I recently saw this article and think it’s the most comprehensive guide to climbing to the top of Africa currently available online.
I climbed to the top of Kili in 2008. It was one of the worst travel experiences in my life.
I had previously climbed several 14K foot mountains in the Andes. I never got any altitude sickness. I didn’t expect any illness on Kilimanjaro. I was very wrong. I failed to consider that Kili was a full mile higher than those big mountains I climbed in Peru and Ecuador.
I was in excellent shape and booked the shortest hike available. It was three days up and two days down with the summit attempt starting around midnight so that we could summit for sunrise.
The altitude made me feel like crap. I started projectile vomiting soon after the final night hike began. I puked for almost six hours straight on my way up to the top.
At the summit, I took a couple of photos and then passed out. The guide woke me with some coffee and I started hiking back down.
I was delirious and couldn’t walk well. I kept falling. I had the advanced medical training to recognize high altitude cerebral edema and the drugs to treat it, but I was too disoriented to recognize the symptoms in myself. I only realized what was going on after I dropped down about 4000 feet and regained my senses.
I’m honestly lucky I made it. Some of my falls could have been fatal.
Kilimanjaro is no joke. Take it seriously and take extra time to acclimate on your hike. I later found out that the five-day route only has a 54% success rate. If you make it an eight day trip you will have about a 95% success rate getting to the summit. Go slow!