It is thought that around 30,000 people every year attempt to climb the 5,895 metres of Mount Kilimanjaro. Although it is the highest, free-standing (meaning it is not part of a mountain range) mountain in the world, it is actually the easiest of the mountains known collectively as the ‘Seven Summits’. Not only do you not need to use any specialist mountaineering equipment or ropes; but also, you do not require any previous mountain climbing experience to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro. With that in mind, you may wonder, could you climb Mount Kilimanjaro without a guide?
Just because Mount Kilimanjaro is the easiest of the Seven Summits to climb, it doesn’t mean that it is a risk-free endeavour. The main problem with this particular mountain is that climbers are prone to suffer from acute altitude sickness. It is estimated that around 10 people every year die from either acute altitude sickness or rockslides while attempting to reach the summit. The above are reasons alone why you should not attempt to climb the mountain on your own, and always use a professional company that offers excursions to Mount Kilimanjaro.
However, the health and safety risks of the trek are not the only things stopping you from attempting Mount Kilimanjaro without a guide. It is actually illegal. As of 1991, the Tanzanian government in conjunction with the Kilimanjaro National Park Authority changed the policy relating to solo treks on the mountain. The ruling means that you are required to be accompanied by at least one fully licensed and registered guide when attempting to climb the mountain.
Furthermore, you have to register with the Kilimanjaro National Park Authority, only follow official routes and are not allowed to use caves or bivouacs for shelter. In line with these regulations you need to have appropriate camping and cooking gear, meaning that along with a licensed guide you will also need at least two porters (and possibly more) to carry your gear.
So although it may seem like an achievable task, without a guide you can’t even get access to the mountain let alone climb it. There is no shame in accepting that you will need a guide and porters to help complete your trek though, and without having the extra strain of carrying the amount of gear and accessories you need to survive while on Kilimanjaro, you will be able to enjoy the expedition all the more.
From a humanitarian standpoint, you are also helping to generate money for the local economy as the guides and porters are Tanzanian nationals. In fact, many people look to filling the role as mountain trek guides as a main source of income, so you are helping to put food on local people’s tables. Aside from the legalities, it is seen as particularly bad form and rather rude to try and attempt the trek without hiring locals.
If you are wanting to tackle the great Mount Kilimanjaro and had your heart set on doing it solo, don’t be dismayed. A trek accompanied by a guide and some helpful porters will make it that little bit easier, legal and will ensure that you are able to complete the journey safely.