Nick Wharton & Dariece Swift By
Posted 16 Nov, 2013 | 4 Comments
Posted in: Places

Since the existence of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania first became known to the western world in the 19th century, countless people have attempted to climb the peak. Nowadays there are guided trips allowing keen hikers to complete the trek – but it wasn’t always this straightforward.

We’re going to take a look at some of the most famous – and most interesting – people to have climbed Kilimanjaro. If you want to learn more about hiking up the mountain yourself, check out the itineraries offered by Walks Worldwide.

Dr. Hans Meyer and Ludwig Purtscheller

Dr .Hans Meyer, a German geology professor, and Austrian mountaineer Ludwig Purtscheller were the first people to successfully reach the top of Kilimanjaro in 1889. This followed several attempts by various parties over the preceding 40 years, none of which were successful. However, they all gathered valuable information about the mountain and a possible route to the summit that ultimately allowed Meyer and Purtscheller to succeed.

Their expedition was a much tougher affair than the Kilimanjaro climb is today, with the two men setting out on foot from Mombasa with a small team of porters. The secret to their success was to establish a series of small camps close to the summit of the mountain, allowing them to make multiple pushes to the top without having to descend for more supplies.

Simon Mtuy

Simon Mtuy holds an incredible record for the fastest unsupported ascent and descent of Kilimanjaro, completing the round trip in nine hours, 21 minutes and 47 seconds back in 2006. He ran up the Umbwe trail and descended on the Mweka route – a truly breathtaking feat.

Of course, you should certainly not try to emulate his ascent, with most people advised to take at least five days (if not longer) to reach Uhuru Peak. When you’ve reached the top of Kilimanjaro, you’ll wonder how on earth he managed to do the climb so quickly.

Esther and Martin Kafer

There are several records for Kilimanjaro climbs, but another one that will blow you away is that held by Esther and Martin Kafer – experienced Canadian mountaineers – who hold the honour of being the oldest couple to have completed the ascent.

Esther was 84 and Martin was 85 when they successfully reached Uhuru Peak and in the process raised a considerable amount of money for the Alzheimer Society of BC.

Gary Barlow

Moving on now to a name that’s likely to be more familiar to you – Gary Barlow. The Take That singer organised a group of celebrities to make the climb in aid of Comic Relief back in 2009 and the nine-strong group (which also included Cheryl Cole, Chris Moyles, Denise Van Outen, Alesha Dixon, Kimberley Walsh, Fearne Cotton, Ben Shephard and Ronan Keating) raised more than £1 million for the cause.

They all made it to the Roof of Africa, although some of them suffered from severe altitude sickness during the climb. On the day they made their final push for the summit, they were buffeted by gale-force winds as they hiked, making the last stretch that bit tougher.


Another celebrity who has used the Kilimanjaro climb to raise awareness of an important issue is US recording artist Kenna. He collected a team of celebrities, educators and experts for the expedition in 2010 to draw attention to the global water crisis.

The initiative called Summit on the Summit gained worldwide attention and Kenna has since ascended the mountain for a second time – in 2013 – again to put the spotlight on the issue of clean water availability. Among those to join him on the most recent expedition were singer Mark Foster, actor Justin Chatwin and photographer Chase Jarvis.

Of course, there are many other people who have climbed up this massive mountain, but these are some of the most interesting stories. Kilimanjaro is a stunning mountain and climbing to the top is no easy feat!

Have you ever climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro?! Was it difficult? Share with us below!

Disclaimer: Some links in this article are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase through them, we receive a small commission. This will never cost you extra and in many cases you receive a special discount. We appreciate your support!

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Nick Wharton & Dariece Swift

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Nick Wharton and Dariece Swift are the owners and founders of Goats On The Road. Together they have been travelling and working abroad since 2008 and have more than 20 years of combined experience in online business, finance, travel and entrepreneurship. Their expert advice has been featured on the Lonely Planet, CNN Money, Business Insider,  WiseBread and Forbes and they also spoke at the World Tourism Forum in Istanbul about the business of travel blogging.

Learn more about Nick Wharton and Dariece Swift on their respective author archives on this site and on the Goats On The Road About Us Page.

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4 thoughts on “An Overview Of People Who Have Conquered Kilimanjaro

  1. Nowadays guides force people climb to fast. Its very dangerous and my girlfriend got sick from the height. BE CAREFUL and choose a good guide.

    1. Hey Francois,

      We heard the same thing when we were there and we decided not to go to avoid altitude sickness. When we were in Nepal hiking Annapurna, people were getting sick there and it was a slow incline. Kili is done in a day and that can be very dangerous. Surely even the first conquerers of Kilimanjaro took it slower than the guides do now!

      Thanks for commenting and happy travels.

    2. I guess it depends which route and company you take. The ones we had told us to go “pole, pole” meaning slowly. 🙂 Also if you take the easiest route, the Coca Cola Route, then that often doesn’t give you enough time to acclimatize. The other routes are often more scenic and give you a better chance of getting used to the altitude…

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