Kilimanjaro Trekking FAQs
Kilimanjaro Trekking FAQs
When is the best time to climb Kilimanjaro?
It is possible to climb Kilimanjaro year round. Ideally it is best to climb in favorable weather conditions, as rain, wind, snow, and extreme cold drain the body of energy which can significantly lower your chances of summiting.
Traditionally, the months of January, February, September, & October have been considered as the best months to climb due to dry conditions and moderate temperatures. June thru August are also normally dry, however temperatures can be very cold during this period. The months of November, December and March are more likely to have some rainfall and the months of April and May tend to have the most rain and the least favorable climbing conditions.
How long does it take to climb Kilimanjaro?
Depending on which route you climb the treks range from 5 to 9 days. The shortest route is the Marangu route, which also has the lowest summit rates for the entire mountain.
Reaching the summit is not only about the climber’s level of fitness, it also has a great deal to do with the body’s ability to acclimatize to the high altitude. For most people acclimatization is achieved by spending more time on the mountain. Thus, there is a strong correlation between the number of days spent on the mountain and reaching the summit – the longer the climb, the better the chances are of summiting.
Opting for a shorter route may seem like a good idea to save on expenses, but in reality you are simply significantly reducing your chances of summiting. If you are traveling all the way to Tanzania to conquer Kilimanjaro, the cost of a longer trek that allows proper acclimatization is well worth it.
Which route should I climb?
There are six official routes to climb Kilimanjaro. When selecting a route you should consider the difficulty of the route, the length of the route (longer routes have higher summit rates), and your preference when it comes to the amount of traffic on the trail and the scenery.
If you are planning your trek during the months of April, May, and November you may want to consider the Rongai Route. This route tends to have less rainfall as it approaches from the Northern side of the Mountain.
How cold is it on Kilimanjaro?
Kilimanjaro treks pass through four distinct climate zones. At the base of the mountain the temperatures are usually between 70°F and 80°F. The temperature quickly decreases as you gain altitude and pass through the different zones. The night temperatures on Uhuru peak can drop to -10°F. At high altitude the weather conditions can change rapidly and it is best to be prepared for extreme conditions.
Why do summits start at night?
The predawn hours, while cold, usually provide the calmest weather conditions. The summit is usually clear around sunrise, providing the best views. Often clouds and strong winds develop not long after sunrise, making a daytime summit attempt much less attractive.
How difficult is it to climb Kilimanjaro?
While Kilimanjaro requires no technical abilities, it is both physically and mentally demanding. The main reason people don’t reach the summit or are required to be evacuated is due to Altitude Sickness. To reduce your risk of Acute Mountain Sickness you should choose a route that allows the body to properly acclimatize, extra acclimatization days and routes that climb high and sleep lower are recommended. It is important to climb at a slow pace and to stay hydrated by drinking at least 3 liters of water per day. A CamelBak or other type of water bladder simplifies drinking during the trek.
How can I best prepare for my trip?
We have partnered with Fit-For-Trips to develop a specialized fitness program that is designed particularly for your trek. Training programs can be completed in 4, 8, or 12 weeks and are customized to your current fitness level. In addition, you may choose a training program that can be complete at home or in the gym. E-Trip Africa client receive an automatic 8% discount on all training programs.
What is altitude sickness and will it affect me?
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), also known as altitude sickness, is caused by the failure of the body to react quickly enough to the reduced availability of oxygen as the climber reaches higher altitudes. While the percentage of oxygen remains the same from sea level to the top of Uhuru Peak, the decrease in pressure reduces the amount of oxygen our lungs and body absorb with every breath.
In some rare cases the lower pressure at high altitudes can cause liquid to leak from the capillaries into the lungs and brain. This can lead to life threatening conditions know as High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) and High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE). If any symptoms of HAPE or HACE appear in a climber they are evacuated immediately.
Scientists have found little correlation between Altitude Sickness and age, sex, or fitness level. The primary factors that have been connected to AMS are; a rapid rate of ascent, overexertion of the body, and dehydration. Your body has the capacity to adapt to the reduced availability of oxygen if it is given the right amount of time during your ascent.
More than 75% of climbers experience mild symptoms associated with AMS. It is important to inform your guide of any headaches, nausea, vomiting, weakness, fatigue, shortness of breath, or decreased coordination. Our guides are trained to monitor your condition and modify the rate of ascent to reduce the risks associated with AMS.
Proper acclimatization is important. Our guides will constantly remind you to go slowly and you might become frustrated with the pace. Being in a rush simply reduces the chances you will make it to the summit. Stop often for drinks and to enjoy the magnificent views. The geographic features of the Lemosho and Machame Routes promote good acclimatization because you climb high during the days, then sleep lower at night.
Diamox (Acetazolamide) is a prescription drug that has proven to prevent most cases of AMS. The drug causes the bloody to become more acidic. This fools the body into believing that it has high levels of CO2 in the blood, causing you to breathe more deeply and rapidly, which in turn increases the amount of Oxygen in your blood. Prior to traveling you should consult your doctor and discuss the advantages of taking Diamox during your climb.
What if I can’t continue my trek?
In the event that you are not able to continue your trek, it will not interrupt the trip for the rest of the climbers in your group. Our trekking teams always have enough guides and assistant guides that it is possible for one or more climbers to stop their trek or descend early while the rest of the group continues on to finish the trek.
What do I carry in my day pack?
You should only carry the items that you will need during the day until you reach the next camp. These items will vary depending on trail conditions and weather. Your guide will advise you as to what should be carried for each day. Typically, items may include rain gear, warmer cloths, gloves, hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, lip balm, camera, snacks, water, lunch, and your documents (passport and money).
All other items should be packed and locked in your bag. The porters will carry this bag from one campsite to the next.
What vaccinations and medication do I need for the trek?
You should consult your Doctor several months in advance, as you may need a series of vaccinations. In order for complete advice on vaccinations and medications, don’t forget to inform your Doctor that you will be traveling to Tanzania and participating in a High Altitude Trek.
Tanzania only requires the Yellow Fever vaccination for those traveling from Yellow Fever infected countries such as Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Ethiopia. You may be required to show a Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate, which should be carried at all times. No other vaccinations are currently required for entry into Tanzania.
Malaria is endemic in many parts of Tanzania. While malaria is not common at high altitudes, Anti-malaria drugs are highly recommended for all visitors to East Africa. You should discuss this with your Doctor during prior to travel.
What travel insurance should I buy?
We highly recommend purchasing travel/medical insurance for your trek. Not only is it possible to be injured trekking Kilimanjaro, you may face travel delays, lost luggage/equipment, or other unexpected difficulties. Many companies do not cover high altitude trekking, so it is important to ready carefully the activities covered under a policy prior to purchasing it. We like travel insurance offered by World Nomads, as the quotation process is simple and it is easy to see if the policy covers treks upto 6000 meters (19,685 feet).
How much should I tip the mountain guides and crew?
Your experience is a combined result of the equipment, the training that we have provided to the trekking team and their efforts to ensure that your trek was an experience of a lifetime. Please consider that your trekking team works under high pressure and extreme conditions.
We recommend a standard tip from the group (not per climber) of:
• Guide $20-$30 (45,000-70,000 TSH) per day
• Assistant Guide $15-$20 (35,000-45,000 TSH) per day
• Cook $15-$20 (35,000-45,000 TSH) per day
• Porter $5-$7 (12,000-16,000 TSH) per day
If possible it is better to tip with Tanzanian Shillings. Tips should be distributed directly to each member of the climb team after the trek has completely finished. To ensure Transparencey we have developed a tipping shet where you allocate the amount of tips to be given to each crew member. This is read out on the mountain so each member of the crew knows how much tips they have earned. The tip amount is then collected when you return to the hotel and our office will distribute the tips according to KPAP procedures.
Our trekking team understands that tips are a bonus paid based on the level of service they have provided. While the majority of Tanzanians who work in the tourism industry support many members of their extended family with the tips they earn, it is our policy that no members of our team should mention tips before or during your trek. Please inform us immediately if this happens.