Which is harder, Machu Picchu or Kilimanjaro?
Machu Picchu vs Kilimanjaro

Comparing the difficulty of Machu Picchu and Kilimanjaro is challenging as they are entirely different types of experiences.

Machu Picchu is an ancient Incan archaeological site located in Peru. The main way visitors reach Machu Picchu is through the Inca Trail, a multi-day trek that involves hiking through diverse landscapes and passing several archaeological sites before reaching the iconic ruins. While the Inca Trail can be physically demanding, it is generally considered moderate in difficulty, and people with a reasonable level of fitness can complete it.

On the other hand, Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and requires a significant physical and mental challenge to reach the summit. Climbers typically choose from various routes, each with varying difficulty levels. The ascent to the summit involves trekking through different climate zones, including rainforest, moorland, alpine desert, and finally, the glaciated summit. Altitude sickness can be a concern due to the high elevation, and climbers need to acclimatize properly to increase their chances of reaching the summit successfully.

If you’re referring to the mountain Huayna Picchu, which is seen behind the Machu Picchu temple. There is no use in comparing it to Kilimanjaro because it is only 2,700 meters tall (a 300-meter ascent from Machu Picchu), while Kilimanjaro is 5,900. However, it is a challenging ascent that takes around 45 minutes in good physical condition before you can finally take in the breathtaking scenery.

Machu Picchu vs Kilimanjaro: A Comparison

While the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu can be physically demanding, Mount Kilimanjaro presents a more challenging and strenuous endeavor due to the altitude, longer duration, and varied climate conditions. Climbing Kilimanjaro requires better preparation, physical fitness, and determination to conquer the highest peak in Africa.

1. Difficulty and Physical Demands

Machu Picchu:

  • The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu involves several days of trekking through diverse landscapes, including mountainous terrains and archaeological sites.
  • It is considered moderately difficult, suitable for individuals with a reasonable level of fitness and endurance.


  • Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is a significant physical challenge, requiring participants to trek through various climate zones, from rainforest to glaciated summit.
  • The altitude and changing weather conditions make it a strenuous and demanding climb, necessitating good physical fitness and mental preparation.

2. Duration of the Journey

Machu Picchu:

  • The Inca Trail typically takes 4 to 5 days to complete, depending on the chosen route and tour package.
  • Each day involves several hours of trekking, with rest breaks and overnight stays at campsites.


  • Climbing Kilimanjaro involves longer duration, with different routes ranging from 5 to 9 days.
  • The additional days are essential for proper acclimatization to prevent altitude sickness and increase the chances of reaching the summit.

3. Altitude and Acclimatization

Machu Picchu:

  • The highest point on the Inca Trail is at Dead Woman’s Pass, reaching an altitude of approximately 4,215 meters (13,829 feet).
  • Although it involves some altitude, the trek is generally at lower elevations compared to Kilimanjaro.


  • Mount Kilimanjaro’s summit, Uhuru Peak, stands at 5,895 meters (19,341 feet) above sea level, making it the highest point in Africa.
  • Proper acclimatization is crucial due to the risk of altitude sickness, and climbers need to ascend gradually to allow their bodies to adjust to higher elevations.

4. Scenery and Highlights

Machu Picchu:

  • The Inca Trail offers stunning views of Andean landscapes, cloud forests, and ancient Incan ruins, culminating in the iconic Machu Picchu.
  • The trek provides an immersive cultural experience and insight into Incan history.


  • Climbing Kilimanjaro offers diverse scenery, from lush rainforests to vast alpine deserts and breathtaking glaciers.
  • The panoramic views from the summit showcase the vastness of the African continent.

5. Cultural and Historical Significance

Machu Picchu:

  • Machu Picchu holds significant archaeological and historical importance as a well-preserved Incan citadel.
  • It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and attracts visitors interested in ancient civilizations and culture.


  • Mount Kilimanjaro has cultural significance for the local Chagga people, who consider it a sacred mountain.
  • Climbers may learn about Tanzanian culture and traditions during their journey.

In conclusion, while both Machu Picchu and Kilimanjaro offer unique and rewarding experiences, the challenges they present differ significantly. Machu Picchu’s Inca Trail trek is a moderate multi-day hike with historical significance, while climbing Kilimanjaro requires more physical endurance and mental preparation to conquer Africa’s highest peak. The choice between the two depends on individual preferences, fitness levels, and the desire for a cultural or alpine adventure.

Mount Kilimanjaro’s Hardest Routes compared to the inca trail

Umbwe Route and Western Breach vs. Inca Trail

The Umbwe Route and Western Breach on Kilimanjaro are the most challenging and demanding routes on Mount Kilimanjaro that require experienced climbers with excellent fitness levels. They involve rapid ascents and limited acclimatization time, increasing the risk of altitude sickness. In contrast, the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is a moderate trek with a historical and cultural experience, suitable for a wider range of hikers. The choice between the routes depends on one’s preference for a challenging African mountain adventure or a culturally rich trek to the ancient Incan city.

Umbwe Route:

  1. Difficulty and Physical Demands
    • The Umbwe Route on Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the most challenging routes.
    • It involves steep and demanding ascents, making it suitable for experienced trekkers with excellent fitness levels.
    • The route is typically completed in 6 to 7 days, providing limited time for acclimatization.
  2. Terrain and Scenery
    • The Umbwe Route is known for its dense rainforest section, offering a unique and lush environment.
    • As climbers ascend, the landscape changes to moorland and eventually an alpine desert with stunning views.
  3. Altitude and Acclimatization
    • The Umbwe Route has a rapid ascent profile, which can increase the risk of altitude sickness.
    • Trekkers need to be well-prepared for the challenges of high altitude without the benefit of a longer acclimatization period.
  4. Technical Difficulty
    • The route does not require technical climbing skills, but it involves steep and rocky sections, requiring good balance and agility.

Western Breach Route:

  1. Difficulty and Physical Demands
    • The Western Breach is a challenging variation of the Machame Route on Kilimanjaro.
    • It is physically demanding and suitable only for experienced climbers with high fitness levels.
    • The ascent is typically completed in 6 to 7 days.
  2. Terrain and Scenery
    • The Western Breach offers unique volcanic scenery and panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.
    • Climbers traverse rugged terrain with loose rocks and scree.
  3. Altitude and Acclimatization
    • Similar to the Umbwe Route, the Western Breach involves a rapid ascent, necessitating proper acclimatization preparations.
  4. Technical Difficulty
    • The Western Breach is more technically challenging than the standard Machame Route, involving steeper sections and some scrambling.

Inca Trail:

  1. Difficulty and Physical Demands
    • The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is a moderate trek suitable for individuals with a reasonable level of fitness.
    • The trek typically takes 4 to 5 days to complete, with moderate daily distances.
  2. Terrain and Scenery
    • The Inca Trail offers a combination of Andean landscapes, cloud forests, and ancient Incan ruins.
    • The highlight is reaching the historic Machu Picchu.
  3. Altitude and Acclimatization
    • While the Inca Trail involves some altitude, the highest point, Dead Woman’s Pass, is at approximately 4,215 meters (13,829 feet) above sea level.
    • The trek allows for gradual acclimatization, reducing the risk of altitude-related issues.
  4. Technical Difficulty
    • The Inca Trail does not require technical climbing skills, making it accessible to a wide range of hikers.
    • It involves hiking on uneven terrain and ascending and descending stone steps.


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