Climbing Kilimanjaro Frequently Asked Questions
What’s included in my trip?
- Lodging in Moshi - includes breakfast
- Airport pickup and departure from Kilimanjaro International Airport
- All park fees
- Fully equipped team – Head Guide, Assistant Guide(s), Cooks, & Porters
- Tent and sleeping pad
- Dining Tent with chairs and a table
- Chemical Toilets on the mountain
- All food on the mountain (lunch on day 1 to lunch on final day of trek)
- Drinking water on the mountain (boiled and filtered)
- Other meals in Moshi
- Airfare (ask about recommendations on airports and travel)
- Tips for the porters
- Sleeping bags (although they can be rented)
- Visa’s to enter Tanzania
- Shots and vaccinations (see list in equipment list)
- Travel Insurance
How’s the food?
Meals on the trip are prepared by the cook to be healthy and nutritious. There is healthy balance of protein, carbohydrates, fruits, and vegetables. As the trip gains altitude, the menu shifts to a heavier percentage of carbohydrates for the summit day. Meals are served in a dining tent with chairs with arms and a table. Meals are served family style with plenty of quantity to satisfy your hunger and provide nutrition.
What should I bring for equipment?
If you have some experience hiking, then you probably have most of what you’ll need. However conditions at Kilimanjaro can be quite extreme. To make sure you have the proper gear for this trip, we have a list of minimum equipment you should bring. That also lists the vaccinations you will need.
Special note on footwear
Do not make the mistake of hiking in a new or borrowed pair of boots. There is nothing worse than severe blisters or hotspots to derail your trip. It is imperative that you break in a new pair of boots before you hit the mountain. It is ok to wear low trail shoes on the first few days, however you should have a solid pair of waterproof over the ankle, hiking boots for most of the hike.
Should I buy a special pack for the trip?
No, the porters usually carry everything on their heads so your nice new pack with straps will probably go in a bag. A water proof duffel bag is perfect.
How do I train for the trip?
By far the biggest challenge of climbing Kilimanjaro is the altitude. There is virtually nothing you can do to prepare for that except be at altitude. However since most of us don’t live near Tanzania, you should do your best to get yourself into the best physical shape you can before arriving in Moshi.
Climbing Kilimanjaro is an extended trek rather than a technical mountaineering experience. The gradient is usually shallow, but an uphill walk that will last 7 or 8 days. The summit day is the steepest and much more difficult because of the extreme altitude.
Aerobic training helps you build your ability to process oxygen to feed your muscles efficiently. Don’t confuse being able to run 10 miles on the weekend with being ready for this climb. It is advisable to train by walking long distances on consecutive days. If possible, do it in the same boots you will be using on Kilimanjaro so they are properly broken in. This preparation not only increases your chances of making it to the summit, it also will increase your comfort level in the process. If you live near any mountains or hills, even a minor elevation gain will help you prepare. If you belong to a fitness club, then the stair master, elliptical, or bike is always good along with the treadmill. Weight training is not important. Unless it’s already part of your training regimen, there is no special requirement to start. My own program included 3 days of aerobic activity for one hour and 3 days of swimming or yoga per week.
What about acclimatization and altitude sickness?
It obviously would not hurt to train at altitude. Also, increasing your general level of fitness will go far to avoid altitude sickness and general fatigue. If you have access to a hike where there is a change in elevation, it is a good idea to do so.
One of the largest factors in acclimatizing is drinking enough water – you must drink 4 to 5 Liters of water a day. A general rule is if you aren’t going to the bathroom every two hours then you are not drinking enough water. I highly recommend using a bladder in your day pack, so you can keep sipping water along the trail. It is much better to intake water constantly vs “tanking up” at a break in the trail.
One other factor is the pace of walking is kept slow (poley poley – swahili for slowly slowly) to improve acclimatization. That and the extra day on the Lemosho route make a difference. So if you get your sleep, drink plenty of water, and walk slowly, you greatly increase your odds of making it to summit. We will have a guide at the end of the line who will go at the slowest person’s pace so everybody has a chance to summit.
How many porters for my trip?
One porter will carry your bag with your sleeping bag and extra clothing. The number of other porters depends on the size of the group. However, each porters load is weighed prior to starting the hike to insure equitable and ethical treatment.
What will I carry?
You will be carrying a daypack with your rain gear, warmer outer layers, lunch, camera, snacks, and water. The porters carry everything else. In other words, you don’t need to train for carrying a heavy pack yourself. Your daypack can either be waterproof or buy a waterproof cover.
What about tipping the porters?
It is customary to tip the porters, cooks, and guides at the end of the trip. Many times this can cause confusion about how much. First, a tip is for receiving good service during the trip. If you are not receiving good service, you should be talking with the Head Guide as soon as possible. My experience has been that the guides, cooks, and porters are very responsive to your needs. This is how they make a living and they are used to making your trip enjoyable.
The best method for tipping is to discuss with your group – maybe after your summit day – how much you are going to tip each person. You should tip based on their value of the trip – a general guideline is 7 – 10% depending on the level of service you received. You should figure out a tip for each porter, each cook, each assistant guide, and the lead guide.
What about the welfare of the porters?
Much has been written about the plight of the porters. We only use tour companies who takes an active interest in the well being of the porters by providing the necessary clothing, shelter, and food.
What about the weather?
- The weather on Kilimanjaro can change from perfect to bad and back again within a short time, even during the best seasons.
- The mountain is often covered in clouds during the middle of the day, and yet clear in the morning and at sunset.
- Be prepared with rain gear (jacket, pants, gaiters) and boots that can handle mud. Trekking poles are also recommended. It helps you in the mud.
- As you gain altitude, it gets cold. While hiking you will generate heat so dress in layers and have warm, fleece and a wind proof outer layer. Inner layers should be synthetic to wick away moisture form your body.