Escapes

Q:

To Climb: Kilimanjaro

I want to climb one of the Seven Summits and have narrowed the list to Aconcagua or Kilimanjaro. I’m in excellent shape and an experienced hiker, but not a mountaineer. Which one would you recommend?

kilimanjaro seven summits climbing hiking mountains

Kilimanjaro rises over Africa's plains.     Photo: Graeme Shannon/Shutterstock

A:TREK DURATION: 5-6 days

PROS: With tea stands along the way for drinks and snacks and huts for spending the night, the hike up the popular Marangu Route is definitely the most luxurious, foreign, high-altitude adventure you’ll find. Another bonus: most reputable guide services on the mountain bring along a team of surprisingly excellent cooks to prepare your meals and a group of porters for your gear. Kilimanjaro is easy to access, with the trailhead only about an hour from the local airport, and reaching its snow-covered volcanic cone really will leave you breathless—and not just because of the thin air.

CONS: The crowds. Roughly 15,000 people reach the summit each year, and you’ll feel like they all reached the summit at the same time as you. This is not a solitary experience, nor is it a technical one in any way (That’s either “pro” or “con,” depending on what you’re looking for.)

SUCCESS RATE: The general statistic used says that 40 percent of climbers make it to the top.

GUIDE SERVICE: Of all the great guide services on Kilimanjaro, Alpine Ascents might be the best. Its success rate is close to 90 percent, and though its treks are longer and pricier, they avoid the jam-packed Marangu Route. Climb prices start at $4,000.

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