FAQ for kilimanjaro

1. What are the different routes up Kilimanjaro?
There are seven established routes to climb Kilimanjaro. Marangu Route, Machame Route, Umbwe Route, Rongai Route, Shira Route, Lemosho Route and Northern Circuit Route. For descending the mountain, only two routes are used and they are pre-assigned based on the ascent route; Marangu Route and Mweka Route.

Marangu Route
Also known as the “Coca Cola Route” or “Tourist Route” due to its popularity with unprepared attempters. The Marangu route tends to be one of the most crowded routes due to its shortest duration; it can be completed in 5 days (therefore the cheapest option). It is also the only route that offers hut accommodation throughout the trek.  It is less scenic as it uses the same route up and down the mountain. It has the lowest success rate of summiting due to its minimal opportunity for acclimatization. We do not recommend this route unless you are an experienced high altitude hiker or if you do not mind a much reduced chance of reaching the summitJ

Machame Route
Also known as the “Whisky Route”, as it is popularized as more difficult (in terms of steepness) and more expensive than the Machame Route. It can be completed in 6 days with tent camping throughout. It offers good scenery and better opportunity for acclimatization but it is also the most trafficked route. Descent is via the Mweka route.

Umbwe Route
Umbwe Route is the shortest, steepest and most direct route on Kilimanjaro. Extremely strong and experienced climbers can complete it within 5 days. We do not recommend this route as there is virtually no acclimatization days and success rates are very low. Descent is via the Mweka route.

Rongai Route
This is the only route that ascends Kilimanjaro from the north, near to the Kenyan border. It can be completed in 6 days with tent camping throughout. The scenery is not as varied as the other routes but its first few days passes through an area of unspoilt wilderness. A disadvantage is the long driving distance to the trailhead. Descent is via the Marangu route, but you do not get to stay in the huts of the Marangu route.

Shira Route
Shira route is nearly identical to Lemosho route; Shira was actually the original route and Lemosho is the improved variation. While Lemosho route starts at the lower altitude Londorossi Gate, Shira route bypasses this and begins further north and higher up at the Shira Gate. We do not recommended this route unless you are already acclimatized to 4000m by hiking Mount Meru a few days before attempting Kilimanjaro. Descent is via the Mweka route.

Lemosho Route (Recommended)
Lemosho Route is widely considered as the best route by reputable operators for climbing Kilimanjaro. Unlike other routes, it starts off with a very low altitude. Its excellent climb high sleep low topographical profile helps to increase one’s chance of reaching the summit. Though not as off-the-beaten-track as often portrayed, it is generally less trafficked – the first part of the route has low traffic until it combines with the Machame route on the 3rd day of the hike, and offers great scenery from start to end. It can be completed in 6 days with tent camping throughout. But we strongly recommend that you do it over 7 or 8 days to maximize your acclimatization period. Descent is via the Mweka route.

Northern Circuit (Recommended)
Northern Circuit is the newest and longest route on Kilimanjaro. It begins in the west at the Londorossi Gate and follows the Lemosho Route for the first few days. At Lava Tower, instead of turning south to Barranco Camp, it heads north and circles the mountain clockwise from Moir Hut to Buffalo Camp to School Hut, before summiting from the east. This route which requires at least 8 days to complete offers great varied scenery and excellent opportunity for acclimatization. Descent is via the Mweka route.

2. When is the best time to climb Kilimanjaro?
Kilimanjaro can be climbed all year round. In terms of weather, the best trekking seasons correspond with the mountain’s two dry seasons: January to mid-March and June to October.

3. Do I have to be very fit to take part in this climb?
Yes. Climbing Kilimanjaro is a serious endeavour that requires a good level of physical and mental fitness and a realistic awareness of the effects of high altitude on the human body. If you attempt to climb Kilimanjaro without proper training, you may not enjoy the climb as much as you would have with adequate training.

4. How can I train up for the Kilimanjaro climb?

5. Is there any age limit for climbing Kilimanjaro?
The minimum age set by Kilimanjaro National Park is 10 years old. There is no maximum age limit and in fact it is not uncommon to find climbers who are in their 70s. However serious consideration should be given to anyone under the age of 16 and over the age of 60.  Climbers on the extreme ends of the age spectrum should definitely consult their doctor.

6. What is the highest altitude reachable during the climb?
The highest altitude reachable is 5895m.

7. What are the expected temperatures during the climb?
Temperatures vary considerably with altitude and time of day. On its lower slopes (below 3000m), it can get very hot in the middle of the day but chilly (below 10°C) at night. On its upper slopes (above 3000m), night-time temperatures can drop below freezing point while day-time temperatures range from 5 to 15°C. Night-time temperatures around the summit averages around -10°C but can drop to below -20°C at times.

8. Do I need any specialized equipment for the trek?
Except for a set of cold wear, a good pair trekking shoes, a headlamp, trekking sticks, sunglasses you do not need other specialized equipment for this trek. Depending on the ground conditions, crampons may be needed for the last section of the summit push (after Stella Point). If crampons are required we will provide them free of charge. Upon booking confirmation, a detailed packing list will be provide to you to help you pack for your trip.

9. What are the accommodations along the trail?
You will be staying in tents unless you are taking the Marangu route which has hut accommodation. Each hut has a dining room and a shared bathroom. But there is no electricity in the huts.

10. Can we rent a portable toilet for our climb?
Yes, a portable toilet is available for rental at USD 120 per group (up to 4 climbers)

11. What are the meals like during the trek?
Breakfast: Oat porridge, fried egg, pancake, bread, jam, peanut butter, fruits, honey, tea, coffee and chocolate drink

Lunch and Dinner: Soup, rice, spaghetti, macaroni, fried chicken or fish, beef stew, vegetables, fruits etc.

Afternoon tea: Biscuits, popcorn, tea, coffee and chocolate drink

12. Is drinking water provided during the trek?
You have to bring your own drinking water for the first day of the hike. Water for subsequent days will be provided by us. The water is taken from mountain streams but will be boiled to make it safe to drink.

13. Do the guide and porters speaks English?
Our guides can speak good English while most porters can speak and understand simple English.

14. How much load can I pass to the porter?
Each porter is prohibited by the National Park Authority rule to carry more than 15kg of the climber’s luggage. Therefore you are allowed to pass up to 15kg of your personal belonging to the porter. You are only expected to carry your personal daypack of less than 7 kg.

15. Where can I leave my extra luggage during the trek?
You can leave your extra luggage at the hotel in Moshi before the trek. After the trek, you can return to the hotel to collect back your luggage before your onward journey.

16. What is the typical size of the support crew?
The average ratio of support crew is 3 porters for every climber, 2 guides for every 3 climbers and 1 cook for every 8 climbers. Below is the expected support crew size for various climber group sizes:

Group of 2 climbers: 1 guide, 1 assistant guide, 6 porters, 1 cook
Group of 3 climbers: 1 guide, 1 assistant guide, 9 porters, 1 cook
Group of 4 climbers: 1 guide, 2 assistant guide, 12 porters, 1 cook
Group of 5 climbers: 1 guide, 2 assistant guides, 15 porters, 1 cook
Group of 6 climbers: 1 guide, 3 assistant guides, 18 porters, 1 cook

17. How much tips is appropriate for the guides and porters?
Tipping is an expected and highly appreciated practice in Tanzania especially for the Kilimanjaro climb. Tipping has always constituted a significant proportion of the mountain crews’ wages. While our local partner adheres to KPAP recommendations by paying porters a fair basic wage, it does not equate to a living wage. We therefore strongly encourage hikers to consider a tip amount that would supplement the salary payment. A ballpark figure would be around USD 15-18 per guide per day, USD 10-12 per assistant guide per day, USD 10-12 per cook per day and USD 8-10 per porter per day. So for an 8-day Kilimanjaro climb, a good tip to the guide is USD 120-144 regardless of your group size. Overall your group is expected to pay 10-15% of the total climbing package cost towards tips.

18. How can I prevent altitude sickness?

  1. Stay well hydrated. Try to drink at least 4-6 litres per day.
  2. Avoid alcohol, tobacco and antidepressants medication like sleeping pills
  3. Take it easy. Do not over-exert yourself physically especially in the first few days.
  4. Ascend gradually.
  5. Adopt a “climb high sleep low” strategy to aid in acclimation
  6. Eat well with a carbohydrates rich diet during the trek
  7. Consider taking Acetazolamide (Diamox)
  8. Before your trip, maintain a regular exercise regime to keep your body fit and healthy

19. What are the effects of the sun at high altitudes?
Ultraviolet radiation (UVR) from the sun can cause skin damage and sunburn to exposed skin. UVR cannot be felt and does not provide heat, so your skin can burn even if you feel cool. Skin damage and sunburn increase the risk of developing skin cancer later in life. UVR can penetrate through cloud, so even on a cloudy day, UVR is scattered on you. Far less UVR is being filtered out at higher altitude, making the sun’s rays much more damaging to the skin. It is strongly recommended to use a high SPF (at least 30) sunscreen lotion and a lip balm with SPF factor. Short-term effects of UVR on the eyes are similar to sunburn and can cause snow blindness. Snow blindness or photokeratitis (“photo” = light; “keratitis” = inflammation of the cornea) can cause painful eyes and temporarily blindness of up to 48 hours. The risk is higher at high altitude with highly reflective snowy terrain. You should protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses that comply with the sunglass safety standard AS/NZS 1067:2003. Most sunglasses will have information about how much UVR protection they give. For maximum protection, make sure your sunglasses are a close-fitting, wrap-around style.

20. What vaccinations and medications should I take?
Most travellers to Tanzania will require vaccination for Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Typhoid, Tetanus-diphtheria and Influenza. Anti-Malaria pills are also highly recommended, as Malaria is prevalent in Tanzania. A Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is only required for travellers 1 year of age and older coming from – or who are in airport transit for more than 12 hours within – a country with risk of Yellow Fever transmission.

21. Which is the main gateway airport to Mount Kilimanjaro?
Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) is the main gateway airport to Mount Kilimanjaro. The airport is about 2 hours’ drive to Moshi and about 1 hour 15 min drive to Arusha.

22. Do I need a VISA to visit Tanzania?
Singapore passport holders and Malaysia passport holders can visit Tanzania without a VISA for up to 3 months. For other nationalities which require VISA, single entry Visas can be obtained on arrival at the main ports of entry (including Kilimanjaro International Airport). The cost of a single-entry visa is $50 for citizens of most countries, but $100 for Americans.

23. How do I get a SIM Card in Tanzania?
Local SIM card (with 4G data) are relatively inexpensive and easily obtainable from telco shop in Moshi or Arusha town. Upon arrival at Kilimanjaro International Airport, please inform our driver if you need one so that he can bring you to get one along the way to your hotel. More information can be found here: http://prepaid-data-sim card.wikia.com/wiki/Tanzania

24. Is travel insurance provided in the package?
Travel insurance is not included in the package. We strongly recommend you to procure your own travel insurance before embarking on the Mount Kilimanjaro trip. Do ensure that your travel insurance covers you for hikes up to 6,000m in altitude.

25. What happens if one of us get sick during the climb?
One of the assistant guides will accompany the sick down the mountain while the rest of the group goes on. If the person is seriously sick, the lead guide will arrange for evacuation of the sick down the mountain via stretcher and land vehicle. The mountain guides are certified Wilderness First Responder and well trained in first aid, CPR and recognizing symptoms in the early stages of altitude sickness. Every day, they will monitor the health of everyone on the mountain to prevent no one gets to the point of serious sickness.

26. How do you choose your local operator?
We personally research and vet carefully all our partners, before customers ever step foot on an IWANNATRAVEL adventure. On Kilimanjaro specifically, we work directly with local operators who hold Class “A” TALA licenses (Tourist Agents Licensing Authority) for running Kilimanjaro climb. TALA is the Tanzania government body responsible for regulating and issuing licenses to tour operators. Further we only work with partners who comply with KPAP (Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project). KPAP is a not-for-profit organization that ensure the fair and ethical treatment of porters through proper wages, tipping, meals and portage weight limits. More information can be found here: https://kiliporters.org/. We consider porters as the real heroes of Mount Kilimanjaro so it is very important to us that they are given fair and ethical treatment by our partners and customers.

27. Can Iwannatravel organize a safari for me after my climb?
Yes. From Kilimanjaro, you are within a few hours’ drive to some of the finest wildlife reserves on earth: Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Tarangire and Lake Manyara. You should spend at least 3 days to allow yourself enough time to immerse yourself in the area and its wildlife.