Important information before climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro: In order to have a safe, smooth and enjoyable Kilimanjaro experience, you need to know some things before you start making bookings or head to Tanzania. We list and explain important things you must know before climbing Kilimanjaro.
Climbing Mt Kilimanjaro is a life-changing experience, and we’re excited that you’re planning to take on this adventure! As part of your all-important preparatory research, here are things you must know before climbing Kilimanjaro.
The fitter you are, the better chance you have of reaching the summit and the more comfortable the climb will be for you. Our success-rate is very high (98%), but you should spend the weeks and months before your climb in improving your strength and stamina, as both of these are important on the mountain. If you are considering climbing Africa’s highest mountain, it probably means that you are already active, perhaps playing sport or incorporating physical activity into your everyday life. If you are not an active person, you need to prepare yourself in advance – and very seriously – for your Kilimanjaro climb. A fit body, flexible joints, toned muscles and healthy lungs are what you should aim for. If you’re not used to long-distance walking, then a few long walks can really help your preparation: if you can walk for two or more consecutive days, then that will help you realise that this is very different to a couple of hours’ gentle weekend stroll. It also helps to get you used to your equipment (boots, socks, daypack etc) that you are bringing with you.
Whether you are already fit or not, we would recommend starting to prepare yourself 3 or 4 months in advance, concentrating on:
be encountered, you follow the advice given below.
Changing countries often means changing diet and this in itself can be the cause of diarrhoea and vomiting. Such symptoms often cause visitors to believe that they have contracted food poisoning, but this is not necessarily the case: the stomach is just getting used to being confronted with different and unfamiliar foods. Within your first aid kit (see below), it is certainly worth bringing your favoured treatment against diarrhoea to help speed recovery. If you do encounter stomach problems, then keeping hydrated is a big part of the recovery process. Drink water, and lots of it.
All of our mountain guides are trained in first-aid and hold appropriate certificates, but we would strongly advice all of our visitors to take a first-aid kit with them. As well as prescription and ant malaria drugs that you are already taking, you should pack the following:
Carrying any liquids or ointments in separate plastic bags is advisable, to prevent against leaks.
Rest assured, your porters will carry all the heavy gear, with the exception of your daypack. Our advice is that a daypack should weigh no more than about 5 to 6 kg and should contain water, rainproof clothing, sunscreen, camera and perhaps a snack or two. You should also carry any prescription medication you need during the day.
If you don’t want to buy or bring all of the following items, they may be available for hire – see the list above – and let us know in advance.
A good pair of walking boots is essential for a climb such as Kilimanjaro. What is ‘good’? First of all, they should be a reputable brand. If you are buying new boots, and are not familiar with the many different types on offer, you should seek specialist advice from an outdoors shop. If you are investing in new boots, you should buy them well before your Kilimanjaro trip and make sure that you wear them in before you arrive in Tanzania. Arriving with boots which are not properly worn in will result in discomfort, blisters and could even prevent you from summiting. If you are going to wear boots which you have used before, check that they are still in good condition, that they still have good grip and that the laces are not worn. They may also need to be re-waterproofed using a spray, as waterproofing coatings wears off over a period of time. You should bring a spare pair of laces. Gaiters A pair of gaiters are very useful in keeping stones, dirt and – on the summit, snow – out of your boots. We would recommend bringing a pair.
Most climbers will bring a couple of pairs of thermal socks and some thinner ones as well. Some people like to wear two pairs of socks simultaneously, believing that it helps to prevent blisters. We would recommend experimenting before your climb, to ensure that your boots and socks combination is satisfactory. You should save at least one pair of dry socks for your ‘summit day.’
The choice is to bring two poles, one pole or none at all. Experience trekkers will know whether poles suit them or not, but we strongly recommend them. Many find that telescopic poles are invaluable on the descent, as they can be adjusted to reduce considerably the pressure that is inevitably experienced on the knees. Telescopic poles are also easy to pack.
To protect against the sun, a hat is a must, preferably one with a brim. A woolly hat is also essential for the higher slopes, to protect against the cold and some people prefer a balaclava which can reduce the effects of the wind and cold on the face.
Waterproof layers are another essential on your Kilimanjaro climb. Getting wet clothes can lead to a great deal of discomfort and loss of body heat, which is dangerous. Gore-tex is a well-established brand, and one you should look for when buying a waterproof jacket. Your jacket should be large enough to go over all the layers you intend to wear when you are doing your ascent: again, this is something you can try out at home. Waterproof trousers are also essential.
Flexibility is the most important consideration when choosing your clothing. Temperatures vary so much on the mountain and wearing several layers allows you to put on, or remove, a layer or
two as it gets colder or hotter. As well as shirts,
your packing list should include one warm fleece and one lighter one; thermal
underwear (long johns and a vest); trekking trousers (not jeans, which are
impractical) and thermal gloves (many climbers like a thinner pair as well –
this is effectively an extra ‘layer’ for the hands). On the lower slopes, a
light shirt is a good choice. A bandana is useful for covering the mouth
against dust, or to protect against the cold (if you don’t have a balaclava).
On your climb, we will provide you with breakfast,
lunch and dinner. We pride ourselves on the quality of the food our teams are
able to provide while out on the mountain. With years of experience of climbing
mountains (and years of experience of eating, too!), we know which foods make
for a balanced, energy-giving diet for those climbing Kilimanjaro. We adhere to
the highest possible hygiene standards. On Kilimanjaro, we provide climbers
with a special, solar-lit dining-tent. For between mealtimes, you may wish to
bring a few snacks, such as nuts and dried fruit.
On the lower slopes, water is available from streams
and can be used safely. Our guides will ensure that you have enough water in
your bottles or camel-pack. If you wish to have your water purified, you should
bring your own tablets and ask your guide, who will be happy to purify the
water for you.
Special Dietary Requirements
With advance notice, we can cater for vegetarian,
vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free diets. If you have any other special dietary
requirements, please let us know in advance and we will try to provide accordingly.
The weather and temperature on Mount
Weather and temperature vary according to the season
in which you decide to climb; and, whichever season you choose, both vary
according to the altitude. While it might be 20 C down in the rainforest
section of the climb, up in the crater the temperature could be as low as -20
C. Climbers must be prepared for these huge variations, choosing their clothing
accordingly (see ‘CLOTHING AND EQUIPMENT,’ above.) A waterproof should be close
to hand at all times and layers of clothing used to maximize flexibility.
Public ‘Long-drop’ toilets
With Mbassa Adventures trek, we always dig latrines or
set up toilet tents at the campsites. At times however, you may have to use the
public ‘long-drop’ facilities. Be prepared: many of the public toilets on the
Kilimanjaro routes are no more than basic wooden sheds with no more than a hole
in the floor. They are often smelly and some irresponsible trekkers choose to
ignore them and ‘do their business’ out in the bushes. Such behaviour is
unacceptable and unethical, as is leaving toilet paper out in the open or
hanging on bushes. To alleviate your discomfort in the public toilets, the use
of a bandana to minimize the effects of the unpleasant smell is recommended.
sure that you have a valid passport whose expiry date is sufficient for you to
be allowed to enter Tanzania. (Usually the expiry date must be at least six
months from the date of travel, for tourists, and longer for business
travellers.) With the exception of those travelling from certain
African countries (and a few other countries), all visitors to Tanzania must have a valid visa. It is the responsibility of travellers to arrange this. Visas are best arranged in advance. If you are arriving at Kilimanjaro International Airport, without having arranged a visa in advance, please follow the procedure outlined below, to ensure that you get the correct visa and meet up with your driver-guide outside the arrival door:
01. Complete the visa request form (either on the flight or on arrival)
02. Join the queue for one of the visa counters – please don’t let yourself be assisted by anybody at the airport or be persuaded to give your visa money to anyone apart from the staff at the counter
03. Pay for the visa – USD 100 per person for US nationals and USD 50 per person for nationals of other countries (visa fees are payable in cash ONLY and US bills should not be older than 2006)
04. Make sure that you get a receipt for this transaction – the receipt is yellowish- orange colour with a silver seal sticker
05. Verify that the number on the receipt is the same as the one written on top of the visa stamp on your passport
06. Queue up for your fingerprints and passport check
07. Collect your luggage and leave by the exit door
08. Outside the exit door you will see our driver guide holding the ‘Mbassa Adventures’ sign board
Tipping is of course discretionary, but is an expected part of the way in which business is done in Tanzania. It counts as an expression of gratitude to those who – hopefully – have made your experience an unforgettable one, and enables you to directly reward those people. Our clients come from all around the world, with different attitudes to tipping, but a tip is off great significance here in Tanzania and will hugely appreciated by the recipient. In the course your welcome meeting, you will be advised of the number of guides and the cook who will accompany you on your climb. (The number of porters will only be confirmed once the luggage and equipment have been checked by national park rangers at the gate.) You will be introduced to your porters during the course of your trek – normally there will be 3 or more porters per trekker based on the route and luggage.
We realize that both the process of giving tips and knowing how much to give can be difficult, so we provide the following guideline.
Most of trekkers prefer to give individual tip to the team members, the following amount can be used as a guideline:
Note: The above figures are only for guidance and can of course varied at the trekker’s direction
Thank you for Choosing Mbassa Adventures!