Climbing Kilimanjaro – 5 Most Frequently Asked Questions

If you are thinking about climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, you probably have a list of questions as long as your arm, I know we did, but over the years, we have found that most intrepid travellers have the same questions when it comes to climbing ‘Kili’, so here are the answers to the five most frequently asked:

1. How hard / difficult is it to climb Kilimanjaro?

This is a difficult question to answer, but one that almost every climber asks, so our answer would have to be “no” and “yes”!  Kilimanjaro is not technically challenging and you do not need any ropes or technical equipment, but you will be walking up hill for approximately 6-hours per day, and up to 12-hours on summit night, so you need to be physically fit.

You also need to prepare mentally for sleeping in minus temperatures and the strains your body will face at high altitude.   Physically fit and mentally prepared = success.

2. What do I need to Pack for Kilimanjaro?

Kilimanjaro might be in Africa, but you should expect minus temperatures from night one on the mountain. Any reputable tour operator offering Kilimanjaro Tours will provide you with a complete packing list, which will list everything you need to get to the top comfortably.  Pack for comfort, warmth and protection – rather than fashion!

3. What is the food like on Kilimanjaro?

This depends on the company you choose for your Kilimanjaro climb. If you go with a reputable company, you can expect 3 hot meals per day and plenty of snacks throughout the day to keep your energy levels up. A typical menu would be:

  • Breakfast: Bacon, eggs, sausages, toast, porridge, fresh fruits, tea, coffee, and orange juice
  • Lunch: Vegetable soup, chicken stir-fry, pasta, a vegetable dish, fresh pineapple
  • Dinner: Carrot & Ginger soup, beef with vegetables, rice, a vegetable dish, banana fritters

 4. Where can I go to the toilet on Kilimanjaro?

There are no toilets on Mount Kilimanjaro!  Your mountain crew will provide you with a ‘toilet tent’, a porta-potty and toilet paper at base camp (fondly referred to as the Internet Café!), but during the day, you will need to pick a bush!  If you intend to use toilet paper during the day, please ensure you have a bag to dispose of it correctly – and keep Kilimanjaro tidy!

5.  How much do I need to calculate for tips for my porters and mountain crew?

Different climbing companies recommend different tip amounts, some suggest you tip 10% of the cost of your climb, other suggest you tip each porter / cook / guide a certain amount.  We recommend the KPAP (Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project) guidelines, which recommend you tip:

  • Porters: $10 – $15 per day
  • Cook: $12 – $17 per day
  • Asst. Guide: $15 – $20 per day
  • Guide: $25 – $30 per day

This amount is split between the number of climbers in your group, so the larger the group, the less you have to pay. After a day on Mount Kilimanjaro – you will realise just how much these guys deserve your tips!

 

 

Kilimanjaro, Serengeti & Zanzibar – A trio of delights just waiting to be discovered in Tanzania

The Kilimanjaro Climbing season is officially underway, and if you are thinking about climbing Africa’s highest mountain between now and next spring, make sure you allow a few extra days for a safari in the Serengeti Plains and a much-need beach break in Zanzibar.

There are many different ways in which to schedule your trip your Tanzania, but as climbing Kilimanjaro is going to be the most demanding part of your holiday, we recommend you climb Kili first and then take a safari in Serengeti National Park, before finally retiring to the white sandy beaches of Zanzibar for some much-needed R&R.

Climb Kilimanjaro

With several different routes to choose from, the first step in planning your Kilimanjaro climb is choosing the route that is right for you.  The 5-day Marangu Route may be the most cost-effective, but it also has the lowest success rate, so we recommend the longer 7-day Machame Route, or if you are looking for something a little more challenging, the 7-day Umbwe Route.

P1000572Once you have your Kilimanjaro climb sorted, the next stage is planning your Serengeti Safari.  A 3-day trip is more than sufficient, and you can choose to fly-in, or take an escorted tour from Arusha.

The Serengeti National Park is a haven for wildlife lovers, and if you dream of witnessing the Great Migration and +/-2 million wildebeest, zebra and gazelle make their annual ‘circle of life’, schedule your Kilimanjaro Climb for December, January, February or March when the herds spread across Serengeti’s short-grass plains.

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After climbing Kilimanjaro and taking a 3-day safari, you will be more than ready for the crystal-clear waters, sugar white beaches, and luxury beachfront hotels of Zanzibar, so treat yourself to four or five nights on the Island of Spice, and finish your Tanzanian Adventure in style!

A Day in the Life of a Kilimanjaro Porter

Kilimanjaro Porters are the unsung heroes of Mount Kilimanjaro, and if you are thinking about climbing Africa’s highest mountain anytime soon, you will need a team of professional mountain crew and porters to help you reach your goal – Uhuru Peak at 5,895metres above sea level.

Climb Kilimanjaro

Those who have already climbed Kilimanjaro will know just how important Kilimanjaro Porters are, and I’m sure they will agree that every Dollar paid in tips was worth every cent, but if you are currently planning your Kilimanjaro climb and are worried that the tips will push up your budget, here is exactly what you are paying for…

A day in the life of a Kilimanjaro Porter

The days start early on Mount Kilimanjaro, and as soon as the sunrises, your porters will be responsible for collecting water from the nearest stream, which could take a good hour, cleaning your port-a-loo, packing up equipment, and helping the chef with anything he might need to prepare your breakfast.

Climb Kilimanjaro

Most porters get two meals a day on the mountain, which consists of Ugali, maize flour cooked with water to create a porridge-type meal, served with fresh vegetables. Your porters do not eat with you, so they will eat before you have breakfast, and after you have had your dinner in the evenings.

As soon as breakfast is over, your porters will clean all the cooking utensils and crockery, pack down all the tents and equipment, and pack everything away into huge bundles that they will carry to the next base camp.  Each porter is supposed to carry a maximum load of 20kg (including their own gear), but many carry in excess of 25kg.

Despite being just as susceptible to altitude sickness as us climbers, Kilimanjaro Porters have to climb Kili with a huge pack on their backs – and after day two, you will truly appreciate how difficult that must be.

Climb Kilimanjaro

Once your porters have packed up the camp in the morning, they run ahead of you to ensure that everything is set up and ready for you by the time you arrive for lunch, which means setting up the dining tent with chairs and tables, setting up the port-a-loo, and helping the chef with whatever tasks need doing.

After lunch, the procedure is the same, your porters will pack everything away again, and then run ahead of you to get to base camp, where they will set up your tent, prepare your luggage, set up the dining tent, and have everything ready so that they can greet you with a song when you finally arrive in camp.

Only after you have had your dinner and returned to your tent for the night, will your porters eat their main meal of the day, before retiring for a few hours sleep in a shared tent.

And the next day… it starts all over again.

Climb Kilimanjaro

The Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project (KPAP) recommends that porters earn a minimum of 20,000 Tanzanian Shillings per day (approximately 12 USD), but some companies pay them as little as 5,000 Tanzanian Shillings per day, and so they rely on your tips to survive.

Therefore, a minimum daily tip of $8 – $10 (USD) per porter is recommended, split between the number of climbers in your group.  Of course, if you want to give more – you can, and they will certainly appreciate it.

Your Kilimanjaro Porters will also gladly receive any clothes, boots, climbing equipment, sweets, snacks, and just about anything else you can spare – so be generous, and help the guys who help you fulfil your dream.

Kilimanjaro vs. Aconcagua

If you dream of climbing the Seven Summits, your starting point will most probably be Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania or Mount Aconcagua in Argentina as they are both accessible by anyone with a good level of physical fitness and the routes are not technically challenging… but that is where the similarities end.

Climb Kilimanjaro

At 6,962 metres above sea level, Mount Aconcagua is over 1,000 metres higher than Mount Kilimanjaro at 5,895 metres, so the expedition is longer, you need more clothing / equipment for high altitude and you need to prepare yourself both mentally and physically for over two weeks on the mountain in temperatures that fall way below zero at night.

We successfully climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in October 2012 and are currently planning our expedition to Aconcagua for 2015, and after looking at the differences between the two, we are definitely glad we did it that way around, here are the distinct differences we have noted so far…

Kilimanjaro vs. Aconcagua – The Expedition

Mount Kilimanjaro climbs range anywhere between 6 and 11 days depending on the route you chose. The most popular climb is widely considered the 9-Day Machame Route due its high success rate, which includes six nights on the mountain and two nights in a hotel, one before the climb one after.

If you decide to climb Mount Aconcagua, you can choose between the ‘Normal Route’ and the more technically challenging ‘Polish Glacier Route’. Both routes are 18-Day Expeditions that include two nights in Mendoza, one night before your climb and one night after, one night in Penitentes prior to your ascent, and two extra days for contingencies such as bad weather on the mountain.  Whichever route you choose, you will spend at least 12-nights camping on the mountain, which is draining both physically and mentally, and twice as long as you would spend of Kili.

Kilimanjaro vs. Aconcagua – The Mountain Crew

If you have climbed Kilimanjaro, you will know just how amazing the Mountain Crew are!  They carry everything except for your small backpack with your daily essentials, and so the only thing you have to worry about getting to the top of the mountain is yourself!

When you arrive in base camp, your tents are set up ready for you and the chef is busy preparing your evening meal, so you are free to freshen up at leisure, have a rest, or chat with other climbers until dinner is served.

Aconcagua is a little bit different… You luggage is transported by mules to Plaza de Mulas at 4,260 metres, but from here on, you have to carry it yourself or hire a personal porter to carry it for you. Of course, you will leave any unnecessary equipment at Plaza de Mulas, but carrying a load will certainly make a difference when you climb.

You are responsible for putting up your own tent on Aconcagua, and while the guides will assist, it is ultimately your responsibility to set up camp and make things comfortable. Again, this is no big deal, but it is definitely something to bear in mind, especially after the ‘luxury’ of Kilimanjaro!

Whichever mountain you decide to climb first, we hope you passage to the Roof of Africa or Roof of South America is a safe one… Who knows, we might see you there!

Worried About Going Hungry on Kilimanjaro? Worry Not! Here’s a Typical Daily Menu…

I have been researching Aconcagua Climbing Companies recently, and was surprised to find that, while many companies offer a good service, many climbers complain that they are not getting enough food during their 18-day trek!

With food being one of ‘the’ most important factors of any expedition, I cannot believe that some companies would cut corners on something so important, but I suppose it’s like everything in this world – you get what you pay for – and if you go with the ‘cheaper’ options out there, cuts have to be made somewhere.

Climb Kilimanjaro

We witnessed something similar when climbing the 7-Day Machame Route on Mount Kilimanjaro back in September/October 2012…

After signing in at the Machame Gate at around 09:30am and handing our luggage over to our mountain crew, we were given a ‘snack pack’ which consisted of a cheese and salad roll, a chicken drumstick, two muffins, two bananas and two chocolate bars.

We assumed that this snack pack would have to last us until the evening, and as we are not huge eaters, this was fine with us, but by the time 11:00am had arrived and we hadn’t eaten all of our snacks, our Mountain guide made us sit down and eat as much as we could!

Why, well, our 3-course hot lunch was due to be served on-route at around 1.30pm, so we needed to get through the snacks so that we had space for round two!

When we arrived at the lunch camp, the stove was on, the chef was busy cooking and our table and chairs, complete with tablecloth, silk flowers, and a stereo, was set up and ready for us to relax. After a quick dance and sing-a-long with our mountain crew, we sat down to a delicious bowl of fresh vegetable soup, followed by chicken stir-fry with rice and vegetables, and a fruit salad for desert – this all on the side of Mount Kilimanjaro.

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Having never climbed Kilimanjaro before, we assumed this was ‘normal’, but it was only when other climbers with other climbing companies arrived, that we noticed the huge difference! They had to carry their own lunch boxes, and their lunch break involved sitting on the floor or perching on rocks eating soggy sandwiches that they had carried since the morning!

So obvious was our set up, that several climbers actually came over to us to ask if we were on honeymoon or if we had requested ‘special treatment’, but we hadn’t, it was simply the difference between a good Kilimanjaro climbing company and the not-so-good companies!

Our snack pack was ‘topped up’ for the afternoon, and by the time we reached base camp on day one, we had probably consumed more food than we normally would in two days, but dinner was just around the corner, and it was time to eat!

Our Dinners on Mount Kilimanjaro were different every single night, but they always consisted of a freshly made soup (day one was Carrot and Ginger), a meat or fish dish, rice or noodles, a vegetable dish, and a desert which ranged from banana fritters and honey to a beautifully baked cake on our final night.

Breakfast was a similar affair, with porridge, honey and fruit to start, Bacon, Eggs and Toast to follow, pancakes, and copious amounts of tea, coffee and hot chocolate!

This was our typical menu every day throughout our 7-Day Machame Route Tour, a hot breakfast, a hot lunch and a 3-course dinner with plenty of snack-packs in between.

So, if you are thinking of climbing Kilimanjaro, or indeed Aconcagua this year, check out your climbing company, and make sure they are going to provide you with the necessary nutrition to reach the peak!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Climb Kilimanjaro Responsibly – And Support the People of Tanzania

One of the most difficult things about climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is choosing the right company to climb with, and if you are looking to climb ‘responsibly’ and support the country you are visiting, you need to do some research.

Climb Kilimanjaro 2014

There are literally hundreds of different Kilimanjaro Climbing companies out there, but not all of them support the Tanzanian economy, the local people, and the porters and mountain crew who make our lives so much easier, so read between the lines and make sure you are asking the right questions when booking your trip.

Booking a Flight inclusive Kilimanjaro Climb with an ATOL bonded UK Tour Operator is one of the safest ways to book, and providing the company you choose works together with a registered Tanzanian climbing company, your Kilimanjaro Climb will be both fully insured and fully supportive of the local economy.

But be aware, many UK and USA Tour Operators simply sub-contract your climb out to the ‘cheapest’ Tanzanian operator, and cheap usually means poor food and accommodation, under-qualified mountain guides, poorly paid porters with insufficient clothing and the minimum amount of food, and an overall ‘cheap’ experience.

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is a once in a lifetime experience, but if you do not reach Uhuru Peak, it will be a very disappointing experience indeed. So spend those extra $200 – $300 Dollars, climb with a KPAP (Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project) and IMEC (International Mountain Explorers Connection) registered company, who care about the mountain, care about the people they employ, and care about getting you safely to Uhuru Peak, and give something back to Tanzania.

There is no such thing as a ‘cheap’ Kilimanjaro climb, so if an offer looks too good to be true, and several hundred dollars cheaper than the ‘average’, someone is losing out, and it is most likely to be the porters who work tirelessly to ensure you have the trip of a lifetime.

Responsibility is not an option, it’s a choice, and I for one, choose Tanzania!

 

 

 

Kilimanjaro Escorted Tour – Lunar Eclipse – 9-Day Machame Route – Departure Date 21st September 2015

Many people list climbing Mount Kilimanjaro as a lifelong dream adventure, so why not join us on our 2015 Lunar Eclipse Escorted Tour, and make your journey to the Roof of Africa even more spectacular!

A rare treat that only happens once or twice per year, a Lunar Eclipse is a truly amazing sight, and by elevating your viewing position to over 5,000 metres above sea level, you will feel so close that you can almost touch it!

Climb Kilimanjaro 2015

Here’s an overview of our Kilimanjaro Lunar Eclipse Escorted Tour 2015:

A giant strata-volcano reaching an elevation of 5,895 metres or 19,335.6ft, it boasts not one, but five different eco-systems, and as you travel along the breathtakingly beautiful Machame Route, you will encounter an equatorial jungle, glacial valleys, and the alpine deserts that lead the way to Uhuru Peak.

This extended 9-day itinerary is a great ‘all-rounder’ in terms of value for money, length of trek, and most importantly perhaps – success rate, and as we work together with a fully registered KPAP (Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project) approved Tanzanian-climbing crew, you can be confident your trip is safe, secure, and supportive of the local community.

Equatours is a proud member / supporter of KPAP (Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project), ensuring that all porters receive a fair wage, adequate food, and suitable clothing during your climb.

Itinerary Overview

  • Day 1     Depart on your overnight flight to Kilimanjaro International Airport
  • Day 2     Arusha – Planet Lodge
  • Day 3     Machame Camp – Mount Kilimanjaro
  • Day 4     Shira Camp – Mount Kilimanjaro
  • Day 5     Barranco Camp – Mount Kilimanjaro
  • Day 6     Karanga Camp – Mount Kilimanjaro
  • Day 7     Barafu Camp – Mount Kilimanjaro – Midnight Summit Attempt
  • Day 8     Summit – Return to Millennium or Mweka Camp – Mount Kilimanjaro
  • Day 9     Arusha – Planet Lodge
  • Day 10   Departure

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1     -              Depart on your International Flight to Kilimanjaro Airport.

Day 2     -              Arusha

Upon arrival at Kilimanjaro International Airport, our driver will be waiting to transfer us to our hotel in Arusha.  After a few hours to rest, we will have an afternoon briefing with our Mountain Guide to discuss the following day’s departure time and itinerary. We will spend the rest of the day preparing our luggage and shopping for any last-minute items, before enjoying dinner at the hotel. Overnight: Arusha (D)                       

Day 3     -              Machame Camp – Kilimanjaro – Hiking Time Approx. 6 hrs

After breakfast, our driver will meet us in reception and transfer us to the Machame Gate (approx.  2 hour drive) where we will complete the registration process and hand our luggage over to the crew. Our Kilimanjaro climb will then commence through the lush, verdant rainforests to Machame Camp. Along the way, we will see a variety of unusual flora and fauna, in addition to the colourful birdlife and monkeys.  Lunch will be served on route by our team of chefs and porters, before continuing to base camp for the evening. Overnight:  Camping Machame Camp (B, L, D)

Day 4     -              Shira Camp – Kilimanjaro – Hiking Time Approx. 6 hrs

After a hot breakfast in the mess tent, we will refresh our daypacks with water,snacks and waterproof clothing before heading up the relatively steep Shira trail. Surrounded by an abundance of bird life and a savannah of tall grasses and heather, the Shira trail is a beautiful stretch that offers magnificent views of Uhuru peak on a clear day. As with day 2, the crew will serve a warm lunch on route to the base camp. Overnight: Camping Shira Camp (B, L, D)

Day 5     -              Barranco Camp – Kilimanjaro – Hiking Time Approx. 7 hrs

Today is an important day for acclimatisation, and to limit the effects of altitude sickness we will climb high and sleep low.  Ascending into the alpine desert, we will view the entire Shira plateau as we hike slowly but surely upwards to pass the Lava Tower at 15,000 feet, before descending down through the immense canyon of Grand Barranco to base camp. Our team will serve a warm lunch on route. Overnight: Camping Barranco Camp (B, L, D)

Day 6     -              Karanga Camp – Kilimanjaro – Hiking Time Approx. 4 hrs

Today’s hike up and over the Barranco Wall may seem a little daunting, but after a warm breakfast you will be ready to attempt this imposing wall of rock. A relatively short day of hiking, the Barranco wall takes approximately 1 and half hours to mount, and the views from above are spectacular.  With no further increase in elevation, we will trek through the glacial valleys towards Karanga Camp. Overnight: Camping Karanga Camp (B, L, D)

Day 7     -              Barafu Camp – Kilimanjaro – Hiking Time Approx. 4 hours

Day 7 is another important day for acclimatisation, and while the trek to Barafu camp is relatively steep, we will reach camp around midday, leaving plenty of time to relax.  After lunch, our guide will offer us the opportunity to hike a little further for acclimatisation purposes (weather permitting), or you may prefer to rest at camp. Dinner will be served as usual before we head back to our tents for some much-needed rest. At 11pm we will be woken with a warm drink and biscuits, and prepare for our midnight summit attempt. Overnight: Camping Barafu Camp – Midnight Summit Attempt (B, L, D)

Day 8     -              Millennium or Mweka Camp – Hiking Time Approx. 11 – 13 hrs

Today is the day you have been dreaming about!  After our midnight departure from Barafu and 6-7 hours hiking, we will reach the welcoming green sign of Stella Point.  As the sun starts to rise, we will be exposed to the sheer beauty of Mount Kilimanjaro, and despite being exhausted and cold, we have just another 40 minutes to go along a relatively flat path to reach our final destination – Uhuru Peak.

What goes up must come down, and after taking those cherished photos from the Roof of Africa, we will begin our descent back to Barafu Camp for a well-deserved warm lunch. Our guide will then decide whether we will trek down to Millennium or Mweka Camp for our final evening on the mountain. Overnight: Camping Millennium or Mweka Camp (B, L, D)

Day 9     -              Arusha – Hiking Time Approx. 3-5 hrs

After our last mountainside breakfast, we will begin our final ascent to Mweka Gate. Returning through the lush rainforests at the base of Kilimanjaro, we will meet our logistics team for one final lunch together before saying our goodbyes and heading back to our hotel for a much-needed shower! Overnight: Arusha (B, L, D)

Day 10   -              Departure

After a celebratory breakfast, we will catch our return transfer to the airport for our international flight home.Those extending their stay with a Serengeti / Ngorongoro Safari or Zanzibar Beach break will transfer accordingly.

Pricing & Information

Your Fully Inclusive Equatours Kilimanjaro Expedition Includes:

  • Return International Flights
  • 2-nights hotel accommodation in Arusha on a Half-Board Basis (1 night before climb, 1 night after)
  • All Airport Transfers in Tanzania
  • Transfers to/from Kilimanjaro National Park
  • All climbing permits and National Park Entry Fees
  • All camping equipment (except sleeping bags for hygiene reasons)
  • A complete team of certified Mountain Guides, Cooks and Porters
  • All meals, drinks and snacks on the mountain
  • Mountain Rescue / Flying Doctors Medical Evacuation
  • Safety Equipment such as hyperbaric chamber / oxygen bottles
  • Portage of two bags (max weight 15 kilos) per person
  • Luggage storage in Arusha
  • Meal  Plan: B = Breakfast / L = Lunch / P = Picnic / D = Dinner

Not included in the cost of your climb:

  • Obligatory Travel / Medical Insurance. Your insurance should cover you for trekking up to 6,000metres – without ropes/crampons. Emergency mountain rescue / flying doctors is included in your climb, but your own medical insurance must cover all medical, transport, accommodation and repatriation costs once you reach the base of the mountain.
  • Evacuation transport and hotel accommodation is not included for non-emergency reasons (i.e. should you decide you do not wish to continue with the climb)
  • Tips for Guides and Porters – Please see guideline for tipping in our Kilimanjaro Essential Information File
  • Excess / Oversized / Overweight Baggage Fees
  • Clothing and equipment for the climb except Tents, mats and eating utensils, which the crew provides
  • Beverages and Meals not specified as included in the itinerary above
  • Personal items such as, but not limited to, telephone and internet charges, laundry, optional excursions and activities, medical expenses, and anything else not listed as included above

Price per Person based on 2-Adults sharing a double/twin Room/tent: £2250.00  / Single Supplement:   £115.00

Including flights departing from UK or Mainland Europe, please contact us for prices from the USA or other International airports.

Interested?  Get in touch and reserve your spot now, limited places available!