during the peak climbing seasons.

The Marangu route, often dubbed the “Coca-Cola route,” is the most frequented path on Kilimanjaro due to its shorter duration (5-6 days) and the availability of hut accommodation along the route. The relative ease of access and the allure of sleeping in huts rather than tents make Marangu a popular choice for many climbers, leading to higher crowds on this route.

The Machame route, known as the “Whiskey route,” is another popular option due to its stunning scenery and varied landscapes. While slightly longer (6-7 days) and more challenging than Marangu, Machame offers a more scenic and adventurous trek through diverse terrain. Its popularity results in larger numbers of climbers on the trail, particularly during peak climbing seasons.

Although other routes like Lemosho, Rongai, and Northern Circuit may see fewer crowds compared to Marangu and Machame, they too can experience congestion, especially during the busiest months. It’s essential to consider factors such as route popularity, seasonality, and the overall experience you seek when choosing a route to climb Kilimanjaro.

The less crowded routes

The less crowded routes on Mount Kilimanjaro include:

  1. Lemosho Route: This route is known for its scenic beauty and relatively low crowd levels compared to more popular routes like Marangu and Machame. Lemosho offers a longer and more gradual ascent, providing ample time for acclimatization and a higher chance of summit success.
  2. Rongai Route: The Rongai Route approaches Kilimanjaro from the northeastern side and is less traveled than routes on the southern and western slopes. It offers a quieter trekking experience with stunning views of the mountain’s northern face and the surrounding wilderness.
  3. Northern Circuit Route: The Northern Circuit is the longest route on Kilimanjaro, offering unparalleled scenery and excellent acclimatization opportunities. It circles the northern slopes of the mountain, traversing remote and less-visited areas while providing panoramic views of the Kenyan plains.
  4. Umbwe Route: The Umbwe Route is one of the shortest and steepest routes on Kilimanjaro, attracting fewer climbers due to its challenging terrain. While it offers a more adventurous and secluded experience, climbers should be prepared for steep ascents and rugged trails.

These routes typically have fewer climbers compared to the more popular routes like Marangu and Machame, providing a quieter and more serene trekking experience on Africa’s highest peak. However, even on these less crowded routes, it’s essential to plan and book in advance, especially during the peak climbing seasons, to secure permits and accommodations.

Number of Visitors

During the peak season, it is estimated that there are around 850 to 1,660 climbers on Mount Kilimanjaro each day. Tanzania, as a whole, attracts approximately 1.5 million tourists annually, with popular activities being safaris in the country’s renowned wildlife parks and the ascent of Africa’s highest peak. Out of the 30,000 to 50,000 people who undertake the climb each year, the majority choose to visit during the dry seasons, which account for 7 out of the 12 months. By dividing the number of visitors by 7 months, we can calculate an average of 4,285 to 7,124 individuals per month, which further translates to approximately 142 to 237 people embarking on the climb every day. Assuming that each person spends 6 to 7 days on the mountain, this corresponds to a total of approximately 850 to 1,660 tourists present at any given time. We must also consider the mountain crews who provide support to the climbers. Depending on the chosen route, there are typically 3 to 4 staff members per client. By multiplying the number of tourists by 3.5 staff per client, we estimate that there are roughly 3,000 to 5,800 individuals, including clients and staff, on the mountain daily. However, determining whether this level of presence is considered crowded or not is subjective and dependent on individual opinions. Another factor to consider is the impact of these numbers on the environment. With such a significant influx of tourists, there is a possibility of increased waste generation and a strain on the resources available on the mountain. Mount Kilimanjaro is a fragile ecosystem, and it is crucial to engage in sustainable tourism practices to preserve its natural beauty. Various organizations and initiatives are working towards managing the number of climbers and implementing measures to minimize the ecological footprint left behind by visitors. These efforts include waste management systems, strict regulations on climbing permits, and education programs on responsible tourism. By promoting awareness and responsible behavior, it is hoped that the natural wonders of Mount Kilimanjaro can be preserved for future generations to enjoy.

Kilimanjaro Campsites

The park’s numerous campsites and trails are home to a diverse group of people. To gauge the crowd at each campsite, we can examine the Marangu route, which offers a unique experience compared to other routes that require camping. The Marangu trail features three huts – Mandara, Horombo, and School Hut – that provide shelter for weary travelers. With comfortable beds and facilities, these huts ensure a comfortable stay for adventurers. The Mandara hut can accommodate up to 60 individuals, providing a cozy environment for rest and relaxation. Moving further along the route, we come across the Horombo hut, which is distinctive in its capacity to house 120 people. As the only hut used for both the ascent and descent, Horombo stands as a hub of activity and camaraderie. The spaciousness of this hut allows climbers to connect and share stories of their mountain conquests. Continuing on the Marangu route, we reach the School Hut. Although smaller in size, with a capacity of 60 individuals, it still holds its own significance. This hut serves as a sanctuary for climbers, offering a tranquil respite before they embark on the final leg of their journey to the summit. While the Marangu route may exhibit a bustling atmosphere due to the number of hikers it accommodates, other campsites throughout the park present their own characteristics. Barranco, Karanga, and Barafu are renowned for their heavy foot traffic, attracting climbers from various routes. Among them, Barranco stands out as a particularly popular site, with its vast expanse often teeming with excitement and energy. During the peak season, it transforms into a vibrant hub bustling with up to 1,000 individuals, including climbers and staff, creating an exhilarating atmosphere. However, not all campsites experience the same level of congestion. Certain sites, such as those along the Rongai route and Northern Circuit route, receive limited foot traffic until they converge with more popular routes near the summit. These areas offer a sense of seclusion and tranquility, allowing hikers to immerse themselves in the serene beauty of the surroundings. Even during busy periods, these campsites remain relatively uncrowded, providing a haven for those seeking a more intimate experience with the mountain. Furthermore, the crowd dynamics at each campsite are influenced by various factors. The choice of route plays a significant role, determining the flow of climbers and their distribution across the park. Additionally, the specific campsite selected can greatly influence crowd levels, as each one offers a unique allure and appeal. Climbing season and the day of the week also contribute to the overall atmosphere, with certain periods attracting more visitors than others. In conclusion, the mountain’s perceived level of crowding varies depending on several factors. From the bustling campsites along the Marangu route to the secluded oases provided by the Rongai and Northern Circuit routes, each location within the park offers a distinct experience. Whether one seeks the camaraderie of a large crowd or the serenity of a quiet retreat, Mount Kilimanjaro caters to the desires of all adventurers.

Where are you likely to meet crowds on Kilimanjaro?

However, prior to making any specific changes to your travel plans, allow me to provide you with my firsthand knowledge and expertise. I have not only successfully summited Mount Kilimanjaro on multiple occasions but have also immersed myself in its majestic beauty during different months, including the less crowded periods. Through my experiences, I have encountered instances of trail congestion but only at two particular locations, which undoubtedly showcases the mountain’s remarkable allure and popularity. Rest assured, I am here to offer you valuable insights and guidance to ensure your journey to this awe-inspiring summit is nothing short of extraordinary.

Barranco Wall

Barranco Wall crowdsThe first place to encounter on the climb is the Barranco Wall, a towering cliff that stretches 843 feet between Barranco camp and Barafu camp. This significant geographical formation is traversed by multiple routes including Machame, Lemosho, Shira, and Umbwe, causing it to be quite crowded. As climbers set off from Barranco camp, their first challenge awaits them on the wall shortly after breakfast. The mountain crews also utilize this very path to ascend the wall, further adding to the congestion. The narrow path demands climbers to proceed single-file, often requiring the use of hands for scrambling. Although progress may be slow and navigating this section can be tricky, our experienced guides provide individual assistance to overcome any obstacles. While waiting for others may not be enjoyable, climbing the Barranco Wall is considered a highly enjoyable experience by most climbers. Moreover, reaching the top offers breathtaking views and the opportunity to capture incredible photos, seemingly leaping above the clouds. Expanding on this exhilarating endeavor, it is important to note that the Barranco Wall, with its sheer magnitude and towering presence, casts an imposing shadow upon ascending climbers. Stretching gallantly for 843 feet, it stands as a testament to nature’s might and an embodiment of the daunting challenges that lie ahead. Embarking on this arduous journey through the vertical realm, explorers find themselves amid a symphony of majestic cliffs and awe-inspiring views. The Barranco Wall, with its commanding presence and awe-inducing stature, beckons the brave and adventurous to conquer its formidable heights. As climbers venture forth from the comforting embrace of Barranco camp, they are greeted by the formidable wall that looms before them. Carved by the passage of time and shaped by the forces of nature, this colossal geological masterpiece demands respect from all who dare to tread upon its pathways. In the morning air, filled with anticipation and determination, climbers gather their strength to face the ultimate test of willpower and endurance. The passage through the Barranco Wall is a true display of both physical and mental prowess. Every step forward requires deliberate thought and careful consideration as climbers navigate the narrow path that snakes its way up the imposing cliff face. The single-file procession, akin to a human caravan ascending to new heights, adds an element of camaraderie and shared experience in the face of adversity. And while the need for handholds and footholds may slow progress, it also serves as a reminder of the raw power and untamed beauty that surrounds. Our seasoned guides, well-versed in the ways of the mountain, provide unwavering support and guidance to each climber along this treacherous ascent. Their wealth of knowledge and expertise transforms potential obstacles into conquerable challenges, ensuring that no one is left behind on this memorable expedition. With their steady encouragement and skilled assistance, climbers find solace in the knowledge that they are never alone in their pursuit of summiting the monumental Barranco Wall. Although the waiting game may test the patience of climbers, it allows ample opportunity to absorb the breathtaking panorama that unfolds before their eyes. As one ascends ever higher, the world below transforms into a tapestry of natural wonders, with mountainscapes stretching as far as the eye can see. The air becomes crisp and invigorating, filling lungs with a sense of rejuvenation and achievement. And when reaching the pinnacle of the Barranco Wall, a moment frozen in time presents itself, offering an unrivaled perspective of the world below. The ethereal beauty of the clouds dancing beneath one’s feet, painted in hues of gold and pink by the setting sun, creates a surreal and awe-inspiring sight that forever engraves itself in the memory. Capturing the essence of this extraordinary experience through photography becomes an irresistible temptation for climbers. With every click of the camera shutter, they seek to encapsulate the sheer magnificence and indescribable sensation of conquering the Barranco Wall. These photographs serve as timeless mementos, allowing adventurers to relive the triumphs and challenges of their ascent with each glance. The images portray more than the mere act of scaling a cliff; they encapsulate the remarkable resilience, determination, and unyielding spirit that lie within every climber’s heart. In the end, climbing the Barranco Wall is not just about the physical feat or the grandeur of the views. It is a testament to the indomitable human spirit, to the unwavering desire to conquer obstacles and embrace the extraordinary. It is an experience that stirs the soul, ignites a fire within, and leaves an everlasting impression. The Barranco Wall, with its formidable presence and awe-inspiring allure, stands as a symbol of triumph, a tribute to the boundless determination and unquenchable thirst for adventure that reside within us all.

At the summit

crowding at the summit

The summit of Kilimanjaro is another incredibly popular spot where it tends to get quite crowded with eager climbers from all around the globe. Due to the various routes on the mountain, every ambitious mountaineer is making their way towards the ultimate destination: Uhuru Point. As the sun starts to rise, it is quite common for climbers to reach the summit, resulting in a substantial influx of people culminating at the same time. It is not at all unusual to witness a long line of enthusiastic individuals forming, patiently waiting to capture that perfect photo at the sign that proudly displays their triumphant summit success. However, despite the desire to revel in the glory, the frosty winds and low temperatures encountered at the summit dissuade many from lingering for too long. Moreover, those unfortunate enough to be experiencing symptoms of altitude sickness wisely heed the advice to not remain at this extreme altitude for an extended period. These naturally occurring factors contribute to maintaining a sense of order and prevent the summit from becoming excessively jam-packed. Apart from the challenging Barranco Wall and the highly sought-after Uhuru Point, Kilimanjaro generally does not give off a vibe of being excessively congested, defying its well-deserved reputation as a dynamic and lively mountain.

What To Do About the Crowds

If the idea of being surrounded by fewer individuals is of great importance to you, we highly recommend delving into the insightful and information-laden article titled “How I climbed Kilimanjaro quietly and avoided the crowds“. In this incredibly comprehensive piece, we provide an abundance of clever suggestions and tips on how to meticulously plan your thrilling climb, all with the noble objective of minimizing and strategically evading any potential encounters with other enthusiastic climbers. However, if mitigating such encounters is not an absolute priority for you, our sincere and best advice is to embrace the notion of selecting a less traversed and slightly more off the beaten path route, such as the magnificent Northern Circuit or the awe-inspiring Lemosho trail. Moreover, embarking on this once-in-a-lifetime adventure during the blissful dry season will undoubtedly ensure you bask in the glory of impeccable weather conditions, making your journey even more exceptional and gratifying. In the quest to paint a realistic picture, it is crucial to acknowledge that predicting the exact number of individuals who may grace the majestic slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro at any given moment is an arduous task, fraught with uncertainty. However, it brings us great joy to inform you that the presence of fellow climbers, in all actuality, is highly unlikely to have any detrimental impact on your overall enjoyment and the sheer magnitude of this unforgettable experience. Throughout our extensive experience guiding and accompanying countless individuals on their epic Mount Kilimanjaro expeditions, we can proudly state that not a single client has ever expressed even the slightest inkling that their adventure would have been more satisfying and delightful without the congenial camaraderie of fellow climbers. Thus, we wholeheartedly profess that any concerns or trepidation about this matter are quite superfluous and unwarranted. In fact, you might even find the enthralling and enchanting company of other vibrant groups during your trail-blazing odyssey and spirited interactions at awe-inspiring campsites to be an absolutely fascinating and truly enjoyable facet of the entire escapade. So worry not, dear adventurer, for your journey to the roof of Africa is bound to be nothing short of extraordinary, regardless of the delightful presence of other passionate climbers by your side.


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