Mt Kilimanjaro - Machame Route

Kilimanjaro, by any name, is a metaphor for the compelling beauty of East Africa. When you see it, you understand why.

Not only is this the highest peak on the African continent; it is also the tallest free-standing mountain in the world, rising in breathtaking isolation from the surrounding coastal scrubland – elevation around 900 metres – to an imperious 5,895 metres (19,336 feet).

Kilimanjaro is one of the world’s most accessible high summits, a beacon for visitors from around the world. But there is so much more to Kili than her summit.

The ascent of the slopes is a virtual climatic world tour, from the tropics to the Arctic. Even before you cross the national park boundary (at the 2,700m contour), the cultivated footslopes give way to lush montane forest, inhabited by elusive elephant, leopard, buffalo, the endangered Abbot’s duiker, and other small antelope and primates.

Price: from AUD2795 per person

Duration: 8 Days

Trek Ratings: Activity 3 / Conditions 3 / Accommodation 4 / Training/Preparation 3

Best Season: January, February, March, June, July, August, September & October

Country Visited: Tanzania

Trip Start: Moshi

Trip Ends: Moshi

Destination: Mt Kilimanjaro

Trip Route: Moshi-Machame Camp-Shira Camp-Lava Tower-Barranco Camp-Karanga Camp-Barafu Camp-Uhuru Peak-Mweka Forest Camp-Mweka Gate-Moshi

Trip Style: Guided Trekking

Activity: Sightseeing and High Altitude Trekking

Max. Altitude: 5895 m /19340.55 ft

Activity Per Day: Approximately 4-6 hr walking

Day 01 Arrival at Kilimanjaro International Airport. Overnight at Hotel.
Day 02 Drive to mountain and trek to Machame Camp (3000 metres). Overnight at Bush Camp.
Day 03 Trek to Shira Camp (3720 metres). Overnight at Bush Camp.
Day 04 Shira Camp to Lava Tower (4600 metres) and then Barranco Camp (3900 metres). Overnight at Bush Camp.
Day 05 Barranco Camp (3900 metres) to Karanga Camp (3960 metres) (and then Barafu Camp – 4680 metres). Overnight at Bush Camp.
Day 06 Barafu Camp (4680 metres) to Uhuru Peak (5895 metres) and then Mweka Forest Camp (3100 metres). Overnight at Bush Camp.
Day 07 Mweka Camp (3100 metres) to Mweka Gate (1640 metres). Overnight at Bush Camp.
Day 08 End of arrangements. Transfer to Kilimanjaro International Airport.

Day 01 Arrival at Kilimanjaro airport.
Upon arrival in Tanzania, you will be met and transferred from Kilimanjaro International Airport to your overnight accommodation in Moshi – the Springlands Hotel. During the evening, your trek leader will conduct a trip briefing and check equipment in preparation for the week ahead.

Overnight at Hotel
No meals included

Day 02 Drive to mountain and trek to Machame Camp (3000 metres).
After a big breakfast to fill up energy reserves, you will be driven to the mountain to start the trek.On the way you will get to see subsistence farming and the town of Machame.

At the Machame Gate you will meet your trekking crew – your guide, porters and cook. The 4-5 hours hiking today will see you trek through banana and coffee farms, before crossing the beautiful rainforest and heathland.

The second night is spent at Machame camp at an altitude of 3000 metres.

Overnight at Bush Camp
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Included

Day 03  Trek to Shira Camp (3720 metres).
On day 3 you will rise early, pack your gear and prepare for the trek from Machame Camp to Shira Camp. The trek is relatively steep as you enter the low alpine zone which is characterised by moorlands and grasslands.

You are likely to see some interesting fauna and flora throughout the 4-6 hours of walking today. The most notable bird that you might spot as you ascend is the White Naped Raven. Don’t mistake them for crows, which are found in abundance in the local towns of Moshi and Arusha. You can tell the ravens apart as they are quite a bit bigger and have much thicker beaks.

Shira Camp sits on the Eastern edge of the Shira Plateau. It is the first camp at which altitude sickness might start to be felt.

Overnight at Bush Camp
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Included

Day 04 Shira Camp to Lava Tower (4600 metres) and then Barranco Camp (3900 metres).
Today is a long and tough trek East off the Shira Plateau through the ‘Garden of the Senecios’, up to Lava Tower and the Shark’s Tooth rock formation at 4600 metres and then back down via the Southern Circuit to Barranco Camp (3900 metres).

The route is approximately 11km in length and takes 5-7 hours to complete. Although you end the day at a very similar elevation to when you started from Shira Camp, it is arguably one of the most important days on your trek as it gives you a chance to climb high and sleep low which is important for proper acclimatisation.

Overnight at Bush Camp
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Included

Day 05 Barranco Camp (3900 metres) to Karanga Camp (3960 metres) (and then Barafu Camp – 4680 metres).
We begin today with a steep traverse up the Barranco Wall; a 257 metre rock face that requires basic scrambling skills to the top of the Karanga Valley. The path then follows a series of inclines and declines to Karanga Camp (3960 metres). We then stop for lunch at Karanga Camp and then continue on along the Southern Circuit until it joins the Mweka Trail up to Barafu Camp (4680 metres).

When you arrive at Barafu around mid-afternoon you will be served an early dinner and encouraged to get some shut-eye as the summit trek commences around midnight that night.

Overnight at Bush Camp
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Included

Day 06 Barafu Camp (4680 metres) to Uhuru Peak (5895 metres) and then Mweka Forest Camp (3100 metres).
Day five is summit night (and day)! You will be awoken around 23:30 with hot tea and biscuits. Hopefully you have managed to get a few hours’ sleep; don’t worry if you haven’t as most people struggle to sleep before summit night. Do however make sure that all your kit, including warm clothes, headlamp, insulated water reserves and snacks are ready for a sharp departure at midnight.

The trek up Kibo is steep and slow. The trick is to keep your momentum moving forward, one step at a time. It takes about 6-8 hours to reach the top of the crater rim where you will see the sign for Stella Point (5739 metres). This is not the summit of Kilimanjaro. You still have another 156 meters of altitude to walk around the crater rim to Uhuru Peak (5895 metres). We recommend resting briefly at Stella Point and potentially having some hot tea or hot chocolate.

Dawn should be approaching. Take a moment to savour where you have got to and then dig deep for the energy to push for the summit. Over 60% of climbers stop at Stella Point but most can make it to the summit if they muster the metal strength to push through. Obviously if you are experiencing severe AMS symptoms you should descend immediately.

After reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro, a 4.5km ascent, you still have an 11km descent to Mweka Camp (3100 metres)! The descent can be very gruelling on your joints. It is recommend you use trekking poles and potentially wear gaiters to avoid fine glacial scree getting into your boots. Mweka is situated in the upper part of the rainforest zone.

The richness of oxygen and moisture in the air will be a very welcome surprise.

Overnight at Bush Camp
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Included

Day 07 Mweka Camp (3100 metres) to Mweka Gate (1640 metres).
The final day of trekking on the Machame Route.

By now you will be exhausted and probably only thinking about a hot shower. The trek is a pleasant one through the lower rain-forested slopes and down to Mweka Gate (1640 metres). Although you cover 9km, the trek only takes 3-4 hours.

It is customary to tip your trekking crew before being transported back to your hotel in Moshi or Arusha.

Overnight at Hotel
Breakfast and Lunch Included

Day 08 End of arrangements.
After breakfast you will be transferred to Kilimanjaro International Airport for your onward arrangements.

NOTE: During the trip; weather, local politics, transport or a multitude of other factors, that are beyond our control can result in a change of itinerary. It is, however, very unlikely that the itinerary would be substantially altered; if alterations are necessary the leader will decide what is the best alternative, taking into consideration the best interests of the whole group. Where a change does occur, we do everything we can to minimise its effect, but we cannot be responsible for the results of changes or delays.

There is no fixed departure date for this trek. This trip can only be organised upon your request. We have price discounts according to the group size and number of pax. The bigger your group, the bigger your group discounts.

Please contact us for further information.

Cost Includes

Meet and greet services
Transfers as specified
Use of tents on the mountain
Meals on the mountain prepared by climb crew*
Services of an experienced English speaking mountain guide
Porters to carry backpack/rucksack and camping equipment
Accommodations and meals as indicated
Park fees, camping fees, mountain rescue fees** and government taxes

Park fees and camping permits may be changed without prior notice. This is beyond our control and any increase levied will be passed on to you.

Passengers arriving into Kenya and Tanzania may be required to provide proof of vaccination against yellow fever.

Passengers should bring only soft sided bags on safaris.

All the passengers must have Identification Card/Passport with them for
internal flights.

Baggage on internal flights is strictly limited to 15kgs per person (including hand luggage). Any excess baggage will be charged by the airline at check-in.

Passengers arriving to Tanzania may be asked to present a valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate

*Meals on the mountain are prepared for high carbohydrate intake to facilitate climbing. They are not hotel standard meals and will lack variety. Special diets can be catered to with advance notice.

**Rescue fee covers evacuation from the mountain to the park gate only.
It does not cover any medical treatment at all, nor transportation to the local hospital. We recommend that travellers purchase travel insurance with
medical and evacuation cover.

Climb preparation documentation, suggested packing lists and equipment rental lists are available on request.

Cost Does not Include

International Flights & Regional Flights
Visas
Airport tax
Travel/medical/baggage insurance
Tips for porters and mountain guide
Climbing gear such as goggles, walking stick, flashlight/torch, bed roll, etc. (though these are available to rent)
Drinks/laundry (unless specified)
Dining room tips
Porterage
Telephone bills
Any others expenses which are not mentioned on ‘Price Includes’ section.

Typically you get two types of trekkers on Kilimanjaro. Those who are unprepared and under-equipped, and those who have spent an arm and leg on equipment that they will unlikely use during their hike.

In this Kilimanjaro packing list we hope to provide a happy medium between the two that covers all mandatory equipment that we recommend you should purchase in preparation for your adventure.

If you happen to forget a few things you can usually hire from your tour company or buy equipment from the various hawkers who loiter outside the route gates trying to sell you everything under the sun. Remember if you decide to buy from these guys they will always try to overcharge. Bartering is just the way it is done in Tanzania.

Clothing

On Kilimanjaro you will be trekking through 4 climatic zones. Weather can range from warm and tropical at the base of the mountain to freezing on the summit.

To ensure that you remain perfectly comfortable in each zone it is critical that you understand the concept of layering with your Kilimanjaro Clothing.

Being able to layer up and layer down as the weather changes is important. Layering only works if each layer supports the wicking process (allowing moisture to pass from one layer to the next). Layers should therefore hug the skin (i.e. be not too tight, but equally not too loose) and consist of wickable fabric.

Cotton should be avoided as it is hydrophilic, meaning that moisture struggles to pass through and therefore the wicking process stops.

Underwear: Depending on the length of your trek you should bring 4-5 pairs of sports underwear.
Base Layer: As you approach the upper reaches of the mountain you will need to wear a lightweight base layer (or next-to-skin layer) over your underwear. You will not need to wear this layer for the first few days on the mountain (unless it is very cold). On summit night this is arguably the most important layer as it is the one that comes in contact with your skin.
Shirts: In terms of trekking shirts we recommend 4 x short sleeve shirts and 1 x long sleeve shirt. Ideal fabric is a breathable, lightweight and quick-drying polyester, merino or nylon. Make sure that your shirts are not cotton.
Pants: Convertible trekking pants are fantastic as they allow for both hot and cold conditions.
Insulation Layer: For the colder stretches on the hike and for summit night you should bring one mid-weight fleece jacket or parka top. This is your second layer, or insulation layer, and should be used in your layering system over your base layer, or indeed as a standalone that you wear over your trekking shirt when temperatures start to drop. They also come in great use at night when it can get very cold out. Fleeces that use Polartec materials are great. Typically Polartec fleeces come in 100s, 200s or 300s. Hundreds are a little light and 300’s too heavy. Two-hundreds provide great warmth and comfort, and are perfect for hiking Kilimanjaro.
Core Jacket / Third Layer: The core shell layer or third layer consists of a windproof, waterproof and warm jacket and trousers. Warm jackets are a minefield of complexity but typically split into two main types – down or synthetic (and some are insulated with wool). Down jackets are lighter and generally warmer than synthetic alternatives, but a lot more expensive and not great in wet or moist conditions.
Rain Gear: In addition to these items we recommend taking with you lightweight rain gear or a poncho which often comes in handy on the lower reaches. Ponchos that sit over your body and rucksack as seen adjacent are great.

Footwear

There are three key characteristics to look for in a pair of trekking boots. The first two – fit and quality – are decided at point of purchase. The third – use – is entirely dependent on you.

Get any of these three characteristics wrong and you risk getting sore feet, injuring your back, losing toenails and enduring painful blisters.

Let’s deal with each characteristic below:

Fit

The best way to test good fit is to place your foot in a boot and slide it all the way forward until your toes hit the front of the boot (make sure you are wearing an average cushioned sports sock). Then take your index finger and slide it down the back of the boot between your heal and the boot support.

A perfect fitting boot will allow you to squeeze your finger in without too much resistance. If you cannot squeeze your index finger down the back of the boot, then unfortunately the boot is too small. If you find that your index finger fits too easily into the back of the boot, then the boot is likely too big. A snug fit, with your index finger in the back of the boot, is just right.

Note: this is not a science, but a good approximation for good fitting boots.

Quality

Good quality doesn’t have to be expensive, in fact you can get some affordable trekking boots that are great quality. Good quality boots have the following design features:

  • Medium to high tops for study ankle support. The higher the top the heavier the boot
  • The sole of the boot should have a high rubber content and deep lugs for better traction – the deeper the lugs, the heavier the boot
  • Medium to heavy weight – heavy boots are good for durability and cushioning, but the extra weight of the boot can be pretty tiring to hike in. We recommend going for a medium weight boot
  • Waterproof – this is pretty standard today but always good to get boots that use GoreTex material for improved waterproofing
  • Lacing system should incorporate D-Strings and speed hooks for better ankle support and fast lacing

Use

Once you have got yourself a good fitting pair of boots that have similar characteristics to those set out above, then the task is to break your boots in. Do not, under any circumstances, arrive in Kilimanjaro with brand new hiking boots that you have never worn.

The best way to break boots in are to wear them as often as possible before your hiking date. During that time you should undertake 2-3 long distance treks (4-5 hours a day) in your boots.

When the inner soles of the boot start to contour the bottom of your foot then you can be confident that your boots are well worn in.

Headgear

There are five headgear accessories that we recommended you need to take on your Kilimanjaro climb.

Hat with Neck Cover: You are going to want to have a good hat with you for the climb to protect your face from sun burn and keep your head cool. We like hats that have an adjustable neck cover. Make sure the hat is made from a material that breaths well. The hat should fit comfortably in your daypack as you don’t want to have to hold the hat every time you want to take it off.
Beanie or Headband: A thermal beanie or head band is a must for summit night. You want to keep your head and ears warm. Make sure the beanie fits snug and is suitable for snowy conditions. Look for an outdoor, lined and fleeced beanie or headband.
Balaclava or Neck Band: To protect your neck and face from blistering cold temperatures if the wind picks up, high Sun UV during the mid-afternoons at altitude, or indeed to cover your mouth and nose from dust, we recommend taking either a hiking balaclava or neck band. Make sure to get something that is lightweight, absorbent, breathable and quick-drying.
Headlamp: A headlamp is the best torch for night hiking as you can have your hands free at all times. You will use your headlamp on summit night (yes, you summit over night, starting usually around midnight).The key things to look for in a good headlamp are:

  • Light / brightness quality: The higher the brightness the better. Of course this comes at a costs to battery life. Ideally you want a max beam distance of greater than 70 meters and a light output of greater than 100 lumens
  • Battery life: The longer the better. This often means the headlamp needs to hold more batteries, which in turn makes it heavier. We recommend a minimum high mode run time of 30 hours
  • Weight: As you are carrying this device on your head, the lighter the better. No more than 230 grams.

Gloves and Poles

There are two types of gloves you should take on your Kilimanjaro trek – inner and outer gloves.

Like base layer clothing, inner gloves provide the next-to-skin insulation that is critical when trekking in cold temperatures (and it will get really cold on the upper reaches of Mount Kilimanjaro). Outer gloves are thicker, waterproof and provide the shell protection needed to prevent freezing hands.

In addition to gloves you will also need to take trekking poles.

Inner Gloves (Inners): In terms of inner gloves, you want to make sure to get a pair that has great wicking properties (synthetics, wool or even silk) are good. Do not go for a cotton inner gloves as these will restrict moisture transfer. You should also make sure that the gloves provide a good thermal lining and are lightweight.
Outer Gloves: We cannot stress the importance of having good outer gloves. Your hands will be the first to start freezing on summit night. Cold hands are super debilitating and painful. The perfect outer gloves provides warmth and are waterproof, without being cumbersome or too bulky. Essentially you want gloves that provide great dexterity, whilst also providing exceptional warmth, water resistance and durability.
Trekking Poles: Trekking is one exercise that puts serious strain on your major leg joints and knees. This is particularly true on Kilimanjaro where the average trek length is 7 days, with 5-8 hours of hiking each day. Add in the rough terrain that undulates frequently and you can see why most people complain of sore legs.The best way to reduce the impact of long-distance trekking on your knees and joints is by using trekking poles. In fact good trekking poles can reduce the impact on your knees by up to 25% – as assessed in a 1999 study by The Journal of Sports Medicine.We recommend using trekking poles as a mandatory hiking accessory on Mount Kilimanjaro, as they offer better balance on trails and reduce stress on joints during ascents and descents Key characteristics to look for in a pair of hiking poles are:

  • Weight: Heavy poles (>350 grams) tend to be better at enduring long and sustained treks across rough terrain as they are often more durable. Light poles
  • Adjustability: Good trekking poles should be fully adjustable. There are two main adjustable systems – lever-locking or twist-locking. We recommend lever-locking systems as they are easier to use, and more durable (despite being slightly heavier)
  • Grip: Pole grips are usually made from cork, rubber or foam. Cork is a good grip material and super durable, but not as good as rubber in terms of insulating warmth (which is a factor on Mount Kilimanjaro). Foam is the least durable type of grip but the best at wicking moisture away from the grip and hands. If we were pushed to recommend a grip type for Mount Kilimanjaro we would say rubber or form, for their warmth / wicking properties, but cork is still our overall favourite for its durability and lower susceptibility to chaffing the hands and causing blisters.
  • Material: The Pole itself is usually constructed from lightweight aluminium or carbon fibre (which is lighter than aluminium). We don’t have too much of a preference here, as long as the structure is sturdy and mid-weight.

Bags

There are two types of bags that you need to have on your Kilimanjaro trek – a Kilimanjaro duffle bag and a daypack.

Duffle Bag: The type of Kilimanjaro duffle bag you choose is important as it will hold all of your gear, including your sleeping bag. Your Kilimanjaro duffle bag will be carried by your porter who will transport your gear from one camp to the next. Porters carry bags on their head so it is important that the bag is soft and weighs no more than 20kg when fully loaded. Key characteristics to look for in a duffle bag:

  • Greater than 80 litre capacity
  • Constructed from waterproof laminate material to ensure your gear stays dry. We recommend packing your gear into separate plastic bags or packing units (see below) to provide extra waterproofing and easy access to sorted gear
  • A strong zipper system that is not susceptible to breaking and can be easily locked.
  • Take a small lock to secure your bag
  • A hand and shoulder strapping system to provide extra versatility

Daypack: In addition to your duffle bag (which is carried by your porter) you will be carrying your own daypack. In your daypack you should keep all important (suncream, sunglasses, snacks, water), personal (money, passport etc.) or small breakable items (camera, phone etc.). Your daypack should be small and lightweight. The lighter the better. Key characteristics to look for in a daypack:

  • Compression straps to reduce weight stress on your back
  • Side mesh pockets for easy access to your water bottle and other useful stuff
  • Ensure your backpack has a rain cover

Sleeping Bags

A warm sleeping bag is an absolute must for Mount Kilimanjaro, regardless of the season you plan to trek.

You can guarantee freezing nights on the upper reaches of Kili (>3,000m) and without a warm sleeping bag you will be uncomfortable and cold.

Below we have set out the key characteristics to look for in the best Kilimanjaro sleeping bags, as well as provided three recommendations based on price and performance.

It is possible to rent sleeping bags in Moshi or Arusa, or from your tour operator, but in general we recommend you bring your own as reusing a sleeping bag that has been previously used by lots of smelly trekkers before you can be rather unpleasant and unhygienic experience. Of course, if you only plan to use your sleeping bag once then renting, or borrowing from a friend, is the preferable option.

If you are set on renting a sleeping bag then it is still worthwhile looking for one with similar characteristics as those set out below, and a good idea to bring a sleeping bag liner to provide a slightly more hygienic sleeping environment and additional insulation.

Key characteristics – Sleeping Bags

Down vs. Synthetic

There are two types of sleeping bags – goose or duck down, and synthetic. In general down sleeping bags are better quality, lighter and more comfortable. They are however more expensive than synthetic sleeping bags.

To decide between down and synthetic the two key considerations are weight and cost.

The cost calculation is really dependent on your personal budget and more importantly, frequency of camping and trekking.

We recommend going with a down sleeping bag is you plan to do frequent unsupported camping and trekking adventures (2-4 a year), and want a product that is reliable and a long-term investment. If you are trekking Mount Kilimanjaro as a one off and might only use the sleeping bag again in a few years for another trek, then it might make sense to go for a cheaper synthetic option, or indeed rent a bag.

Warmth

As we mentioned above, the nights on Kilimanjaro, or indeed on any high altitude trekking expedition, get very cold. Hence your sleeping bag needs to be able to cope with extremely cold temperatures. We recommend sleeping bags that have a rating at a minimum of -10 degrees Celsius (14 Fahrenheit).

It is however better to have a warmer sleeping bag than a colder one – you would rather be too warm than too cold.

Shape and Design

The best hiking sleeping bag design is the mummy-shape as it is crafted to fit the contours of the human body, and hence provides better insulation that standard rectangular-shaped sleeping bags.

Most adult body-types fit into a mummy-shaped sleeping bag, but if you have a uniquely short, tall or wide-body shaped than make sure you pick a size of sleeping bag that will fit your body contours snuggly.

The other two design features to look out for are an insulated hood that can be pulled around your head with a draw chord, and a two-way zipping system which improves insulation and allows for unzipping at both ends of the sleeping bag.

N.B. This list is only a guide. Use your experience and the listed features to find the best gear for you.

When is the best time to climb Kilimanjaro?

Although it is possible to climb Kilimanjaro all year round, generally months with good weather is recommended as adverse weather conditions such as excessive rain, winds, snow/ice and extreme cold can be draining on the body and significantly lower your chances of summiting and also increase safety risks.

Typically, the months of January & February and also September & October are considered to be the best months in terms of dry weather and moderate temperatures. June to August are also good months in terms of dry weather but temperatures will be much cooler. Some rain can be expected in November, December and March. April and May are the rainiest months and climbing conditions are usually considered poor. If you are considering climbing in the wetter months, the Rongai route is recommended since the northern side of the mountain receives less precipitation.

As you can expect, the months with favourable climbing conditions are also the busiest months in terms of the number of people on the trails.

I have read that there are several routes to climb. Is this correct?

Yes, there are more or less six established ascent routes – Marangu, Machame, Lemosho, Shira, Rongai and Umbwe. The Lemosho and Shira routes start from the westside of the mountain, while Machame and Umbwe routes approach the mountain from the south. The Marangu route starts from the southeast and lastly, the remote Rongai route commences from the north close to the Kenyan border.

MARANGU ROUTE:
Also referred to as the “Coca-Cola” route, it is often considered the easiest route on Kilimanjaro given its gradual incline and short duration, but misleading due to the high failure rate to summit. The ascent and descent routes are on the same path and it is the second most popular route after Machame so the traffic on the trail is high. The Marangu route is considered the least scenic of the six routes.

Marangu is the only route which offers dormitory style accommodations in small basic huts. Climbers are supplied with bunks beds, mattresses and pillows, but climbers are required to provide their own sleeping bags. The huts have communal dining areas and basic washrooms.

MACHAME ROUTE:
Often referred to as the “Whiskey” route, Machame is the most popular route on the mountain and the trail is busy during the high season. Machame route is very scenic and the trail takes climbers through the montane forest, the moorlands of Shira Plateau, the barren and rocky landscape around Lava Tower, into Barranco Valley with its unique and indigenous vegetation. Climbers will experience breathtaking views from the top of Barranco Wall and a good glimpse Kibo’s Southern Icefield from Karanga Valley. The Machame route descends using the Mweka route.

Machame is considered a more difficult route than Marangu with longer climbing days and steeper trails and climbers sleep in tents at designed campsites for the duration of the climb.

LEMOSHO ROUTE:
The Lemosho route, similar to Machame, takes climbers through breathtaking scenery and ever changing landscapes and due to its low traffic and high summit rate, it is a good choice for those climbers with hiking and camping experience and time to do a longer climb.

Lemosho route also winds through lush montane forest on day 1 before ascending to endless vistas of the moorlands and the Shira Plateau on day 2. Typically on day 3 or 4 (depending on the number of days you choose) Lemosho meets up with the popular Machame route near Lava Tower. As with Machame, the Lemosho route descends using the Mweka route.

The minimum number of days required for this route is six days, although eight days is recommended to best enjoy the scenic trail at a leisurely pace.

SHIRA ROUTE:
The Shira route is nearly identical to Lemosho but bypasses the trek through the montane forest and the climb starts at a much higher elevation on the Shira Plateau. Some climbers may experience symptoms of high altitude from day 1 if they fail to quickly acclimatize to the high elevation. Shira route meets up with Lemosho on day 2 and follows the same trail for the remainder of the climb.

RONGAI ROUTE:
The remote Rongai route starts near the Kenyan border and has low traffic compared to the Marangu and Machame routes. Rongai is also a good choice for climbers in the rainy season as the northern side of the mountain receives less rain than the other routes starting from the west and south.

Rongai route winds through remote and wilderness areas with very few climbers before meeting up with the popular Marangu route at Kibo camp. Rongai route descends down the Marangu route.

UMBWE ROUTE:
The short and steep Umbwe route is widely considered the most challenging and difficult route on Mount Kilimanjaro.

Due to its fast ascent, only those climbers who are physically fit and confident with their ability to acclimatize should attempt this route. The fast elevation gain on this route usually does not allow for a climber’s body to proper acclimatize if attempted in the minimum number of days and accordingly, there is a high failure rate to reach the summit.

Umbwe route meets up with Machame, Lemosho and Shira at Barranco Camp and then follows the southern circuit to the summit and descends using the Mweka route.

How cold is it on Kilimanjaro?

Climbing Kilimanjaro will take you through four ecological zones in only a matter of days depending on your route from rainforest, to moorland, to alpine desert, to finally the arctic zone.

At base of the mountain, the average temperature will range from 20 to 27 Celsius depending on the month of the year. The temperature will quickly decrease as you gain elevation and pass through the different ecological zones. At Uhuru Peak, the night time temperatures can drop down to – 25 Celcius or even lower depending on wind chill. The weather on Kilimanjaro can be extremely variable and change very quickly. It is advisable to be prepared for extreme weather including rain, gusty winds and cold nights.

What do I need to carry in my day pack?

You only require items that you may need during the day until you reach your next camp and the items may vary from day to day depending on trail conditions, weather and your mountain guide’s recommendations. Typically such items may include rain gear at the lower altitude, warm clothing & gloves at higher altitude, snacks, hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, lip balm, camera gear, drinking water, lunch and all important documents including your passport and cash.

All other unnecessary items should be packed and locked into your duffel bag and be ready for the porters before setting off for the day. The porters will carry the duffel bag from campsite to campsite.

What kind of food can I expect on the mountain and what about drinking water?

All meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and drinks will be provided while on the mountain. An example of what you can expect on the mountain:

Breakfast Lunch Snack Dinner
Tea, coffee, hot chocolate
Porridge
Toast or crepe with margarine, peanut butter, jam, honey
Eggs and sausage
Beans
Fruit
Water or juice
Sandwich
Boiled Egg
Roasted chicken
Cheese
Candy bar
Snack
Fruit
Tea, coffee, hot chocolate
Roasted peanuts
Popcorn
Tea, coffee, hot chocolate
Soup
Salad
Stewed vegetables with Beef, Chicken or Fish
Rice Pilaf
Potatoes
Fruit Salad

 

Plenty of drinking water will be boiled and cooled each day and provided to you before setting off on your day’s hike to keep you well hydrated. When you reach your next camp in the afternoon further drinking water will be available to you. There is no need to chemically treat the water but you may wish to do so.

You may wish to bring your own favourite snacks, Gatorade powder, candy bars, etc. with you.

If you have any special dietary requirements or restrictions, please let us know at the time of booking.

What is altitude sickness and will it affect me?

Kilimanjaro is a serious mountain and the dangers associated with climbing Kilimanjaro should not be taken lightly. Although not widely discussed, it is estimated that every year nearly 1,000 climbers are evacuated from the mountain and approximately 10 deaths are reported and in the vast majority of the cases, it is due to altitude sickness.

For anyone climbing Kilimanjaro, it is essential for you to know the symptoms of altitude sickness or Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) to avoid an emergency or life threatening situation.

Acute Mountain Sickness is caused by the failure of the body to adapt quickly enough to the reduced oxygen as the climber reaches higher altitudes. Although the percentage of oxygen (about 21%) remains the same from sea level to the top of Uhuru Peak, the barometric pressure decreases with altitude and accordingly, the amount of oxygen taken in by your lungs and absorbed by your body with every breath also decreases.

At an elevation of 3,600 metres the barometric pressure is about 630 mb (480 mmHg) while the barometric pressure at sea level is approximately 1000mb (760 mmHg) resulting in roughly 40% fewer oxygen molecules per breath.

Lower air pressure at high altitude can also cause fluid to leak from the capillaries in the lungs and the brain which can lead to fluid build up and result in a life-threatening condition known High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) and High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE).

There are four factors related to AMS: (1) high altitude; (2) fast rate of ascent; (3) exertion of the body; and (4) dehydration. The main cause of AMS is climbing too high too quickly. Your body has the ability to adapt to decreased oxygen at higher elevations if given enough time.

At over 3,000 metres 75% of climbers will experience at least some symptoms of mild AMS which include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Increased heart rate
  • Headache
  • Nausea & Dizziness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Restless sleep

Climbers suffering mild AMS may keep ascending at a moderate rate and symptoms will generally subside as the climber acclimatizes.

If you start suffering mild AMS while hiking, please communicate this to your mountain guide so that he is aware and can keep an eye on your symptoms.

Symptoms of moderate AMS include:

  • Severe headache not relieved by regular headache medication
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Ataxia or decreased coordination

Normal activity becomes difficult for a person suffering moderate AMS and the person must turn around and descend to a lower elevation. Descending even only few hundred metres will result in improvement of symptoms. Continuing to higher altitude while suffering moderate AMS can lead to severe AMS and death.

Symptoms of severe AMS include:

  • Shortness of breath at rest
  • Inability to walk
  • Loss of mental acuity (HACE)
  • Fluid build-up in the lungs (HAPE)

Severe AMS requires emergency descent of 600 metres and anyone suffering from HACE or HAPE requires evacuation to a hospital for treatment.

What can I do to acclimatise properly while climbing Kilimanjaro?

  • Climb pole pole (slowly, slowly in Swahili), follow your mountain guide’s lead, stop often drink and to enjoy the views. Don’t be in a hurry to get to the next camp.
  • Take deep breaths and do not overexert yourself.
  • Stay well hydrated. You should be sipping water continuously while you are climbing at least 3 litres while on the trail. Camelbacks or Platypus encourage drinking and is highly recommended. Make sure you eat enough food to keep up your strength even if your appetite starts to diminish.

If you begin to show symptoms of AMS, let your mountain guide know so he can monitor your symptoms. If you do not feel well, do not say you feel fine. You may be risking your life.

If your mountain guide determines that you are unwell and it is in your best interest to abandon the climb and he tells you to descend, it is an order. Respect the decision of your mountain guide and follow his instructions.

Do you need a Tanzanian tourist visa?

Tourist visas can be obtained upon arrival at Kilimanjaro International Airport or Dar Es Salaam International Airport by simply filling out an entry form (provided during your flight) and payment of the visa fee. Please ensure you have two blank pages in your passport and your passport does not expire within six months of your arrival date.

The tourist visa fee is US$50 with the exception of the following citizens: Pakistan (US $ 200), USA (US$100), Ireland (US$100).

Is Tanzania a safe country to visit?

Since its independence in 1961, Tanzania has been a politically stable country and one of the safest countries to travel to in Africa.

We do however recommend that you use common sense and take safety precautions as you would when travelling in any foreign country:

  • Leave jewellery and expensive watches at home
  • Keep all your important documents and cash in a money belt hidden under your clothes or in your day pack in your possession at all times (do not leave cash in your duffel bag to be carried by the porters)
  • Keep a copy of all important documentation (passport, itinerary, insurance policy, credit cards, etc.) locked in your duffel bag
  • When shopping, carry a few dollars for spending money in an easily accessible zippered pocket or shoulder bag rather than displaying your money belt
  • Do not walk around town after dark in Arusha, Dar Es Salaam or Zanzibar – always take a taxi even if you are only going a block or two.

Do I need Travel Insurance?

Yes, Travel Insurance is mandatory.

Kilimanjaro climbs are a considerable investment and it involves risks and carrying comprehensive travel insurance is a condition of booking. Coverage should include trip cancellation, delay or interruption, lost or delayed baggage, emergency accident, illness and evacuation, 24-hour medical assistance and traveler’s assistance.

We suggest that you contact your insurance company to ensure that a Mount Kilimanjaro climb is covered under the policy.

What vaccinations and medications do I need for travel to Tanzania?

We highly recommend that you consult with your physician or a travel medical doctor for advice several months in advance of your trip as you may need a series of vaccinations. Please ensure that you indicate that you will be travelling to Tanzania and will be participating in a high altitude trek. Your doctor will be able to suggest which vaccinations and medications are advisable. Anti-malarial medication is strongly recommended and should be discussed during your doctor’s visit.

All vaccinations are voluntary for entry into Tanzania with the exception of Yellow Fever vaccination. If you are entering Tanzania from Yellow Fever infected country such as Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Rwanda, you will be required to show a Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate upon arrival in Tanzania. Please ensure you carry this Certificate with your passport. If you are entering Tanzania from Europe, you will not be required to show a Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate.

What if I have special needs or requirements?

If you have any special needs or requirements, whether its allergy to specific foods or a medical condition we should be aware of, please let us know when you book your climb.

Will my mobile/cellular phone work on Kilimanjaro?

There is some mobile or cellular coverage on Kilimanjaro but reception may be inconsistent and network signals weak depending on which route you are on and where on the mountain. Your cellular/mobile phone will work in Arusha and Moshi.

Can you use US dollars in Tanzania?

Although the currency in Tanzania is the Tanzania Shilling (Tsh), the U.S. dollar is widely accepted. However please note that for larger U.S. dollar denominations ($20, $50 and $100), only bills issued after 2003 will be accepted in Tanzania due to counterfeiting and fraud.

Major credit cards are accepted at larger hotels and major souvenir shops and larger tourist towns offer ATM bank machines where you can withdraw cash using your bank card or credit card. Please note that ATM bank machines only dispense Tanzanian shillings.

Traveller’s cheques are hard to cash and not recommended.

Should I tip to the mountain guide(s) and crew?

We feel that the gratuity system in Tanzania is not only customary, but to a certain degree obligatory. In Tanzania, a tip is not so much a bonus for particularly attentive service but rather a payment to supplement their base salary.

Obligatory payment of gratuities seems like an oxymoron and seems to go against the spirit of tipping, however, majority of Tanzanians who work in the tourism industry support many extended family members through the tips they earn, common in African culture, so please consider it a way for you to kindly and generously give back to the local people.

Tips for the mountain guide(s) and porters should be handed out on the last day and given directly to each person.