Friday’s Photo Shoot: Climbing Kilimanjaro Machame Route on a Private Trek

Many people choose to climb Kilimanjaro over Christmas and New Year, and as a result, most group tours are booked up months in advance.  Fortunately, there is an alternative for those who are less organised, and if you are thinking about climbing Kilimanjaro this festive season, you can still book a private trek along the Machame Route to start on any day you choose.

Private Kilimanjaro Trek’s are, surprisingly, often cheaper than the scheduled group tours, so if you thought that a private climb was out of your budget, contact a specialised tour operator for a quote – you will be pleasantly surprised.

Due to its high success rate, we decided to climb Mount Kilimanjaro along the Machame Route, and as we booked a private trek, the trip was tailor-made to suit our requirements and our journey to Uhuru Peak a whole lot easier…

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Climb Kilimanjaro – Total Lunar Eclipse September 28th, 2015

When you stand on top of Mount Kilimanjaro the moon feels so close that you can almost touch it, and on the 28th September 2015, you will be able to witness a very rare occurrence from Uhuru Peak, and that will be a Total Lunar Eclipse.

Ringside seats are available for those who want to combine their Kilimanjaro Climb with the Total Lunar Eclipse, and to make sure you have the best possible views; your Mountain guide will carefully plan your departure from Barafu Camp to ensure you reach Uhuru Peak in plenty of time for this special event.

group tours and private tours mount kilimanjaro machame route

What is a Total Lunar Eclipse?

A Total Lunar Eclipse occurs when the moon is located in the Umbra region of the Earth’s shadow, and completely blocked from the sun.

A Total Lunar Eclipse is very rare, it only happens once or twice per year, and you have to be in the right place at the right time to view it. Mount Kilimanjaro just happens to be that place and time on 28th September 2015 – so its the perfect day to make your ascent to the Roof of Africa.

What time do you need to be on top of Mount Kilimanjaro to view the Total Lunar Eclipse?

The Total Lunar Eclipse of 28th September 2015, is set to begin at around 03:13am Arusha time. The partial eclipse will begin an hour later at 04:12, and the total eclipse begins at 05:13 when the moon turns red.  The maximum eclipse (when the moon is closest to the centre of the Umbra shadow) will be at around 05:47am.

If you intend to watch the entire spectacle, please remember to take plenty of extra water and super-warm clothing – it’s gonna be cold up on Uhuru Peak and you’re gonna be there for a while!  See you at the top!

It’s Kilimanjaro Climbing Season – Anyone for Uhuru Peak?

It is that time of the year again, and if you intend to climb Africa’s highest mountain this autumn or winter, now is the perfect time to book your Mount Kilimanjaro Expedition!

private climbs mount kilimanjaro

While you can climb Kilimanjaro at any time of the year, it’s pretty cold during the months of June, July and August, but once you get into September, the sun begins to shine, there is less chance of rain, the routes to Uhuru Peak are usually snow-free, and your path to the Roof of Africa will be much more enjoyable.

We climbed Kilimanjaro at the end of September, and enjoyed glorious sunshine every day.  The nights are cold, but when you consider the altitude in which you are camping, that is to be expected, and providing you have warm clothes, a good quality sleeping bag, and a comfy inflatable mattress (take your own – you will thank me!), you’ll be fine.

kilimanjaro group tours

September is considered one of the best months to climb Mount Kilimanjaro due to its moderate climate and good climbing conditions, but group tours tend to be rather crowded at this time of the year, so if you are looking for a more personal service, take a private tour instead.

If you think that a Private Kilimanjaro Climb is over your budget – think again! I recently found a private Kilimanjaro tour that was considerably cheaper than all the group tours departing during the same week (I’m talking £300 cheaper!), and with your own personal crew of porters, cooks and mountain guides to take care of your every need, your chances of reaching Uhuru Peak are considerably higher.

Best time to climb Kilimanjaro

Private Kilimanjaro climbs can start on any day you choose, so you do not have to fit in with anyone else’s plans, and as they are available for single climbers, couples, families and charity groups, everyone can enjoy the ‘luxury’ of a private Kilimanjaro climb!

October and November are great months for climbing Kilimanjaro too, but by December, the Christmas and New Year crowds start to arrive – and that’s a completely new story!




Climbing Kilimanjaro – Inspirational Stories to help you reach Uhuru Peak

If you dream of climbing Africa’s highest mountain – Mount Kilimanjaro, but are worried that you are too old, too unfit, or simply too cool to dress in unfashionable mountain gear for a week – worry not!  There are people older than you, less fit than you, and more fashionable that you climbing this impressive peak every day – so pack your excuses in your old kit bag (or mountain rucksack!) and get on down to Tanzania!

group tours and private tours mount kilimanjaro machame route

Here’s a roundup of the latest Kilimanjaro stories to get you inspired…

Twelve retirees set to become the oldest group to climb Mount Kilimanjaro

A group of 60 – 78 year olds from Port Lincoln, Australia will attempt to become the oldest group to reach Kilimanjaro’s 5,895m peak this week – proving that age is nothing more than a number.   A “crazy idea” thought up by 77-year old Christine Jenner who struggled to find a suitable exercise program for people in her age group, this Kilimanjaro challenge will be the culmination of 18-months of training.  Christine said, “Some people think that once you get to a certain age you should be wrapped in cotton wool and be sitting in front of the TV or reading a book. But there are wonderful things out there, life begins at 70″!

Woman climbs Kilimanjaro in High Heels and Chanel Lipstick to celebrate her 40th Birthday

Proving that you do not have to compromise on style when climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, Rima Suqui carried a pair of designer stilettos all the way to summit, where she posed for photos with killer heels and bright red Chanel lipstick.

When quizzed about her ‘unique’ mountain gear, she confirmed that she was “a little bit of a shoe person”, and that she had done this to commemorate her 40th Birthday. “It’s 40,” she said. “Forty is kind of a big deal. You’ve got to do something.”

A student, who was told she would never walk again, prepares to climb Kilimanjaro.

When architecture student Katie Taylor broke her back in a skiing accident four years ago, she was told that she would likely never walk again, but four years on, she is planning to climb Africa’s highest mountain in a bid to raise funds for a charitable organisation.

Speaking of her pending challenge, which starts tomorrow – August 6th, Katie said, “It’s important not to put limits on what we think people with disabilities can or cannot do.”

Now that we have dispelled your worries and doubts, book that Kilimanjaro Climb, and take a look at the world from the Roof of Africa – the most beautiful view on planet earth!




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.


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.