About Mt Kilimanjaro
Mount Kilimanjaro is a dormant stratovolcano located in Tanzania. Standing at 5,985 meters (19,341 feet), it is the highest point in Africa and is known locally as ‘The Roof of Africa’ as a result.
It is also the tallest free-standing mountain in the world – meaning it is not part of a mountain range. Kilimanjaro is also unique as it is located just 330km from the equator. The mountain is composed of three distinct volcanic cones – Kibo (5,895m), Shira (3,962m), and Mawenzi (5,149m), with Kibo being the highest at Uhuru Peak. While Mawenzi and Shira are extinct, Kibo is dormant and could erupt again in the future.
Compared to other mountains, Mount Kilimanjaro is a relatively easy climb. You don’t need to be a professional climber to attempt the ascent, although a good level of physical fitness is a must. With the assistance of our professional guide team, we can get you to the peak so that you can gaze out across Africa.
Our experienced mountain guides will ensure that your climb to the roof of Africa is as safe and easy as possible. They have an intimate knowledge of the various routes and climate conditions, allowing them to predict changes and avoid accidents along the way. At 100 kilometers in length and 60 kilometers in width, Mount Kilimanjaro has its own climate and five distinct vegetation zones. The climatic conditions on Mount Kilimanjaro change with the altitude; ranging from a tropical climate at its base to arctic conditions at the summit.
Kilimanjaro’s foothills enjoy a yearlong summer, with temperatures at the base averaging 25-30C year round. Conversely, temperatures at the summit range from a chillier -10C to -20C. As a rule of thumb, the temperature drops by 1C for every 200m you ascend. The mountain experiences two rainy seasons: the monsoon (or long rainy season) between March and May, and the short rainy season from mid-October until late December. At the base, the mountain has upwards of 2,000mm of rain per year, compared to just 100mm of rain at the summit.
Kilimanjaro’s Distinct Vegetation Zones
Climbing Kilimanjaro is not just about defeating the mountain and standing atop it. An ascent is also a fascinating journey through multiple climate and vegetation zones, each a distinct habitat with unique flora and fauna.
The Farmland Zone (800 – 1,800 meters);
Mountain Forest (1,800 – 2,800 meters);
Low Alpine Zone (2,800 to 3,800 meters);
The Summit (5000+ meters).
The Farmland Zone (800 – 1,800 meters)
Characterized by vast fields of grass, the slopes between 800 and 1,800m receive plenty of rainfall. The Chagga people use this area for agriculture and livestock due to the rainfalls and the rich, volcanic soil. The locals primarily harvest coffee and bananas in this zone, although maize, beans, and other crops are also grown. The northern and eastern slopes are not as heavily cultivated, so more native vegetation can be seen in these areas. There are no wild animals in the farmland zone, but you can still see lowland forest, bushland, wildflowers, and scrub.
Mountain Forest (1,800 – 2,800 meters)
Beginning at 1,800m, the mountain forest zone is the most fertile of all of Kilimanjaro’s vegetation zones. About 96% of Kilimanjaro’s rain falls in this zone, so the region is extremely wet for most of the year. The thick vegetation is home to animals such as blue monkeys, elephants, black and white colobus monkeys, bush pigs, squirrels, duikers, elands, and even leopards; although these can be difficult to spot in the thick undergrowth. Unlike most East African mountain forests, Kilimanjaro’s forests do not have bamboo trees. They do, however, have an impressive variety of bird life.
Low Alpine Zone (2,800 to 3,800 meters)
Stretching from 2,800m to 3,800m, the low alpine zone has two overlapping vegetation types: heaths and moorland. The misty heaths begin immediately above the treeline and experience cooler (around 0C or below) temperatures and fairly high rainfall (approximately 1300mm a year). Broad grassy fields dotted with wildflowers characterize this part of the low alpine zone, and animals such as elands, duikers, bushbucks, and buffalo can be seen here. Beautiful flora such as the yellow-flowered Protea, red-hot poker, Erica Arborea (tree heath), and a number of other plants unique to the area can also be seen. At approximately 3,200m, the moorlands begin. The air begins to thin at this point, making hiking more difficult and ensuring clear skies overhead. Despite these harsher conditions, it is still possible to see a variety of wildlife such as elephants, elands, klipspringers, and a variety of local rodents at this height. The giant Dendrosenecio Kilimanjari, unique to the mountain, dominates the plant life in this zone.
The Alpine Zone (4,000 to 5,000 meters)
At around 4,000 meters the alpine zone begins. An area of alpine desert with sandy soil and harsh weather, it is here that the temperatures begin to have extreme variations that can jump between 40C during the day and below 0C by night. There are no permanent animal populations at this height, and plant life is limited to hardy flowers and mosses.
The Summit (5000+ meters)
At this height, there is only rock and ice. Only insects and the hardiest forms of lichen can exist in these harsh conditions. The summit has a number of glaciers, the most prominent of which is the Great Northern Glacier at Kibo’s northern face.
Food and Water on Mount Kilimanjaro Climbing
We provide fresh fruits and food on the Kilimanjaro climb with a lot of carbohydrates, a food diet for vegans and vegetarians as well as special food for clients with food allergies, Halal and Kosher are offered.
Breakfast is tea, coffee, porridge, sausages, bread, toast, eggs, and fruit. On longer hiking days will have a picnic lunch along the route.
A typical lunch is a cheese, bread, crackers, peanut butter, jam or honey, mustard, potatoes, chips or Chevda, canned fish, fruit, peanuts, cashews, or cookies. On shorter hiking days we will have lunch in camp with hot drinks, soup, cheese, sandwiches, vegetable sticks, and cookies.
Dinner is served buffet style inside the mess tent, beginning with soup and bread or crackers, followed by a main course of rice with stew or curry, or pasta with sauce, cooked vegetables, or salad and potatoes. Desert and hot drinks follow the main course.
We use olive oil to prepare food the benefits of olive oil over other vegetable oils are its low levels of saturated fat and high levels of unsaturated fat. Minimizing the intake of saturated fat has been shown to lower cholesterol, and therefore reduce the potential for heart diseases.
Nutritional preparation before an endurance event should be:
Glycogen storage: Storage of carbohydrates in the liver and muscles as glycogen is essential. The glycogen is converted to glucose for energy utilization during the event. Balanced nutrient intake: Provide your body with the essential nutrients (protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, and minerals) as a prerequisite for optimal performance. A balanced pre-event meal that ensures stable blood sugar levels for the start of the day and the event
How is a Typical Day On Kilimanjaro
1. Wake up:
Usually wake up around 6:30 am with warm s bed tea which is followed by hot water in the washing basin for sponging and clear up.
Breakfast is served in the mess tent around 7:30 am. The mess tent is equipped with all foldable aluminum chairs, tables, dinnerware, silverware, and table clothes. After breakfast, you will go back to your tent to finalize packing your day pack and backpack with general cleaners and then proceed with hiking around 8:00 am to 8:30 am.
You will always carry your day pack and hiking clothes with your guide while the porters will carry all camping facilities to the designated place to settle your camp. On the way, you will have schedules for break according to your performance, while cooks and porters move ahead to set the tents and prepare a hot lunch/dinner.
On shorter hiking days you will have hot lunch on arriving while on longer days you will have either a lunch box or picnic lunch halfway. If the weather is good, we set a table outside to enjoy nature. On arriving at the camp, you will be served tea and have the option of an extra hike higher or rest.
Dinner is served in the mess tent around 7:00 pm which is followed by a day evaluation, discussion, and brief about the next day.
5. Camping Style:
In the Marangu route, we use hut accommodation, and you stay in huts but on all camping routes Machame Lemosho we use quality tents.
6. Summit Day:
On Summit day, we usually wake up around 11:30 pm and about 12:00 am and start hiking to the summit –Uhuru peak and arrive there when the sun comes up – early morning around 6:30 am but depending on your pace. Hiking is usually slow to allow you to acclimatize and face the steep summit climb which has switch beg.
How to Wear On Kilimanjaro
For you to be comfortable climbing on Kilimanjaro summit night, you can consider wearing 4 layers on top and 3 layers on the bottom, depending on the weather, and advisable to be clean and dressed properly.
The temperature on summit day may drop below -15°C depending on the climbing Month.
Use a wide-mouth water bottle for easy drinking of water, on a summit night walk and pack it upside down as usual water froze starting from the top of the bottle. Once you pack upside down and if frozen on top still you will turn and access regular water.
If you’re using camelback on Kilimanjaro summit night, you can keep wrapping it in a shirt and tuck hand warmers. Choose the ones which have pipe covers to keep insulation and protect from freezing. Windproof is essential and the point you’re crossing the saddle as well as on the crater rim where you may have strong winds.
Be sure to pack the following items;
1. Leather or thermal boots
2. Gore-Tex, Microtel, or K-Tech Trilaminate jacket
3. Gore-Tex, Microtel, or K-tech pants
4. Fleece jacket
5. Fleece pants
6. Gore-Tex mittens or gloves
7. Head torch
8. Thermal flask
9. Fleece gloves (use as inner for Gore-Tex glove)
10. Thermal glove liners (use as inner for Gore-Tex gloves)
12. Fleece Balaclava
13. Thermal Balaclava
14. Thermal top
15. Thermal long johns
16. Thermal socks
17. Sunglasses with UV protection
18. Day pack
What is High Altitude Sickness?
Sometimes called “mountain sickness,” altitude sickness is a group of symptoms that can strike if you walk or climb to a higher elevation, or altitude, too quickly.
Why It Happens
The pressure of the air that surrounds you is called barometric pressure. When you go to higher altitudes, this pressure drops and there is less oxygen available.
If you live in a place that’s located at a moderately high altitude, you get used to the air pressure. But if you travel to a place at a higher altitude than you’re used to, your body will need time to adjust to the change in pressure.
So when you read that there is a lack of oxygen at the summit, that’s not strictly true – oxygen still makes up 20% of the air. So the problem is not lack of oxygen – but the lack of air pressure. To put it in more precise terms: atmospheric pressure drops by about a tenth for every 1000m of altitude. Thus the air pressure at the top of Kilimanjaro is approximately 40% of that found at sea level.
In other words, and to put it in layman’s terms, though each breath inhaled at the summit is 20% oxygen, just as it is at sea level, it becomes much harder to fill your lungs since the atmosphere is not pushing so much air into them. As a result, every time you breathe on Kibo you take in only about half as much air, and thus oxygen, as you would if you took the same breath in Dar es Salaam.
Oxygen and us: the truth
This can, of course, be seriously detrimental to your health; oxygen is, after all, pretty essential to your physical well-being. All of your vital organs need it, as do your muscles. They receive their oxygen via red blood cells, which are loaded with oxygen by your lungs and then pumped around your body by your heart, delivering oxygen as they go. Problems arise at altitude when that most vital of organs, the brain, isn’t getting enough oxygen and malfunctions as a result; because as the body’s central control room, if the brain malfunctions, so do the rest of you, often with fatal consequences.
So how does a lack of oxygen lead to altitude sickness?
Fortunately, your body is an adaptable piece of machinery and can adjust to the lower levels of oxygen that you breathe in at altitude. Unconsciously you will start to breathe deeper and faster, your blood will thicken as your body produces more red blood cells, and your heart will beat faster. As a result, your essential organs will receive the same level of oxygen as they always did.
But your body needs time before it can affect all these changes. Though the deeper, faster breathing and heart-quickening happen almost as soon as your body realizes that there is less oxygen available, it takes a few days for the blood to thicken. And with Kilimanjaro, of course, a few days is usually all you have on the mountain, and the changes may simply not happen in time. The result is AMS.
AMS, or acute mountain sickness (also known as altitude sickness), is what happens when the body fails to adapt in time to the lack of air pressure at altitude. There are three levels of AMS: mild altitude sickness, moderate altitude sickness, and severe altitude sickness. On Kilimanjaro, it’s fair to say that most people will get some symptoms of the illness and will fall into the mild-to-moderate categories.
Having symptoms of mild AMS is not necessarily a sign that the sufferer should give up climbing Kili and descend immediately. Indeed, most or all of the symptoms suffered by those with mild AMS will disappear if the person rests and ascends no further, and assuming the recovery is complete, the assault on the summit can continue.
The same goes for moderate AMS too, though here the poor individual and his or her symptoms should be monitored far more closely to ensure that they are not getting any worse and developing into severe AMS. This is a lot more serious and sufferers with severe AMS should always descend immediately, even if it means going down by torchlight in the middle of the night.
Dry season (July - October/ January - March)
The weather is rather predictable and less changeable. The precipitation is rare, and the sky is clear, making these months ideal for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. The temperature in the summit area fluctuates between -5 C and -10 C. The summit area is not covered with snow, and extra equipment is not necessary. Overall, dry-season climbing is less challenging and more comfortable.
It is possible to climb Mt Kilimanjaro all year round, and though the rainy season requires some extra effort, there are two advantages: the routes are less crowded, and Uhuru Peak is majestically covered with snow, making the landscapes dreamlike. You will need to take extra sets of thermal underwear, T-shirts, and socks. Rainfalls (and snowfalls in the higher camps) are likely to happen, and the days are windy and humid. The summit area is covered with snow and ice, making it necessary to take the gaiters and microspikes. In general, rain season climbing is more challenging, but the experiences are unique.
What to Carry on a Day Pack
You are only required to carry items from your gear list that you may need on your day climb. A small to medium-sized backpack, with a volume capacity of up to 2000 cu in (30 liters) is appropriate. The specific items to carry generally depend on the time to reach camp and trail and weather conditions. Typically, you will have inside your daypack: waterproof gear, extra clothing, water, snacks, gloves, hat, sunglasses, and other small items, such as bug repellent and sunscreen. Consult your guide if you are unsure of what you need.
Everything else should be placed into your duffel bag, which the porters will carry. The weight limit of the duffel bag is 15 kg. The porters will carry the duffel bag from campsite to campsite. Use plastic bags or dry bags to separate and waterproof your gear. You will be expected to pack your daypack and duffel bag each morning.
Kilimanjaro Park Fees
Mount Kilimanjaro National Park fees
Kilimanjaro Park Fees – Each climber is required to pay park fees
Each climber on Mt. Kilimanjaro is required to pay park fees, which include conservation, camping, rescue, and crew fees. On Lemosho and Rongai routes special forest, fees are also applicable. It is another key element of Mt Kilimanjaro climbing cost.
Be aware that some unethical tour operators deliberately provide misleading information regarding park fees.
Listed are the park fees for various common routes. This figure does not include guide and porter entrance fees.
- Machame 6 days = USD 814.20 per trekker
- Machame 7 days = USD 955.80 per trekker
- Lemosho 7 days = USD 955.80 per trekker
- Lemosho 8 days = USD 1097.40 per trekker
- Marangu 5 days = USD 719.80 per trekker
- Marangu 6 days = USD 873.20 per trekker
- Rongai 6 days = USD 814.20 per trekker
- Rongai 7 days = USD 955.80 per trekker
- Umbwe 6 days = USD 814.20 per trekker
- Umbwe 7 days = USD 955.80 per trekker
What are the various components of the park fees?
Park fees are made up of various components. It depends on how many days and how many nights you spend inside the park. Here are a few major ones.Conservation Fees
These are fees charged by the park department for the upkeep of the national park. The fees are USD 70 per trekker per day. This fee is charged for the number of days you spend inside the park. For e.g., on an 8-day Lemosho route, the conservation fees would be USD 560 (USD 70 x 8 days).
On all routes except Marangu, you would be camping at the public campsites. These campsites as well as common areas such as toilets are maintained by the park department. The camping fees are USD 50 per trekker per night. This is charged for the number of times you camp on a trip. Continuing the previous example, on an 8 days Lemosho trip, you would be camping for 7 nights. So the camping fees would be USD 350 (USD 50 x 7 nights).
On the Marangu route, you would be sleeping in huts along the route instead of camping. The hut is maintained by the park department. Some of the huts are Mandara, Horombo, and Kibo. The hut fees is USD 60 per trekker per night. So on a 6-day Marangu route, hut fees would be USD 300 (USD 60 x 5 nights).
Rescue fees are charged by the park department to provide rescues on the mountain. The current cost is USD 20 per trekker per trip.
Crater Camping Fees
In case you wish to camp on the crater, the cost would be USD 100 per trekker per night.
Guide and Porter Entrance Fees
In addition to paying park fees for yourself, you are also responsible for paying the park entrance fees for your crew, your guides, cooks, and porters. The park entrance fee is USD 2 per trip per person.
The Value Added Tax (VAT) is charged by the government of Tanzania. The government started charging VAT on Kilimanjaro treks in July, 2016. Currently, it’s set at 18%. All the components above would have to be charged with 18% VAT.How to calculate the park fees?
Now that we know all the components of the park fees, it’s trivial to calculate how much the amount will be. Let’s say you are doing an 8-day Lemosho route. This would mean you would be spending 8 days and 7 nights on the mountain. On the Lemosho route, you would be camping at the public campsites. So here is how you would calculate the park fees.
- Conservation fees = USD 70 x 8 days = USD 560 per trekker
- Camping fees = USD 50 x 7 nights = USD 350 per trekker
- Rescue fees = USD 20
- Total (exclusive of taxes) = USD 560 + USD 350 + USD 20 = USD 930
- VAT = 18% of USD 930 = USD 167.40
- Total (inclusive of taxes) = USD 930 + 167.40 = USD 1097.40
Let’s take another example for Marangu's 6 days. On the Marangu route, you would be spending the 5 nights in huts instead of camps.
How to pay the park fees?
- Conservation fees = USD 70 x 6 days = USD 420 per trekker
- Camping fees = USD 60 x 5 nights = USD 300 per trekker
- Rescue fees = USD 20
- Total (exclusive of taxes) = USD 420 + USD 300 + USD 20 = USD 740
- VAT = 18% of USD 740 = USD 133.20
- Total (inclusive of taxes) = USD 740 + 133.20 = USD 873.20
You have two options when it comes to paying the park fees.
The most common and popular option is to pay the park fees upfront to us, along with the trek fees. All prices on our website include park fees as well as VAT. We will then pay the park fees to the park department.
Another option is to pay the park fees directly to the park department. You can do this with any Visa card at the park gate. You would be doing this on the first day of the climb at the park gate we would be entering from.
While booking, you can indicate your preference to us on how you wish to pay the park fees.
What are the discounts available from the park department?
The park department offers discounts for children under the age of 16 years at the time of the climb, residents, and experts of Tanzania and East African citizens. Let’s look at these discounts in detail.
Children aged between the age of 5 and 15 years
Children aged between the age of 5 and 15 years get a discount on conservation fees as well as camping fees.
There is no discount on hut fees or rescue fees.
- Conversation fees are reduced from USD 70 per day to USD 20 per day.
- Camping fees are reduced from USD 50 per day to USD 10 per day.
- No change in hut fees. Hut fees are still USD 60 per day.
- No change in rescue fees. Rescue fees are still USD 20 per trip.
- Children below the age of 5 years
- The Park department charges no conservation fees or camping fees for children below the age of 5 years. Hut and rescue fees are still applicable.
- No Conversation fees.
- No Camping fees.
- No change in hut fees. Hut fees are still USD 60 per day.
- No change in rescue fees. Rescue fees are still USD 20 per trip.
- Expatriates/Residents living in Tanzania
- If you are an expert or a resident living and working in Tanzania, the park department discounts your conversation fees. There are no discounts on camping fees, hut fees, or rescue fees.
- Conversation fees are reduced from USD 70 per day to USD 35 per day.
- No change in camping fees. Camping fees are still USD 50 per day.
- No change in hut fees. Hut fees are still USD 60 per day.
- No change in rescue fees. Rescue fees are still USD 20 per trip.
East African Citizens
You can get a discount if your nationality is Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda & South Sudan. Please note that this is applicable to the citizens of these countries and not residents. If your nationality is of one of those countries, then you must produce your passport at the entry gate.
We charge you the exact park fees charged by the park department. We have no markups. You are free to pay the park fees directly to the park department as well on the first day of the climb at the different park gates. Our prices on the website are inclusive of the park fees listed above as well as VAT to give you a true and transparent picture of the costs.
Climbing Kilimanjaro is an incredible experience. The sunsets, the views, and the wild and ever-changing landscape make it one of the best treks on earth.
What many people don’t know is that on the final day of ascent, you actually trek through the night to reach the summit near dawn. A great option then is to make sure you trek when there is a full moon that night. This makes the trek just a little bit more special as the magnificent glaciers light up under the full moon to create a simply stunning landscape!
There is also a practical reason for trekking under a full moon – it illuminates your path. Normally you would be forced to wear a head torch on summit night, however, under a full moon on a clear night you could get away without using a head torch (we still recommend you bring a head torch just in case conditions aren’t perfect).
The only negative side of trekking under a full moon is that the stars are obscured by the brightness. If you’re a passionate stargazer then it would be best to trek under a new moon when the whole of Kilimanjaro lies under a blanket of beautiful stars.
In order to summit on a full moon date, you’ll need to time your climb right. This means that if you are trekking a 7-day route you should depart 5 days prior to the full moon and if you are trekking a 6-day route you should depart 4 days before the full moon.
Tips for a Successful Climb
Before The Climb
BE WELL EQUIPPED
An essential part of your preparation will be to ensure that you are well-equipped for your summit attempt. Print our Packing List and mark it off, to ensure that you are. Click on Packing List to get to this very important step in your preparation.
BE PHYSICALLY PREPARED
It is important that your body is adequately prepared for the physical challenges of Mount Kilimanjaro. Develop your fitness and get your body in shape for your Kilimanjaro summit expedition.
It is possible to summit Kilimanjaro successfully. Many before you have succeeded. This should be topmost in your mind when preparing for the summit attempt. You should always remain in a positive state of mind, but not overly arrogant. Try to anticipate various different scenarios, which you may possibly encounter on the mountain and try to work out the most suitable course of action, mentally by yourself or even as a group.
Your mental stamina will, without a doubt, make the really difficult sections, like from Kibo to Uhuru or from Barafu to Uhuru, easier to complete. Remember if you are properly equipped, you have taken everything as indicated on the Packing List, you are physically prepared, and have all the knowledge gained from the guide – you will be mentally confident for the physical part of Kilimanjaro.
ADEQUATE TRAVEL INSURANCE
Make sure that you have adequate travel and medical insurance, which will also provide you with cover for the climb up Kilimanjaro.
On The Mountain
Go slowly – “Pole Pole” as they say in Swahili! This is also very important during your first days of climbing. Even if you feel well, slow down and enjoy the scenery. The biggest cause of altitude sickness is ascending too high too fast! The slower you hike to more time you give your body to acclimatize.
DRINK ENOUGH WATER
Make sure that you drink at least 3 – 4 liters of liquid a day – preferably water. For your first day, it is recommended that you take along fresh water, which may be purchased at the hotel in Moshi before your climb. Try to get bottles with screw tops, this way you will also have containers in which to take water further up the mountain. Running water on the mountain is safe to drink from day 2 onwards, but care should still be taken. If you are not used to fresh water in nature, prevent any inconvenience by using water purification tablets. REMEMBER! A functioning “body water balance” is one of the keys to a successful climb!
WALK HIGH - SLEEP LOW
If possible and especially on your acclimatization day “walk high – sleep low” Try to do a short evening stroll to a higher altitude and then descend to sleep at the camp at a lower altitude. This is essential on your acclimatization day.
TAKE A SKI - POLE
A ski – pole is essential. The use of ski poles reduces external and internal loads on the knee joint by up to 20%. Using 1 ski pole is a must, but 2 poles are recommended.