Get a glimpse of what it will be like once you are on trek, your time away from your worldly life; spend quality time with the nature!
Even though you may be leaving your family and friends behind for this big adventure; you will be surprised to get a whole new family in Tanzania made up of guides, porters and a cook who will all look after you very well. Your head guide will act as the leader of the family and ensure that everything is in order for the whole duration of your trek. The porters will zoom ahead of you every day with literally everything you will need to survive for your time on the mountain. Your cook will prepare you delicious hot dinners, packed lunch boxes and breakfast. The whole team will work very hard to help you attempt the highest free-standing mountain in the world. For more information on your Kilimanjaro support team please click here
Since 1984 to date, we have put high emphasis on keeping our clients safe on the mountain. In all the years that we have been operating, with the lives of over 150,000 climbers in our hands, none have ever died, suffered severe Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) or any other severe conditions. Our guides have undergone thorough training including first aid,and have had at least 10-12 years experience working with Shah Tours.
Water: drink 3-4 litres of water per day! Your body will utilise more water through sweat and faster breathing, and the recommended water intake will help with acclimatisation to the high altitudes. Your itinerary includes boiled drinking water on trek. The porters will collect water from the fresh streams of Kilimanjaro, boil the water at each campsite in order for you to fill your bottles | water bladders up. Please note that it is only possible for the team to provide you the boiled drinking water after you have reached your first campsite or hut, so we would recommend you to carry 3 litres with you for the initial day’ s hike.
Water purification: you may wish to bring water purifications tablets, which you can give to your head guide at the beginning of the trek so that the cook can add it to the water that is boiled for your consumption.
Water freezing: it is true that your drinking water may turn into ice especially on your summit attempt due to the freezing temperatures! Water in water bladders are most susceptible to turning into ice and therefore we would recommend you to keep your water insulated. You may have water in a bottle and put it inside a thermal sock. It is better to keep the water inside your day pack rather than in the pockets on the sides, preferably behind your back so it gets a little body warmth. Water in thermal flasks does not freeze easily however the disadvantage is it would be heavier item to carry with you on the toughest part of your climb.
Other drinks: during breakfast and dinner you will be provided options such as coffee | tea | milk | hot chocolate and in your picnic lunch box you will be provided a juice packet.
Food: if you have any specific dietary requirements or food allergies please let us know during the time of your booking so that we can try our best to cater for you accordingly. Remember all ingredients, cooking utensils, crockery, cutlery; gas cylinders for cooking will be carried by your porters, so the ingredients cannot be changed once you head off on your trek! All food products may not be available in Tanzania therefore you may wish to bring a few small eatables that you really enjoy, as it is common for the loss of appetite due to altitude, and this is the time to have what you most! Here are sample menus that will give you a general idea of what to expect. All of the items below will not be provided for each meal, instead a mixture of 4-5 items from each section will be offered. The final menu of course depends on the items available in the market at the time of purchasing and it may vary from each cook.
Standard Kilimanjaro Menu:
Porridge | vegetables and fruit | toast | French toast | sausages | eggs | bread | jam| honey | butter | tea | coffee | hot chocolate
packets Sandwich | hardboiled egg | pan cake | pasty | portion of chicken | fruit | juice packet
Popcorn | biscuits | peanuts | tea | coffee | hot chocolate
Soup of the day with bread | chips | spaghetti | rice | macaroni | stew | meat | vegetables | salads | fruit | tea | coffee | hot chocolate
Vegetarian Kilimanjaro Menu:
Porridge | vegetables and fruit | French toast | eggs | bread | jam | honey | butter | tea | coffee | hot chocolate
packets Sandwich | hardboiled egg| pasty | fruit | juice packet
Popcorn | biscuits | peanuts | tea | coffee | hot chocolate
Soup of the day with bread | chips | spaghetti | rice | macaroni | stew | vegetables | salads | fruit | tea | coffee | hot chocolate
Public toilets: most campsites and huts have toilet facilities that are shared by most climbers. Majority of the camping routes provide wooden shelters with long drop toilets (a hole in the ground). These seem to rarely get cleaned and therefore you can imagine the state and smell coming from them! There is no electricity or lighting provided inside, no water to wash your hands or toilet roll therefore remember to take your head torch, toilet roll or wet wipes. There are seated toilets and running water in some of the huts on the Marangu route.
Portable toilets: you may wish to avoid using the public toilet facilities provided by the Kilimanjaro National Park at the campsites or huts and opt to hire a portable toilet which would be more pleasant. For more information on portable toilets please click here.
En-route: Kilimanjaro National Park do not actually permit anyone to do their ‘ business’ en-route, however this rule may not be possible to follow at all times considering the water intake and possible changes in your digestive system due to the altitude. So you may have to go out in the bushes!
Bathing: without any bath-tubs or showers on Kilimanjaro, your 5-9 days on trek will be spent without bathing, although wet wipes could be the closest to getting the job done. You will be provided a bowl of warm water every morning to brush your teeth and cleanse your face.
In case you wish to utilise your mobile | cell phone on Kilimanjaro there are certain points on the mountain that have access to networks, providing that your settings have been adjusted to roam. On trek your guide can advise you on which areas of the mountain you are likely to get a connection. In case you wish to purchase a local sim card, activation of the sim card could take 24 – 48 hours, therefore we would recommend you to request this during your booking process so thatwe can help you organize one. Purchasing a local sim card can majority of the time work out to be the most cost effective option.
Day pack: you will be carrying your own day pack | ruck sack (recommended size: 25-35 litres) with you on each day of your trek. Your day pack | ruck sack should include at least 3 litres of water, lunch box, rain gear, valuables, camera and any other items you may require for the day’ s hike.
Duffel bag: the rest of your luggage which will be packed in the duffel bag will be carried by a porter that will zoom off ahead of you every day to the campsite | hut. Remember the luggage in your duffel bag should not exceed 15kg. If in case it is over 15kg you will have been given a choice before the start of your trek to reduce the amount at Mountain Inn or to hire an additional porter to carry the excess amount.
Valuables: besides your camera, tip money and maybe your mobile | cell phone which should be in your day pack | ruck sack at all times; you will not need any other valuables for your climb so we would recommend you to keep all others at the safe in Mountain Inn. This could include your passport, cash, credit | debit cards, jewellery etc.
Additional luggage: you may have luggage that is not required for the climb, e.g. safari and beach clothing etc. which should be kept in Mountain Inn’ s luggage storage room.
Sleeping tents: for all camping routes, you will be spending your overnights in either our 4 season sleeping Hilleberg Tarra or Vaude Campo Grande tents. We have carefully selected and tested the tents to ensure your safety as well as comfort. Rest assure that your tent will not rip or fly away in 64 mph winds; you will be kept safe and warm in -21 degrees Celsius!
Vaude Campo Grande:
Dining tents: on all camping routes you will be enjoying your breakfast and hot dinners in our dining tents commonly known as mess tents, either in our Hilleberg Altai tents or locally made mess tents.
“Pole Pole”, a saying that will be uttered many times during your trek, translating to “slowly slowly”, which aims to encourage you to ascend slowly and steadily to help you acclimatise to the altitudes. Many climbers get affected in different ways by the altitudes, it may be an idea to consult your family doctor and a physician that is familiar with high altitudes. Although unless and until you experience the high altitudes, you or any expert will not know in which ways it will affect you. The healthiest athlete could be impacted by the high altitudes as much as an overweight individual suffering from several ailments.
Effects of altitude: as you ascend to higher altitudes the air gets thinner,there is lower air pressure which results in a decrease of oxygen intake whilst breathing. At an elevation of approximately 5500m – 6000m, the atmospheric pressure is about 50% of that at sea level, so only half the normal air pressure. You would imagine the simple solution to be breathing twice as fast to get more oxygen but the reality is worse! The ability of your lungs to extract the oxygen deteriorates rapidly with altitude, and in fact the rate of decline is much faster than the reduction decline in oxygen pressure. However with this in mind, due to the physical and mental exertion of the trek your body requires more oxygen than usual! The lungs load the oxygen into your red blood cells which then transport it to the muscles and the brain. The number of red blood cells are usually not adequate after approximately 3000m, however the demands of the muscles for oxygen are high, and the brain does not get the 15% of oxygen that it requires at higher altitudes. You can only imagine what effects this would have on your brain, your muscles and their functions.
Body’s response to needing more oxygen:
- breathing becomes faster and deeper
- heart beats faster, pulse rate rises
- blood is forced into parts of lungs that are not utilised at sea level
- expels excess fluids e.g. frequent urination (which is a sign that your body is acclimatising well)
- creates more red blood cells to carry the oxygen, making the blood thicker (although the crucial extra blood cells take a couple of days to form which you normally do not have so it could lead to altitude sickness)
Tips for acclimatisation:
- Ascend slowly, because it takes time to acclimatise
- Choose additional acclimatisation days or longer itineraries on trek
- Take slow, steady, controlled deep breaths
- Drink plenty of water, recommended 3-5 litres per day
- Eat enough food especially a high calorie / carbohydrate diet for energy even if your appetite is low
- Do not over-exert yourself
- Sleep well and get enough rest
- Choose an itinerary that takes you to higher altitudes during the day, but overnights are spent at lower altitudes
- Avoid tobacco, alcohol and other depressant drugs including traquilisers, sleeping pills and opiates. These will decrease the respiratory drive during sleep resulting in altitude sickness
- If symptoms of altitude sickness appear, inform your guide immediately
Altitude Sickness: Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is the medical term for altitude sickness which is the result of lack of oxygen on the body. Acute means ‘ sudden-onset’ . Mild or moderate symptoms of AMS often disappear if the sufferer rests or ascends no further. If AMS is severe the trekker must immediately descend.
Mild AMS: does not interfere with normal activity and symptoms generally subside as the body acclimatises. As long as symptoms are mild and only a nuisance, ascent can continue at a slow pace. Symptoms tend to worsen at night when the respiratory drive is decreased. Here are symptoms to look out for:
- -headaches: a primary symptom used to diagnose altitude sickness, is also considered a symptom of dehydration which can easily occur whilst climbing. Remember to consume plenty of fluids, recommended 3-5 litres per day.
- fatigue or weakness
- loss of appetite | stomach-intestinal pain
- muscle pain -nausea or vomiting
- dizziness or light-headedness-insomnia
- pins and needles
- shortness of breath upon exertion
- persistent rapid pulse / palpitations
- peripheral edema (swelling of hands, feed and face)
Moderate AMS: normal activity becomes a struggle, although the person may still be able to walk on their own. At this stage there has to be careful monitoring by yourself and your guide to ensure that symptoms do not get worse. Our guide will advise you accordingly however you should descend to a lower altitude as soon as possible or take medication which can reverse the problem. Action should be taken before the AMS becomes severe and to the point where you are unable to walk on your own. Descending at least 300m will show some improvement, and you should either remain at this altitude until symptoms subside at which point you may be able to ascend again as you will have acclimatised to the altitude. Alternatively you can continue your descent, however the guides through their experience and training will know exactly how to handle the situation.
Moderate AMS symptoms include:
- -severe headaches that are not relieved by pain killers
- -continuous nausea and vomiting
- -increased weakness and fatigue
- -shortness of breath upon exertion
- -ataxia: decreased coordination and instability
- -the presence of other mild AMS symptoms that have continued for a prolonged amount of time
Severe AMS: requires immediate descent to a lower altitude of at least 600m minimum. There are two conditions under the umbrella of severe AMS including High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) and High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) which are life threatening. Both are less frequently encountered, especially to those who are properly acclimatised and emerge in people who have:
- ignored the signs and symptoms of mild or / and moderate AMS
- have been ascending very fast
- ascend very high and stay at high altitudes for a long period of time
In all the years that we have been organising Kilimanjaro climbs, we have never had an incident of severe AMS.
HACE: occurs due to hypoxia (oxygen deprivation) and results in the brain swelling up due to the accumulation of fluid. Onset usually starts from 4500m for most people however it could be from lower altitudes for other individuals. Immediate descent and medical attention is required, as well as the administration of the Emergency Oxygen System. Signs and symptoms of HAPE include:
- initial symptoms of mild / moderate AMS
- ataxia: decreased coordination and instability
- disturbances in bodily functions / visual disturbances
- slurred speech
- personality changes or altered mental state
- memory loss
- loss of consciousness
HAPE: occurs due to hypoxia (oxygen deprivation) and results in the fluid build-up in the lungs. Onset usually starts from 4000m however in some cases it could be at lower altitudes. Immediate descent and medical attention is required, as well as the administration of the Emergency Oxygen System. The best option would be to descend in a stretcher sitting in a half seated position. Signs and symptoms of HAPE:
- initial symptoms of mild / moderate AMS
- blue coloured lips or face
- dyspnea: difficulty in breathing at rest, and shortness of breath
- cough (dry cough)
- phlegm or sputum that is pink or bloody
- tightness or congestion in the chest
- weakness, fatigue and increased reduction in physical abilities
- symptoms of HACE if there is deprived oxygen to the brain due to HAPE
Diamox (Acetazolamide):We neither condemn nor recommend the usage of this drug. It is a personal choice of the climber whether or not to take Diamox and we would highly recommend you to consult your local family doctor or physician beforehand. This medication stimulates respiration by acidifying the blood, allowing a larger amount of oxygen to enter into the blood stream which aids the body to acclimatise to the high altitudes. However the disadvantage of its use are the side effects which include tingling or numbness in the fingers, toes and face, taste alterations, excessive urination; and rarely, blurring of vision. These go away when the medication is stopped. Please read the full instructions that come with the product for advice on safety and allergy.
Other health concerns that could emerge should be taken into consideration:
- Cold and coughs
- Foot blisters
- Knee problems
Our guides are highly experienced and trained with health concerns that arise on Kilimanjaro. If a problem emerges, the guide will take precautionary action accordingly. If the health concern requires mountain rescue and evacuation, the guide will inform the Kilimanjaro National Park ranger and our team in the Moshi office. Contact is usually made using a mobile phone. There are a number of national park ranger posts, and communication between the park ranger and officials at the national park headquarters will be initiated via radio calling. Evacuation of the climber from Kilimanjaro is initially either on foot or a wheeled stretcher assisted by one of your guides, or if required additional members of your Kilimanjaro crew. This is until the highest access point that the rescue vehicle can reach to – either Shira Plateau, below Mandara Hut or Rongai Gate. The rescue vehicle will transport the client off the mountain, usually either to the park gates, where our vehicle meets the rescue car to complete the journey. Or directly to Mountain Inn or the nearest hospital depending on the severity and circumstances. During the rescue an assistant guide would accompany the climber however if the client’ s health concern is severe, the head guide would accompany instead, and leave the rest of the group on Kilimanjaro under the care of his assistant. If the client needs urgent medical assistance, he or she will be transferred to the nearest hospital. In many cases the trekker feels better due to increased oxygen and lower altitudes and can be taken to Mountain Inn to rest and recuperate. Please remember if you need to be transported to hospital, medical expenses should be paid for and the receipts should be kept for insurance purposes.
Private evacuation service: if you have purchased or wish to purchase membership for Flying Doctors, please click on the following link for further information on medical support and evacuation services: FDSA
Gamow Bags: a cylindrical inflatable pressure bag, used by accommodating a person inside it to treat severe cases of altitude sickness. Once the bag is inflated the atmospheric pressure increases and in turn the altitude inside it drops. Although this sounds wonderful, in reality it is not practical and therefore we do not provide this as an option on hire. First and foremost, your guide should be able to notice signs and symptoms of high altitudes. Our guides are highly experienced and trained and therefore you should never get to a point where you suffer from severe altitude sickness. Additionally the process of finding a suitable area to inflate the bag, putting the climber into the bag, inflating the bag and carrying it down is impractical and in our opinion can do more harm than good.
Here are some of the guidelines, rules and regulations that you will find written by national park authorities at the park gates.No soft plastics: In the year 2013, Kilimanjaro National Park introduced a new rule of having ‘ no soft plastics’ on the mountain, this includes soft plastic water bottles, plastic bags etc.
Under the National Parks Cap 412 of 1959 and regulations it is prohibited to:
- Enter without a valid permit
- Cut, damage, remove or introduce any object animate or inanimate in the park
- Discard any refuse or litter except in prescribed areas
- Discard any burning object
- Enter or leave the park elsewhere than at a place approved as an entrance or exit
- Place erect mark any sign board within the park
- Sleeping in caves has been abolished all hikers should use tents on designated tent camping sites
- Leave the park as clean as you found it
Points to remember:
- Hikers attempting to reach the summit should be physically fit
- If you have a sore throat, cold or breathing problems do not go beyond 3000m
- Children under 12 years of age are not allowed above 3000m
- If you have heart or lung problems do not attempt the mountain at all without consulting your doctor
- Allow plenty of time for the body to acclimatise by ascending slowly
- Do not push yourself to go if your body is exhausted or if you have extreme mountain sickness
- Drink 4-5 litres of fluid each day, water is best but fruit juices are good supplement
- If symptoms of mountain sickness or high altitude diseases persist please descend immediately and seek medicaltreatment. Our rescue team is always stand-by to render such services
- Please do not litter the trail. Pack all trash and leave the park as clean as you found it