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I'm thinking of attempting Kilimanjaro and have read on operator websites that the park authority keep success rate statistics for Kilimanjaro trekking operators. These are apparently based on questions asked at exit gates from the park.

I would love to look at these statistics before booking but am finding it hard to obtain them. Can they be found anywhere online?

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I doubt they would mean much--when I climbed it only 13% of our group made the secondary summit but that was entirely our own limitations, not anything to do with the guides. I would think their success rate would be based more on how picky they were in accepting people, not what they actually do. –  Loren Pechtel Aug 20 '12 at 12:42
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Agree, I have friends who did Kili and not all went to the top but it wasn't about the guides. It's physically difficult in parts, and icy, and some people don't go all the way up. –  Kate Gregory Aug 20 '12 at 13:29
    
I would still like to take a look at them, and make my mind up. For example, I might avoid one with very low rates. –  Simon Gibbs Aug 20 '12 at 16:11
    
very interesting question. It's on my todo list as well. –  Mark Mayo Aug 20 '12 at 19:12
    
@KateGregory: With our group things like ice weren't a factor at all. Only 20% of the group even started the final climb and the one that turned back there was due to inadequate boots. –  Loren Pechtel Aug 22 '12 at 1:04

2 Answers 2

It is sad that most companies claim 98%, because there is really no truth behind those fact. If you ask them for the actual numbers most will not release them. We decided to climb with E-Trip Africa as they do put up statistics that seem a little more realistic. They claim 88-89% overall, and when I asked for actual numbers of people it calculated correctly.

When I asked them about that, they gave a real nice explanation that helped me understand how things work. The companies that are targeting budget minded travelers usually use the Marangu Route (Coca-Cola) route. This route has very bad success rates (40%-50%). Some of the reason is because you progressively gain altitude and don't "climb high and sleep low". The other theory is that people going on a budget trip might not be as serious and don't prepare enough physically, mentally, and equipment wise.

Some companies really push clients away from Marangu. We were convinced that if we were already spending a few thousand for the flight and trek, it was better to add a $300 extra to actually have a realistic chance of reaching the summit. All 5 of us made it.

Take a look at the stats on E-trip Africa website. You will see a link to them on the right hand column of the pages about Kilimanjaro.

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Climbing Kilimanjaro isn't really that hard. The main reason why so many people fail is that they are trying to do it too fast. 7-day Machame is generally the fastest route that gives a good chance of reaching the summit. If you want to follow the guidelines for safe high-altitude trekking, you should plan for spending 8 or 9 days on the mountain. Another common mistake is just walking too fast - you don't recover as quickly up there as at sea level. –  Jouni Sirén Oct 2 '13 at 17:00

While I can't (yet) find a central list of success rates, numerous operators boast theirs on their websites.

However, as some sites point out:

Even though outfitters and tour operators flaunt high success rates, official statistics indicate that a very high percentage of trekkers turn back before summiting Uhuru Peak. It is quite "an accomplishment" to summit the mountain. Generally, the longer one allocates the trek, the higher the success rate of reaching the top.

Most seem to be fairly similar though in their claims:

Wiki shows that there are five or six common routes, and depending on the route, the success rate changes - Machame is the one with the highest success rate, followed by Shira or Lemosho.

A great description of the routes and their chance of success is available here.

The best I can find for stats is from Team Kilimanjaro, who have a comprehensive discussion of the misleading statistics out there, and why you should choose the route you choose, and what counts as a 'success' on a climb.

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An excellent point, found on Team Killi, is that publishing stats pressures guides into unsafe behaviour. I would have thought people doing a fun job would have greater intregrity but perhaps I am too hopeful. Anyway, I now see why they are not published and probably should not be published. –  Simon Gibbs Aug 31 '12 at 14:19

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