Climbing Kilimanjaro is a once-in-a-lifetime expedition that requires careful planning if you are to reach your goal. To help you prepare for this amazing adventure, we have prepared this Kilimanjaro Essential Information Guide based on our own experiences on the mountain.
To ensure you pack the right equipment, and prepare physically and mentally for your expedition to the Roof of Africa, we kindly ask you to read through this document and let us know if you have any questions.
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is a bucket list adventure for intrepid travellers who dream of standing atop of Africa’s highest mountain. A giant strata-volcano reaching 5,895m or 19,340ft above sea level, it boasts five different eco-systems, and as you make your way to Uhuru Peak, you will encounter lowland brush, equatorial rainforests, heathlands, alpine deserts, and arctic valleys.
As one of the Seven Summits, Kilimanjaro is a lifelong ambition for many international travellers, and as it is a non-technical climb, with no ropes or crampons required, anyone can climb this impressive peak. But it should be underestimated. Climbing Kilimanjaro is mentally and physically challenging, and you should prepare for your expedition accordingly.
Kilimanjaro Company Expeditions are fully-inclusive and include pre-and-post accommodations, airport transfers, and assisted camping on the mountain. Guest tents, mess tents with tables and chairs, and water supplies are provided, along with a full team of KPAP mountain crew including lead guides, assistant guides, cooks, and porters who will carry the equipment and food needed for the entire expedition.
Dedicated to making your journey to the Roof of Africa as comfortable as possible, your guides and porters will assist you every step of the way. They take care of the heavy lifting, so all you have to do is drink plenty of fluids, eat as much of the freshly prepared food as possible, and take one step at a time.
Due to its proximity to the equator, Tanzania does not experience summer and winter, but wet and dry seasons, and so you can climb Kilimanjaro at any time of the year.
The long rains occur from March to May, and we recommend you avoid these months if possible. The short rains fall throughout November and December, but it is still pleasant to climb during these months if you have sufficient wet-weather gear. The benefit of climbing during the wet seasons is that the mountain is much less crowded.
June and July are popular months to climb Kilimanjaro with clear blue skies, although it is colder than August to October when the weather is mild. January is perhaps the warmest month to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, which is why many choose to climb on New Year’s Eve, although you can expect to see more crowds at this time of the year.
Whichever month you choose, you can expect a mix of warm tropical daytime temperatures and below zero degrees at night, and so packing the right clothing is key to a comfortable climb.
Climbing Kilimanjaro does not require any specialist mountain equipment or training, but if you are to get the most from your experience, you should physically train for your expedition. If possible, we recommend you start training at least 12 weeks before you depart for Tanzania.
The best training for Kilimanjaro is trekking, hill walking, or simulated climbing using a step machine. You should walk as often as possible in the hiking boots that will be wearing during your Kilimanjaro expedition to 'break them in', and to get used carrying extra weight, wear a day-pack with 3 litres of water for added resistance.
Additionally, running, cycling, and swimming are good forms of exercise to build muscle strength and improve fitness levels, but as with all training programs, please consult your doctor first.
The daily routine rarely changes when climbing Kilimanjaro, although your guide may request an early or late start depending on the route and weather conditions.
Your team will wake you each morning at around 06:30 with a cup of tea or coffee and a bowl of hot water for washing. You’ll have around 30 minutes to dress and pack your things, before heading to the mess tent for breakfast. While you enjoy breakfast, your crew will breakdown your tents and pack your sleeping gear, and you will leave camp at around 08:00.
Morning treks are usually around 3-4 hours, with plenty of water breaks and photo stops along the way. You will enjoy a picnic lunch or warm lunch on route, depending on the trail, before continuing to base-camp for the evening. You can expect to arrive at base-camp late afternoon between 15:00 and 17:00, with time at leisure before dinner at around 19:00.
Summit night different. You will have an early dinner at around 18:00 before returning to your tent to sleep. Your team will wake you at around 23:00 with tea and biscuits, and you’ll depart for Uhuru Peak at around midnight.
Good food is essential to the success of your Kilimanjaro Expedition, and so this is one area we never compromise at Kilimanjaro Company. Your crew will carry, cook, and prepare your meals on the mountain using fresh local produce. Vegetarian and vegan options are available upon request, and we can cater to all dietary requirements, although advanced booking is essential.
On a typical day, you can expect a hot breakfast, a picnic lunch or warm lunch served in the mess tent, and a hot meal each evening. Your crew will provide tea, coffee, hot chocolate and water at mealtimes, and they will ensure that you have sufficient water to refill your bottles each day. From day 2, your crew will collect and boil water from natural streams on the mountain. While it is considered safe to drink, we strongly recommend that you use water purification tablets to avoid getting an upset stomach.
Here is a sample daily menu on Kilimanjaro:
- Breakfast: Fresh fruit, toast, eggs (fried, scrambled, omelette), muesli or porridge, bacon or sausage
- Lunch: Filled roll, piece of chicken, boiled eggs, fruit
- Dinner: Mixed vegetable soup, chicken and tomato pasta, mixed salad, banana fritters with honey.
Kilimanjaro guides, cooks and porters play an integral role in helping you reach Uhuru Peak, and so we have an excellent team in place to ensure you get the most out of your expedition with Kilimanjaro Company. We support responsible tourism in Tanzania, and as members of the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project (KPAP) and the International Mountain Explorers Connection (IMEC), you can be confident your mountain crew are well looked after, paid a fair wage, and provided with adequate food and clothing for each expedition.
Our mountain guides are fully trained in all areas of mountain safety, first aid and mountain rescue, and they know much about the flora, fauna, and history of Kilimanjaro.
The number of mountain crew assisting you on your expedition will depend on the size of your group and the amount of equipment they need to carry. As a guide, you can expect at least 1 lead guide, 1 assistant guide, 1 cook, and 3 porters per person.
The number of mountain crew assisting you on your expedition will depend on the size of your group and the amount of equipment they need to carry. You can expect at least one lead guide, one assistant guide, one cook, and three porters per person. Many people are surprised at how many mountain crew they need, but our porters carry a maximum of 15kg each, and when you see the sheer amount of equipment involved in your expedition, you’ll understand why you have so many people assisting you.
The number of porters will increase for single climbers. Please contact us for more information.
Tipping is expected on Kilimanjaro and tips are not included in the price of your trip with Kilimanjaro Company. Below we have listed the KPAP tipping recommendations however, we would like to point out that tipping is purely at your discretion. These amounts are paid by the group, not per individual climber:
Mountain Guide: $20 - $25 USD per day per guide
Assistant Guide: $15 - $20 USD per day per assistant guide
Cook: $12 - $15 USD per day per cook
Porter: $8 - $10 USD per day per porter
During your briefing, your guide will advise you exactly how many crew-members will be joining you on your expedition. We recommend introducing yourself to each crew member at the first campsite, and write their names down, so you have something to refer to at the end of the climb when giving out tips.
We also recommend that you hold a ‘tipping ceremony’ at the end of your expedition, and give each guide, cook, and porter their tips in an envelope to ensure they receive the correct amount.
In addition to tips, your crew-members will gladly accept any clothing, climbing equipment, backpacks, and shoes you can spare, so please do not be afraid to offer.
You must have adequate travel and medical insurance for your Kilimanjaro Expedition with Kilimanjaro Company, and we require a copy of your policy before you depart for Tanzania.
Please check your policy carefully to ensure that you are fully covered for all the activities/excursions in which you intend to participate. If your activity/excursion is not covered by your policy, it may be possible for you to pay an additional premium to extend your cover to include the activity/activities.
For Kilimanjaro Expeditions, your insurance should cover you for trekking up to 6,000m above sea level without the use of ropes/crampons. Emergency mountain rescue / flying doctors is included in your climb providing you have insurance covering you up to 6,000m, but your own medical insurance must cover all medical, transport, accommodation and repatriation costs once you reach the base of the mountain.
Evacuation transport, hotel accommodation, and meals are not included for non-emergency reasons (i.e. should you decide you do not wish to continue with the climb, or you feel too ill to continue), so please ensure your insurance policy covers this, as you will be required to pay this onsite to the service provider.
Please note: When Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, you will be required to sign an “acceptance of risk” indemnity form when you check in at the National Park Gates. The purpose of this form is to make you aware of the risks and dangers involved with trekking at high altitude, and to indemnify the service provider and Kilimanjaro Company from any claims made by you for incidents arising due to circumstances outside the reasonable control of both parties. This may affect your rights under your insurance policy, and so we advise you to bring this to the attention of your insurance provider.
One of the main difficulties you will face when climbing Kilimanjaro is altitude, which can, in extreme cases, result in acute mountain sickness (AMS). Most climbers experience some discomfort over 3,500m above sea level, such as headaches, nausea or loss of appetite, but this is usually remedied with a litre of water and an Ibuprofen tablet (providing you are not allergic). Some climbers recommend taking Diamox to prevent altitude sickness, but you should only consider this after speaking to your GP.
AMS is a serious illness, and the only ‘cure’ is to descend. To try and reduce the onset of altitude sickness, your mountain guide will set a slow pace, advise you to drink as much water as possible (at least 3 litres per day), and encourage you to eat at mealtimes to keep your energy levels high. They will also check your blood oxygen levels.
Temperatures plummet at night on Kilimanjaro, and hypothermia is a real possibility if you are not prepared. A warm sleeping bag (suitable for use in temperatures of -25), thermal underwear, thick socks, hats and gloves will help keep your body temperature stable. Once you reach over 5000m, the earth’s protective atmosphere drops by a staggering 55%, making the sun’s UV rays much more powerful. We recommend sun protection factor 50+, along with a wide-brimmed hat and quality sunglasses.
Contact your GP at least 8 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations. Your GP may recommend anti-malarial medications and high-altitude medications. You may be asked to show proof of Yellow Fever vaccination upon arrival in Tanzania. Further information can be found here: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/country/220/tanzania-including-zanzibar#Vaccine_recommendations
- Warm sleeping bag – recommended for use in temperatures of up to -25
- Sleeping Bag Liner
- Inflatable Mattress
- Small camping pillow
- Headlamp & spare batteries
- Hiking sticks/poles
- Water bottles – regular plastic or ‘camel-back’ bottles (3ltrs recommended)
- Large rucksack (for the porters to carry)
- Daypack (for you to carry)
- Waterproof covers for your rucksack/daypack
- Camera(s) & mobile phone with spare batteries and memory cards
- Baby Wipes – and more baby wipes! The best invention to ever be discovered by mountain climbers, baby wipes will keep you feeling fresh and smelling sweet all week long!
- Small, lightweight towel
- Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Toilet Paper & Deodorant
- Moisturiser / Lip balms
- Water purifying tablets
- Headache tablets / painkillers (speak to your doctor first):
- Ibuprofen or Nurofen
- Imodium or diarrhoea tablets
- Diamox - prescription only drug to relieve the symptoms of altitude sickness
- Prescription Meds
- Sunscreen factor 50+
- Plasters and antiseptic cream
- A good pair of comfortable hiking boots with Gore-Tex protection
- Waterproof Gaiters
- 1-2 pairs Gore-Tex hiking trousers
- 4-8 Dry Fit or Sweat Wicking T-Shirts (mix of long and short sleeves)
- Gore-Tex Windproof Jacket
- Optional Down Jacket for Summit Night (recommended)
- Lightweight Fleece jacket
- Thermal Underwear – at least one pair of thermal long johns and one or two long-sleeved thermal tops – perfect for sleeping in, and a good base layer for summit night
- Underwear & Socks – Take plenty!
- Tracksuit & Trainers (for evenings at camp)
- Sun Hat, Thermal Hat, Gloves, Scarf and Buff
- Waterproofs – a poncho is sufficient and the cheapest option if your hiking gear is Gore-Tex or similar. If you hiking clothes are not water-resistant, invest in a good set of waterproof clothing
All British passport holders need a tourist or business visa to enter Tanzania. You should get one from the Tanzanian High Commission before you travel. You can now apply for an E-Visa online.
Please read before applying: https://eservices.immigration.go.tz/visa/guidelines
E-Visa application link: https://eservices.immigration.go.tz/visa/
Passport validity: Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of your visa application. E-Visas are valid for 90-days from date of issue, so please consider your travel dates when applying. This information is intended as a guide only; please check the following websites for the latest visa Information: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/tanzania/entry-requirements
If you do not hold a British passport, please contact the Embassy, High Commission or Consulate of your destination for up to date advice on passport requirements. Please allow sufficient time to apply for visas.
While the official currency of Tanzania is Tanzanian Schillings, US Dollars are preferred. There are several ATMs in Moshi and Arusha, but many do not accept international cards, and you are only able to withdraw Schillings. We therefore recommend that you take sufficient US Dollars with you to cover tips, meals and drinks at the hotel, and personal items. Try to take small denominations as any change given will be in Tanzanian Schillings.
Most hotels accept credit cards (VISA & MASTERCARD), but shops, bars, and restaurants are generally cash only.
Before heading off to the airport for your flight to Kilimanjaro International, please make sure you have the following documentation:
- Valid Passport and Tanzania Tourist Visa
- Yellow Fever Certificate – Please check with your local embassy for updates
- A return flight ticket
- Travel / Medical Insurance Documents
- US Dollars and a valid international Visa/Master credit card