Climbing Kilimanjaro

MOUNT KILIMANJARO, Tanzania — We’ve made it to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. 19,341 feet. We’re on top of Africa, far above the clouds. And though we’re right next to the equator, it’s very, very cold and there are thick ice glaciers.

Mt Kilimanjaro Stars and Camp at Lava Tower
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Filed Under: Tanzania

We’re in the heart of Africa. The equator is only a little over 200 miles to the north. To the west and south, we’re looking out over the plains of Tanzania with their lions, elephants, and giraffes, although the animals are all too far away for us to see. In the distance beyond the horizon are famous national parks like the Serengeti Plains and the Ngorongoro Crater. To the north and east, we’re looking right over the border into Kenya.

We should be baking in the hot African sun. But instead, we’re shivering despite our fleeces, gloves, and cold-weather jackets. We’re surrounded by snow and ice and volcanic rock.

We’re on top of Mount Kilimanjaro. 19,341 feet. At this altitude, each breath only provides half the amount of oxygen to the body that it would at sea level. It’s no wonder that we’re lightheaded, breathing hard, and tired. But the view is spectacular.

It’s taken us a week of trekking to get here. Here’s how we climbed this magnificent mountain.

I’ve put together a climb diary with photos from each day as well as some gear tips for Kilimanjaro and what to expect from your climb.

Mt Kilimanjaro Lemosho Glades Trailhead Hikers
Right at the beginning of the climb, just after entering through Lemosho Glades Trailhead. Photo © David Coleman /
Climbing Mt Kilimanjaro Porters Walking
Porters on the trail in the heath zone between Shira 1 Camp and Moir Hut Camp. Photo © David Coleman /
Mt Kilimanjaro Beautiful Sunset Above the Clouds
Sunset from above the clouds from Arrow Glacier Camp. Photo © David Coleman /
Mt Kilimanjaro Climbing the Western Breach
Porters carrying gear up the icy Western Breach. Photo © David Coleman /
Mt Kilimanjaro Summit Glaciers and Mt Meru
A thick (but diminishing) glacier at the summit of Kilimanjaro. Photo © David Coleman /
Climbing Mt Kilimanjaro Tanzania Porters
Some porters from another group passing us in the lower levels of the trail. Photo © David Coleman /
Mt Kilimanjaro Clouds and Hikers Silhouette
Above the clouds at Lava Tower. Photo © David Coleman /

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David Coleman / Photographer

David Coleman

I'm a freelance travel photographer based in Washington DC. Seven continents, up mountains, underwater, and a bunch of places in between. My images have appeared in numerous publications, and you can check out some of my gear reviews and tips here. More »