We want you to be as prepared as possible before you take on Kilimanjaro. Below we have put together a guide on what you need to know before you climb Kilimanjaro. If you can't find an answer to your question here please contact us, our team have many years of experience climbing Kilimanjaro and would love to help. No question is too small!
Kandoo supports the ‘Know Before You Go’ campaign from the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO). We recommend that you read the FCO Travel Advice for Tanzania before travelling.
Taken over 7 days or more, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro does not require super-human levels of fitness. In fact, we regularly help climbers summit who are carrying a few extra pounds and have left their fittest years a little behind them.
What all successful climbers share though is a real Kandoo attitude and that means high levels of grit and determination. Summiting Kilimanjaro is a long slow grind but provided you have the determination to do just one more step even when you are tired we can help you get to the top.
If you are comfortable walking for 6-7 hours with an ascent of 1000m then you are certainly fit enough to succeed on Kilimanjaro. Similarly if you can do a full hour spinning, a vigorous aerobics class or can jog at a decent pace for 45 minutes then there is no reason why you can't summit Kilimanjaro.
The best training by far to climb Kilimanjaro is to get your walking boots on and get lots of miles under your belt. Whether this is two to three hours walking locally or full days away on your nearest hills, you just need to clock up lots of hours on your feet as more than anything else it is just walking every day for 7 days that people find tiring. And the best cure for this is to have spent lots of hours just walking.
In addition to walking, we recommend you also start or maintain an aerobic gym routine for at least 3 months before departing for Kilimanjaro. Your aerobic fitness programme should consist of 3-4 visits to the gym each week and focus on the 3S’s.
The aim here should be to build up your cardiovascular system through a combination of weekly running, cycling and cross trainer gym activities. You should be able to do at least 30 minutes at a strenuous pace on either activity before departing for Kilimanjaro. Energetic spinning, cross-fit, aerobic or zumba classes work well.
Doing some basic strength training is important. You should aim to work both upper body muscles and legs muscles. Suggested exercises include Kettle Bell rows, shoulder presses and flies for the upper body and squats and lunges for the your legs. Make these strength training exercises part of your aerobic gym routine.
Most sports injuries occur due to poor stretching. This is particularly true on mountains where repetitive movements over tough terrain put a lot of stress on joints and muscle. To loosen your muscles and increase suppleness we recommend adopting a regularly stretching regime. Spend 10 minutes every morning stretching your main muscle groups.
So get that date with destiny booked, put on your boots and get out there walking!
During a day on Kilimanjaro the temperatures can easily range from the high 20C (Celsius) right down to -15C at night. To cope with this huge range in temperature your clothing and kit strategy needs to be based around combining lots of layers that you build up and take-off as the weather demands.
During the booking process we will direct you to our Equipment List. Please double check that you have everything that you need before beginning your climb. If you think you have forgotten a vital piece of equipment, please let our team in Moshi know as soon as possible so they can help you source a replacement.
If you’ve decided to rent gear, then below is a list of equipment available. Just let our team know what you’d like to hire at your Pre-Climb Briefing. All payments are made locally in US Dollars (cash only):
Climbing Bag Weight
Kilimanjaro National Park operates an absolutely strict limit of 15kg per porter for your main equipment bag. This limit includes your sleeping bag, even if they are rented from us. This is more than sufficient for your needs on the mountain. Your bag will be weighed before you leave the hotel to start the climb and if it is overweight you will have to take items out and leave them at the hotel. Additional porters can be hired but they cost $25 per day.
Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) is the airport that you need to arrive at to start your Kilimanjaro adventure.
KLM flies to JRO from all the major UK airports, and many of the larger US international airports as well. UK flights tend to leave early in the morning, transfer at Luchthaven Schiphol, Amsterdam’s main airport, and arrive at JRO late that same evening. Check KLM flight availability here.
All of our tours begin at a town called Moshi, known as the gateway to Mount Kilimanjaro. Moshi is situated low on the mountain’s south slope, at an altitude of nearly 1000 metres above sea level. Moshi is only 25 miles from Kilimanjaro International Airport by car, and we will arrange transport from the airport to your hotel as part of your trek. Transport is generally available at any time, including the late evening or early morning, and takes approximately three quarters of an hour.
Moshi is an excellent choice for hotel accommodation during your stay, but it does fill up quickly during the peak season, so be sure to reserve your booking with us as early as possible. It is wise to plan a rest day after such a long flight to recover and prepare yourself and your kit for the climb, rather than planning on hitting the mountain the next morning.
Some UK climbers choose to fly into Nairobi via Kenyan Airways or British Airways. These flights are only available departing from Heathrow in London. Climbers arriving in Nairobi generally book a transfer flight to Kilimanjaro international Airport via Precision Air, Air Kenya, Air Tanzania or Ethiopian Airways. In general, we do not recommend flying through Nairobi, because Nairobi Airport is often uncomfortable, and transfer times can sometimes be very long. It also has a reputation for poor baggage handling and delays in transferring baggage between flights.
Turkish Airlines, Air Emirates and Qatar also fly into JRO, but these flights often involve long delays and flights leaving late at night for UK travellers. However, climbers travelling from the US often report better service and experiences flying with Turkish Airlines, Air Emirates and Qatar, so we do recommend these flights from North America.
Vayama operates excellent flights to East Africa, including Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya or Zanzibar from JRO, and is a good choice if you wish to see more of this beautiful region before returning home.
Many travellers schedule a beach holiday in exotic Zanzibar to rest up after their climb. We find the best way to arrange transport for that is to book your return flight out of Dar Es Salaam, then to Zanzibar on an internal flight, and eventually back to Dar Es Salaam for your flight home.
No. 1 Tip
Our number one tip when travelling to Kilimanjaro is to wear your walking boots and pack as many essential items as possible in your carry-on luggage. Unfortunately luggage delays are relatively common, especially when travelling via Nairobi. If your luggage is delayed we can do our best to kit you out to start the climb on time, but your worn-in boots are the one thing we cannot replace.
Airport Security Checks
New enhanced security checks were implemented in July 2014 at a number of international airports, including in the UK and USA. In addition to existing security measures, passengers may be required to show that electronic devices in their hand luggage are charged up, and you may therefore be asked to turn on devices such as mobile phones, tablets, laptops and e-books in front of the security team. If the device does not have power, then it may be retained by airport security, or you would need to book onto a later flight once the device has been fully charged. You should ensure that all electronic devices in your hand luggage are fully charged prior to travel. If you are transferring between flights, make sure that you do not deplete the power on your devices on the first part of the journey, as it may not be possible to recharge the device at the transfer airport before boarding your next flight.
Deep-vein Thrombosis (DVT)
When travelling on long-haul flights (especially over 8 hours) there are a number of recommendations that are believed to reduce the risk of DVT. These include keeping well hydrated and avoiding alcohol, stretching and moving around the aircraft, and wearing compression stockings.
It will come as no surprise to you that climbing even a well-travelled mountain like Kilimanjaro to a height of nearly 6000 metres is not completely without risk. The good news is that many people climb the mountain every year, and there are ample safety and rescue services in place for your protection. The bad news is that these services are very pricey to use.
As a result, Kandoo absolutely requires you to carry the appropriate medical and accident insurance before you can make an ascent with us. Your insurance must cover the costs of repatriation should you miss your scheduled flight due to accident, injury, illness or simple bad luck.
Your insurance must specifically include coverage at altitudes up to 6000 metres before you can attempt to climb the mountain.
Your insurance should also protect against the ‘standard’ travel dangers, including: baggage delay and the loss of personal items; delayed, cancelled or interrupted travel; financial default; loss of employment or layoff; missed connection; pre-existing medical conditions; terrorism; and weather, including hurricanes.
We ask that you keep a copy of your policy summary (containing policy number and the emergency contact number for your insurer) in your day sack at all times, so that we can access this information should we need to contact the insurer on your behalf.
We recommend the global supplier of travel insurance, World Nomads. Make sure to add 'hiking up to 6,000m' on check out and be sure to read the small print carefully for any policy you are considering.
Most visitors to Tanzania (including nationals from the UK, Europe, USA and Australia) require a tourist visa to enter Tanzania. To secure a visa you will need to present proof that you have a return ticket, and proof that you have sufficient money to support yourself during your stay in Tanzania. Visas can be obtained at your local Tanzanian Embassy or High Commission, or on arrival at Kilimanjaro Airport.
We highly recommend securing a visa before departure as this will ensure you have no problems passing immigration, as well as speed up the process of clearing immigration. You will need at least one blank visa page in your passport. Certain nationalities not mentioned above must apply for a referred visa in advance, so check with your local Tanzanian Embassy.
Visas usually cost in the neighbourhood of $50 (around £30), but some visas from the US can cost $100. Tanzanian visas expire three months after they are issued, so be careful not to apply too soon.
Alternatively, you can purchase a visa upon arrival at Kilimanjaro International Airport. You will be required to pay in US Dollars so please ensure you have enough cash on you to do so.
Please double check that your passport is valid for 6 months beyond the date of arrival in Tanzania. We recommend that you take a photocopy of your passport and keep it separate from the original, as this will be useful if the original is lost while you are travelling.
Climbing to nearly six kilometres above sea level is vastly different than hiking or climbing at lower altitudes. You will have to change the way you look after yourself substantially, or you put yourself and your fellow trekkers at risk.
The biggest risk is avoiding AMS/altitude sickness and we have devoted a separate section below to discuss this. Beyond AMS, the six big risks are malaria, diarrhoea, dehydration, sunburn, proper diet and keeping a balanced temperature. We deal with each of those topics below.
The entire Kilimanjaro region is the home of malaria-carrying mosquitoes, and you are at risk of contracting malaria at least until you climb above 3000 metres. Above that, mosquitoes can’t survive. A bout of malaria can ruin your entire trip and end your climb early, so it is best to protect yourself. Your doctor can prescribe anti-malarial medications, but we also recommend wearing long sleeves and trousers, as well as using a good mosquito repellent that contains DEET the entire time you are below 3000 metres.
Make sure that your hygiene is as good as possible to avoid picking up a stomach upset. Needless to say, a bout of diarrhoea can make a week-long strenuous ascent unpleasant or even impossible. On the climb itself, we make sure that your food is pure and uncontaminated, and that all of your water is treated with WaterGuard purification tablets. Before your trek, though, you will have to protect yourself. Make sure you follow these simple rules at all times:
If you do get diarrhoea, the most important thing you can do is to stay hydrated. The best thing to drink is a rehydration solution like Dioralyte. Read more about dehydration below. Over the counter medicines like Immodium (or anything containing loperamide) are only for short term, mild diarrhoea. Some doctors recommend taking a single, 500mg dose of Ciprofxin, or any ciprofloxacin antibiotic in an emergency situation. This is a prescription medicine, and you should discuss it with your doctor before your trip.
Even if you avoid diarrhoea, you can easily become dehydrated at high altitudes. The lower air pressure forces you to breathe more quickly and deeply, and you lose a lot of water through your lungs. You will also be exerting yourself, and sweating. The upshot is, as you might expect, that you’ll have to drink more water. You need to drink at least 3 litres of fluids every day while climbing. Even when you don't feel thirsty you have to drink this amount as a minimum - preferably more.
This is particularly important on the final day when you attempt the summit and could mean the difference between success or failure. On summit night you should drink at least ½ litre (preferably a whole litre) before you set off. We will also supply you with 2 litres of water to fill your own water bottles or hydration bladder. Make sure it doesn’t freeze! Wrapping the bottles in thick socks or otherwise insulating them is usually enough. Stay on the look-out for signs of dehydration in yourself and your fellow climbers. The most common symptoms include thirst, dry lips, nose or mouth, headache and feeling fatigued or lethargic.
If you think you may be dehydrated, there are two ways to tell:
One last thing – remember to keep drinking on the way down the mountain, as well.
While a high climb is hardly a day at the seaside, you will be vulnerable to sunburn if not properly protected. The thin atmosphere at high altitudes blocks much less of the sun’s UV rays, even on cloudy days. The three most important things you can do to avoid sunburn are:
Many climbers experience loss of appetite at high altitudes. This is a real problem, as you will be burning an extra 2000 or more calories a day, and not replacing them can cause real problems, especially when you attempt the summit. Just like staying hydrated, you have to eat heartily even if you aren’t hungry. Meals heavy in carbohydrates are best, because they are easier to digest at high altitudes and provide long-term energy. The summit ascent is different. You won’t have a big, heavy meal which might slow you down on the most intensive part of the climb, but rather a light snack and a hot drink. It is important to keep plenty of small snacks with you on this leg, as you will have to keep your energy levels high. Also, make sure they don’t freeze – so keep them in pockets underneath your jacket, or in an insulated bag like your daypack.
Summit snacks should be chosen carefully. Take a favourite treat to make it easier to eat when you don’t feel hungry, but avoid anything with honey or syrup, or anything ‘chewy’ as they are likely to freeze tooth-crackingly solid above 5000 metres. Chocolate, nuts and seeds, biscuits, savoury snacks and boiled sweets are generally better choices.
Every mountain has its own climate, and Kilimanjaro has several different weather zones at different heights and on different faces of the mountain. Conditions change quickly, and you will be moving between zones as well. A hot and dry day can be followed immediately by snow or rain. Wearing a layered outfit is generally the wisest way to make sure you stay healthy and reasonably comfortable in all conditions. Above all, make sure to wear warm, wind-and water-proof, breathable clothing on your climb. Get high quality gear too, as this is definitely ‘the real thing’. Storms, high winds and freezing temperatures must be expected, and poor quality equipment will fail.
We have more specific advice about equipment here.
The standard vaccinations required are diphtheria, tetanus, typhoid and hepatitis A, but you should always consult your doctor or travel clinic for the most up to date advice. Many websites refer to Yellow Fever being required for Tanzania. You are only required to have a Yellow Fever certificate if you are arriving from a country that is considered to have a risk of Yellow Fever by the World Health Organisation. If you are flying directly from Europe or the USA (airport transfers in other African countries are permitted up to 12 hours provided you do not leave the airport) then you will not require Yellow Fever.
Altitude sickness, also called Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), hypobaropathy and soroche, is an illness caused by exposure to the low air pressure, especially low partial pressure of oxygen, which many climbers experience at high altitudes.
AMS is caused by exerting yourself at high altitudes, especially if you have not been properly acclimatised. It is most common at altitudes above 2400 metres. Kilimanjaro’s peak is nearly 6000 metres above sea level. At this height, the air pressure (and the amount of oxygen it contains) is less than half that at sea level, and has been said to be comparable to ‘working with only one lung’.
AMS can be serious, especially as it can be debilitating, and it generally occurs far from places where medical treatment can be easily administered. Not everyone suffers from AMS, of course, and it is very difficult to predict who is or is not vulnerable to it. Generally speaking, a fit person is less vulnerable than an unfit person, because their cardiovascular system can operate at low pressures longer without as much strain. Even so, anyone can be vulnerable at altitudes above 3500 metres, no matter their fitness level, if they have not spent some time getting used to the low atmospheric pressures first.
Undoubtedly the best way to see how you are going to react to high altitude is to go high and try to do some exercises. For most of us that isn't an option so a good alternative is to have a session with a specialist altitude training company that have equipment that simulates the effects of altitude. In the UK the leading specialist is The Altitude Centre.
Effects of exposure to low atmospheric pressure
How to recognise AMS
AMS does not present as a slow, gradual worsening of lesser altitude-related symptoms like breathlessness or headache. It is in fact generally a rapid, dramatic onset of symptoms that can render a person unable to walk or take care of themselves at all.
Our guides are trained to recognise AMS and apply the appropriate first aid. They will monitor your blood oxygen saturation and evaluate your overall acclimatisation, but it is vital that you monitor and report your condition accurately, for everyone’s safety.
Our client descent protocol
If our guides believe you may be in poor health or that allowing you to continue the climb may be dangerous, they will require you to begin your descent immediately. If that decision is made, it will be according to this protocol:
All our tours include airport transfers to pick you up at Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) and take you to your pre-climb hotel in Moshi, then back again at the end of your stay. Just let us know when you make your booking that you require this service. If you choose to book a transfer you will be met at Kilimanjaro Airport Arrivals section by a Kandoo team member holding a sign reading ‘Kandoo’, so there is no confusion. It takes about an hour to drive from the airport to Moshi.
Once you arrive, we can arrange a time for your pre-trek briefing. At the briefing, we’ll review the plans for the climb with you, make sure you have all the right gear, and answer any questions you may have. If you have arranged a return transfer, we’ll drop you off at Kilimanjaro International Airport after your climb. Make sure to arrange a time for the transfer that gets you to the airport in plenty of time for check-in. Remember for international flights you need to arrive 3 hours before departure.
Delays can occur, and making your flight is your responsibility! When you book we will send you our local contact phone number. We recommend you put this telephone number into your mobile phone before you depart for Tanzania. This will be your main contact for any issues that arise while you are in Tanzania.
We recommend that you wear your walking boots to travel and pack as many essential items as possible in your carry-on luggage. If your luggage is delayed we can then do our best to kit you out to start the climb on time. In the event that your luggage is delayed or lost, our procedure is as follows:
We will do everything we can to help if your luggage is lost or delayed but all additional out-of pocket costs have to be paid locally and should be charged back to the airline or their insurers. This includes the cost of taxis for shopping and/or repeat trips to the airport to collect bags.
Your full day by day itinerary shows what is included in terms of hotel accommodation and meal basis. All of our pre- and post- climb accommodation is based in Moshi. If you are going on safari prior to your climb, we will have booked you into a hotel in Arusha on arrival to reduce your travel time. Where your hotel basis is B&B, you can usually purchase snacks or meals at the hotel, which can be paid in Tanzanian Shillings, or often in US Dollars.
In Moshi our favourite hotel, and the one that is included as standard in all our climbs is the Stella Maris Hotel. We really like this hotel for a number of reasons. First, it is relatively new and although somewhat basic it is modern and clean. Second, the rooms are very comfortable. They include an ensuite toilet and all have a private balcony. More importantly, they are air-conditioned! Internet access is provided, as is free WiFi in the dining area and lobby. The bar on the top floor provides an excellent view of Mount Kilimanjaro. Another reason why we like Stella Maris is because the hotel is actually a charity. The Mailisita Foundation is an American organisation dedicated to helping orphans and other vulnerable children. They built both the hotel and the Stella Maris Primary School next door. Profits from the hotel go to support the underprivileged children of the area, and contribute directly to their education.
Other hotels that we use as standard if Stella Maris is full are Park View Inn or Bristol Cottages both of which are basic but clean and comfortable with very friendly and helpful staff.
All hotel accommodation before and after the climb is on a bed and breakfast basis. Each hotel has its own lunch and dinner menu if you wish to purchase additional meals during your stay and there are several restaurants and cafe bars locally where you can grab a bite to eat.
If you are arriving early and plan to have more than one night at a hotel before the climb we recommend upgrading to Sal Salinero which has a swimming pool area and lovely gardens where you can relax.
Purchasing Food and Drinks
If you choose to eat outside your hotel, use your common sense when selecting where and what to eat, and drink bottled water.
Valuables and Left Luggage
Please keep all money, passport and valuables on your person at all times. Make sure your hotel room is kept locked, even if you just pop out for a few minutes.
Any items you don’t wish to take on the mountain with you can be left securely at your pre-climb hotel and collected when you return. Please make sure you have a spare bag for any items you are storing.
FIRE SAFETY: When you arrive at the hotel, take a moment to familiarise yourself with the layout and the procedures in the event of a fire, especially your escape routes and fire exits.
SWIMMING POOLS: Hotel pools may not have life guards, depth markings or non-slip surfaces around them. Please check the layout and depth of the pool before you use it.
TRIPS AND SLIPS: Physical guards and warnings of wet floors, uneven steps, holes or other trip hazards may not be provided, whether you are inside a building or out on the street, so extra care and attention may be required.
Take care when crossing roads as the traffic may be coming from an unfamiliar direction, and may not stop as expected at pedestrian crossings. When travelling by taxi, make sure it is licensed; ideally ask your hotel to book one for you.
Outages in Moshi
Please be aware that Tanzania is still a third world country and cut offs in both water and electricity supply still happen regularly, and we cannot guarantee that the hotel will have hot showers during your stay. The hotel will help as far as they can, but these outages are outside their control.
There are 2 types of electrical sockets in Tanzania – type G which are the same as those in the UK (3 square pins) and type D which are old UK style (3 round pins) and are 220v, same as the UK.
You should be OK just relying on the UK plugs, or you could pick up a worldwide adaptor just to be on the safe side. The type D socket is commonly found in India, so any adapter that is suitable for India will be the right size.
Having the right crew behind you when you climb a mountain like Kilimanjaro is vastly important. It is the crew that makes the difference between an attempt being an amazing, once in a lifetime experience, and an utter disaster.
We make it a point to staff every climb with the best guides available, to make sure that each ascent benefits from the best leaders on the mountain. They have been responsible for 1000s of successful summit attempts between them and they make each ascent safe, enjoyable, and more likely to succeed.
We make sure that no party goes up the mountain without at least one guide for every three clients, to ensure that each client gets the personal attention they need to reach the summit safely, and have the kind of experience they’ll remember forever.
Every one of Kandoo’s expert guides is licensed to guide climbers by Kilimanjaro National Park, and each makes many ascents each year. We never sub-contract out any of our climbs so that we can ensure that you have the safest, most successful, and most enjoyable Kilimanjaro experience.
Furthermore, each of our guides is fluent in English, Chagga and Kswahilli.
In order to be certified, all of our guides received extensive first aid training, and take regular refresher courses to stay at the top of their game. They can recognise serious altitude sickness when it does occur, and act quickly by descending back down the mountain as soon as possible, which is the only safe treatment.
We have an established protocol for handling any emergency on the mountain, including rescue and evacuation procedures should they become necessary. The lead guide works with a team of porters, cooks and assistant guides who will support you on your Kilimanjaro challenge.
Climbers are often surprised at just how large the crew is, for example, two clients on a seven day ascent, have a total crew of 13 comprising one lead guide, one assistant, one cook and ten porters. The reason there are so many porters is firstly, it is a full camping expedition so everything needs to be carried from sleeping tents, mess tents, tables, chairs and cooking utensils to clients' duffle bags, food for both climbers and crew, and fuel to cook.
Secondly, we strictly adhere to the KINAPA Park and KPAP Regulations regarding maximum weights for porter's loads. Kandoo is a proud member of the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project (KPAP), which works to ensure that all porters are well looked after and equipped, and receive a good wage for their hard work. KPAP is part of The International Mountain Explorers Connection (IMEC) who created the scheme in order to recognise tour operators who actively practice and are committed to the fair treatment of their porters and crew.
Camping at high altitude requires the use of appropriate equipment. At Kandoo we use the highest quality of equipment on Kilimanjaro. The two types of tents we use are as follows:
Sleeping Accommodation on the Mountain
Kandoo use only the very best high altitude mountain tents, Mountain Hardwear Trango 3, to ensure you stay warm, dry and comfortable on your Kilimanjaro climb. They are designed to sleep three people, but we only ever sleep 2 to a tent, to ensure you have plenty of space for you and your gear. Keep in mind, these are proper mountain tents, designed to cope with extreme conditions so don’t expect to be able to stand up and walk around inside!
Dining while on the mountain
Your meals will be taken in a separate mess tent where you will be able to sit comfortably, while you relax and chat to your team mates and enjoy some of the delicacies that our cook has freshly prepared for you. Inside, you’ll be pleased to find a table (of course) and a proper, comfortable chair with arms. With a full 2 metres of headroom, even the tallest climbers will be able to stretch a bit, and move about without hunching over. They are fully waterproof, and regularly withstand the worst weather Kilimanjaro has to offer.
As we’ve already mentioned, staying hydrated and well-fed on your climb is absolutely vital, especially when conditions are such that you might not want to eat or drink as much as you should. Because so many climbers experience a loss of appetite at altitude, our head chef has developed special menu plans that are appealing, healthy, and filled with all the energy you need to make it to the summit.
By default, our meals include fresh fruit and vegetables every day. You will have fresh meat for the first part of the trek and on the southern routes where it is feasible we resupply the group at Karanga Camp.
As a special reward after your summit ascent, we'll have an "All Day English Breakfast" ready and waiting for you when you arrive back at Base Camp - just let our cook know how you like your eggs done! And before you leave the mountain, you also get to sample some of the local Tanzanian cuisine such as Njegeree and Machalari. If you have special dietary requirements or are a vegetarian then just let us know when you book so that we can be sure to have a suitable menu planned.
A typical day’s meals are as follows:
Special dietary requirements
If you have special dietary requirements or are a vegetarian, you need to let us know when you book so that we can be sure to have a suitable menu planned for you.
On the climb we treat all the water that we give to you for drinking with water guard tablets. Every morning we will fill up your water bottles or hydration bladder with at least 3 litres of water.
A taste of home
We understand how much comfort there is to be had in a little taste of home. We make an effort to stock many brands that will be familiar to our UK and US climbers, including Heinz, Nestlé and Nescafe.
On a typical day on the mountain, your guide will wake you up between 6:00 and 6:30 to a hot drink and warm water for a wash. After that, you’ll need to get your kit and other belongings packed. Breakfast is served between 7:00 and 7:30, while the team packs your tent away, ready to be taken to the next camp. As you eat breakfast, your guides will brief you on the plan for the day’s climb and perform a health review for each client. They will also address any questions or concerns you may have.
Ideally, you’ll be on the trail between 8:00 and 8:30 each morning. Our aim is to be one of the first groups to leave camp in the morning so that we have the mountain to ourselves. Your porters will finish striking camp as you set off, and will leave some time after you do. Despite this, they will pass you at some point during the day’s hike and have your camp set up and waiting when you arrive.
When you arrive at the next camp, there will be hot water for a quick wash, and hot drinks and snacks waiting. You will generally have time for a short acclimatisation trek before dinner, where you will venture up to a higher altitude and have a chance to get used to hiking in more strident conditions before returning to camp for dinner and a rest. As we say, ‘walk high, sleep low’.
After dinner there will be time for a debriefing on the day’s climb with your guides, and to discuss anything that might be on your mind. If you are having any trouble or discomfort, please do let your guides know. Most problems can be sorted out easily on the mountain, but only if you let us know!
Your summit attempt is really the big day. You’ll finally know whether you’ll walk on the roof of Africa, or at least be able to say that you tried. Of course, you want to make it to the summit. Here are a few things that you can do to give you the best chances of making the summit on your first attempt.
Get as much sleep as you can
Even though you will be starting very early you must make the most of the time you have in base camp and get as much sleep as you can. If you’ve been eating and drinking properly, you'll probably be up a few times during the night as it is.
Eat and drink as much as you can - snack and drink at every opportunity
It is nearly impossible to eat or drink too much at this stage. Summit day will be a 14 to 15 hour trek, and it will not be easy going. You can expect to burn more than 4000 calories on summit day alone, so eat well. You’ll be hiking for some 15 hours, virtually non-stop. Bring snacks, and a lot of them! Remember to put some of them in your pockets, preferably in warm places, that you have easy access to so that you can nibble while you walk without having to stop every time to get something out of your rucksack. Bring what you like best, but we have found that some of the best options are candy bars/chocolate, cookies/biscuits, crisps, energy bars, hard candy/boiled sweets, nuts/dried fruit, and trail mix. Nuts are great at altitude as they don't freeze, whereas energy and candy bars, particularly chocolate ones, tend to freeze about 5000 metres, and drink at least twice as much water as you think you should even when you are not thirsty or hungry.
The risks of dehydration are very high at altitude and they also mirror the symptoms of AMS, so our mantra is to drink a minimum of 3 litres every single day of the climb to keep you fully hydrated. These fluids can be made up of hot drinks with your meals plus a minimum of 2 litres fluid whilst you are actually trekking. Sounds easy doesn't it, but you need to be self-disciplined and self-aware to actually do it when you are tired and think you are not thirsty.
Also, for summit night you will need to carry water in a wide mouthed nalgene bottle as above 5000 metres everything freezes! You may be surprised to learn that water freezes from the top down, so firstly insulate your nalgene bottle by stuffing it inside a spare pair of socks and then pack it upside down in your rucksack. If you are using a platypus then make sure that the pipe is insulated or keep it tucked inside your clothes and jacket and just pull the mouthpiece out when you need to take a drink, then blow the water back down the tube before you put the mouthpiece back. Platypus users will also need to carry a litre of fluid in a wide mouthed nalgene bottle as a precautionary measure.
We cannot stress enough. The attempt on the summit is exhausting, and you have to fuel the climb if you expect to make it. Eat like a 5 year old at Christmas and enjoy all those extra calories!
Keep an even body temperature
Making sure you are neither too hot nor too cold will conserve your energy for when you really need it. You should be slightly cooler than is comfortable when you first set off. ‘Be bold, start cold’ as we say. We advise you to remove your over jacket or down jacket when you set off, then immediately put it back on when you make a ‘maintenance stop’. This will keep you more comfortable, and make sure you aren’t expending energy sweating that you could be using to climb to the summit!
Make the most of short stops
During the attempt on the summit, we will have quite a few short ‘maintenance stops’. These are not rest stops, and you shouldn’t rest. Plan what you’ll need to do at your next stop while you hike. At the very least, you’ll need to put on something warm as soon as you stop, have something to eat and drink, and make sure your kit is in good order. If you’ve been drinking as much as you should be, you’ll probably need the loo, as well.
Slow and steady – but not too slow
Our guides will set a pace that takes the needs of your entire group into account, and you should try to maintain it if at all possible. Try to go too fast, and you’ll put yourself at extra risk of altitude sickness. Going too slow will mean that you have little time for anything but hiking and sleeping. Just keep plodding along with your guide, and you’ll get there at just the right time.
Your guides will do everything they can to help you summit, but their number one priority is your health. If you are showing signs of mild ill-health they will monitor the situation to see if things improve, before they make the decision for you to descend. For climbers whose condition is mild (eg, altitude sickness, diarrhoea, tiredness) we will bring you down on foot with an Assistant Guide. For more serious conditions, an emergency evacuation procedure using a stretcher may be invoked. Any climber who is administered emergency oxygen is automatically required to descend. Anyone who descends from the mountain early is required to visit the doctor/hospital for a check up, or must sign a disclaimer if they do not wish to seek further medical assistance. We will provide a team member to take anyone to the clinic/hospital as needed. Any additional costs incurred as a result of descending early must be paid locally.
Tipping customs vary all over the world. On Kilimanjaro, tipping is an accepted practise that we support and we have set out below what is recommended. Tips are not a substitute for good wages: our crews are all well paid and well looked after.
The Kilimanjaro Porter Assistance Program ("KPAP") is a non-profit organisation that sets the benchmark for best practise in all matters related to porter welfare. The unfortunate truth is that in today's world many porters are still exploited economically and treated unfairly by local operators. Essentially, as a member of KPAP we allow them unfettered access to any and all of our climbs to ensure that we operate to the best porter welfare practices at all times.
KPAP have clear guidelines on the payment of tips to which we adhere. Our advice below is based on KPAP's recommendations.
So, how much money should you expect to pay in tips?
Tipping is completely voluntary, and at your discretion. If you receive bad service or have not been treated well, you would not be expected to tip at all. Of course, that won’t happen on one of Kandoo’s climbs.
KPAP has published recommendations on the amount that it is customary to tip Kilimanjaro porters. For groups of three or more for a seven day climb, tips work out to between $200 and $250 in total per climber. Longer climbs would be a bit more, and shorter climbs perhaps a bit less, at your discretion. This might sound a lot but bear in mind that with a group of 10 climbers, your crew will number over 40.
Prior to your climb we will provide you with a copy of the tip recommendation for your group, based on an estimated crew number. The actual size of your crew can only be confirmed on the first day of the climb once all the bags and equipment have been weighed at the park gate, and you will be advised of the final number of crew at your first campsite.
Paying tips and the farewell ceremony
Tips can be paid in US Dollars or Tanzanian Shillings, but it will help if you have a mixture of low denomination notes. It is very important that US bills are new (post 2006), crisp and untorn.
The tipping ceremony itself will take place on the last night on the mountain, and you will be provided with some envelopes to assist you with the distribution of tips. One representative from your group should say a few words of thanks, which will be translated by your lead guide into kiSwahili, and then hand out the tip envelopes. The porters will nominate three of their number to accept the tip envelope on behalf of all the porters, and will distribute the money themselves. Separate envelopes will be supplied for your lead guide, assistant guides and cook.
Although some trekkers may feel a little uncomfortable with the formality of this ceremony, it is actually a very Tanzanian way of doing things and makes the staff feel most comfortable. Everything is very open and it is a nice acknowledgement of the invaluable contribution made by the staff to the success of the trek. Please do not be offended if the porters count the money they receive immediately in front of you - this is just their way and not meant to be disrespectful.
Thank you for your help ensuring that our porters and crew are properly rewarded for all of their hard work.