What makes people return to Kilimanjaro?

Thursday, 5 December 2015 12:14 PM

You may think that climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is something that you’d only want to do once, yet there are plenty of people who return to the peak in Tanzania to take on the challenge again - in some cases, multiple times.

If you’re wondering why, we’ll explain what it is that makes climbing Kilimanjaro such an alluring thing to do, even if you’ve conquered it before.

The routes

The main reason why you may want to tackle the mountain more than once is because there are so many ways to the summit. In fact, there are six official routes that lead to Uhuru Peak, some of which are considered to be tougher than others.

Marangu and Machame are the two busiest and most commercial trails to follow, which means they don’t appeal to every climber - especially those who are looking for a true wilderness experience.

Kilimanjaro’s Rongai route is remote and the only track that approaches the peak from the north, ensuring that it appeals to adventurous trekkers. The Shira and Lemosho paths both approach from the west and, although they follow a similar trail, are distinctly different. Lemoso is the longer of the two and is often preferred due to the extra time you have for acclimatisation as a result.

The final option is Umbwe, which is the steepest and most direct track to the summit. This also makes it one of the toughest due to the quick altitude gain. Only experienced mountaineers are advised to take this route, which means people who have climbed Kilimanjaro before may be keen to return to try this more challenging trail.

The challenge

There’s something indescribably satisfying about reaching the top of Kilimanjaro. Standing so high above the surrounding ground is an incredible feeling and one that people are keen to repeat. The feeling of relief and achievement you get when you complete any tough climb is immense - and it can be a powerful draw.

In addition, because there are several routes to the summit there’s always the sense that doing it again will be a different, but no less rewarding, experience. And there are some people who want to make the climb more than once to stand out from the crowd - while many people ascend the mountain each year, far fewer make the climb multiple times, putting those who do in something of an elite group.

To improve

For some people, taking on the same challenge more than once is about being able to improve, whether that’s in the planning or the execution of the trip. Of course, if you’re climbing Kilimanjaro with a reputable tour company you won’t have a great deal of planning to do on the expedition side, but there is certainly plenty of personal preparation that needs to go into a successful ascent.

You may feel like the first time around you hadn’t trained enough or that you were unprepared for the mental challenge of tackling such a difficult hike. Often, the reason for revisiting the Kilimanjaro climb can be entirely personal - that you simply want to feel less tired and weary when you reach the summit, for example.

Ultimately, climbing Kilimanjaro is a truly unique experience and although it’s something many people choose not to repeat, that’s not to say that making it to the Roof of Africa for a second (or even third or fourth) time is any less emotional or rewarding than the first.

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