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Life on Kilimanjaro

Here's a glimpse of what to expect from your Kilimanjaro trek and how your 'life on the mountain' will be.

We have operated treks on Kilimanjaro since 1984 and are the best!

GUIDES, PORTERS, COOK

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. These are really the people who make your climb special, comfortable, safe, clean and successful.

This is also what really differentiates companies. Most of the costs associated with your trek are fixed (park fees, food, transport) and the only place budget operators can compromise is on the salary for those who work the hardest on the mountain. We are not one of these companies and pride ourselves in a strong and experienced support team who are externally monitored for fair treatment standards.

All of our staff excluding the cook (who is hand picked by your guide) are hired directly from our office with no middle men, bribes, comission payments etc. Each person is contracted directly by our company and paid the full salary intended for them within two working days after the climb.

Head guide

All groups will have 1 lead head guide (possibly 2 for large groups) who acts as the chief of the trek and coordinates our policies, mountain rules and your requirements with the rest of the team. This is not just a name, a head guide has many more responsibilities compared to assistants and commit more time before, during and after the trek for the success of the tour.

Our head guides usually have the most experience and some have been with us for decades and are some of the best guides available on Kilimanjaro. All guides are English speaking and we also have some special language guides which can be arranged for on request.

Assistant guides

For groups larger than 1, you will have additional guides called 'assistants'. These guides are commited to coordinating with your requirements and the head guides instructions for the safety and success of your tour. You may even find you are closer to assistant guides compared to the head guide as assistants are more dedicated to our clients and have limited other responsibilities to allow them to focus on you.

Our assistant guides go through the same training as lead guides and you may even find many of your assistant guides are also head guides for other treks and also have tons of experience on the mountain.

Cook

As there are no restaurants on the mountain, your group will have a dedicated cook who prepares breakfast, tea, lunches, dinners and snacks throughout the trip. Cooking at a high altitude is a difficult task and you may be surprised what your cook can produce with limited ingredients and harsh conditions.

All cooks are trained regularly and each has their own unique style and signature dishes. We are used to all sorts of dietary requirements and if you let us know in advance, we can plan for the cook and menu accordingly.

Waiter

Usually the most loved person on a trip, a waiter is a standard luggage porter with extra duties at the campsites for bringing you your meals and setting up your dining tents. The waiter will coordinate between you, the guide and the cook to bring you hot and fresh meals at campsites and ensure you have plenty to fill your stomach.

Luggage porter

Luggage porters are general porters whose primary function is to carry items on and off the mountain. More than public toilet facilities, campsites don't have anything else and everything from your tables, tents, chairs, spoons, pots, pans, personal luggage etc. are carried by these hardworking porters.

A porter can carry up to 15kg of your personal weight, 20kg of our company weight and an additional 5kg for their personal luggage allowance.

You can hire extra luggage porters if you plan on having more than your allocated 15kg of luggage on the mountain.

Tent crew porter

The tent crew porters are standard luggage porters who have additional training for setting up and dismantling our camping equipment. These usually are the first to reach camps (to pick the best spot) and last to leave.

A tent crew porter will still carry the 20kg of weight in addition to their other duties on the mountain.

Personal assistance porter

Although not included in our standard packages, you can hire your own 'personal assistance porter' who will accompany you on the trek and carry your day pack. This porter will accompany you all the way to the summit.

Your day pack is usually below 5 kgs but this can feel like tons on the long hikes or at high altitudes.

Safety 'COVID-19' Porter

A private toilet porter (if you have included a portable toilet on your package) will carry a portable toilet system and tent and set this up for you at each campsite, clean it, dismantle it for the next camp.

We usually call these porters the hero's on the treks as this is not a glamourous job.

Private toilet porter

A new addition to our crew, a safety porter is appointed on your trek to ensure our crew are complying with our own and national COVID-19 prevention procedures. This porter will monitor our crew to ensure they wear masks appropriately, set up your tents / dining area in sanitary conditions, ensure staff wash hands as required and conduct temperature checks on the crew.

The 'undercover' porter

Each and every one of our treks will include at least 1 'undercover' porter provided to us by the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance project to monitor our company and the guides for fair treatment standards.

This porter acts as a standard luggage porter and is called 'undercover' as most on the trek do not know who this person is to allow for the fairest and truly independent monitoring. Their training and reporting is external to our company and they monitor key activities including fair weights, meals provided as expected, no bribery issues, salary payments on time and more to ensure we are operating an experience that is fair to all of those involved.

Did you know? We are externally monitored on each and every one of our climbs by KPAP for fair treatment against our support teams. This monitoring activities are done by a KPAP porter assigned onto our treks.

SAFETY ON THE MOUNTAIN

We have taken tens of thousands onto Kilimanjaro since 1984 and pride ourselves on our safety records and policies. No one can ever predict how someone will react at a high altitude and our guides go through regular training to ensure they are up to date on the best practices and create the safest experience for you on your trek.

Theoretical knowledge is never enough, our guides spend years on Kilimanjaro and this expereince gives them great practical knowledge in addition to the first aid training, internal training, KINAPA park training and various programs to keep you safe.

Although our aim is to get you to the top of Kilimanjaro, you will never see our guides pushing you beyond your limits and our guides have full authority to force you to descend if they feel you are putting yourself and others at risk. Enjoyment is not just reaching the summit, but safely getting back down!

Altitude sickness is the number one cause of death on the mountain and your trek should not be taken lightly. A high altitude trek is dangerous and needs proper monitoring, policies, training to ensure a safe and fun experience.

What we include and do to keep you safe

  • Strict operational policies for general safety guidelines and special operating procedures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 (and other bacterial or viral spreading diseases) while on tour with us.
  • We only assign experienced guides on your treks who hold the appropriate certification and attend our regular training sessions throughout the year.
  • One emergency cylinder is always provided on each and every Kilimanjaro trek in case of any emergenices. All guides are trained on how to use and operate this equipment.
  • At least one high quality (European medical grade) pulse oximeter; specifically designed for high altitude sports, is available with your head guide.
  • Regular monitoring of your symptoms, blood oxygen and heart rate will be done (twice daily health check or more as required). This information is recorded daily on individual summary sheets with a scoring system designed to predict which level of AMS you have.
  • A first aid kit is included in every trek for minor injuries and accidents.
  • Mobile phones available for guides to contact our base of operations or evacuation services directly (such as the KSAR helicopter evacuation service)
  • A simple formula of 'can you walk down before we need to evacuate you down' helps us avoid major problems or requiring helicopter / stretcher / vehicle evacuation (which all can sometimes be unavailalbe or unreliable).
    • Our guides have taken 1000's onto Kilimanjaro and will offer honest feedback during your trek to ensure you make an informed decision on whether to continue or to descend early.
  • Strict operational policies for general safety guidelines and special operating procedures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 (and other bacterial or viral spreading diseases) while on tour with us.
  • We only assign experienced guides on your treks who hold the appropriate certification and attend our regular training sessions throughout the year.
  • One emergency cylinder is always provided on each and every Kilimanjaro trek in case of any emergencies. All guides are trained on how to use and operate this equipment.
  • At least one high quality (European medical grade) pulse oximeter; specifically designed for high altitude sports, is available with your head guide for an accurate check.
  • Regular monitoring of your symptoms, blood oxygen and heart rate will be done (twice daily health check or more as required). This information is recorded daily on individual summary sheets with a scoring system designed to predict which level of AMS you have and to monitor you throughout the experience.
  • A first aid kit is included in every trek for minor injuries and accidents.
  • Mobile phones available for guides to contact our base of operations or evacuation services directly (such as the KSAR helicopter evacuation service).
  • A simple formula of 'can you walk down before we need to evacuate you down' helps us avoid major problems or requiring helicopter / stretcher / vehicle evacuation (which all can sometimes be unavailalbe or unreliable).
  • Honesty and transparency. Our guides have taken 1000's onto Kilimanjaro and will offer honest feedback throughout your trek to allow you to make an informed decision on whether to continue or to descend.
  • Regular communication from our office team to check your status and progress throughout the trek.
  • Ignoring success rates. If you see companies claiming near 100% success rates, these are not real or these companies have not had enough climbers. It is impossible for each and every climber to reach the summit of the mountain and we do not offer success rates or pressure / target guides against success rates as each person is unique in their ability to adapt to high altitudes and this may affect the safety of your climb.

The following are the primary evacuation methods available for your trek, in descending order for how our guides would consider during an emergency or medical evacuation.

  1. If safe to do so and you are physically able, you will walk down with a guide.
  2. If safe to do so and you cannot physically walk, you will be carried by a stretcher to the nearest rescue vehicle point.
  3. Is a helicopter evacuation required, available and is this possible considering the nearest helipad?
  4. Has the base office been informed of the situation when safe and convenient to do so?
  5. Are you able to make the best decision for yourself?
  6. Has your guide made the best decision for you?

The best way to recover from high altitude symptoms is descending to a lower altitude where the oxygen is rich, and your body can recover better. Our primary goal is always (and will always be) for you to descend by walking down yourself for the safest and best experience!

Coronavirus, COVID-19 and standard operating procedures

With the COVID-19 corona virus turining the world upside down in 2020 and really impacting our travel industry, we would like to reassure you that we are fully compliant and prepared with our operating procedures on and off the mountain to create a safe experience.

You should expect

  • Enhanced screening procedures throughout the experience. There is no mandatory quarantine requirement in Tanzania however you should expect screening on arrival at airports, hotels, park gates and follow advice given if symptoms are present.
  • Your vehicles to be sanitised with an appropriate chemical solution between each transfer. This includes (but is not limited to) door handles, seats, arm rests etc.
  • Your mountain equipment (tents, tables, dining tents, charis etc) sanitized or disinfected before your trip with an appropriate chemical solution.
  • Contact points (zips, chairs, etc.) will regularly be wiped down with an appropriate chemical solution during the trip.
  • Your crew will regularly wash hands with soap or use hand sanitizers berfore handling our company gear or your personal gear.
  • Your crew will attend regular training sessions either with our company or conducted by the goverment for COVID-19 preventitive and control measures.
  • All food packaging items and our facilities are regularly cleaned and disinfected with appropriate chemical solutions.
  • Fresh food (where possible) is cleaned and packed or appropriate chemical solutions are provided for washing these on the mountain.
  • All mountain crew will maintain at least a 1 meter physical distance from our guests / 2 meter guidance distance. Where emergencies require close contact, our staff will wear the appropriate personal protective equipment.
  • Our crew will wear masks when in vehicles, at the park gates and while they are setting up or in close contact with each other at campsites. Guides may also use a mask when speaking / guiding or when they are under the 2m guidance distance.
  • We will provide buckets with taps, water, soap (and sanitizers where running water is not available) for your safety. The crews stations are separate to yours and our dining tent will have it's own dedicated wash station.

Coronavirus may not be the most dangerous thing on the mountain. A high altitude trek has many risks associated with it and our consideration for safety is for more than just the corona virus. Your team are trained to handle multiple different situations.

Kilimanjaro altitude

MOUNTAIN SICKNESS

“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 altitude, 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 way it may 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 International Society for Mountain Medicine1 deinfe the following as a high altitude:

  1. High Altitude - 1500m to 3500m (5000ft to 11,500ft)
  2. Very High Altitude - 3500m to 5500m (11,500ft to 18,000ft)
  3. Extreme Alttiude - above 5500

Altitude sickness is caused by the failure of your body to adapt to the reduced oxygen and will generally affect anyone climbing to above 2500m or 8,000ft as below this level altitude sickness rarely occurs. Kilimanjaro is an expensive mountain to climb and many cannot opt for the longest routes making the acclimatisation process more difficult and chances of getting sick higher.

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. Factors such as climbing quickly or too fast during the day, tiredness or jetlag and dehydration are usually the key causes of poor acclimatisation. A slow ascent and good hydration are key to a successful summit.

Can oxygen become too low? There is no exact scientific evidence to determine exactly what percentage of atomospheric or internal body oxygen is too low. Each body reacts differently and some can adapt to the lower oxygen easier than others.

It is suggested that anyone who is exposed to below 80% blood oxygen for a prolonged period is at risk of organ faliure however recent research also indicates that some humans can still adapt and survive at below this level. It is for this reason any clients who descend with symptoms above moderate are recommended to visit the hospital before returning to their post climb lodges or carrying on with their next tour.

Your 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)

IDENTIFYING ALTITUDE SICKNESS

Mild / Accute Altitude Sickness symptoms

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Lost appetite and nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Poor sleep

Most of our trekkers will experience some form or another of the above and it does not mean you cannot still successfully and safely summit with close monitoring from our guides.

Moderate Altitude Sickness symptoms

  • Awful headaches that cannot be releived with medication
  • Short or shortness of breath
  • Strong feelings of nausea and muscle fatigue
  • Ataxia (feeling of decreased coordination)

Some trekkers do experience the moderate symptoms and with monitoring and considering other factors (blood oxygen, overall condition) you may still be able to summit successfully or be advised to descend where unsafe.

Severe Altitude Sickness symptoms

  • An inability to walk or stand
  • Severe shortness of breath, even at rest
  • Inability to think straight (poor cognitive ability)
  • Fluid buildup in lung
  • Hallucinations

Most do not reach the severe alttidue sickness symptoms as they should have turned around before their onset. These symptoms can sometimes appear suddenly or overnight and immediate descent / evacuation is the best solution with emergency oxygen administered by guides if deemed necessary.

High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE)

High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) is a severe altitude sickness condition. It occurs when pressure build-up in the brain results in fluid breaching the capillary walls in the cranium. It is a rare condition on general treks, but much more common among mountaineers in high altitude mountain ranges such as the Himalayas.

Here are the typical symptoms for suffers of HACE: very bad migraines, loss of coordination, hallucination and disorientation, memory loss, and loss of consciousness (ultimately leading to lapsing into a como). Generally HACE tends to strike at night and the condition can worsen rapidly. Hence, time shouldn’t be lost in getting someone down to lower altitudes if they have suspected HACE. Do not wait for daylight. Descend immediately.

High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE)

High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) is another fatal altitude illness condition. It occurs when fluid breaches the pulmonary capillaries and enters the lungs. Fluid in the lungs inhibits the effective exchange of oxygen to the blood.

Here are the signs that someone is suffering from HAPE: very tight chest and extreme shortness of breath (even while resting), the feeling of suffocating, particularly during sleep, coughing up white or mucus coloured frothy fluid, extreme fatigue, irrational behaviour and hallucinations.

Like HACE, descent is paramount, but caution should be taken not to exert the person suffering from HAPE as this can worsen the condition. Any available oxygen can and should be administered. The drug, Nifedipine, has also been shown to help ameliorate the condition, but descent is always required.

Your blood oxygen levels will be monitored regularly on the trek using a European medical grade high altitude pulse oximiter. The blood oxygen alone is not used exclusively to make decisions on the mountain however as your saturation reduces below 80%, you will be monitored closely and descent may be advised depending on your actual condition.

Tips for acclimatisation

  1. Ascend slowly, because it takes time to acclimatise
  2. Choose additional acclimatisation days or longer itineraries on trek
  3. Take slow, steady, controlled deep breaths
  4. Drink plenty of water, recommended 3-5 litres per day
  5. Eat enough food especially a high calorie / carbohydrate diet for energy even if your appetite is low
  6. Do not over-exert yourself
  7. Sleep well and get enough rest
  8. Choose an itinerary that takes you to higher altitudes during the day, but overnights are spent at lower altitudes
  9. 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
  10. If symptoms of altitude sickness appear, inform your guide immediately

Non altitude related health concerns to also be careful of

  • Cold and coughs
  • Dehydration
  • Hypothermia
  • Frostbite
  • Sunburn
  • Snow-blindness
  • Foot blisters
  • Sprains
  • Fractures
  • Knee problems

The above are some of the common non altitude related symptoms we may come accross. It is important to have cover for a high altitude evacuation and also to cover for these unforseen health issues.

Kilimanjaro food and menu

FOOD AND DRINK

There are no restaurants on Kilimanjaro. All your food items are carried on by your team of porters and meals prepared in a kitchen tent by your mountain cook.

Water

You will be provided boiled drinking water from your first evening onwards on the mountain which is collected from fresh streams on Kilimanjaro. We recommend all to drink at least 3 to 4 litres of water each day to help the acclimatisation process by staying hydrated.

Is water purification systems / tablets necessary? The World Health Organisation2 advise that boiling water us highly effective in killing human pathogens in water even at a high altitude. We feel this is more than enough to have safe water to use however you can still add water purification tablets or bring a purification system if preferred..

Water freezing

Your drinking water may turn into ice at the higher altitudes especially on your summit attempt due to the freezing temperatures! Water in water bladders are most susceptible to turning into ice (especially in the pipes) and therefore we would recommend you to keep your water insulated or invest in an insulated bladder. 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.

Tea time 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.

Soft drinks and alcohol

We do not provide any soft drinks on your trek and you may need to purchase these if you wish to include these on your trek. Remember soft disposable plastics are not allowed on the mountain so only glass bottles and cans will be acceptable.

We do not recommend bringing or consuming alcohol while trekking the mountain as it can dehydrate you and bring on mountain sickness quicker. The saying usually goes 'Kili after Kili' which means a Kilimanjaro beer AFTER a Kilimanjaro trek (and not before!).

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 plan for your menu in advance and allocate the appropriate cook.

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 snacks 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 enjoy the most!

We do not have a fixed menu system as each of our chefs have unique signature dishes and will customise each trekking menu based on the clients profile and dietary requirements. If you have any special or favourite meals, you can let us know and we will always do our best to arrange for these.

A sample non-vegetarian menu

Please note that this menu is based on an actual historic menu provided on the mountain however your menu on the day can be different considering market availability, cooks specialities and your dietary requirements. In case you need to know your exact menu, you can request this from our sales team.

MOUNTAIN EQUIPMENT

On camping based routes on Kilimanjaro (Machame, Lemosho, Shira, Umbwe, Rongai) the park only provide a designated campsite with public washroom facilities (some western / sitting toilets, others with the old fashioned long drop / hole in the ground). On the Northern circuit, crater and other high altitude camps, public facilities are not even available and you are required to use a private bathroom.

You will need sleeping, dining, cooking facilities for yourself that should be carried up (and down) the mountain. This is where we come in. As a tour operator, we provide high quality mountain equipment maintained and set up by our dedicated support team for your meals, nights, bathroom facilities and more.

We arrange for all your tents, tables, chairs, pots, pans, plates, cutlery, toielts, mattresses, personal gear to be transported, carried, checked, maintained and set up so you can worry about reaching the summit and let us worry about the rest. Remember, each and every kg matters as this is all carried by mountain porters limited to 20kg per porter of company gear.

As of summer 2020, you can expect the following approximate setup provided by us. We do regularly change and replace items as required. 

Sleeping tents

A lightweight dome or wedge shaped tent with an inside tent for sleeping and cover all with zips at the entrance points and aluminium poles supporting the structure. The poles and cover create 'vestibules' which are sections you can keep your luggage in (separate from your sleeping area in case of mud, wetness etc.).

Sleeping tents are probably the most expensive item in your trek as these should be four season (designed to take all of the harsh conditions on the mountain) and help you to get a good nights rest on the mountain.

Standard (on most of our packages):

Maximum tent capacity: 3 people
Shah Tours sleeping capacity: 2 people
Entrances: 2
Vestibules: 2
Peak height: 125cm
Weight: approx 5kg
Rating: Four season

Comfort (upgraded larger tent):

Maximum tent capacity: 4 people
Shah Tours sleeping capacity: 2-3 people
Entrances: 2
Vestibules: 2
Peak height: 147cm
Weight: approx 6kg
Rating: Four season

Mess / dining tents

A mess or dining tent is used for your breakfast, dinner and hot lunches at campsites. This tent is made out of a similar material to the sleeping tents but usually in a square or rectangle frame for more space. These tents are just one cover sheet placed on a ground sheet with zips at the entrances.

This is the common tent for your group but not shared with other groups on the mountain.

Maximum tent capacity: 7-14 people
Shah Tours sleeping capacity: 6-11 people
Entrances: 2
Vestibules: 0
Peak height: 205-227cm
Weight: approx 6-12kg
Rating: Four season

Portable toilet + tent

For those who don't want to use public facilities on the mountain (or who opt for a special route which requires the use of toilets), you can include a private portable toilet which comes with it's own tent, extra porter, toilet rolls, air freshener and cleaning suppliers for the porter.

We highly recommend adding this to all camping based routes, especially in the peak season where campsites are extremely busy.

Maximum tent capacity: 1 person at a time (max 5 people to one toilet)
Shah Tours sleeping capacity: 1 person at a time (max 5 people to one toilet)
Entrances: 1
Vestibules: 0
Peak height: 206cm
Weight: approx 4kg tent + 5kg equipment
Rating: Four season

What else?

We are not joking when we say everyhing except for the mountain is supplied by us (and the public toilets). We also provide:

Kitchen tents for the cook, emergency oxygen, tables, chairs, support team sleeping tents, first aid kit, standard sleeping mattress, camping lights for mess tent, gas cooker, oximeter, plates, cutlery, cooking utensils, washing bowl, tap bucket, hand soap, food, seasonings, table-cloth, ground sheets, mobile phones, folding beds and more!

Kilimanjaro folding beds

COMFORT UPGRADES

Our standard product offers a mid-range expereince with a balance between service, includes, price and a fair salary for the support team. To upgrade your experience or make your trek more comfortable, you can add 'comfort upgrades' onto your trip.

Popular add-ons for Kilimanjaro are outlined below.

Foldable travel bed

Your standard package includes a basic sleeping mattress inside one of our mountain tents so a foldable bed is not required. For those who don’t want to sleep on the ground, you can upgrade to a folding bed to increase comfort and keep you away from the cold mountain floor.

  • Your sleeping tent will automatically be upgraded to a larger one.
  • The size of the item is at least 195 x 71 x 42 cm and 7.9 kg.
  • An extra porter is automatically included due to the weight increase.
  • Limited quantities are available and a pre-booking of this item is recommended.

Private portable toilet

Access to the public toilets at campsites is already included in your package so a portable toilet is not required. This private system however is always recommended for any camping route, especially during the busy seasons, where facilities are shared between many trekkers and may not be as clean as desired.

  • An extra porter is included and will carry and clean the system. You also get a toilet tent, air freshener and toilet rolls.
  • Portable toilets have a manual flush system.
  • A maximum of 5 people can share one of these toilets
  • We highly recommend these in the peak months as campsites and public facilities can get very busy.
  • Limited quantities are available and a pre-booking of this item is recommended.

Larger sleeping tents

Your standard package includes a standard 4 season sleeping tent designed for 2 people to comfortably sleep in the mountain. If you want a little more room in your tent, you can upgrade to a 3 person tent.

  • An extra porter is not included as these tents only weigh approx 1 kg more than the standard one and this is managed within the existing weight.
  • Limited quantities are available and a pre-booking of this item is recommended.

Private single tents or rooms at the base lodge

Your standard package includes a tent designed for 2 people to comfortably sleep in the mountain sharing (unless you have already opted for a single tent). All even numbered groups are expected to share tents (every 2 people) and one single tent is always provided for odd numbered groups.

  • If you want some extra privacy on the mountain or at the base lodge, you can opt for your own tent.
  • If you are joining a group but don't want to share your nights, you can book a single tent / room
  • An extra porter may be included as this is an extra approx 5kg load to the expedition. This extra porter if required is included in the price and provided on management discretion.
  • For those with no experience at high altitudes we recommend sharing a tent so you have someone to keep you company.
  • Single rooms are not possible on hut based routes (Marangu route / Mt Meru) as the room allocation is done by the national parks.
  • Singles are subject to availability and a pre-booking of this item is recommended.

Comfort 2" mattress

Your standard package includes a 1” standard sleeping mattress in case you haven’t brought your own. You can upgrade this to a comfort 2” mattress upon request.

  • An extra porter may be included as the extra weight may cause the trek to above the 20kg load allowed per porter. This extra porter (if required) is included in the price on the companies discretion.
  • Both the standard and comfort mattresses are locally made with a ‘Maasai Shukka’ cotton cover on a foam mattress for a good nights sleep at the high altitude treks.

Self-inflating mattress

A great lightweight addition to add onto your standard mattress (or replace) that can easily be carried and set up. The downfall for SI mattresses is that they can easily be damaged and cause more discomfort if they can't inflate to maximum.

Supplemental oxygen

More than 75% of trekkers will experience some form of mild altitude sickness. This is caused by the reaction to reduced oxygen in the air. A supplemental oxygen system delivers a precisely measured dose of oxygen via a comfortable silicone nasal cannula.

  • Two oxygen cylinders are included in the package. One for familiarization (usually during your acclimatization day) and the second for a summit attempt. Our guides go through training on how to operate the system so will help you to setup.
  • An extra porter will carry the complete system when not in use.
  • You are required to carry the system when it’s in use (approx 6kg).
  • This item cannot be arranged for last minute and requires pre-order.
  • We do not encourage or promote the use of supplemental oxygen as a mountain under 6000m does not really need this artificial system.
  • You can find more information in the 'Emergency and supplemental' oxygen section.

Extra support staff

You can hire your own dedicated staff if required on your trip. Whether it's porters to help you carry extra luggage or your day packs till the summit or guides to accompany you the whole way, you can customise our tours as required.

Dedicated stretcher

Your standard package includes a rescue fee that covers the use of the stretchers available at various ranger posts on the mountain. If you wish to add your own stretcher onto the trek, we have some foldable strechers that are dedicated exclusively for your group.

TOILETS, SHOWERS AND BATHROOMS

Bathing / shower

No, you didn't miss anything. No one talks about showers on Kilimanjaro as there are none! The risk of hypothermia and lack of water available (and limited resources to warm this water) mean that you probably will not shower for the entire duration of the trek.

Some operators do provide a shower however these usually are for after summit and at the final camp (and not for the duration of the tour) and we do not offer these as an add on.

We advise all clients to bring body wipes / wet wipes to wipe yourselves down at campsites without risking your health. There are no rinse body wash solutions available in some countries however most will use the wipes. You will be provided with a bowl of warm water every morning and evening to freshen up, brush teeth, wipe your face.

Public toilets

Most campsites and huts have shared public toilet facilities that are to be used by all. Majority of the camping routes provide wooden shelters with long drop toilets (a hole in the ground) however in the recent years we have seen investments into western toilet blocks throughout the mountain. That being said, there are no full time cleaners on the mountain and you can image the state / smell of these especially in the peak season.

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.

The Marangu route has some of the best facilities on the mountain with seated / western toilets and even showers at the lower altitudes. Once you reach Kibo camp however, the toilets are the old fashioned 'long-drop' style.

Private portable toilets

You may wish to avoid using the public toilet facilities provided by the Kilimanjaro National Park at the campsites and opt to hire a portable toilet which would be more pleasant and dedicated for you and your group only. You can check the 'comfort upgrades' section for more information on these private toilets.

Between camps

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. You may have to go out in the bushes and it's always worth carrying wet wipes and a toilet roll in your day pack!

EMERGENCY AND SUPPLEMENTAL OXYGEN

There are two primary oxygen systems available for your trek. One 'Emergency oxygen' cylinder is included in all of our Kilimanjaro climbs for your safety.

Emergency oxygen
Emergency Oxygen is used to treat a whole list of medical emergencies as well as altitude related illnesses while on Kilimanjaro / Mt. Meru. Its uses are usually as a last resort, and in most cases descending to a lower altitude where the oxygen is richer is the best way to cure oxygen related altitude sickness.

Once receiving oxygen via the emergency system, you would need to descend immediately and would not be able to ascend further, or re-attempt ascension for your own safety.

The oxygen system will be carried by a guide who accompanies you on your trek, and the decision to use the system will be either guides as they are trained to detect symptoms of acute mountain sickness and are trained in using these systems or by yourself. There may be some instances where altitude symptoms have arisen however the emergency oxygen is not necessary and the guides will recommend you descend to a lower altitude instead, usually curing any problems faced over taking treatment from the cylinder.

1-cylinder package

Consists of a 2-litre lightweight carbon composite oxygen cylinder, supplied with a medical oxygen regulator, medical facemask and backpack.

2-litre cylinder endurance:
@ 2-lpm - 2hrs 30mins
@4-lpm - 1hr 15mins

Supplemental oxygen
An oxygen system that delivers a precisely measured dose of oxygen while you trek at the higher altitudes. The oxygen is delivered via an unobtrusive and comfortable silicone nasal cannula which allows you to eat, drink, communicate and continue to climb to the higher altitudes whist receiving the benefits of supplementary oxygen. An extra porter will be included to carry the complete system during the trek while not in use.

You (the client) will be required to carry the system in the personal backpack provided when in operation at high altitude. Your porter is only permitted to carry the system when not in use. The backpack you should carry weighs approx. 6kg.

Complete system comes with:
2 x Oxygen Cylinders (each cylinder gives 12hours endurance)
1 x Oxygen Regulator
1 x Pulse Dose Delivery System
1 x Silicone Nasal Cannula
1 x Personal Backpack

The complete system is supplied in a protective Pelicase and backpack, carried by your porter when not in use. Guides are all fully trained in the use of the system.

COMMUNICATING AND STAYING IN TOUCH

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. You may even be able to get a 3G / 4G data connection even at the higher altitudes. Your guide can advise you on which areas of the mountain you are likely to get a connection.

You can purchase a local sim card (likely a fraction of the cost of your roaming charges) however since 2018 biometric registration is required in Tanzania of all sim cards meaning you have to visit a operators shop in person to obtain this. This is usually a quick and easy process however may require you to have time before your trek to visit the shop during their opening hours.

Reliability of data / Wifi connections is intermittent in Tanzania and you may experience outages or dropped services depending on your location.

You may have friends or family that want updates while you are on the mountain. They are welcome to contact us and we always do our best to respond to these and contact your guide for the latest update (if not already received). We will however always consider your privacy before sharing private / sensitive information that can sometimes make your family at home worry for no reason and you should inform us before your trek on what information you wish to pass on!

WEATHER, CLIMATE AND VEGETATION

Experience the forest, the desert and the snow within a space of a few days! Very few places on earth offer such diverse vegetation and seasons in such a short amount of time!

We usually say a trek on Kilimanjaro (whichever direction you approach it from) is like walking from the Equator to Arctic in just a few days.

You will be accompanied by a range of flaura (flowers), fauna (animals) and avifauna (birds) en-route. There are two main wet seasons where there are fewer numbers of climbers due to the weather, including the long rains between mid-March to May and short rains in the second half of November. The remaining months are considered great times to climb but may have a high volume of tourists.

The weather on the mountain howeveris very unpredictable and you could be faced with showers during the drier months and no rain during the rainy seasons!

Zone 1- Lower slopes

Around most of the mountain's lower slopes you will see evidence of human use, particularly grazing of livestock or cultivation. This has totally changed the natural vegetation patterns and what used to be scrub, bush and lowland forest is now grassland or cropland. On the northern and eastern sides which are too dry for cultivation, one can still see some of the former lowland vegetation. The lower slopes of Kilimanjaro receive water that fell as rain in the forest zone, and then percolated through underground channels. It is this water and the fertile volcanic soil that supports the densely populated settlements.

  • Coverage: 20%
  • Altitude: 800m to 1800m (2600ft to 6000ft)
  • Precipatation: 500mm or 20" per year on the plains. 1800mm or 70" per year at the forest boundary.
  • Temperature: +15oC to +35oC
  • Flora: Camphor wood, fig, podocarpus, juniper trees, olive trees, ferns, old mans beard, llex mitis, Impatiens kilimanjari, viola eminii and Impatiens pseudoviola.
  • Fauna: Blue monkeys, colobus monkey, olive baboons, civets, leopards, mongoose, servals, aardvark, honey badger, porcupines, bushbabies, genet and tree hyrax
  • Avifauna: Ross's Turacao, hornbills, mouse birds, trogon, robin chat, and bulbul.

Zone 2 - Rain forest

This is the richest zone on the mountain. A wide band of extremely beautiful montane forest encircles the whole of Kilimanjaro and it is worth a visit even if you are not climbing to the peaks. 96% of the water on Kilimanjaro originates in this forest zone. Much of the rain that falls on the forest is absorbed by the thick carpet of leaves and then percolates through the soil and the porous lava rock, to emerge as springs lower down the mountain.

Because of the dampness of the forest and the altitude, there is frequently a wide band of clouds around this zone, especially between 2500-3000 m. Protected from the sun by clouds, the moisture cannot easily evaporate so there is high humidity, dampness and fog drip. Nights can be cold when it is clear and day time temperatures ranging around 15-20oC.

  • Coverage: 21%
  • Altitude: 1000m to 2800m (6000ft to 9200ft)
  • Precipatation: 1000mm or 40" per year on the western / northern sides. 2000mm or 79" per year on the southern and eastern slopes.
  • Temperature: +15oC to +30oC
  • Flora: Camphor wood, fig, podocarpus, juniper trees, olive trees, ferns, old mans beard, llex mitis, Impatiens kilimanjari, viola eminii and Impatiens pseudoviola.
  • Fauna: Blue monkeys, colobus monkey, olive baboons, civets, leopards, mongoose, servals, aardvark, honey badger, porcupines, bushbabies, genet and tree hyrax
  • Avifauna: Ross's Turacao, hornbills, mouse birds, trogon, robin chat, and bulbul.

Zone 3 - Low alpine

The Heath and moorland are overlapping zones. Temperatures can drop to below 0oC. Most precipitation here is from the fog and mist at this altitude. This low alpine zone can be divided into two communities: heath and moorland. The climate is usually cool and clear except for mist and fog at the forest boundary. Above 3000 m frost becomes regular and sunshine can be intense (causing sunburn for the unprotected); surface temperatures during the daytime.

  • Coverage: 19%
  • Altitude: 2800 to 4000m (9200ft to 13200ft)
  • Precipatation: 530mm or 21" per year on the upper limit of this zone and 1300mm or 51" per year on the edges of the forest
  • Temperature: +8oC to +20oC
  • Flora: Erica excelsa, erica arborea, protea kilimandscharica, kniphofia thomsonii (red-hot poker), helichrysum species, mariscus kerstenii, philippia trimera and senecio kilimanjari.
  • Fauna: Four-stripped grass mouse, harsh-furred, climbing mouse and the mole rat.
  • Avifauna: White-necked raven, alpine chat, streaky seed-eater, alpine swift and malachite sun-bird.

Zone 4 - Alpine desert

This is the alpine zone where it is 'summer every day, winter every night'. There is intense radiation, high evaporation and huge daily fluctuations in temperature. Nights are bellow 0oC and in the daytime it can be as high as 40oC in direct sun. Water is scarce and there is little soil to retain any moisture.

  • Coverage: 20%
  • Altitude: 4000m to 5000m (13200ft to 16400ft)
  • Precipatation: Less than 200mm or 8" per year.
  • Temperature: 0oC to +40oC
  • Flora: Asteraceae
  • Fauna: Lions (Shira Plateau or Rongai route), elephants, grey and red duikers, elands, bushbucks. Leopards, wild dogs, giraffes and buffaloes take day trips to this altitude.
  • Avifauna: Mountain augur buzzards, crowned eagle and lammergeyer

Zone 5 - Ice cap / Arctic zone

This area is characterised by arctic conditions - freezing cold at night and burning sun during the day. Oxygen is about half that at sea level and there is little atmosphere to protect you from the sun's radiation. There is virtually no liquid surface water. Rain enters the porous rock immediately, but the rest of the moisture is locked up in snow and ice.

  • Coverage: 20%
  • Altitude: 5000m to 5895m (16000ft to 19431ft)
  • Precipatation: Less than 100mm or 4" per year.
  • Temperature: -21oC to 0oC
  • Flora: Helichrysum newii
  • Fauna: Spiders and other small insects
  • Avifauna: None
Kilimanjaro National Park

PARK RULES AND GUIDELINES

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. You will still be allowed to take your own personal sanitizer bottles however should take these off the mountain with you.

Under the National Parks Cap 412 of 1959 and regulations it is prohibited to:

  • Enter without a valid permit
  • Walk on trails without mountain guides licensed by the park authority.
  • Climb for longer than a day without an appropriate team of porters and a cook (in addition to the mountain guides)
  • 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 or other non designated areas and to use tents or huts at the designated campsites.

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 10 years are not allowed to go above 3700m.
  • 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 medical treatment. 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
Kilimanjaro luggage

LUGGAGE

Personal 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 or 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.

You can hire a personal porter to carry this day pack for you if required.

Duffel bag

The rest of your luggage which will be packed in a duffel bag will be carried by a porter that will zoom off ahead of you every day to the campsite or hut. Remember the luggage in your duffel bag should not exceed 15kg.

If your personal luggage is over 15kg you may be required to hire an extra luggage porter to carry this extra weight.

Valuables

Besides your camera, tip money and maybe your mobile phone which should be in your day pack or ruck sack at all times and kept securely.

You will not need any other valuables for your climb so we would recommend you to keep all others in secure storage at the base lodge or at our office. 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 at your base lodges luggage storage room.

Airlines unfortunately do regularly misplace your luggage before your arrival. Most missed items can be hired locally and you should carry / wear key items (especially your trekking boots) in your hand luggage or on the plane.

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