Mount Kilimanjaro

Tanzania Travel Guide

Practical information

Tanzanian Shilling
Time zone
GMT +3

Tanzanian history and culture

Tanzania's history lies mostly in it's tribes who have roamed the land for centuries.  It is thought that the first inhabitants of the country were around in 5000BC, their descendants the Sandawe hunters of northern Tanzania. They lived in a very modern manner for their time and by 1000BC, agricultural practices were already being introduced by the  Cushitic people from Ethiopia. By 500BC the large Bantu tribe began to dominate some of the smaller tribes, meanwhile Nilotic pastoralists arrived from southern Sudan , soon to divide into the Maasai, the Arusha, the Samburu, and the Baraguyu. The Nilo-Saharan Maasai migrated south in the 16th and 17th centuries, their skilled warriors allowing them to take the Rift Valley from their Bantu predecessors and settle where they found good agriculture and grazing lands. The Maasi cultural influences from Nilotic people is evident in their stamina and striking red hair,  as well as their beliefs in taboo, practice of circumcision and the use of Nilotic words in their language.  Whilst they dominated the savannah plains of northern Tanzania, to the west, the coastal island of Zanzibar was being held by Arabians and Persians. They blended their culture with the East African Bantus to eventually create Swahili. 

In the 1500s, the Portugese took control over the Tanzanian coast, turning Zanzibar into a slave trading centre. This ran as a trading mecca during the 17th and 18th centuries, then in the late 1800s, Germany seized the mainland. However, it wouldn't be until the British gained control after WWI that the slave trade was finally abolished. The British named the country Tanganyika, but their leadership was opposed by an independence party who named themselves TANU (Tanganyika African National Union). They fought to gain power and achieved independence in 1961. In 1964, they merged with Zanzibar to create the United Republic of Tanzania. Tanzanian culture is now predominantly Swahili, although tribes such as the Maasi still roam the rural areas, living a very much traditional way of life. 

Time Zone

The time zone in Tanzania is GMT + 3



The official language in Tanzania is Swahili but English is also widely spoken in towns and cities. 

Useful Phrases

  • Jambo - Hello
  • Karibu - Welcome
  • Habari? - How are you?
  • Nzuri - Fine
  • Pole Pole - Slowly, Slowly
  • Tafadhali - Please
  • Samahani - Sorry
  • Asante (sana) - Thank you (very much) 
  • Maji - Water
  • Kwaheri - Goodbye


Tanzanian Shilling

The Tanzanian Shilling is a closed currency so you will not be able to buy this before you arrive. It is advisable to travel with US Dollars, as these are widely accepted. It is very important that US bills be new (no more than 10 years old), crisp and untorn. If you want some local currency to purchase snacks or drinks either at your hotel or on the way to the climb then we can take you to an ATM or bank. There is also a currency exchange as you go through to the Baggage Collection area of the airport.

If you are relying on a credit or debit card for emergency funds, make sure you tell your card issuer that you will be using it abroad, or you may find that it won't work when you really need it.

 Please Note that not all hotels can accept card payments so you may need to use an ATM to access funds.



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.  

When to go

The short answer is to either go between May and October, or December and March.

Simply put, Tanzania has a long monsoon season in April and May, and a shorter monsoon season in November. During these periods there is a high probability of rain every day. Outside these periods the weather is mainly dry and clear.

Of course, most people want to climb Kilimanjaro when it is dry, so if you choose one of these two periods you can expect to meet a lot of other climbers. To mitigate this, choose one of the less popular routes. The Northern Circuit is a great choice at this time of year. If you want to climb when it is quieter, or during one of the rainy seasons, then look at the Rongai route. It lies in Kilimanjaro's rain shadow and is much drier all year round.

Safety and Security

Your safety and well-being is always the number one priority at Kandoo Adventures.

We operate all our travel destinations in accordance with the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advice, which publishes travel advisory notices for British nationals. We also closely follow the advice of ABTA (The Association of British Travel Agents) which provides support to UK tour operators.  

In addition to this, our extensive, directly-managed operations in each of our destinations, provide us with detailed knowledge and up-to-date information, which enables us to make informed decisions and operate our trips safely.

We always recommend that you regularly check the FCDO's travel advice, in order to keep up to date about the country you are planning to visit.

If you are not a UK resident, we would recommend that you visit your government's travel advisory website for further information:

Alternatively, you may wish to visit our Travel Updates page or seek further information from the World Health Organisation.

Lost or delayed luggage

Our procedure for lost or delayed luggage is as follows:

  • Establish what items are missing and a contingency plan for each critical item
  • If it reaches 6pm on the evening before starting the climb and your luggage has not arrived we recommend buying and/or hiring items immediately as a precaution
  • We will arrange for the hire of sleeping bags for you - to be paid locally
  • We will provide wet weather gear, t-shirts and fleeces out of our own stock. All gear must be returned to the Lead Guide at the end of the climb.  A nominal charge for cleaning items will be made of US$10 per item, payable locally
  • We will take you to a shop where you can buy toiletry items, e.g. toothbrush
  • Any luggage that arrives after you have started your climb will be brought up the mountain to you by a porter

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 your insurers. This includes the cost of taxis for shopping, repeat trips to the airport to collect bags and transporting your bag to you on the mountain.

What to wear

Although in the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania people are used to tourists, Tanzania is predominantly a conservative country and it is always a good idea to be respectful of the local customs. We would advise all traveller, both male and female, to keep their knees, shoulders and stomachs covered while out in public to avoid any unwanted attention.  You need to balance this conservative style of dress with the excessive heat that you may experience in Tanzania. A long sleeved maxi dress will keep you covered while providing some airflow to keep you cool. Long sleeve breezy button up shirts, harem trousers or jeans are also good options. Make sure clothes aren't tight fitting, you will find the local women will all be wearing skirts. If you really want to dress like a local then buy a kanga – a colourfully printed wrap.

Summit of Kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro Geography

Kilimanjaro is what is known as a strato-volcano. This basically means it is one very big ash pile built up over the course of many eruptions. Fortunately it is now dormant. The last major eruption was about 360,000 years ago. Kilimanjaro has 2.2 square kilometres (0.85 sq mi) of glacial ice but is losing it quickly. The glaciers have shrunk 82% since 1912 and declined 33% since 1989. It might be ice free within 20 years. 

As you climb Kilimanjaro you pass through 5 distinct climate and vegetation zones. On the Lower Slopes between 2,600 feet and 5,900 feet, the climate is tropical. The Rain Forest zone between 5,900 and 9,200 feet receives the highest amount of rainfall, up to 78 inches per year. The moisture results in a belt of dense tropical rain forest. The moorland zone is between 9,200 feet and 13,100 feet. This is covered with heather and bright flowers. Between 13,100 and 16,400 feet there is a semi-desert region that receives less than 10 inches of rain annually. Only plants such as moss or lichens can survive here. The summit zone above 16,400 feet is an icy wasteland, baked by fierce sunshine during the day and frozen at night. The thin air here contains half as much oxygen as at sea level.

In spite of the tough climate there are over 140 species of mammals living on Kilimanjaro. At least seven larger mammal species have been recorded above the tree line including tree hyrax, grey duiker, red duiker, eland, bushbuck, buffalo and elephants. Three primate species also live in the montane forests: blue monkeys, black and white colombus monkeys and bushbabies.

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