Mountain Kilimanjaro is a dormant volcano that is located in the Northern part of Tanzania within the Kilimanjaro National Park. The Mountain has three cones including Kibo where the Uhuru peak is found, Mawenzi and Shira. Mountain Kilimanjaro is the tallest free-standing Mountain in the world and the highest in Africa making it an extremely famous destination among tourists visiting Tanzania. There are a lot of frequently asked questions about a safari to Mountain Kilimanjaro and in this article, we are answering some of the questions to help you plan properly for the hike on Mountain Kilimanjaro.
What is the cost of climbing Kilimanjaro?
The cost of trekking Kilimanjaro does not come cheap and ranges from $2000 to $3000 or more depending on the length of the hike. The other factors that affect the cost of a Kilimanjaro trek include the extra support staff in terms of porters, the type of accommodation used and the high park entry fees. From the time people started trekking Mountain Kilimanjaro, they have always been escorted by experienced guides and are required to pay park entrance fees. Note that it is possible to get a climb for less than $2000 but beware because you might end up being scammed.
Is hiking up Kilimanjaro hard?
Hiking up the Mountain is not extremely hard since several trek routes to use. Each group is assigned to a route that they can handle depending on their age, health and physical strength. You can choose a trek that you believe you can handle and hikers are also advised to walk slowly and take breaks to avoid getting tired easily.
What is the minimum age for climbing Mountain Kilimanjaro?
The minimum age for trekkers is 10 years you can however still get permission from the Tanzanian government for children who are not ten years of age for as long as they can hike around the Mountain. However, we advise only those who are ten and above to concentrate on hiking Kilimanjaro.
How much time do I need to climb Kilimanjaro Mountain?
The trek usually lasts 5 to 9 days depending on the speed used by the trekkers and the different trek routes. The shortest route to the peak is the Marangu route and it takes a maximum of 5 days however if you are looking at achieving acclimatization, the best way is to take the longer route to get to the summit. The Marangu route has the lowest success rate and although opting for this route might reduce the costs, it is the best way of reducing your chances of getting to the Kilimanjaro summit.
What is the best time climb Mount Kilimanjaro?
Although treks up Kilimanjaro are carried out all year round, the best months are January and February and September and October during the dry season. The temperatures during this month are moderate which is why they are considered to be the best. The other months within the dry season that is June to August are also good due to the weather however the temperatures are cooler. Tanzania experiences two rainy seasons that is from November to December (this is the short rainy season) and March towards the end of May (long rains) and since these months are wet, it becomes hard to trek the Kilimanjaro Mountain.
The rainy season should not put you off climbing the Mountain because it has its advantages like there are few travelers, it is not as wet all the time and for tourists looking at getting to see the snow on the peak, it is a sure guarantee and in case you are climbing during the wet season, we recommend that you use the Rongai route.
How far can one hike up the Mountain each day?
Hikes start in the morning hours around 6:30 am and 7:00 am and will take about four to five hours with lunch breaks in between and two hours will be spent in the afternoon hours after lunch. The hikes are not difficult and all tourists are advised to walk slowly during the hike.
What are the trek routes along Mountain Kilimanjaro?
Mountain Kilimanjaro has six main routes that can be used for trekking however four of these are mainly used by tourists. Note that the longer and more difficult the route is, the higher the summit rate. Note that all these are great treks in terms of summit success, scenery and acclimatisation.
The Northern circuit: This is the newly approved route and takes a maximum of 9 days. This route is the best one to use to get to the summit, see the rarely used rugged Northern Mountain side of Mountain Kilimanjaro. You also get to see Kenya’s countryside as you get maximize your acclimatisation time.
Machame route: This route is best if you do not have a lot of time but still want to get to the summit. Starting from the south-western part of Kilimanjaro Mountain, The route takes 7 days, circling the south via Stella point and heading to Uhuru peak.
The Rongai route: The ascent is through Gilman’s point to Uhuru peak and it is considered to be the best route to use especially during the rainy season since the north-eastern side rarely receives rainfall. Very few tourists use this route which takes a maximum of 7 days and the main attraction here is the untouched wilderness. And although the ascent is via Gilman, the descent is usually done using the Marangu route.
The Lemosho route: We highly recommend this 8-day trek route which starts from the western part of the Mountain. The first three ascents are not all that interesting but as you get to the fourth ascent, the route joins the much busier Machame route before continuing to the Uhuru summit. The route has beautiful scenery overlooking the Shira plateau and its success rate can only be compared with the Machame route.
What Kilimanjaro hike routes are not recommended?
The different hike routes that are not recommended for hikers include the following:
Umbwe route: This is not recommended because it is a fast and direct route to the peak making acclimatisation poor. It starts from the southern part of the Mountain, directly leading to the lava tower.
Shira route: This is one of the old starting points from the western part of the Mountain that is currently not been frequently used ever since the Lemosho route was opened up. We do not recommend this route because of its high starting point which makes it a bad route for acclimatization.
Western route: The western route is highly not recommended because of many reasons that include unpredictable rock falls, it is unstable, and difficult to hike up. It starts from the western route bypassing the southern circuit.
Why are the final accents made during the pre-dawn darkness?
The ascent on Kilimanjaro usually starts around midnight depending on the fitness of the group. The main reason why it is done during these hours is that the Mountain is not only clear and calm but also cold making it easy and calm to get to the peak. The time also offers the best views and note that if you plan on ascending in the morning, it could get windy making it hard to finish the climb.
What do I need to bring during the climb along Mountain Kilimanjaro?
There are different equipments that you need as you prepare for the Kilimanjaro climb. Please go through out Mount Kilimanjaro packing list here, to learn more on what you need to pack before you travel to climb Mt Kilimanjaro.
What if I need to descend in case of an emergency?
Even when it is not an emergency, there is staff available to help those who wish to descend and not continue with the hike. Remember that no one is forced to complete the hike to the summit and that is why the staff is divided into two and you are given a chance to either wait at the camp while the rest continue up to the summit or you are given a guide to help you descend the Mountain using an appropriate route.
In case of an emergency, a rescue team is available although this is rare. A first aid kit is available and well-trained experienced guides to offer the first aid services to the injured parties. Note that the first and immediate response to altitude sickness is immediate descent.
How many porters will I need?
This depends on how heavy your luggage is but a maximum of 3 to 4 porters will be provided. The porters that are provided range from 18 years and above and they are experienced and used to the environment and climate around the Mountain. They carry your equipment and this is to help reduce your luggage so that accidents to hikers are limited. The porters do not only help with the luggage but this is also a source of income for them. Porters also help in setting up the camps, meals, fetching water and other necessary jobs and that is why we suggest that you tip them where necessary.
How many people climb Mountain Kilimanjaro?
The estimated number of hikers up Mountain Kilimanjaro is approximately 3500 per year although it can be higher or lower depending on the weather experienced around the Mountain.
Is Mountain Kilimanjaro being affected by climate change?
Yes, unfortunately, climate change has affected Mountain Kilimanjaro and this can be witnessed by the receding glaciers at the peak. These have been associated with human-induced climate and it has been going on for some time. Previously, the summit was fully covered with snow and as of 1992, the Mountain has lost 55% of its glaciers.
Are pee bottles necessary?
Pee bottles might be a little disgusting to carry around on your climb, but they are necessary especially at night when you cannot loiter outside your tent in the dead of night. You should note that the restrooms are outside and it might be a challenge especially if you make the trip more than three times and this is where the bottle comes in handy.
Will I need a Visa?
Yes, a visa is necessary for most nationalities that visit Tanzania and it will be required to gain entrance into the country. The visa can be got by applying online or you can still get it upon arrival at the airport. The cost of a visa for all nationalities is $50 and $100 for US citizens per person. Getting a visa upon arrival I a straightforward process but we encourage you to carry cash to speed up the process.
Do I need to train first before the Kilimanjaro hike?
Yes, you need to train for at least 6 to 8 weeks and the type of exercises you can engage in include long distance walking, Mountain trail walking and workouts in the gym. Make sure that you do some leg work to avoid sprains while hiking.
What is the food like and drinking water?
All kinds of food are served and the meals provided include breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast usually includes an English breakfast, cereals, bread, porridge and many more others, lunch can either come in a picnic form or hot soups provided including both local and international meals. Dinner usually starts with a hot soup followed by the main course and dessert served later on. Hikers who have dietary requirements are also catered for.
Enough bottled drinking water will be provided to the hikers throughout the trip. We however also recommend that you carry purifying tablets for the water and these can be bought from pharmacies across Tanzania to avoid getting sick while on the hike.
What is included in the trip and what is not?
Just like any other African safari, some items provided in the itinerary and the items listed below are part of the items provided in the different categories.
safety and equipment that include a mess tent with chairs and tables, Oxygen, helicopter evacuation after paying a registration fee, a first aid kit, wave radios, Oximeter, sleeping tents and satellite phones.
Accommodation and logistic items provided include excess gear, airport transfers to and from Kilimanjaro International Airport, accommodation (bed and breakfast based on twin occupancy in a hotel), a liaison officer, and a return transfer from the gate to the lodge.
The items that are provided while on the Mountain include a Mountain rescue permit, a private toilet tent, Mountain rescue permit, porters and chefs, hot meals including breakfast, lunch and dinner, snacks are also available, bilingual guides, Mountain Kilimanjaro park entry permits, staff wages, boiled drinking water, hot water for bathing and a briefing before the start of the climb.
The items that are included in the package include international flight, meals when not on the mountain, Tanzania entry visas, personal climbing equipment, transport outside the stated days and tips to the potters.
Should I go for a safari before or after hiking Kilimanjaro?
We highly recommend that you arrange for a safari after the hike up Mountain Kilimanjaro to save up energy. Other safaris will help you relax and enjoy the wildlife after the days’ Kilimanjaro hike.
Is electricity available?
No there is no electricity on Mountain Kilimanjaro and the best bet is to use solar for all your needs like charging phones and other equipment. You should however note that the panels only work properly if they are directly facing the sun and walking usually disrupts the charging system. Weather changes also usually disrupt solar charging but for as long as the sun is shining, you are guaranteed a power supply. When choosing a solar charger for use, put into consideration the size and weight of the solar putting in mind that you have limited weight during ascent.
What is the accommodation like while climbing Mountain Kilimanjaro?
Mountain-style tents are commonly used to offer accommodation while climbing Mountain Kilimanjaro. The tents are usually double-walled, fitted with waterproof material for the floors and although most of them are three-person tents, they can accommodate two people. Mosquito nets are provided and there is enough legroom for tall tourists.
What are the bathrooms and toilets like on Mountain Kilimanjaro?
There are both private and public toilets provided while climbing Mountain Kilimanjaro. The private toilets are provided upon request and come at an extra cost although they are the best option as compared to the public toilets. Note that the public toilets are maintained by the Kilimanjaro Park authority and they are extremely basic (some are flush toilets whereas others are latrines). Private toilets on the other hand are well-maintained, found in canvas tents and cleaner as compared to the public ones.
Showers at the different camps supply warm water for climbers wishing to shower and wash although you should note that it can be extremely chilly. Portable mountain showers are available but they might become a problem along the way.
How do I treat altitude sickness?
Not everyone will get altitude sickness but it is caused by climbing to higher altitudes. Air pressure keeps on reducing when you get higher and the percentage of air pressure at the Kilimanjaro peak is 49% and this means you will be inhaling half the amount of oxygen that you need. Great care needs to be taken care of because this might cause serious health conditions like pneumonia and that is why hikers are advised to take short and slow steps as they approach the peak.