Climbing Kilimanjaro: Your optimal preparation

The highest mountain in Africa has always had a special attraction, climbing Kilimanjaro has a place on the bucket lists of many travelers. Do you want to take the adventure too and it sounds like a really big elephant? For the optimal preparation, let’s break it down into tradable slices and take you to the roof of Africa!

What do you learn in this article?

BIG5 Climbing Kilimanjaro

BIG5 Kilimanjaro – Speed Date

Outstanding:

Completely exhausted after the long passage to the summit, but happy to stand on Uhuru Peak, the roof of Africa

Sucks:

Depending on the season, the routes can be quite full. You will never walk on the paths all by yourself

DO:

Choose the tour and route carefully, it can decide whether you want to succeed or not

DO NOT:

Ascend too quickly and under time pressure – altitude sickness ahoi!

Don’t tell your mother:

In the worst case, altitude sickness can also be fatal …!

BIG5 Kilimanjaro – Rapid Fire Q&A

  • Do you have to be an experienced mountaineer? – You should have a certain basic level of fitness, but you don’t have to be a professional with great alpine experience
  • How long does the ascent take? – It depends on the route, usually 7-8 days (5-7 ascent, 1-2 descent)
  • Are there difficult climbing sections? – Depending on the route, there are challenging sections, but you do not have to master proper climbing skills or handling safety equipment
  • What is the best way to prepare? – Training, packing list for optimal preparation etc. can be found here
  • How much does a tour on the Kili cost? – 2,500 – 3,000 euros – minimum! You can find details here

BIG5 Kilimanjaro – Orga

Best travel time

The best months are January and February (warm and relatively little rainfall) and September (dry and warm). You should avoid March, April and May

Arrival & Departure

Visa: Check here, whether you need a visa for Tanzania with your passport

  • The city at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro is Moshi, where most tours start on the Tanzanian side
  • Flight: Kilimanjaro International Airport (IATA: JRO) near Arusha is served by a number of major airlines
  • Bus: From Nairobi via Arusha (several times a day, ~ 7:30 hours, 30-40 euros)

Next it goes to … Nairobi / Kenya or for relaxation to Zanzibar / Tanzania

Accommodation

The accommodations etc. are related to Moshi, as soon as you have joined a tour, you are usually quite external when it comes to accommodation and food.

Recommended location: It depends on whether you prefer more hustle and bustle before / after the mountain (-> center) or rather rest (-> a little outside)
Budget: We Travel Hostel (Mawenzi Road, Moshi) ~ 10 € / night in a very good location in the city center

Medium: The Secret Garden Hotel (Soweto, 0306182 Moshi) ~ 25 €, partly in full board, quiet location on the outskirts, I lived here myself

Noble: Pink Flamingo (Malisita Kilimahewa, Moshi) ~ 125 €, luxurious property just outside the center

Price level

Withdraw money: The currency are Tanzanian shillings (1 € ~ 2,500 shillings). There are many banks and ATMs in Moshi

Beer indicator: ~ 1.00 euros in the restaurant (0.5 liters of local beer)

Taxi costs: In the city area with the Dalla Dallas (tricycle rickshaws) max. a few dollars

Restaurants

  • Pamoja Bar and Cafe – A beer in a relaxed atmosphere with good food
  • Jay’s Kitchen (Boma Rd, Moshi) – mid-price segment with Korean influence
  • All Fresh Point (Rengua Rd, Moshi) – nice little cafe
  • Coffee Union Cafe (Arusha Rd, Moshi) – beautiful traditional building at a large intersection, popular with tourists

BIG5 Kilimanjaro – Activities

  • Dance and sing with the guides when the opportunity arises – pure African feeling
  • Enjoy your coffee or tea “with a view” in the morning
  • Read and relax – take at least one good book / Kindle with you
  • Slow and mindful walking up
  • The many educational conversations with the tour group – such a tour welds together

BIG5 Kilimanjaro – Photo spots

  • The summit sign on Uhuru Peak with a panorama around the crater
  • The sunrise during the summit stage
  • Baranco Wall and summit from the Baranco Camp
  • Stone towers on the way with mountain panorama in the background
  • View of Mount Meru and the surrounding area at the foot of the Kili – from the second day at the latest

BIG5 Kilimanjaro – Off the beaten track

Before and after climbing Kilimanjaro there is a lot to discover in and around Moshi:

  • Drive to the Materuni waterfalls – super combinable with a local coffee tour
  • Go on a day or multi-day safari in the Ngorongoro National Park
  • Immerse yourself in life in Moshi with a cooking class
  • Relax in the Kikuletwa Hot Springs – especially soothing after the cold and strenuous mountain tour
  • Get in touch with the locals on a bike safari

BIG5 Kilimanjaro – Culinary Journey

  • Kilimanjaro, the local beer – tastes at least twice as good after successfully climbing it
  • Ugali with meat or vegetables
  • Yassa – delicious chicken with vegetables
  • Local coffee from the slopes of the mountain
  • The cake after the climb

BIG5 Kilimanjaro – Communication

  • The local language in Tanzania is Suaheli
  • thank you – kuwashukuru
  • yes – ndiyo
  • no – hakuna
  • hello – habari / siku njema
  • good bye – heri / kwaheri

BIG5 Kilimanjaro – Helpful Websites / Links

BIG5 Kilimanjaro – Overview Map with all things to do

Kilimanjaro climb: Stella Point Panorama

Frequently asked questions for climbing Kilimanjaro

The highest mountain in Africa has always had a special attraction, its ascent has a place on the bucket lists of many travelers. Dare the adventure too! Sounds like a big elephant? Let’s break it down into tradable slices!

“Because in the end you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain!” – Jack Kerouac

I would now like to tell you in detail about my trip and my experience climbing Kilimanjaro.
But slowly, one step at a time on the way to “Uhuru Peak“, the summit. First of all, prepare!

Which months are suitable for climbing Kilimanjaro?

In principle, you can climb Kilimanjaro all year round, as the seasons are not so noticeable due to the proximity to the equator. Since extreme temperatures and a lot of rain are not particularly conducive to the tour, which is very exhausting anyway, you should still plan carefully:

The best months are January and February (little rainfall with fairly warm temperatures) and September (also little rainfall and relatively warm)

You should avoid the period from March to May, as this is the rainiest time.

All other months are moderately dry / humid and therefore well suited.

Which route do I take when climbing Kilimanjaro?

5 common routes lead you to Stella Point & Uhuru Peak:

Lemosho route

Walking distance: 70km, 8 days
This route starts very far down, which gives good acclimatization. However, the path itself can be classified as rather difficult.
We only spend the night in tents.

Marangu route

Walking distance: 72km, 6 days
The only route where you spend the night in huts instead of tents. The probability of success is only medium due to non-optimal acclimatization, the height is often overestimated on this simple route

Machame route

Walking distance: 62km, 7 days
The route offers very good acclimatization options and a very varied landscape that you can walk through during the ascent

Rongai route

Walking distance: 73km, 7 days
Here you have the opportunity to combine hiking and a safari – sometimes even elephants can be spotted. The route is rather moderate and runs identical to the Marangu route from Kiba Camp.

Umbwe route

Walking distance: 53km, 6 days
The Umbwe route is difficult. Because of the sometimes steep elevation profile, there are few opportunities for acclimatization, but the route is not as crowded as the rest.

My personal recommendation is the Machame Route. It has at least 5 days to climb and you hike through extremely different landscapes, from deep rainforest to rubble to the snow-covered summit.

From my point of view, the climb to the Lava Tower at 4,600 meters on day 3 is particularly helpful on the Machame Route. By descending 700 meters to the Baranco Camp, you do a lot to acclimatize and literally take a big step towards the summit success.

Which tour operator should I book with?

There are countless tour operators around the world. Of course you can also book directly on site, which depending on the travel time is not recommended due to limited availability. Most book in advance so as not to travel to Tanzania for free with sacks and packs.

The choice of course also depends on the route, not all offer everything.
Of course, it is also worth comparing the prices exactly. Since most tours are the same or quite similar in terms of inclusive services, this is comparatively easy.

I personally opted for the G-Adventures tour because I have had very good experiences with this tour operator in Japan and South America. And this time I was right, everything was fine from group to organization and mood. All important factors, because of course there are few alternatives or alternative activities on the mountain. What speaks for itself: ALL 12 participants have reached the summit!

 

Climbing Kilimanjaro: What does the fun cost?

The guided tour itself costs around 1,500 – 2,500 euros. Of course, it depends on the route, the duration and the selected tour provider. The entire logistic of the ascent is usually included in the price, i.e. the national park fees, the guide and his team, the porters, cooks, tents and 3 meals a day.

In addition to the fixed costs, there are tips for the guide and the team, which are voluntary according to the name, but are somehow expected of you. Since the wages of the locals – especially the porters – are often very low, I highly recommend paying the tip. Especially if you were satisfied with the performance and organization. Here you can put in a good 100-250 euros.

What additional costs will I face?

Of course, clothing and equipment suitable for Kilimanjaro is very important. Here, of course, it depends on the completeness and quality of your current “possessions”. You can borrow a lot on site.

You should bring your own clothes and particularly good hiking shoes.
For high-quality hiking shoes (approx. 200-300 euros), a versatile hardshell jacket (approx. 200-300 euros) and all kinds of high-quality thermal and fleece clothing (400-500 euros), I spent an additional 1,000 euros.

Visa
The e-visa for Tanzania currently costs $ 50.

Additional meals / medication
And again “it depends”. The crucial questions are: Which health insurance company are you at and does they reimburse you for the vaccinations? What medications do you want to have with you? Do you have malaria prophylaxis in your luggage and will it also be reimbursed? If there is often a “no” here, you can quickly reach 200-300 euros.

Personally, I did not take any malaria prophylaxis since Moshi and Kilimanjaro are no risk area for malaria. Please inquire with your doctor.

Flights
Depending on the tour provider, the flight to Tanzania has to be paid additionally.
Depending on the airline and the time of booking, a realistic range is 600-1,200 euros. Some snappers can be a little bit lower.

Overall, in the favorable case, you get around 2,500 – 3,000 euros, but these can vary greatly depending on the equipment requirements and you can quickly reach several thousand euros.

How do you prepare optimally for climbing the Kilimanjaro?

Build up stamina
You don’t have to be a professional with great alpine experience to climb Kilimanjaro. Good condition is still important, which is why you should plan some medium to large hiking tours in the time before your trip – preferably several days in a row.

Wear your walking shoes and socks (!) properly before. 
Study the packing list carefully and don’t forget anything at home or when transferring!

What do I have to take with me? – Packing list for Kilimanjaro
You should make sure that you have certain items in your hand luggage on your arrival or that you carry it directly on your body. These include the classic passport, money, cell phone, but in this case also high-quality hiking pants or expensive hardshell jackets. However, the most important thing is the hiking shoes. You cannot risk that something will go wrong with lost or delayed luggage.

Well-fitting hiking shoes that you have run in yourself are probably the most difficult (and most expensive) thing that can be organized on site at short notice if your luggage gets lost on your arrival.

 

What can you do about altitude sickness?

Altitude sickness is a phenomenon that occurs from 2,000 – 2,500 meters above sea level when climbing too quickly. Wicked: It hits you especially at  of the body.

The slow, careful ascent is particularly important. Many top fit athletes have failed to climb – not due to poor fitness, but due to unnoticed spending, especially on the supposedly easy passages.

Pole Pole” is one of the key phrases for success, the prayer wheel-like “Slow Slow” can often be heard from the guides during the day.

Drink a lot – even if you are not thirsty. The first choice is water or tea, alcohol is rather counterproductive here.

Go high – sleep low” – A particularly good acclimatization can be achieved by spending the night at a lower altitude than you reached during the day ascending.

Controlled elevation per day – From a height of approx.3,000 meters you should only climb around 600 meters per day, from 5,000 meters only 300.

Avoid overexertion during the day – this takes your body’s strength to relax at night

And again, from my point of view the key message for many trips, whether mountaineering or other adventures:

“… because in the end you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing the lawn. Climb that damn mountain!” – Jack Kerouac

 

Did the adventure fever grab you? Let’s go to Tanzania! 🇹🇿

 

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