Kilimanjaro Trek FAQs
If you are here, its likely that you are looking for some answers. Below are some some of our most frequently asked questions that we have tried to answer as crisply as possible.
When you are ready to get in touch, simply answer 5 multi-choice questions (takes 60 seconds!) and we'll get back in 4 hours max.
How do I get to Mt Kilimanjaro?
Tanzania has three major international airports:
- Dar es Salaam (DAR)
- Zanzibar (ZNZ)
- Kilimanjaro Airport (JRO)
JRO is the most convenient for Kilimanjaro, at only 42 km away from the mountain town of Moshi and 50 km from Arusha.
In addition to flights to Tanzania, you may consider flights to Nairobi in Kenya, which is only a five-hour shuttle bus ride to Arusha or a one-hour plane ride to JRO.
Note, however, that by choosing to fly to Kenya you may need a multiple-entry Kenya visa (if you're flying out of Kenya, too, for example, and spend longer than a fortnight in Tanzania), which can cost as much as $122. This would reduce or even eliminate any saving you may have made in airfares.
In deciding which flights to book, you should take the full trip into consideration. For example, if you'd like to spend a couple of days in Zanzibar after the climb, it might be best to book one-way tickets from your home to Kilimanjaro Airport for the climb, from there to Zanzibar after the climb, and then from Zanzibar back home.
How many days early should I arrive?
We recommend arriving atleast one day early. This will give you time to relax, overcome any jetlag, meet your fellow trekkers, and get a proper briefing before the climb starts. More importantly, if there's any delay to your flight or your luggage goes missing, there's enough wiggle room so that this delay doesn't derail your climb. In the worst case if that does happen, then we are extremely flexible with your start date and you shoud not have anything to worry about!
All that said, we understand that travelling to Kilimanjaro can be a challenge. So even if you only arrive late at night the day before the climb starts, we'll still organize your climb seamlessly!
Do I need a visa for Tanzania?
Most foreigners need a Tanzanian visa to visit the country. However, citizens of USA, Canada, UK, Australia, UAE, India and most of Europe can simply obtain a visa upon arrival at the airport. The cost is $100 for US passport holders and $50 for others. US citizens do get a longer visa, however.
If you're a citizen of a different country, please check with your embassy if you can obtain a visa upon arrival – of if you even need one. Certain African nationals, for instance, can enter Tanzania without a visa.
Note that you will need a passport that's valid for at least six months after your departure date.
What vaccinations do I need?
There are no specific vaccine requirements for entry into Tanzania. However, be aware that the Government of Tanzania requires proof of yellow fever vaccination upon arrival if you are travelling from a country (like Kenya) with risk of yellow fever.
While it's not mandatory by any means, we suggest you talk to your doctor about getting the following vaccinations (which are standard in developed countries):
- Hepatitis A & B
- Yellow fever
- MMR (measles, mumps and rubella)
- Meningococcal meningitis (Africa and Asia)
Planning the climb
Which is the best route?
Lemosho & Northern Circuit are the best because they are long and have great acclimatization profiles. Machame is also great but usually crowded. Marangu is the shortest & crowded, and also the cheapest. Rongai is remote & wild and tends to be preferred on rainy days because of its leeward position on the mountain. Umbwe is very challenging owing to its short and direct climb without consideration for acclimatization.
Here is a detailed article on the best routes to climb Kili and how to chose the right route for yourself.
How difficult is the trek up Kilimanjaro?
The trek up Kilimanjaro is challenging, but it is not technical. The trek requires a good level of fitness and mental toughness. The ascent is gradual, and you will be trekking for several days, so it's important to prepare physically and mentally before embarking on the trek. Our professional guides will help keep you motivated and safe by monitoring any signs of altitude sickness.
What is the best time to climb Kilimanjaro?
The best time to climb Kilimanjaro (detailed blog here) is during the dry season, which is from late June to October and from December to February.
Note that the mountain can be trekked all year round, but trekking during the main rainy season (late March to May) can be very challenging due to wet and slippery conditions. In early March and November there are light rains so this season can still be climbed in with lesser problems than the months with major rains.
Are there any age restrictions to climbing Kilimanjaro?
Children under the age of 10 are not allowed to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. This rule is enforced by the Tanzania National Parks Authority (TANAPA). For people aged above 60, we highly recommend consulting a doctor before embarking on this adventure.
Is Kilimanjaro trek fully serviced?
A Kilimanjaro trek is different from self hikes because it is fully serviced, which means that you will have a team of support staff, including guides, porters, and a cook, to assist you during the trek.
This allows you to focus on the trek itself and enjoy the experience without having to worry about carrying your gear or preparing your meals.
A fully serviced trek also ensures that you have the best chance of success in reaching the summit.
Our fully serviced packages include all necessary equipment, such as tents, sleeping bags, camping chairs, mess tents as well as meals, water and tea/coffee during the trek. Our guides are experienced and knowledgeable about the mountain, and our porters are well-equipped to carry your gear and supplies.
What all is included in the cost of trek?
- High-quality, four-season mountain tents
- Insulated sleeping mats
- Private toilet tent and portable toilets
- Mess tents, dining table and chairs, cuttlery for meals
- Highly trained and experienced English-speaking guides who are Wilderness First Responders
- All meals on the mountain, prepared by an experienced Kilimanjaro cook
- All water (purified) on the mountain
- Pulse oximeter for daily health checks
- Emergency oxygen cylinders (for anyone who displays symptoms of AMS)
- National park fees and permits
- VAT charges
- 2 nights in hotel, one before climb and one after climb
- Airport pickup and drop
How much do you tip on Kilimanjaro?
Tipping is a customary practice on Kilimanjaro and recommended by the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project (KPAP).
As a general guideline, a total tip of 10-15% of the trek cost is considered appropriate. This equates to approximately $200-$300 per person.
It's common practice to give tips as a group rather than individually, and the lead guide will usually collect the tips on the last day of the trek and distribute them among the staff members.
Here is a breakdown of how the tips are usually distributed among the support staff:
- Lead Guide: $20 per day
- Assistant Guide: $15 per day
- Cook: $15 per day
- Porter: $8 per day
These amounts are per group of climbers NOT per climber. You will be advised of the total size of your crew in your final briefing pack.
We recommend that you bring enough cash in small denominations to tip the support staff on the last day of the trek. If you have any questions about tipping or the appropriate amount to give, your guide will be happy to provide guidance.
Guides, Porters, Equipment
Can you climb without guides and porters?
Trekking Kilimanjaro without guide or porters is prohibited by KINAPA (the Kilimanjaro National Park Authority).
What staff supports us on the mountain?
Your Kilimanjaro guides and porters are your greatest asset on the mountain. Quality guides and porters make for a wonderful time on the mountain, while a mediocre staff can put your life in danger.
Each of our experienced guides are licensed by the Kilimanjaro National Park, trained in mountain first aid, have Wilderness First Responder certifications and speak fluent English.
Typically, each of our groups has one guide per 2-3 climbers, and each climber has 3 porters. The porters carry all gear, tents, cooking supplies and water for the entire climbing party.
You will come to respect these guys greatly by the end of your first day. Each porter carries about 15 kg of kit on their back up the mountain!
Do I need any special equipment for the trek?
Yes, you will need to bring several pieces of equipment, including warm clothing, a sleeping bag, hiking boots, and a daypack.
The two most critical pieces of equipment that you might consider buying are:
- hiking boots
- a winter jacket
Most of the other clothing that you need is part of many people’s winter or skiing wardrobe already (like long underwear and a fleece jacket).
We provide a detailed equipment list upon inquiry to ensure you have everything you need for the trek. Anything that you do not want to buy and still need can be rented from our stock in Tanzania.
Is it worthwhile to have a walk-in tent and sleeping cot?
If you prefer more comfort and luxury, it may be worthwhile to get a walk-in tent and sleeping cot by upgrading your kilimanjaro climb.
Crawling in and out of standard sized tents multiple times a day can become quite tedious for some people. The space may also feel very confined with not much room to spread out your gear or get changed, especially when shared between two climbers. A larger tent will feel more spacious and give you more room to move. On the flip side, larger tents will also feel colder because they don't trap the heat as well.
Whether you feel more comfortable sleeping on a cot compared to standard foam sleeping mats used on the mountain is very individual. Cots can feel more comfortable to sleep on for some people, as they're softer and give the feeling of a familiar frame bed. For others, however, the relatively narrow width of cots may feel less comfortable compared to sleeping closer to the ground, where you can simply rest your arms or legs on the floor if you need more space.
What safety measures do you have?
It's our job to keep you safe on Kilimanjaro, and we take it very seriously. We do this by employing well-trained guides, carrying necessary medical equipment, having an established evacuation plan, and providing you with clean water and nutritious food.
Our guides are highly experienced in recognizing symptoms of and managing altitude sickness, which is the biggest obstacle on the mountain. They also have an intimate knowledge of the network of shortcuts to escort climbers to safety, and they're trained to react quickly and calmly under any circumstances.
We conduct atleast one checkup daily on the climb to monitor your oxygen saturation and pulse rate.
One oxygen tank is carried up the mountain for every six climbers. Don't worry, this is more than enough!
If you display symptoms of severe altitude sickness, one of our guides will administer the Lake Louise Scoring System (LLSS) to determine the severity. They'll then take the established course of action based on your score. If evacuation is deemed necessary, you'll be escorted (or carried) down the mountain. The rest of group continues further with their climb.
What are your evacuation procedures?
At Popote we have clear protocols in place so that our guides (who are all Wilderness First Responders) know exactly what steps to take, and when.
Firstly, any climber who becomes sick or injured will be assessed and treated by a guide. If evacuation is deemed necessary, the climber is escorted down the mountain – either on foot, or by stretcher – with a guide in attendance. The shortest route to reach the closest access point within Kilimanjaro National Park will be used (see details below). The guide will monitor the patient’s condition throughout the descent.
Having been radioed for assistance, a vehicle will be waiting at the access point to transport the climber back to the hotel or closest hospital.
During this time the guide will also be in contact with our administration team. If the climber is in hospital, we will attend to his or her needs and establish communication with the family (if required).
Food, water, hygiene
What kind of food can I expect during the climb?
We cannot overstate the importance of plentiful, nutritious food during a Kilimanjaro climb. Even when you're not hungry (a common symptom of mild AMS), we encourage you to try to eat your meal, as you need the sustenance to fight the cold and complete the long hours of trekking.
Popote provides locally sourced, healthy and nutritious meals cooked fresh every day by our chef and his assistant.
Our menus have been carefully designed to ensure that the food is easy to digest, and provides plenty of energy with lots of carbohydrates.
Think of breakfasts like porridge, yoghurt, fresh fruit, pancakes, eggs, sausages and toast.
Lunches like soup, toasted sandwiches and salad. Post-hike snacks like nuts, popcorn, hot chocolate and fresh fruit.
And dinners like beef stew, chips, cooked spinach and sliced avo.
And most importantly, we also cater for special diets. Just read some of our reviews to see how our past clients rave about our food!
Drinking water on Kilimanjaro?
Your crew will provide unlimited purified water on the trip, and you should plan to drink 4-5 liters each day to help with the altitude.
You shoud bring along powdered drink mixes with electrolytes, or bouillon cubes to change up the flavor so you can keep drinking!
How do you stay clean on Kilimanjaro climb?
Hygiene on Kilimanjaro is limited to water and any sort of wipes or cloths that you bring. Warm water for washing your hands and face will be provided daily. Otherwise, baby wipes or other premoistened towelettes are recommended. You can use them to freshen up after a long climb, in the morning and before bed.
Remember that whatever you take up the mountain needs to be come down. So you will have to carry a waste bag for your used wipes.