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It is important to be well prepared for climbing the Kilimanjaro, so we have compiled the most important travel and climbing information for you mentioned below. If you have further or more specialised questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Kilimanjaro is a special mountain; it is one of the few mountains of this height that one can climb without previous mountaineering skills and knowledge. This, however, should not lead you into a false sense of security. You still need to be fit and healthy in order to complete the 4 to 6 hour hikes eac hday. Sure footedness in damp and slippery conditions is essential, especially if you choose a route other than the Marangu Route. Tolerance, fellowship and a good measure of flexibility will go a long way and is a good basis for a successful holiday.
The national park authority has set a minimum age of 10 years to climb the Kilimanjaro. We advocate a minimum of 14- 16 years on the basis that children are more susceptible to altitude sickness. There is no maximum age restriction, nevertheless, we do recommend people of a more mature standing to visit their general practitioner for a medical check up beforehand.
It is possible to climb the Kilimanjaro at any time of the year. However, during the months between mid March to mid June as well as November, it is not recommended to climb the Kilimanjaro as these months are considered the rain season.The months of December until the end of February are the warmest months and rainfall is at its minimum. A good period is between the end of June until the middle of October when temperatures are a little cooler and the rainfall light.
In total, there are eight different routes to the summit. The most popular routes are Marangu and Machame; they are all named after the places from where they begin. The Marangu Route is known as the Coca-Cola Route as it has good paths and the least steep tracks. In contrast to the other routes, you stay overnight in mountain huts as opposed to sleeping in tents. Therefore, it gives the greatest chance of reaching the summit. Following this route, you go up and down the same route and you will meet other groups travelling in the opposite direction. The Machame Route is the most picturesque and gives spectacular views of the summit; nevertheless, this route is weather permitting. The route follows the windward side where the rainfall is heavier and the vegetation more dense. The route is steeper than the Marangu Route and physically more demanding. Added to this, you walk predominately facing the wind. These characteristics gave the Machame Route also the name of the 'whiskey route'. The descent follows the Mweka Route. Your choice of the different routs should not be dependent upon the views of the Kilimanjaro and its surrounding area. Bear in mind that it can be chilly while camping at an altitude of 4000 m and it is definitely not for everyone.
Almost all hikers climbing the Kilimanjaro will notice the altitude and the thinner air. Therefore, all hikers should be prepared for the altitude sickness. The primary symptoms are headache, which is often combined with fatigue, loss of appetite and nausea. Everyone reacts differently to an increase in altitude and a change in air pressure. Fitness fanatics are just as likely to succumb as couch potatoes. In the majority of cases, the symptoms are mild and it is possible to continue the hike. Occasionally, the symptoms are more severe and a return to a lower elevation is required. In most cases, the symptoms disappear quite rapidly. Please remember that in certain circumstances altitude sickness can be life threatening and ignoring the symptoms can and may cause death. We do not recommend the use of drugs insuppressing the symptoms of altitude sickness. To prevent harming oneself, time to acclimatise (an extra day) and the "pole pole" method (Swahili for slowly slowly) are our preferred recommendations. One should also drink more water to replace the fluids lost from the physical activity and breathing heavier in the thinner and drier air. Three to four litres a day is recommended and supplementary mineral tablets (magnesium) help to replace lost minerals and prevent muscle cramps.
The official national language in Tanzania is Swahili (also Kisuaheli). English is widely spoken and is also spoken by all the guides on Kilimanjaro.
Since 1993, a guide is required to climb the Kilimanjaro. However, the qualification and training does not match the European standards. Larger groups will also be accompanied by a so-called assistant guide. These assistant guides are also required to accompany the smaller groups if the large group wants to beak up. Before the climb, the guide will arrange the transport of the equipment as well as the number of porters required accordingly. For the most parts of the climb, the porters ascend the mountain separately and will usually have the camp prepared before the group arrives. The cook prepares the meals and with large groups, a waiter will help the cook. A group of five people with guide, cook and porters normally consists of 18 to 20 people in total. By European ideas, it is usual to travel with your own baggage. However, there is a lot of material needed to climb the Kilimanjaro and soon you will realise the reason behind the large groups and the need of porters. Please also consider the situation of the indigenous people and how hard it is to profit directly from tourism. These jobs, whether as a guide or a cook, are much loved and favoured.
After the climb, it is customary to give tips to all the membersof the mountaineering crew. Below are guidelines based upon a group (not per person).
Guide: 12-18 USD / day
Assistant Guide: 8- 12 USD / day
Cook: 8-10 USD / day
Waiter: 7-9 USD / day
Porter: 6-7 USD / day
Tips make up a large proportion of the income of the mountaineering crew. If you are happy with the work that they have done, naturally you can give a little more. We recommend to ask your guide for a list consisting of all the names of the team that also indicates the number of guides, porters, assistants etc. Amongst yourselves, decide how much they should receive and collect the total amount. During the leaving ceremony, read out aloud what each member of the team receives. This way, everyone knows his or her dues and no arguments can arise. You can give the entire amount to the chief guide who will then divide the money accordingly. This method has been proven reliable and saves you and other team member's long debates with the guides or porters as to how much each should receive. Used items or equipment is also gratefully received.
Along the Marangu Route there are mountain huts similar in style to Scandinavian wooden huts. Halfway up the mountain is the largest hut with common and dinning rooms. This large hut is surrounded by smaller huts that house four to six people. The highest hut is the Kibo Hut and made out of stone. None of the huts are heated but do have mattresses and electric lights. The huts at Mandara and Horombo also have running water.If you would like to hike the Kilimanjaro by following a camping tour, overnight accommodation will be in 2 man tents in which sleeping mats are provided. Single travellers may be asked to share a tent with a member of the same sex. Dinner will be taken in a larger tent with tables and chairs. Wherever possible, fresh water will be taken out of springs or wells and boiled before drinking. Higher up the mountain, the area gets drier and the water will be carried in canisters, which will also be boiled before use. All meals are freshly prepared on the mountain by your cook. You will be amazed what delicious meals can be prepared under such primitive conditions. A typical daily menu is a follows.
Breakfast: Fresh fruit, scrambled eggs or omelette, toast, margarine, peanut butter, jam, porridge, milk, hot chocolate, coffee (powder), tea.
Lunch: Fresh fruit or vegetables, sandwiches, boiled eggs, chicken, milk, hot chocolate, coffee, tea.
Dinner: Soup, bread, main dish with red meat or poultry, served with either chips, mashed potatoes, pasta, rice or vegetables.
Dessert: Fresh fruit, milk, hot chocolate, coffee or tea.
For vegetarians and those with food allergies, advanced notification should be given so that we can cater to your needs.
The local currency is the Tanzanian Shilling. It is illegal to import or export the Tanzanian Shilling, but visitors can bring any amount of foreign currency with them. The US Dollar can be seen as a second currency in which practically all tourists are trading in dollars (please take only US dollar notes printed after 2004!). However, more and more people are accepting the Euro. Not all hotels except credit cards. There are cash points for example in Moshi and Arusha where you can withdraw local currency with your Visa Card. At the Barclay's Bank in Arusha, you can use an EC-Card; Traveller's cheques are generally no longer accepted, as the fees are too dear. It is also recommended that you bring a credit card in case of an emergency.
There is generally good reception and coverage, both on Mount Kilimanjaro and in Tanzania. A German phone or a European phone will usually work without problems. Speak to your provider for more details.
Both the camps and the mountain huts have no electricity. Solar cells are solely for the park rangers' radio equipment and the mountain hut lights. When needed, you will have to supply your own electricity from batteries. In the higher and colder regions, the batteries drain quicker and do not last so long. The power supply is rated at 230 volt and 50 Hz. In Tanzania, the British 3 prong plug (type G) is used. The common two pin (C & F) type that can be found in Germany and widely in Europe are not compatible and you will need an adapter. Adapters can be bought in all good electrical stores. The electricity supply in East Africa is also susceptible to power surges and power cuts, please be aware that this may damage sensitive equipment such as Notebooks.
As with all activities on Kilimanjaro, one must bear in mind that there are no mountain rescue services like the ones that you would find, for example, in the European Alps. If you can no longer walk or descend the mountain under your own power, you will be either carried or brought down by a stretcher. Helicopters are not available. To save yourself from such an experience, proceed with caution and do not overexert yourself.
For entry into Tanzania, you need a passport that is valid for at least six months after your intended leaving date. A visa can be obtained from the relevant embassy or authority in your country of residence or upon arrival at the international airport or border control. For entry from a neighbouring country (Kenya, Uganda) you need to show proof of vaccination against yellow fever and you must have the appropriate papers/documents. If you are travelling directly from Europe, this proof is not necessary and further vaccinations are not required. However, we do advise that you have the vaccinations recommended by your country of residence.
You must also have a valid return ticket in your possession that allows you to leave the country once your safari, tour or holiday is finished. If you do not have this valid ticket, you must show that you have the ability to pay for a ticket out of the country, such as a credit card. The tour operator cannot be held responsible for their clients failing to have the appropriate documents and travel tickets. Any costs incurred by the client failing to provide these documents shall be the responsibility of themselves.
Please make sure that you are covered by your health insurance when you are away from home and travelling. If this is not the case, we cannot stress enough the importance of having the appropriate travel insurance. Please make sure that you are covered for all medical expenses including the possibility of return transport costs to your country of residence. Other insurance such as for luggage theft or loss should also be taken into consideration as well as an insurance for travel cancellation.
Without the correct equipment a mountain tour can quickly become an ordeal, this is especially true on Kilimanjaro. At the park entrance, the weather is tropical and at the summit it is a chilly -10° C and below. The onion system is the way to go, by wearing many layers you can add or remove items depending upon personal preference and it is ideal for the changing climatic conditions. A warm sleeping bag is essential on camping tours. If you are thinking about using the one that you had as a child on summer camp, please think again. You will be sleeping in temperatures in the region of -12° C and you will need a sleeping bag that will keep you warm in such conditions. For yourself, you will only need a day back; your porter will carry any further luggage. All your equipment must go in a travel bag, trekking rucksack or a kit bag and not exceed 12 kg (26,5 lbs). The porters cannot carry suitcases and cases with roll systems. We recommend packing the items in plastic bags to protect them from the damp and rain. Please also check the baggage terms of your respective airline.
To date there have been no previous problems and we endeavour to keep it that way. If a problem arises on the tour, it can only be rectified when the guide knows about it. In addition, an open word helps a thousand times, it is also a lot better than a letter after the tour.