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
“Summit night on Kilimanjaro is tough. It’s a long haul up, a climb of over 1,400 metres to the summit. Walking through the night in the dark and the cold can be challenging but once the sun begins to rise over Mawenzi in the distance and you see your first objective, Stella Point, determination kicks in and the taste of success becomes tangible and real.”
Summit day begins the night before. You start with an early dinner and go to sleep early. You will wake up around midnight to prepare for the summit attempt. After a light snack, your ascent will begin. The summit day is a tough, 11 to 16 hour day of hiking.
This difficult feat is what makes climbing Kilimanjaro a monumental achievement. The guides—based on how the group has climbed so far—time their trekking party to reach Stella Point near sunrise. That means you will be hiking in the cold, and possibly windy, darkness for at least 6 hours.
Tips for Summit Night
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.
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.
- 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.
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