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Summit night on Mount Kilimanjaro

Summit night on Mount Kilimanjaro

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of standing on the top of a mountain. And when you stand at the summit of Kilimanjaro, you’re not only standing at the highest point in Tanzania, but the highest point in all of Africa. The views, quite simply, are incredible. But how hard is the journey up there? How long does it take, and how tough is the trek? If you’re wondering what summit day is like on Kilimanjaro, we’ve got all the answers.

Summit night is the final part of the climb, when hikers reach Uhuru Peak. It’s sometimes called summit day, and that’s also right: the climb begins at night and ends when the sun is already long up. To be more accurate, it starts at midnight and finishes late in the afternoon. Over this time, groups of hikers trek up to the peak and then cover about half of the way back down the mountain.

Everything about Kilimanjaro Summit night


Tips for Summit Night

Dress warmly

It’s freezing cold up there, so make sure your outfit is appropriate for the arctic zone. To prevent your body from losing warmth, wear layers. Include thermal underwear, a fleece jacket, a waterproof, breathable jacket with hood, waterproof hiking pants, fleece pants, warm socks and an insulated down or synthetic jacket. It’s equally important to keep your hands warm, so it’s recommendable to put on inner gloves, thermal gloves and ski mittens. Finally, don’t forget about a warm hat to cover your head and a balaclava to protect your mouth, nose, cheeks against frostbite.

Substantial meal the night before

It goes without saying that you’ll need a lot of energy to cover the hardest piece of the track. Although high elevation is very likely to make you lose appetite and feel sick, try to have a nourishing dinner the night before your summit attempt.

Take a good rest

As you already know, hikers need to get up at 11 pm to start summiting, so they go to bed at around 7 pm. It may be hard to fall asleep at such an early hour, however, don’t worry if you can’t sleep — at least, relax and have quality rest.

Don’t hurry

Go slowly — it will reduce chances of experiencing symptoms of altitude sickness. Actually, guides know what the best pace is, and your task is to maintain the pace they set. The famous says on Kilimanjaro - Pole Pole Pole Pole - Walk Slow.

Use stops effectively

During the summit climb groups of hikers have the so-called maintenance stops. Keep in mind that these are not rest stops: you need to effectively utilize this time to make sure that you are ready for the next steps. It’s important to plan ahead what you need to do.

Protect your eyes and skin

Remember that UV rays are especially aggressive at high altitudes, so don’t forget to protect your eyes and skin against their harmful impact. Also, remember to apply some sunscreen lip balm on your lips — they are very sensitive and you may get a burn.

Spare batteries for your head torch

As the first hours of the summit climb are done in the dark, you’ll need a head torch to guide you along the trail. Remember that low temperatures are the number one enemy of batteries, so it’s crucial to keep your spare batteries warm.

Kilimanjaro Summit night FAQ

Our summit day is around 14 hours long. It actually starts just before midnight, when we rise, eat breakfast and set off at around 12.30am. By the time we reach Stella Point, the sun is rising and we break for tea. From there, it’s only around an hour to the summit. 

After we stand on the Roof of Africa, we head to Barafu Camp for lunch, before beginning the descent to Millennium camp.

When we attempt summit, we do so from Kosovo Camp. There are five days of trekking before we reach Kosovo Camp. These days vary between five and seven hours of trekking each day. But for the last two days before summit, the days are around five hours long. We climb at a slow pace, to help you acclimatise to the increasing altitude. 

We never leave anyone behind on an Trip Insight Tanzania Climb. If you or your leader feel like you cannot continue, we normally have an extra guide – Assistant, who will accompany you down to a lower level. 

On Kilimanjaro, sunset is between 6 and 7 pm, and most trekkers are in bed long before 10! By leaving at midnight, we allow ourselves the time to go slowly. If you try to go quickly up Kilimanjaro, you will feel the effects of altitude sickness, and may not reach the summit.

Here’s what you need:
  • Moisture-wicking compression top.
  • Long-sleeved thermal top.
  • Softshell jacket.
  • Waterproof, breathable jacket with hood.
  • Insulated down or synthetic jacket.

Summit night is by far the hardest part of the hike for various reasons: it’s freezing, it’s dark, due to the altitude you only walk very slowly, and you know this is the part where the people who did not make it to the top had to give up.

Between 20 and -20 degrees Fahrenheit. At the summit, Uhuru Point, the night time temperatures can range between 20 and -20 degrees Fahrenheit (-7 to -29 degrees Celsius). Due to Mount Kilimanjaro’s great height, the mountain creates it’s own weather.

How long does it take to hike Mount Kilimanjaro? It takes between five and tens days to hike Mount Kilimanjaro depending on the route and the pace of the itinerary. A few brave record breakers have occasionally done it in just one day! Treks vary in length as well as duration.

More about Tanzania Travel Guide:

Planning your trip? Whether you’re looking for things to do in Tanzania such as events and attractions, key traveller information to make your Tanzania visit run smoothly or are planning where to stay in Mwanza, you’ll find everything you need for your Tanzania holiday on Our Website. Tanzania Travel guide has the information about latest events not to miss while you visit Tanzania – there’s always something going on, so don’t miss out on the latest exhibitions, shows and more on your trip Tanzania

Discover the best day trips from Dar-es-salaam  or other Tanzania’s Cities. If you’re here as a family, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Tanzania with kids and find suitable accommodation such as Tanzania holiday apartments. Whether you’re looking for the best weekend breaks in Tanzania or planning a longer holiday in, you can be sure you’ll find all the information you need. 

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