The new year is right around the corner and you are starting to plan another bucket list trip. Two that are very high up on your list are Kilimanjaro and Everest Base Camp (EBC). As you contemplate the specifics, you ask yourself, which trek is harder? Both are epic trips, they need a big fitness commitment and both cost a lot of money. How do you decide?
EVEREST BASE CAMP OR KILIMANJARO
Both of these treks—the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro and the EBC trek—rank as two of the most popular treks in the world. Both mountains are the highest peaks on their respective continent.
Every year Kilimanjaro has up to 35,000 people attempt its peak and 40,000 attempt EBC. The allure of the amazing scenery brings both the expert climbers and the novice alike.
With both treks being highly rated by travelers, it can be hard to decide between an EBC or a Mount Kilimanjaro trek.
Let’s start with the specs of each trek. Since there are several routes up Kilimanjaro and really only one on Everest, we are going to use the 8-day Lemosho route for comparison.
Everest Base Camp
- Starting Elevation: 9,318 ft. / 2,840 m.
- Elevation: 17,598 ft. / 5,364 m.
- Elevation Gain: 8,280 ft. / 2,524 m.
- Miles / Kilometers: 77 mi. / 124 km.
- Number of Trekking Days: 11
- Average Price: $2,000 – $5,000
- Starting Elevation: 7,000 ft. / 2,134 m.
- Elevation: 19,341 ft. / 5,895 m.
- Elevation Gain: 12,341 ft. / 3,761 m.
- Miles / Kilometers: 46 mi. / 74 km.
- Number of Trekking Days: 8
- Average Price: $2,000 – $4,000
What many trekkers fail to take into account when they compare these two trips is that the Kilimanjaro trek takes you right to the top of the mountain’s summit. The EBC trek takes you through stunning mountains to the base camp for the summit attempt of Everest. EBC sits at around 17,600 feet, but that isn’t the summit. The summit is still almost 9,800 ft. higher. Mount Everest’s summit is 29,029 feet. Kilimanjaro’s summit, Uhuru Peak, sits at 19,341 feet. Which makes it 1,640 feet higher than EBC.
If making your goal is important, you should measure it based on success rates. Unfortunately, these percentages are not very reliable. Official sources are old and not very accurate. Trip operators, trying to sell you on going with their company, inflate their numbers.
If you take the time to do the homework you will find out that the EBC trek has a success rate of around 90%.
EBC trek has a much more reliable success rate. However, there is only one main well-established route. Tourism along this route has also been established for decades.
Kilimanjaro’s success rate is more difficult to average since there are several routes to the summit. A rule of thumb is if the route has you on the mountain for 8 or 9 days the success rate is over 90%. For every day you subtract the success rate diminishes by 20%.
If you choose to cut costs by going with a budget operator, you also decrease your chances of summiting. This is due to under-trained and under-equipped guides. This, coupled with unhappy, overworked porters, insufficient meals, and tattered equipment further reduces your chances.
In our opinion. Kilimanjaro is a more difficult trek. It has a lower success rate due to the many variables mentioned above. Furthermore, the elevation gain is greater over fewer miles and days. Many people underestimate the difficulty of climbing Kilimanjaro. This too, lowers the success rate.
In other words, your experience on an EBC trek will be fairly predictable, whereas on Kilimanjaro there are a lot of variables that can affect your chance of summiting.
It is important that when choosing to climb Kilimanjaro, do your research, pick a good company to trek with, and make sure you prepare for the challenge.