Barafu Camp during the Kilimanjaro ascent

News What are the toilets on Kilimanjaro like?

  1. Homepage
  2. Kandoo's blog
  3. News

What to Expect from Toilets on Kilimanjaro

The call of nature is a fact of life. Yet, it’s one of those subjects that we’re often too shy, self-conscious, or squeamish to talk openly about.

It goes without saying that the time will come that you will need to use the toilets on Kilimanjaro. It’s inevitable. But don’t worry, we’re here to clear up everything you need to know about the toilets on Kilimanjaro to put your mind at rest. With over 15 years of experience helping more than 12,000 people reach the summit of Kilimanjaro, we are experts on all things Kilimanjaro… even the toilets.

In most situations, a decent loo is never too far whether at home, at work, or at a restaurant. This is a different story when it comes to climbing Kilimanjaro and public conveniences are nothing more than a fond memory on the journey to the summit. Climbing Kilimanjaro is a bonding experience and suddenly, once you’re on the trail, you will find that everyone is a lot more open about ‘toilet talk’.

In this guide we will talk you through the Kilimanjaro toilets options and what to do if you need to go the toilet between camps on Kilimanjaro to hopefully answer any questions you may have before embarking on your trip of a lifetime.

You can also read about how to take care of yourself on Kilimanjaro and our beginners guide to Kilimanjaro.

Toilets in Kilimanjaro

Toilets on Kilimanjaro: Options

Public Toilets

Firstly, let’s put your mind at rest. There are public toilets at every camp stop on every Kilimanjaro route. You’re going to need to lower your expectations though. Forget porcelain loos with lockable doors, marble sinks with soap dispensers, hot water and hi-tech hand driers. We’re talking about a wooden shack (usually without a door, let alone a lock) that surrounds a deep hole in the ground.

These types of loos are commonly referred to as ‘long drop toilets’. But what is a long drop toilet exactly? How does a long drop toilet work, you ask? A long drop toilet is a type of non-flush toilet that collects waste underground. They can work with or without flowing water. This low-cost type of toilet helps decrease the spread of infectious diseases and the transfer of pathogens from flies.

While Kilimanjaro National Park staff do their best to keep all public Kilimanjaro toilets clean, almost everyone on the mountain uses them so it’s sometimes a challenge keeping on top of it.

Here is a hilarious video of one our clients talking about the long drops on Kilimanjaro.

*Please note, this video was filmed a few years ago before Kandoo Adventures started including a private toilet with all climbs as standard.*

Private Portable Toilets

The second option is the ‘private portable toilet’. This amounts to a proper chemical camping toilet (with a seat, no less) that is contained within its own discreet tent for total privacy. A private portable toilet is for the exclusive use of you and your group only. As with the shacks, though, it is only set up and available in camp.

The trek’s porters are responsible for cleaning, maintaining and transporting the portable toilets between camps, so at least you have the assurance that your ‘comfort breaks’ will be sanitary and conducted in privacy.

A lot of Kilimanjaro trek operators will levy an additional charge of anything from $100-$200 for the privilege of being able to use portable camp toilets. You’d need to spend a hell of a lot of pennies to break even. That’s not the case with Kandoo Adventures; the use of a private portable camping toilet is included as standard with every one of our climbs because we look after the needs of our trekkers and don’t cut corners.

Private toilet in Kilimanjaro

Going to the Toilet Between Camps on Kilimanjaro

Getting ‘caught short’; It happens to all of us. Ignoring the urge and attempting to ‘hold it in’ for hours on end is inadvisable and can actually be dangerous. However, wetting/soiling yourself is not a great solution either.

Now, if you simply need a pee the solution is to swallow your pride and disappear behind the nearest tree or bush for a couple of minutes. To avoid consternation or embarrassment, you might want to let your guide know. Things get trickier above the tree line. You might get lucky and find a sizeable shrub but failing that you’re not usually far from a suitable boulder or rock formation.

The best solution, though, is to carry some sort of suitable container with you that can be emptied appropriately when you reach the next camp. You can actually buy dedicated gear for this – check out Shewee (for the ladies) and Peebol (for both) on Amazon. There are ‘personal toilet’ kits designed for use at festivals that are just as suitable for taking on a Kilimanjaro trek. The upshot is that a bottle or container of some sort will prove absolutely invaluable both on the trail and when you’ve got to go in the middle of night but haven’t the will to stagger out to the camp’s public toilets or private portable camp toilets.

Ok, so what if you need a ‘number two’ when you’re on the trail? It probably goes without saying but try to do any business in the portable toilets or long drop toilets in the morning before departing camp. That said, you won’t always be able to control when the need arises and if it does, you’ll have to find somewhere secluded to do the deed.

Leaving your waste behind is both unnecessary and unforgivable. So, make sure that you pack some disposable plastic bags in your day pack that can be used for collecting waste. Make sure to dispose of this at your next camp stop. Also it’s a good idea to carry a roll of loo paper and some hygienic wet wipes for cleaning up with.

In brief then, do what you need to do, clean and tidy yourself up, and put everything into a plastic bag (maybe double-bag to be on the safe side), tie it up securely and dispose of it at the next camp stop. There. That wasn’t so bad, was it?

A Final Thought on Kilimanjaro Toilets

So, that brings us to the end of our guide to the toilets on Kilimanjaro and we hope to have put you at ease a little. As a final point, we feel the need to reiterate that it is a moral obligation to leave nothing behind. We expect all our group to clean up after themselves and dispose of all personal waste responsibly, especially wet wipes as these are non-biodegradable. You do not want to be the person who is becomes known for littering Kilimanjaro.

Going to the loo might not be the most glamorous pastime, but believe us, when you’re answering the call of nature in the magnificent surroundings of Mount Kilimanjaro, it’s all part of the once in a lifetime experience so embrace it!