Tanzania Mountain Climbing & Wildlife Adventures
    Tanzania Mountain Climbing & Wildlife Adventures
    Tanzania Mountain Climbing & Wildlife Adventures
    Tanzania Mountain Climbing & Wildlife Adventures
    Tanzania Mountain Climbing & Wildlife Adventures
    Tanzania Mountain Climbing & Wildlife Adventures

    Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro

     

    About Mount Kilimanjaro

    Soaring to an altitude of 5895 meters (19336 feet) above sea level, Mount Kilimanjaro is the world's highest free-standing mountain and the tallest mountain in Africa. Trekking the rooftop of Africa is the adventure of a lifetime, and anyone with at least a moderate level of physical fitness can summit this snow-capped mountain.

    Mount Kilimanjaro forms the majestic centrepiece of Kilimanjaro National Park, which is located outside of Moshi and has its park headquarters in the beautiful and easily-accessed village of Marangu. There are different routes to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro starting from different villages and showcasing different scenery. These include the Marangu, Machame, Rongai, Lemosho, Umbwe, and Londrossi Routes. A seventh trail, Mweka Route, is usually used for descent only.

    The exact origins of the name Kilimanjaro are still unknown, as the word means different things in different local languages. In Swahili, "kilima" means a hill, and "njaro" means greatness. In the language of the Chagga people, who live around the base of the mountain, njaro can mean a caravan, and also can be used to refer to a fearsome thing (Njaro was the name of a demon who was believed to live on the summit). In the language of the Maasai people, who live in the plains surrounding the mountain, njaro also means "a place from which water comes", and indeed Kilimanjaro and the rivers flowing from it are a key water source for surrounding populations.

    Geologically, Kilimanjaro has resulted from the gradual separation of tectonic plates that forms the East African Rift Valley. Kilimanjaro is a dormant volcano.
    As you climb higher, you will notice the vegetation changing as the altitude increases, giving the feeling of travelling from the tropics to the arctic over just a few days. The lush, montane forest seen on the lower slopes when you begin your climb gives way to the moorland zone, covered with heather and giant lobelia. Above 3900m, the moorland changes to alpine desert, where very few plants or animals are able to survive due to colder temperatures and low rainfall. Finally, you will reach the summit zone, where you will walk across glacier-studded barren ground, sometimes covered with additional snow, as you make your approach to Uhuru Peak at the top of Africa.

    Unlike most other high altitude climbs, summiting Mount Kilimanjaro requires less equipment, and you will not need technical mountaineering skills. Proper clothing, adequate drinking water, and determination are the real keys to reaching the summit. A successful climber is one who prepares her/himself well before ascending, asks as many questions as they can, and is attentive to the instructions given by their guides.

    The time it takes to trek up Mount Kilimanjaro depends on the route chosen, and many routes include the option to take an extra day for a more gradual ascent. Climbers attempting to summit via longer routes tend to have greater overall success rates because they have more time to acclimatize to lower oxygen levels as the altitude increases. Therefore, if your budget and time constraints allow, it is recommended that you take an extra day on routes where it is available to increase your chances of reaching the summit and to have more time to enjoy being on the mountain.

    Accomodations also differ depending on the route you choose. Climbers taking Marangu Route sleep in dormitory-style huts and have access to European toilets and running water at the majority of the huts. On the other routes, accomodation is in tents that are set up and taken down each day by your porters, who will walk ahead of your group to make sure that tents, food, and water are ready for you upon your arrival at your next camp.

    Your support team on Kilimanjaro will include a mountain guide plus one or more assistant guides for groups of 2+ climbers, porters, and one or more cooks. There is a minimum of 2 or 3 porters per climber (depending on if you choose to take Marangu route or one of the camping routes) and they will be responsible for carrying most of your luggage, all of the cooking equipment and food, and tents on the camping routes (by regulation, each porter can carry no more than 20kg total). Your trek will normally begin around 9:00 or 10:00 in the morning after all equipment and supplies for your group have been weighed (to ensure that each porter is carrying an appropriate amount of weight). Registration of climbers with the park is done at the entrance gate while this process is being completed.

    Mount Kilimanjaro is operated by the Kilimanjaro National Park Authority (KINAPA), which has its main offices in Marangu village. Please observe all national park regulations at all times during your climb.

     

     

    Kilimanjaro Frequently Asked Questions

    When should I go?
    Kilimanjaro is climbable all year round. The best months to climb are December-March, and September-October, which are the warmest and driest months. The next best are June to August, but they are colder. July, August, and September are the busiest months.

    Summiting on or soon after a full moon is very beautiful and helps illuminate the landscape without using headlamps. However, it is also very bright for sleeping and stars are not as visible.

    How difficult is it to climb Kilimanjaro?
    It requires no technical climbing experience, and any moderately fit person can summit the mountain.

    What is the weather like on Mt. Kilimanjaro?
    Temperatures range from 25 to 30 degrees Celsius at the foot of the mountain and -15 to -20 degrees Celsius on top plus wind chill. Lower down, it can be wet and humid, but higher up, there can be snow. Rain and snow may be encountered any time of the year!

    Which route should I take?
    Your decision will depend on where you want to sleep and the hiking distance each day and number of days of each route. On the Marangu Route, you sleep in huts with simple beds, while on all the other routes, you sleep in tents. There are two main routes on the mountain: the Marangu and Machame. You may also want to consider the Rongai Route as it is far less traveled. The Lemosho Route is a good choice if you want a longer route (8+ days). Kindly visit our Kili Routes page.

    Why is the Marangu route called the "Coca Cola" route? Is it really dirty and overcrowded?
    There has been a lot of negative press about Marangu. In our view, and we arrange treks on all the routes, it is very unfair. This is the only route that uses huts rather than tents and some years ago there was a serious problem with overcrowding in the huts. In those years the Machame route was much less frequented. But we think the main reason that some operators speak against the Marangu and boost the Machame is that the booking system for Marangu is demanding of operators' time. There is no booking system for Machame (nor the other camping routes). You just show up at the Machame gate the first morning of the trek. No one ever knows how many people will be on the trail until the gate closes for that day. There is a daily quota of only about 70 climbers allowed to start on the Marangu route on any day (this is why booking is not always easy). There are many days in the season when there are many more climbers on the Machame route than on the Marangu. This is not in any way to denigrate the very beautiful Machame route. But these are things to bear in mind when hearing the Marangu route described as the tourist, easy or Coca Cola route and the Machame as the scenic or the whisky route! It is true that you will hear many people who have climbed Machame say that it is better than Marangu, and this is conveyed to many of the guide book writers. But remember that the overwhelming majority of climbers only ever climb one route. The chances are that the climbers who say this have never been on the Marangu route and are simply repeating what they have been told or have read.

    How is the Marangu route different from the Machame route?
    Physically, the Marangu and Machame routes are rather different. The main force of Kibo's volcanic activity occurred out towards the west (the Machame side) and so Machame is steeper - especially in the first day and a half - and more rugged than Marangu. It is often considered more scenic because the views of Kibo are more impressive than from the south-east (the Marangu approach), but many consider the vegetation on day 2 of the Marangu route to be more attractive than anything seen on the western side. As always with mountains, every route has its advantages and drawbacks. The difficulty grading has Marangu as a 1, and Machame a 1+, so there's not a great deal in it.

    How do I cope with change of altitude?
    Always remember to maintain a slow, steady pace from beginning to end. Going slowly allows the body to acclimatize while hiking. Those who start out too quickly will have troubles higher up the mountain as the body will be overexerted. This still holds true if you are spending an extra day on the mountain.

    How long does it take to reach the summit?
    It will depend on the route you pick and your pace. It can take from 4-8 hours to reach the summit from the high camp.

    Why do we make the final ascent in the pre-dawn darkness?
    Most groups will start for the summit on ascent day at 11 PM to 12:30AM, depending on the perceived fitness of the group, the weather and the route. The pre-dawn hours, while cold, are also the calmest and clearest. The best views from the summit are at dawn. Often clouds and high winds develop not long after sunrise making the summit much less attractive and the descent more difficult. Guides who have been to the summit scores of times report that it is very rare to find it cloudy at the summit at dawn in any season. The ascent day is a very long day of hiking. Some people may require 15 hours to reach the summit and descend to the campsite for that day.

    Do I need to take malaria medicine?
    Malaria is a serious problem in East Africa so you must consult your doctor about getting effective malaria prophylaxis for your visit. Many people are avoiding Lariam nowadays and using Malarone. You cannot catch malaria above 3000 metres on Kilimanjaro, but you must be careful below that altitude, particularly if you visit the coast where the strains of malaria tend to be especially virulent.

    What shots should I get?
    Talk to your doctor about getting

       Hepatitis A
       Hepatitis B
       Typhoid
       Yellow fever
       Tetanus
       Polio
       MMR (measles, mumps, rubella)
       Meningococcal Meningitis (Africa/Asia)

    Can children climb Kilimanjaro?
    The minimum age set by the National park Authorities for summiting Mt. Kilimanjaro is 12 years old. However, younger children can attempt the summit with special permission. Younger children can also trek on the mountain without reaching the summit.

    How many guides, porters and cooks do we get?
    The number of staff that you will have depends on how much gear and weight is brought up the mountain, the route chosen and number of days on the mountain.

    Are the guides trained in first aid and altitude sickness?
    Kilimanjaro guides are trained in acute mountain sickness (AMS) and basic mountain first aid. However, they are not doctors or paramedics. Climbers are responsible for bringing their own first aid kit and medical supplies.

    Are the guides licensed / certified?
    Kilimanjaro guides are trained and certified by the Kilimanjaro National Park. They start out as porters and work their way up to assistant guide. When they are ready (after about 2-4 years), they go through the national park certification process.

    What happens if we one of us gets ill and has to return earlier? Is there an extra charge or is our money returned in case of illness or injury?
    If a client cannot walk because they are injured or sick, at least two support staff will assist this climber down. There is no extra charge for coming down and taken back to the hotel, but you will get no money back for that mountain days you missed, and you will be responsible for medical assistance and extra hotel nights. We highly recommend travel insurance to cover any medical expenses and further evacuation.

    What additional costs can I expect when I travel with you?

    Extra expenses include:
       Tips for guides, cook and porters
        Rental equipment (sleeping bags, hiking poles, etc).
        Lunches, dinners and drinks at your hotel in Moshi.
        Any personal expenses (visas, airport taxes, etc).

    How much is a good tip?
      
    The typical tip is:
       Porters $ 8 per day per porter
       Cooks $10 to $12 per cook
       Assistant Guides $12 to $15 per guide
       Kilimanjaro Guides $15 - $20 per day and upper guide

    *Tip amounts listed for Kilimanjaro are per group, not per individual traveler. For instance, if four people are on Kilimanjaro, they should each contribute $5/day if they want to tip the lead guide $20.

    What is the deposit amount to hold my space?
    A 10% deposit is required at time of booking to hold your climb/safari.

    When do I need to pay the balance of my climb/safari?
    Final (90%) payment to be made in cash on your arrival in Tanzania.

    What kind of accommodation is available during climbing?
    On the Marangu Route, the first two huts sleep four people each, and the last hut is dorm-style with bunk beds. While on the other routes, you sleep in 3-person 4-season dome-style mountain tents, two people each.

    Do your Tanzania trips include any transfer for those arriving in Nairobi, Kenya?
    No, but we can schedule transfer from Nairobi by Riverside Shuttles for an additional charge.

    Do you have luggage (weight/size/number) limitations on your climbs?
    The one pack that the porters carry for you is limited to 15 kg (35 pounds).

    Can we leave excess luggage behind whilst on trekking?
    Extra luggage can be stored in a locked storage room at your Moshi hotel at no charge. Valuables should be left in a safe deposit box at your hotel in Moshi ($1/day)

    Do you accommodate people with dietary restrictions?
    Vegetarian and other special diets can be accommodated. Please let us know ahead of time and remind your guide during your trek briefing. Protein options may be minimal on a vegetarian diet, so you may want to bring protein supplements.

    Who prepare the food on the mountain?
    Your trekking party will be supplied with a cook to prepare your meals in a safe and hygienic manner.

    What about drinking water?
    The porters will purify water for you at each camp.

    Can we bring something for the porters?
    Donations are easier to take with you when you travel to Tanzania rather than mailing them after you get back from your trip. Porters welcome old hiking boots, warm clothing, and cash donations.

    Is it better to do a safari first....then the trek? Or do the trek first?
    Most people start with the trek and end with the safari, so they get done with the hardest part of their trip and are able to relax on their safari. However, we can accommodate either order.

    What is there to do in Moshi? Is it safe to walk around on my own?
    It is safe to walk around the main area of town during the day with valuables well hidden, but it not advised to walk alone around at night for your own safety.

    Can I get to Zanzibar after my trek? Can you arrange that?
    We can book your flights to Zanzibar from Kilimanjaro and your Zanzibar hotels. Contact us for further information and arrangement.

     

    Kilimanjaro Climbing Checklist

    You are responsible for bringing personal gear and equipment while communal equipment (tents, food, cooking items, etc.) is provided. Below is a gear list of required, recommended and optional items to bring on your climb.

    Technical Clothing
     1 - Waterproof Jacket, breathable with hood
     1 - Insulated Jacket, synthetic or down
     1 - Soft Jacket, fleece or soft-shell
     2 - Long Sleeve Shirt, light-weight, moisture-wicking fabric
     1 - Short Sleeve Shirt, light-weight, moisture-wicking fabric
     1 - Waterproof Pants, breathable (side-zipper recommended)
     2 - Hiking Pants (convertible to shorts recommended)
     1 - Fleece Pants
     1 - Shorts (optional)
     1 - Long Underwear (moisture-wicking fabric recommended)
     3 - Underwear, briefs (moisture-wicking fabric recommended)
     2 - Sport Bra (women)

    Headwear
     1 - Brimmed Hat, for sun protection
     1 - Knit Hat, for warmth
     1 - Balaclava, for face coverage (optional)
     1 - Bandana (optional)

    Handwear
     1 - Gloves, warm (waterproof recommended)
     1 - Glove Liners, thin, synthetic, worn under gloves for added warmth (optional)

    Footwear
     1 - Hiking Boots, warm, waterproof, broken-in, with spare laces
     1 - Gym Shoes, to wear at camp (optional)
     3 - Socks, thick, wool or synthetic
     3 - Sock Liners, tight, thin, synthetic, worn under socks to prevent blisters (optional)
     1 - Gaiters, waterproof (optional)

    Accessories
     1 - Sunglasses or Goggles
     1 - Backpack Cover, waterproof (optional)
     1 - Poncho, during rainy season (optional)
     1 - Water Bottle (Nalgene, 32 oz. recommended)
     1 - Water Bladder, Camelbak type (recommended)
     1 - Towel, lightweight, quick-dry (optional)
     1 - Pee Bottle, to avoid leaving tent at night ( recommended)
     Stuff Sacks or Plastic Bags, various sizes, to keep gear dry and separate

    Equipment
     1 - Sleeping Bag, warm, four seasons
     1 - Sleeping Bag Liner, for added warmth (optional)
     1 - Trekking Poles (recommended)
     1 - Head lamp, with extra batteries
     1 - Duffel bag, (waterproof recommended) for porters to carry your equipment
     1 - Daypack, for you to carry your personal gear

    Other
     Toiletries
     Prescriptions
     Sunscreen
     Lip Balm
     Insect Repellent, containing DEET
     First Aid Kit
     Hand Sanitizer
     Toilet Paper
     Wet Wipes (recommended)
     Snacks, light-weight, high calorie, high energy (optional)
     Pencil and Notebook, miniature, for trip log (optional)
     Camera, with extra batteries (optional)

    Paperwork
     Trip Receipt
     Passport
     Visa (available at JRO)
     Immunization Papers
     Insurance Documents

     

    Mount Kilimanjaro Altitude Sickness

    Altitude Sickness

    The science behind altitude sickness is fairly simple to follow. Throughout the troposphere (ie from sea level to an altitude of approximately 10km), the air composition is in fact always the same, namely 20% oxygen and nearly 80% nitrogen.

    So when you read that there is a lack of oxygen at the summit, that’s not strictly true - oxygen still makes up 20% of the air. So the problem is not lack of oxygen - but the lack of air pressure.

    To put it in more precise terms: atmospheric pressure drops by about tenth for every 1000m of altitude. Thus the air pressure at the top of Kilimanjaro is approximately 40% of that found at sea level.

    In other words, and to put it in layman’s terms, though each breath inhaled at the summit is 20% oxygen, just as it is at sea level, it becomes much harder to fill your lungs since the atmosphere is not pushing so much air into them. As a result, every time you breathe on Kibo you take in only about half as much air, and thus oxygen, as you would if you took the same breath in Dar es Salaam.

    Oxygen and us: the truth

    This can, of course, be seriously detrimental to your health; oxygen is, after all, pretty essential to your physical well-being. All of your vital organs need it, as do your muscles. They receive their oxygen via red blood cells, which are loaded with oxygen by your lungs and then pumped around your body by your heart, delivering oxygen as they go. Problems arise at altitude when that most vital of organs, the brain, isn’t getting enough oxygen and malfunctions as a result; because as the body’s central control room, if the brain malfunctions, so does the rest of you, often with fatal consequences.

    So how does a lack of oxygen lead to altitude sickness?

    Fortunately, your body is an adaptable piece of machinery and can adjust to the lower levels of oxygen that you breathe in at altitude. Unconsciously you will start to breathe deeper and faster, your blood will thicken as your body produces more red blood cells, and your heart will beat faster. As a result, your essential organs will receive the same level of oxygen as they always did.
    But your body needs time before it can effect all these changes. Though the deeper, faster breathing and heart-quickening happen almost as soon as your body realizes that there is less oxygen available, it takes a few days for the blood to thicken. And with Kilimanjaro, of course, a few days is usually all you have on the mountain, and the changes may simply not happen in time. The result, is AMS.

    AMS, or acute mountain sickness (also known as altitude sickness), is what happens when the body fails to adapt in time to the lack of air pressure at altitude. There are three levels of AMS: mild altitude sickness, moderate altitude sickness and severe altitude sickness. On Kilimanjaro, it’s fair to say that most people will get some symptoms of the illness and will fall into the mild-to-moderate categories.
    Having symptoms of mild AMS is not necessarily a sign that the sufferer should give up climbing Kili and descend immediately. Indeed, most or all of the symptoms suffered by those with mild AMS will disappear if the person rests and ascends no further, and assuming the recovery is complete, the assault on the summit can continue.

    The same goes for moderate AMS too, though here the poor individual and his or her symptoms should be monitored far more closely to ensure that they are not getting any worse and developing into severe AMS. This is a lot more serious and sufferers with severe AMS should always descend immediately, even if it means going down by torchlight in the middle of the night.

     

    Kilimanjaro Meals Menu

    The menu on Kilimanjaro is designed to ensure your food intake matches your level of exertion. It will provide you with a good balance of protein, carbohydrates, fruit and vegetables. When you are at altitude you could start to feel nauseous and your appetite may be suppressed, so the meals prepared at high altitude usually contain more carbohydrates and less protein to help you to digest your food. Your meals will be prepared by your cook on Kilimanjaro and the food will be carried by your porters.

    A typical day's menu will include the following:

    Breakfast

        Porridge
        Toast
        Pancakes
        Eggs
        Smoked sausages
        Fresh fruit (pinapple, melon or oranges)
        Tea / Coffee / hot chocolate

    Lunch

        Sandwiches
        Fresh fruit
        Hard boiled eggs
        Biscuits
        Fruit juice

    Dinner

        Soup
        Pasta / Rice / Potatoes
        Chicken / Beef
        Vegetables
        Salad
        Fresh fruit

     

    Mount Kilimanjaro Climbing Gears For Hiring

    Prices are for the entire trek in U.S. dollars, payable in cash in Moshi.

    Sleeping bag  $20

    Hat:          $5

    Balaclava/Scarf: $5

    Fleece Pants: $10

    Warm Jacket: $10

    Long Underwear: $5

    Raincoat/Poncho: $10

    Rain Pants: $10

    Gloves: $5

    Sweater/Pullover: $10

    Socks: $2

    Hiking Boots: $20

    Sleeping Bag and Liner: $30

    Duffel Bag/Backpack: $20

    Rucksack/Daypack: $10

    Hiking Poles (2): $10

    Gaiters: $10

    Torch/Flashlight: $10

    Sunglasses: $5

    Batteries: $3

    Water Bottle: $5

    Binoculars: $20

    - Tents and foam sleeping pads are provided at no charge.
    - Rental prices are subject to change.

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