Kilimanjaro Trek FAQ

Overview

Mount Kilimanjaro is located three degrees south of the equator in Northeastern Tanzania. It is the tallest mountain in Africa and is the highest free-standing mountain in the world. This immense mountain is made up of three volcanoes: Shira, Mawenzi, and our goal, Kibo, the tallest one in the middle.

Of the famous highest seven peaks in the world, this is the easiest to get to and the easiest to climb. It requires no technical climbing experience, and any moderately fit person can summit the mountain.

Itinerary

If you arrive at the Kilimanjaro Airport, you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel in Moshi or Arusha. We recommend at least one rest day before starting your trek. If you are traveling through Nairobi, this can act as your rest day. If you have time, enjoy a guided walk through the local rice fields and rainforest, do a little shopping in the town of Moshi, relax at the swimming pool, or get a massage.

Your guide will provide a briefing the evening before your trek, and you must separate one bag for the trek from your other luggage. Rental equipment is available. Extra luggage can be stored in a locked storage room at your Moshi hotel at no charge.

The next morning, enjoy a hearty breakfast at your hotel before last-minute trip preparations. Depending on the route you take, the drive to the trail head can take up to one hour and can be very bumpy (2-3 hours for Rongai, Lemosho, and Shira routes). Bring enough water for hiking on the first day.

Once you reach the park gate, climbers are requested to make their final preparations for the climb and sign the national park registration book. Porters will be seen arranging their packs containing the food, water, and other equipment. Make sure that you have all your day pack items with you as the porters travel very quickly. Your guide will be pleased to assist with any additional information. It will take about an hour to get signed in with the national park and get equipment ready.

The average hiking day begins between 8-9am and is about 5 to 6 hours, walking very, very slowly. The distances you will hike each day are very moderate so as to acclimate a little at a time. Your guides will repeat over and over, “pole pole” (po-ly, po-ly), which means “go slowly” in Swahili.

The terrain lower down is absolutely gorgeous and fascinating. Higher up, the views are vast. There is little to do at the camps themselves, so take advantage of the slow pace to absorb the scenery and take every photo opportunity.

The hike on summit day starts around midnight depending on your route and speed of your group. You will go as high as you feel fit. Some people stop at the crater rim, and others continue to the very highest point on the mountain. Your guides will then take you down as quickly as possible to minimize any altitude problems. You will continue past your last campsite to the next one for overnight.

At the end of your trek, you will be picked up at the trail head and taken back to your hotel for a hot shower and warm bed.

Meals

The staple foods in Tanzania are meats, carbohydrates, and fruits. Some western foods are difficult to find locally (herbal tea, soy products, specialty items). You may want to bring some of the items with you as well as comfort foods (like chocolate), and high-energy foods (Power bars, Gatorade, etc.).

Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and afternoon tea are provided on the trek. All meals will have some sort of fruit like bananas, oranges, papayas, and watermelon. Most meals will also have a selection of hot drinks like coffee, tea, and hot chocolate. “Tea” is served mid to late afternoon with peanuts, popcorn, fried bread, and/or biscuits/cookies.

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.

Because of the exercise and high altitude, it is recommended that you drink at least 3 liters of water a day. The porters will purify water for you at each camp in the morning and evenings. Altitude may diminish your appetite, but it is very important to keep eating.

At your Moshi or Arusha hotel, only breakfasts are included. Lunches and dinners are available at an extra charge.

“Sample” Menu on Kilimanjaro

Day Breakfast Lunch Dinner
Day 1 Hotel Breakfast Hotel Lunch Box Avocado vinaigrette
Fresh Bread
Cucumber Soup
Spaghetti Bolognese
Veg fry / pies of cheese
Banana fritters
Day 2 Black Coffee, Black Tea Cheese Sandwich Nuts or Popcorn
Porridge Pancake/Vegetable Pie Cucumber Soup
Milk / drinking Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Bar Fried rice with beef stew/Veg. fry
Scramble/Spanish egg Boiled egg, Banana & Juice Sweet & Sour sauce
Omelet or Boiled egg Fried Chicken Tea or Coffee
Sausage, Toast Bread or Pancake
Fruits (Watermelon, Papaya, or Juice)
Day 3 Black Coffee, Black Tea Beef Burger Pumpkin Soup
Milk / drinking Chocolate Fried Chicken Brown Toast
Scramble egg Zucchini Sauce Macaroni
Spanish egg Juice Veg Sauce
Omelet or Boiled egg Fruits (Pineapple) Beef fry
Sausage, Toast Bread or Pancake
Fruits (Orange & Banana)
Day 4 Black Coffee, Black Tea Chicken with Chips Popcorn
Porridge Fruit Salad Potato Soup
Milk / drinking Chocolate Buns
Scramble/Spanish egg Coconut Rice
Omelet or Boiled egg Chicken Curry/assorted Veg
Sausage, Toast Bread or Pancake Coffee or Tea
Fruits( Watermelon Papaya or Juice)
Day 5 Black Coffee, Black Tea Veg. Potato Stew Veg. Soup
Porridge Tea Spaghetti Bolognise
Milk / drinking Chocolate Fruits (orange) Veg. Fry
Scramble/Spanish egg Banana Fritters
Omelet or Boiled egg
Sausage, Toast Bread or Pancake Summit Take Away
Fruits (Orange & Banana) Biscuit, Chocolate Bar
Juice
Day 6 Carrot & Ginger Soup Zucchini Soup
Pancake Bagia
Cheese sandwich Garlic Rice/mashed potatoes
Fruits (Watermelon) Bean stew/fried Veg
Fruit (Orange)
Day 7 Black Coffee, Black Tea
Porridge
Milk / drinking Chocolate
Scramble/Spanish egg
Omelet or Boiled egg
Sausage, Toast Bread, or Pancake
Fruits (Watermelon, Papaya, or Juice)

 

Biomes

You will experience many different biomes as you climb Kilimanjaro. The land is cultivated and inhabited up to about 1900 meters (6200 feet) in elevation. You will begin the hike at the edge of the forest. This starts in a dense rainforest with an extremely high ceiling. The forest turns into a shorter forest with moss and giant ferns until about 2800 meters (9200 feet).

Next is the heather biome up to 3300 meters (10,800 feet) when Moorland appears with the unusual Senecio Kilimanjari trees. From 4000 to 4800 meters (13,000 to 15,500 feet), you will go through Alpine Desert where some mosses, lichens, and starchy flowers are all that remain. The area around the summit is Arctic conditions. It looks a bit like moonscape with only rock and glacier.

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 and August 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.

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!  See our When To Go page for more details.

How difficult is it to climb Kilimanjaro?

It requires no technical climbing experience, and any moderately fit person can summit the mountain. Most of the hike is casual if you have done some training with long hikes. However, summit day is very strenuous for just about everyone. Altitude is the biggest factor in summitting.

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. The two most popular routes on the mountain are 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).  None of these routes are technical. See our Route Comparison guide.

How long does it take to reach the summit on summit day?

It will depend on the route you pick and your pace. It can take from 4-8 hours to reach the summit from the highest camp.

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 and extra day on the mountain. Your guide with remind you to hike “pole pole”, which means very slowly.

Some people take Diamox to help with the effects of altitude. This is a prescription you have to get from your doctor.

What kind of climbing gear do I need?

See our Kilimanjaro Packing List for the full list.

What shots should I get?

See our Heathy Travel page for the full list of what to discuss with your doctor.

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 attempting the summit — it is still a great experience!

How big will my group be?

Groups are limited to 10 people. We will combine groups up to this limit if they are starting the same route on the same day. However, we can also arrange for private groups at no extra cost. We will try to add single travelers to a group if at all possible, but we cannot guarantee it. We can also accommodate large groups of any size.

How many guides, and porters and cooks do we get?

Generally speaking, expect 1 guide per 2 hikers, 1 assistant guide per 3 hikers, and 1 cook per 8 hikers. Porters as follows:

  • 2 porters per hiker on the 5-day Marangu Route and Mt. Meru (minimum of 4 porters)
  • 3 porters per hiker on a 6 or 7-day trek (minimum of 5 porters)
  • 4 porters per hiker on the 8-day Lemosho Route (minimum of porters)
  • Sometimes extra porters are required based on the weight of the luggage.

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.

Do guides carry cell phones or radios on the mountain?

Yes, but reception on the mountain can be spotty.

What kind of tents do you provide?

Our tents are 3-person 4-season dome-style mountain tents for two people each.

Will there be oxygen for our group on the trek?

Oximeters are included on all treks at no charge (1 per group). Oxygen is available for $150/group.

Will there be a hyperbaric pressure bag for our group?

We can provide hyperbaric bag for $250/group.

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?

All climbers pay a rescue fee to the Kilimanjaro National Park (included in the AWR price).  If a client cannot walk because they are injured or sick, the guides, assistant guides, and porters 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 the time on the mountain that 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, cooks, and porters
  • Rental equipment (sleeping bags, hiking poles, etc.)
  • Accommodations and meals in Moshi/Arusha
  • Airport transfers
  • International and domestic flights
  • Any personal expenses (visas, airport taxes, etc.)

How much is a good tip?

See our full Tanzania Tipping Guide >>

Remember, tips should not be dependent on whether you summit or not, but rather whether they were professional and had your best interests in mind.

Can I use a credit card to pay for my climb?

We accept Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover. You can also wire transfer the money or mail a personal check.

What is the deposit amount to hold my space?

A 20% deposit is required at time of booking to hold your reservation. This deposit is non-refundable.

When do I need to pay the balance of my trip?

Final payment is due 60 days prior to arrival in Tanzania.

What happens if I need to cancel my trip?

See our cancellation policy >>

We highly recommend travel insurance to cover any cancellation fees.

Do you cancel or charge more in case other people cancel a trip?

A trip will not be canceled, but you may have to pay more if your group falls below a certain group size.

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. 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 either by land or air 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). Overweight or extra luggage will require an extra porter at $20/day plus tips.

Can we leave excess luggage behind while 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)

What’s the food like during the climb?

The staple foods in Tanzania are meats, starches, vegetables, and fruits. Most meals will also have a selection of hot drinks like instant coffee, tea, and hot chocolate. We can accommodate special dietary requests. See more on Meals on Trek.

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 buy drinking water/ soda on the Kilimanjaro?

You will be able to buy any drinks before getting to the gate at local mini-markets in town.  Sometimes there are drinks available at the lower camps, but that service is unreliable and expensive.

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?

Take a look to the Tours we offer in Moshi. It is safe to walk around the main area of town during the day with valuables well hidden, but it not advised to be walk 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.  See our Zanzibar page for more information.

Can you book airfares?

We can help book your international and local flights to Tanzania.  Contact us for flight information and prices.

Adventures Within Reach. Copyright 2019. All Rights Reserved