Skier skiing downhill during sunny day in high mountains

Mount Kilimanjaro vs. Everest Base Camp: Which Is Harder?

Dreaming of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro or Mount Everest?

You’re far from alone! Over 500 people tackle Everest’s slopes each year, while an impressive 35,000 trekkers attempt to climb Kilimanjaro.

The chance to travel to Nepal or Tanzania is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for most of us. If you’re debating between Kilimanjaro vs. Everest, you need to know exactly what you’re up against.

Here are five factors to consider as you decide which mountain is more challenging.

1. Elevation

As the highest peak on Earth, Mount Everest needs no introduction. Its summit rises an incredible 29,032 feet above sea level, with Everest base camp sitting at an altitude of 17,598 feet.

In terms of summits, Africa’s tallest peak is considerably lower than Everest, with the official Mount Kilimanjaro height listed at 19,341 feet. It has three different base camps (depending on the route you take) that sit between 15,321 feet and 19,000 feet.

Keep in mind that you can start to experience symptoms of altitude sickness at around 8,000 feet. Each of these base camps is more than twice that elevation!

2. Distance

There’s no way to sugarcoat it — it takes a long time to reach Everest base camp. The most direct route in and out covers 81 miles and takes anywhere from 12-16 days.

Meanwhile, you have more options for different routes when climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Treks range from 33-61 miles and five to nine days, with eight days being the average (and offering the best chance at acclimatization). You can learn more about this here.

3. Acclimatization

Spending multiple days at high elevations takes a toll on your body — no matter how physically fit you are. Both mountains present serious challenges with acclimatization, but for different reasons.

When you climb Kilimanjaro, you’ll ascend more height more quickly, especially on Summit Day. But you’ll generally be at lower elevations than on the Everest trek — between 11,000 and 13,000 feet.

Meanwhile, although you have longer to acclimate on the Everest trek, you’ll spend a minimum of 4-5 days and nights above 14,500 feet. Many trekkers feel this is more demanding on the body than spending more time at lower elevations.

4. Time of Day

When you climb Mount Everest, you’ll generally only hike during daylight hours and get a full night’s sleep each evening.

However, reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro requires a nighttime start (usually around midnight) and ascending over 4,000 feet in the freezing dark. In total, it takes about 18 hours to reach the summit and descend back to base camp, making this portion of Kilimanjaro harder than anything on the Everest trek.

5. Success Rate

Trekkers attempting to reach Everest Base Camp have about a 90%-95% success rate. Contrast that with Kilimanjaro, where only 40%-50% of people succeed in reaching the summit.

Of course, many more people attempt Kilimanjaro than Everest, which could have something to do with these figures. It could also be that many trekkers simply underestimate Kilimanjaro’s difficulty!

Kilimanjaro vs. Everest: Which Will You Tackle?

When it comes to climbing Kilimanjaro vs. Everest, there’s no clear-cut answer to which mountain is more difficult. Both treks will challenge you physically and mentally, but the reward is sure to be worth the effort.

What else do you need to know as you prepare for your next adventure? Keep browsing our travel and lifestyle sections for more stellar advice.