Why Do You Climb Kilimanjaro At Night?

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Why Do You Climb Kilimanjaro At Night?

Many people really don’t think about this until they actually get there. But, why do you get up between 11pm and midnight to start your trek to the Uhuru Peak, the summit of Kilimanjaro.

Many people I have spoken to over the years that I have climbed Kilimanjaro with have all said the same thing! The trek to the Base Camp of Kilimanjaro is easy and it lures you into a false sense of security, and then comes summit night – which suddenly becomes the hardest thing you have ever done in your life. 

But why do you climb Kilimanjaro at night?

There are actually quite a few reasons why you climb Kilimanjaro at night.

why do you climb Kilimanjaro at night

#1 – Most accidents on Kilimanjaro happen on the way down

If you start your climb around midnight you will be reaching Stella Point or Gilmans point around 6am in the morning. Uhuru peak will then be reached around 7am or 8am depending on your route. This means you will be back down to your base camp around 11am or 12pm. 

If you didn’t leave to start your climb until 8am in the morning you then wouldn’t be getting back down to Base Camp until 8pm the evening and it would be dark.

On the way up in the dark you are walking very slowly, if you were to trip uphill, the chances are you would not tumble very far and hurt yourself. Coming down hill on the other hand in the dark your chances of stumbling and falling further are greatly increased. 

You are also really tired on the way back down, so doing this in daylight poses less risks than doing it in the dark whilst you are tired.

#2 – See the sunrise from the Top of Kilimanjaro 

Another reason for setting off in the night is so you can see the sunrise when you reach Stella Point or Gilman’s point. The scene is stunning and it feels like you can see the curvature of the earth as you can see so far.

You wouldn’t be able to do this if you set off the next morning. As per the previous point, you wouldn’t want to see the sunset from the top and then have to walk all the way down in the dark.

Kilimanjaro from Mt Meru

#3 – Lack of Water On Kilimanjaro

There is no access to water at the base camps of Kilimanjaro. All of the water needs to be carried from the lower camp to your base camp by the porters.

If you were staying up at Base Camp for an additional night this would mean the porters would have to carry up double the amount of water for your group.

As there is no running water at the Base Camps, this makes the sanitation at the campsites and at the huts on the Marangu route worse than other campsites/huts on the route. So generally you don’t want to spend any extra time at these camps!

#4 – Struggling to Sleep on Kilimanjaro

When you are at high altitude sleeping becomes difficult. You are going to be around 4800m – 5000m when you are at your Base Camp on Kilimanjaro. You are not going to get very much sleep, so what is the point of just laying there all night thinking about your day tomorrow. 

You would be better off just getting up and starting the trek! So that’s what we do!

You generally will get into base camp early in afternoon on that day, giving you plenty of time to sort out your kit, have an early dinner (if you feel like you can eat anything) and then around 6.30 – 7pm you can go and try and sleep or at least rest in your sleeping bag for a few hours. Many people really struggle to sleep and even rest at the altitude so it’s better to just get going!


#5 – Increase the cost of your Kilimanjaro trek

Everyone pays the National Park for every day they are in the Park. If you were to go for the summit during the day this would add another day onto your trek, more Park Fees, more wages and more food.

So these are the reasons that we climb Kilimanjaro during the night. If you have booked your Kilimanjaro trek already – enjoy! If you haven’t booked your trek yet to the Roof of Africa we offer both the Lemosho Route and the Marangu Route several times each year.

If you would like to find out more about Kilimanjaro why not download our 88-page Ultimate Kilimanjaro Guide, which gives you the beginners guide to Kilimanjaro telling you everything you need to know to prepare you for this trek.

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