All posts by Kyle McLaughlin

Climb Kilimanjaro Cheap? AlienAdv, Mojhi Reviews

cheapkilimanjaroI get quite a few questions about individual operators. For the most part, people ask my personal opinion about popular companies. I don’t mind giving my thoughts on them. With popular companies, there are plenty of testimonials, trip reports and reviews on the internet so you can form your own opinion based on everything published plus my opinion.

But I also do get questions on companies that I’ve never heard of, where there is little to no information available publicly. And I wonder… why would you even think about booking with this company in the first place?

Recently, I have been getting questions about Kilimanjaro booking engines such as and These and similar sites seem to be popping up regularly. What these sites do is list Kilimanjaro companies in return for a booking fee, normally 15%-20% of the retail price.  If you look closely at the operators you will notice one thing – there are no reputable companies on these sites.

Why? Because the better Kilimanjaro companies are not going to give away 15%-20% as a booking fee. They  already have a way to reach customers,  and paying a site 15%-20% of the retail price is practically cutting their margins by 50%-100%.  Most Kilimanjaro operators do not operate with huge margins given the competitiveness of the industry, so the cannot afford to join these Kilimanjaro booking sites.

Therefore the Kilimanjaro companies that end up on these sites are small, local operators who are willing to make nearly nothing to get the business. The bottom line is these companies are not good. They don’t have top staff  or brand name equipment. They are not part of Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project. And if the prices look attractive to you, you have to realize that the actual operator is only receiving perhaps 80% of that already low price! You have to ponder how on earth they can deliver a quality climb with that amount of money.

Answer: they can’t.

I strongly recommend you look elsewhere. Cheap prices for Kilimanjaro companies DO exist. But they DO NOT exist with a good company. Cheap operators should be avoided. I do not give advice on finding a cheap climb because I do not believe in it or support it. Climbing Kilimanjaro is something you want to get right on the first try! Don’t spend upwards of $4,000-$5,000 on your trip (when you include flights, visas, equipment, etc.) and have a terrible time.

Here are the Kilimanjaro companies I recommend.

One Million Thumbprints

1MT_Logo_White In 2012, Belinda Bauman visited the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where she met a woman named Esperance, a 50-year old mother and widower.  During that visit, Esperance told Belinda her story – how rebels had killed her husband while she watched, and how she was subsequently raped within an inch of her life.  If her sisters had not intervened, Esperance is sure that she would be dead.

After talking to other local women and doing some research, Belinda found that Esperance’s tragic experience was by no means a rarity.  Violence against women in war zones has become so prevalent that Major General Patrick Cammaert, United Nations Force Commander for the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, has been quoted as saying, “It is now more dangerous to be a woman than to be a soldier in modern wars.”  In the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, nearly 500,000 women were raped in a mere 100 days.

bjb+photoThis knowledge shocked Belinda, but what shook her even more were Esperance’s subsequent actions.  Unable to read or write, she had someone write, “Tell the world,” on a piece of paper, beneath which she put her thumbprint.  Since that day, Belinda has declared her mandate to be: “Violence against women in war is violence against me.”  She went on to found One Million Thumbprints, or 1MT for short, which advocates for women in conflict zones.  Through their partner, World Relief, they help provide counseling, emergency aid, and training on diplomacy and peacekeeping skills to women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, Iraq, and Syria.

But 1MT’s goal is not only to at this site assist these victims of sexual assault, but to help prevent it in the future.  UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet said that “If women could be fully engaged in peace building there would be a much lower rate of relapse into conflict.”  After receiving counseling herself, Esperance has declared that she wishes to be trained in trauma counseling as well, to help those women who have been through similar traumatic experiences.  With the UN’s Resolution 1325, passed in 2,000 more and more women are becoming involved in conflict resolution, peacebuilding, and efforts focused on preventing the re-ignition of hostilities in previously conflicted areas.  1MT and its partners believe that this is the path toward peace between nations and safety for women worldwide.

In an effort to fulfill Esperance’s request for Belinda to “tell the world,” a group of 1MT supporters will be climbing Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest free-standing mountain in the world in their first major event, ‘Mt. Kilimanjaro Climb for Peace.’  There will be 16 climbers in the group, 15 women and 1 man, and they plan to reach the summit on March 8, 2016 – International Women’s Day.  With them, they will be bringing thousands of thumbprints, representing the support and solidarity given by people around the world.  The organization says that they chose Kilimanjaro because it is known as the “Mountain of Light,” and they wish “to bring the violent acts committed against vulnerable women around the world into the light.”


The group is fully aware of the challenges that lie ahead of them over the course of the 5-day trek, and relish in it.  The struggles they will endure in their journey to Uhuru Peak will only better help them represent the women they are trying to aid.  While united in purpose, each team-member has their own reasons for climbing; Kimberly Yim, author and director of the SoCo Institute in Southern California, said this in a blog-post:

“I find the campaign compelling as it gives all of us a way to support women and children in war zones. It is difficult to wrap my mind around the extreme violence millions of women experience in these countries. These women survive only to then endure devastating physical and psychological trauma as they are often left crippled, shamed, and ostracized from their communities. In DR Congo alone seven out of ten women have experienced sexual violence.”

Among the other group members are Chelsea Hudson, blogger and founder of Do A Little Good; Laura Breu, former Peace Corps member and current nursing student at the University of Nevada, Reno; Leia Johnson, president and co-founder of Somebody’s Mama; and the climbing group’s only male member, David Lippiatt, founder and CEO of WE International.

How to Pack for Climbing Kilimanjaro

If you’re climbing Kilimanjaro, you’ve likely done some hiking before, and possibly even have backpacking experience, although neither of these are truly required to make it to the top.  What does matter is that you prepare properly and have a good idea of what to expect.  While being in good shape and having backpacking experience are handy, they also have their drawbacks.

Fitness is essential.  You’ll be walking all day for 5-9 days, and your body will be taking a lot of punishment over the course of consistent major altitude changes.  But don’t think that pumping weights and running marathons will be helpful on Kili.  Pole, pole – slowly, slowly.  You’ll hear this from your guides so often that it may get on your nerves, but a slow pace and both physical and mental endurance are what are going to get you up the mountain.

The reason that backpacking experience can be a drawback is that climbing Kilimanjaro is almost certainly an entirely different experience than anything you’ve ever done.  Firstly, you’re not ‘climbing’ the mountain, per se.  You go up in altitude, certainly, all the way to 19,341 feet at Uhuru Peak, but it’s not a technical climb, like you might picture daredevils scaling sheer cliffs doing.  Kili is a hike – a long one, and a demanding one, but a hike, nonetheless.

You may now be thinking that it stounds more like a pretty standard backpacking trip at altitude, and again, you’d be wrong.  Unlike backing in the Rockies or the Sierra Nevadas, you’ll have porters and guides assisting you on your journey.  The guides do more than point the way – they also understand the unique hazards that Kili presents, including weather, dangerous geography, and altitude sickness in its various forms.  The porters, who will likely make up the bulk of your party, will be carrying 90% of your stuff up the mountain.  Tents, sleeping bags, backpacks, cooking gear, food… the lot.  You’re likely to only see your main bag during stops for meals (with some tour operators) and when making camp.[/caption]

This means that, unlike a normal backpacking trip where you’d have all of your items with you at all times, you’ll need to pack both a ‘main bag’ and a separate ‘daypack.’  Your main bag can be a duffel bag or a backpack (either one works just fine), and should be somewhere in the range of 75-90 liters, and shouldn’t have wheels or hard sides, like normal luggage cases that you’d take on an airplane.  Also make sure that it doesn’t weigh more than 33 lbs.  The good news is that you don’t have to worry about waterproofing your main bag, because it should be going inside another bag that is waterproofed, but it’s a good idea to bring a rain cover for your backpack, in case a porter decides to wear it during the hike.


As for your daypack, here is a short list of the items that several tour operators and former climbers recommend bringing along:

  • First aid kit – bandages, moleskin, topical antibiotic, any prescription meds, etc.
  • Snacks
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • Camera and accessories – batteries, memory cards
  • 2-3  liters of water in water-bottles and/or a Camelback
  • Lip balm
  • Sunscreen
  • Rain gear (can’t stress the importance of this)
  • Hiking poles
  • Extra fleece jacket/clothing layers for temperature drops
  • Toilet paper
  • Money (keep tips in mind!)
  • Passport

Of course, this isn’t an all-encompassing gear list.  Your tour operator should provide you with plenty of information on what to bring and what you can rent from them, but doing your research ahead of time is always a good idea.  You may want a book to read in camp, or perhaps you know that dirt under your nails gets on your nerves something fierce (and there will be plenty of dirt), so you may want to consider a nail brush.  There are tons of little extras that you should consider, but remember that the keyword there is ‘consider.’  Don’t make the mistake of bringing the kitchen sink – just make sure you’ve got what you need.  Also remember that the above list was specifically for daypacks.  You’re obviously going to need a lot more than that for your trip, but again, your tour operator should be giving you advice and guidance on that front.


As far as the physical packing of your daypack goes, there are two key things to remember: weight distribution and organization.  You’ll want to put the heaviest stuff (aside from the water, which you need easy access to) on the bottom the bag and closest to your back – you don’t want a top-heavy bag that throws you off-balance all the time.  Try to pack everything else evenly around the heavy stuff, and you should be good to go.  Organization is fairly straight-forward – use lots (seriously, lots) of Ziploc bags, garbage bags, etc., to keep similar items grouped together.  It’s so much easier to find the right grouping of items in their own bag than it is to root around in your pack for that one tiny thing you need that’s floating around in there somewhere.

Once again, the importance of preparation can’t be stressed enough.  Do your research.  Read accounts of people who’ve gone before you.  Read all of the information your tour operator gives you.  And be absolutely sure to ask any questions you may have, no matter how small or stupid you may think they are, before getting to Moshi and heading to Kili.  You want to have a good trip and your crew wants to help you do so – help them help you by arriving with both the knowledge and gear that you’ll need to get you to the peak and back.

Kilimanjaro Marathon

kili2013finishToday, the town of Moshi, Tanzania, exploded with activity as athletes from around the globe came to participate in the 14th annual Kilimanjaro Marathon.  Taking place at the end of February since 2003, the event draws thousands of people to Moshi, the town closest to the base of Africa’s famous Mount Kilimanjaro.  During the rest of the year, Moshi’s economy is fueled by tourists and climbers who have come to challenge the world’s tallest free-standing mountain, but today, people have come for a different challenge, entirely.

There were four separate races available for anyone who cared to join: the Kilimanjaro Premium Lager Marathon (42 km) started off the festivities at 6:30 AM, followed at intervals by the GAPCO Disabled event (10 km), the Tigo Kili Half-Marathon (21 km), and the 5 km Fun Run.  All of the races took place in and around Moshi, with the Fun Run positioned in a different part of town than the rest.

Well over 10,000 runners are estimated to have participated in the event, in addition to a large number of spectators.  While the marathon brings many tourists and foreign athletes to Moshi, the races are an excellent chance for local athletes to hone their skills and even show off a little in front of their fellow Tanzanians, as it is the largest organized athletic event in the country.  To add to the excitement, the locally popular YaMoto Band, performed for the crowd, adding song and dance to the festivities.

Far from being a mere local event, the Kilimanjaro Marathon is sponsored by big names every year, this one claiming some of the biggest.  Kilimanjaro Premium Lager, one of the largest beer companies in Tanzania; Tigo, the nation’s top mobile telephone company; CMC automobiles; Tanzania Breweries Limited; and RwandAir are just a few of businesses dedicated to helping the marathon become a major athletic event that attracts global attention and respect.

Screen Shot 2013-10-18 at 2.07.20 PMPamela Kikuli, a representative of Kilimanjaro Premium Lager, said, “We are delighted to be the main sponsors of the 42 km full marathon race for the 14th year. We’re very pleased with the turn-out. When we started, we had only 700 participants, but this event has kept growing with the number of participants increasing tremendously every year; last year we had a turnout of 7,000 athletes, but this year the number could reach 10,000.”  She went on to say that the top ten winners of the full 42 km marathon will earn prize money, a fact that has begun to garner attention from foreign athletes, as more register every year.  Ms. Kikuli hopes that this trend will continue to boost the local economy and help promote tourism in the area.

One of the most unique aspects of the whole event is the inclusion of the GAPCO-sponsored Disabled Race.  This event allows for men and women who are otherwise unable to compete in a standard marathon to test their mettle against each other in wheelchairs and handcycles.  Having registered to do the race on his tricycle, participant Yusuf Shimbi said, “I’m really excited and well prepared to compete in this year’s races. Congratulations to the organizers – we’re inspired to compete in the race.  You can see that people have come from various regions across the country and that makes it such an extraordinary event.”

Having finished mere hours ago, the official results and statistics from the races are not yet in, but the success of the event cannot be denied.  With the growing attention and participation of corporations and athletes every year, both foreign and local, the Kilimanjaro Marathon is definitely something to keep your eye on.

8 day Lemosho Route

Lemosho is quickly gaining popularity with top operators as it is the longest route in terms of days spent on the mountain. At 8 days, Lemosho does have the highest success rate due to the lengthier acclimatization allowance. By operating on Lemosho, Kilimanjaro companies will raise their over success rates that customers seem to be so interested in.

Anyone who wants to explore the mountain at a slower pace should opt for 8 day Lemosho. It’s a very good, practical choice.

To climb Kilimanjaro on Lemosho with my personally recommended operators, go here (African Walking Company) or here (Ultimate Kilimanjaro).


Hiking Time: 4-5 hrs
Total Distance: 18km
Starting Altitude: 2250m
Final Altitude: 2750m
Habitat: Montane (rain) Forest

After breakfast, we drive approximately 2 hours through the rural countryside to the Londrossi Gate of the Mt. Kilimanjaro National Park (2250m). After registering at the gate office, you start your hike with a gradual ascent and a slight descent into the Lemosho Glades. Enter the lush rain forest, and here, you will listen to the sounds of many exotic birds, and may even see monkeys such as the black & white colobus – these monkeys are black with a long ‘cape’ of white hair and a flowing white tail.

Today’s day is spent in the gorgeous and fascinating forested slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro, most of which is considered to be rainforest zone, ending at the Mti visit Mkubwa (Big Tree) Campsite, within the upper reaches of the montane forest zone.

We cover a lot of distance today, though the gradient is gradual. It is very possible that we will see some rain today, or that at least the trail will be moist and soggy, and possibly muddy.


Hiking Time: 5-6 hrs
Total Distance: 12km
Starting Altitude: 2750m
Final Altitude: 3500m
Habitat: Montane Forest – Moorland

Rise early and climb steeply out of the montane forest zone and into the moorland zone, and admire trees such as Giant Heather and Erica. Today is challenging as we climb over the Shira ridge at 3600m, where, If a clear day, you will have direct views of Kibo, the peak and ultimate goal of your adventure.

From here we descend to the Shira plateau and set up at Shira 1 Camp, located next to a stream.


Hiking Time: 2 hrs
Total Distance: 5km
Starting Altitude: 3500m
Final Altitude: 3840m
Habitat: Moorland – Alpine Semi-desert

We traverse the Shira plateau as we ascend gently through the lower alpine moorland, which is notable for beautiful wild alpine flowers and the unique giant lobelia and giant groundsel (senecio kilimanjari) plants. Today’s hike is short, and as such, you will have time to take a number of short acclimatization walks around and above the Shira 2 Camp, where we spend the night. This camp is more exposed than the previous night, and as such it may be windier and colder, with temperatures dropping to below freezing.


Hiking Time: 7-8 hrs
Total Distance: 15km
Starting Altitude: 3840m
Final Altitude: 3950m (via 4630m)
Habitat: Montane Semi-Desert

Today we turn east and continue to climb “pole pole” (slowly, slowly) through increasingly rocky and barren terrain. We have lunch and ascend the rocky scree path to the Lava Tower (4630m). The trek now starts to become more difficult, as the trail steepens, and most hikers start to feel the affects of the altitude, such as weakness and lack of breathe.

From the Lava Tower, we descend steeply for 2 hours down more than 600m into the Great Barranco Valley. This descent affords fantastic views and some great photo opportunities of the Western Breach and Breach Wall. You will also feel here the clear benefits of this acclimatization day as we lose altitude down to the camp.

Barranco Camp is set on a col (flat area) enclosed on three sides by the Breach Walls, and the Kibo massif itself. Hanging glaciers glint in the sunshine above amidst the eerie landscape of plants such as the giant groundsels, and the uniquely endemic Giant Lobelia. This is definitely the toughest day so far, but incredibly beautiful.


Hiking Time: 4-5 hrs
Total Distance: 8km
Starting Altitude: 3950m
Final Altitude: 3900m
Habitat: Alpine Desert

Today we tackle the Great Barranco Wall – an imposing face above your camp. A steady climb up the eastern wall takes us just below the Heim Glacier, where we may have some awesome views of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Our trail continues down into the alpine desert of the Karanga Valley, where we finish this acclimatization day at Karanga Camp at 3900m. (Hiking time: 4-5 hrs).


Hiking Time: 4 hrs
Total Distance: 4 km
Starting Altitude: 3900m
Final Altitude: 4550m
Habitat: Alpine Desert

We begin the day trekking through the alpine desert of the Karanga Valley. Our porters will stop to collect water along the way, as there will be none further on. Here the temperature will grow colder as we follow the trail climbing through this empty and dry landscape up to the Barafu Camp. 
The two peaks Kibo and Mawenzi can been seen from our camp, at 4550m. Barafu is the Swahili word for “ice”, and the camping area is on a ridge in a narrow and exposed flat area. Here there are ever-present powerful winds blowing down from the mountain peaks.

In preparation for your final ascent the same night, you will familiarize yourself with the terrain before dark, and prepare your equipment and thermal clothing for the summit attempt. Sleep may be difficult, but you will lie down after dinner to rest for the 1345m final ascent. (Hiking time: 4 hrs).


Hiking Time: 7 hrs to summit, 7-8hrs descent
Total Distance: 7km to summit, 23km descent
Starting Altitude: 4550m
Summit Altitude: 5895m – Uhuru Peak
Final Altitude: 3100m
Habitat: Stone Scree, ice capped summit, Alpine desert

Today you will be woken in time to leave camp at around 12am and after a warm drink and a light snack, you will begin the most difficult though most rewarding day of the trek – your hike up to the top of Africa. Climbing through the dark, you will ascend northwest on rough scree passing between the Rebmann and Tarzel glaciers. After approximately 6 hours of slow but strenuous hiking, you will reach the rim of the main crater, Stella Point, at 5685m.

It is here where you will be rewarded with a breath-taking sunrise (weather permitting), which we enjoy while taking a short rest. From Stella Point the trail is normally snow-covered, and every step of the 2 hour ascent to Uhuru peak is challenging. At 5895m, Uhuru, which means “freedom” in Swahili, is the highest point in Africa. Take a few minutes to appreciate your accomplishment, as this is a day to remember for the rest of your life!

The time you will spend on the summit will depend on the weather conditions; the temperatures range from just below freezing at midnight, to between -12 C to -23 C just before dawn. We start back down the same trail, and descend back to Barafu camp. Here you will have a well earned but short rest and collect the rest of your gear. We then head down the rock and scree path into the moorland zone, reaching the forest, and eventually arriving at Mweka hut in the late afternoon.

Today is the longest, and the most mentally and physically challenging of the trek. But a day that will stay with you forever, as you conquered the heights of Kilimanjaro.


Hiking Time: 4-5 hrs
Total Distance: 12km
Starting Altitude: 3100m
Final Altitude: 1980m
Habitat: Montane Rain Forest

At a much lower altitude than the last few mornings, today you will wake up full of oxygen and ready to descend the short hike to the Mweka Gate. Enjoy the forest on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro, and upon arrival at the Mweka gate, successful hikers will receive their summit certificates (gold for Uhuru Peale, Green for Stella point).

From the Mweka Gate you will continue down into the Mweka village for lunch, normally a muddy 1 hour hike. Upon arrival to Moshi in the afternoon, relax, or have that much-deserved shower and congratulatory beverage.

Why Climb Kilimanjaro at all?

Why does Mount Kilimanjaro attract so many people?

Kili_Summit_Oct20101. Familiarity. So while not everyone can tell you exactly where Mount Kilimanjaro is, most people have at least heard of it. This is how I came to climb Kilimanjaro, because the word was etched in my mind. So I researched it and got interested.

2. Tallest Mountain in Africa. Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the seven summits. That fact, in it of itself, draws people who want to conquer one (or more) of the seven summits.

3. Suitable for beginners. People understandably become intimidated when they think of conquering such a tall mountain. But the beauty is Mount Kilimanjaro can be “climbed” simply by putting one foot in front of the other. You do not have to be scared of things like ropes, harness, crampons and axes because they are not used. It is just a (high altitude) trek!

4. Suitable for experienced hikers. Even though beginners make up a large proportion of the tourists on Kilimanjaro, that does not make the mountain any less attractive to experienced hikers. The challenge is in the acclimatization, not so much the actual hiking. Therefore, beginners or experienced hikers will be tested just the same by the thin air.

5. Accessible. It’s not hard at all to get to Kilimanjaro. You simply take a flight into Kilimanjaro National Airport, and then take a 30 minute taxi ride to Arusha or Moshi, where the operators are. That’s about as easy as it can get for a vacation.

6. Reasonably Priced. Kilimanjaro park fees have increased substantially the past decade. Nevertheless, it is still within reach for most people at a budget of around $5,000 per person.

7. World Class Safari Destination. It definitely helps that there is more to do in Tanzania than just climb Kilimanjaro. Often times, couples make a deal – to climb Kilimanjaro and go on a safari, with each activity satisfying one of the people involved.

8. Glaciers. Kilimanjaro has become the poster child for Global Warming. Whether or not Global Warming is responsible for the ice melting is subject for debate, but one thing the discussion has done is highlight the fact that the glaciers are disappearing. So if you want to see them, you need to see them now.

9. Tourist Friendly.  Tanzania does a pretty good job handling the estimated 1,000,000 people who come every year (2012). The operators speak English, and other languages. The roads to the attractions are getting better every year. The service is improving to meet Western expectations.

Is Climbing Kilimanjaro Dangerous?

If you tell your loved ones that you are climbing Kilimanjaro, most people become concerned for your safety. “Don’t people die there?” they ask.

Although there are risks in climbing such a high mountain, your loved ones need not be so worried for you. Here’s why. Some 30,000 people climb Kilimanjaro every year, and the reported number of tourists deaths is about 10 fatalities per year. That is a only 0.03% chance of death. Or 1 death per 3,333 climbers.

Most die due to Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), also known as altitude sickness. This is a manageable risk as typically sickness gradually becomes worse, giving the stricken climber ample time to turn around. AMS subsides when you go to a lower elevation. A solid Kilimanjaro operator will have experienced guides to help you manage AMS should it occur. The Kilimanjaro companies I recommend carefully watch the climbers so they know the degree of AMS people have, if any, and know when it is time to stop ascending.

Some climbers die due to heart problems – a pre-existing condition that was exposed during the trek. Given the physical exertion of climbing, people with cardiovascular conditions can be in danger while on the mountain. That is why it is best that everyone get checked out by their doctor before they come to Tanzania. Make sure you are healthy enough to do a high altitude trek.

Lastly, some get killed by rockfall. Though this appears to be a random event, there are some places where rockfall can be more frequent. So if you avoid these paths, you also eliminate most of this risk. Rockfall has killed people on the Western Breach more than at any other place.

Taken together, you can see why Kilimanjaro is NOT very dangerous. Most of the dangers can be mitigated before your trip by selecting the right operator, selecting the right route, and by getting yourself checked out by a doctor.


Compare Kilimanjaro’s death rate (1 in 3,333) to dying in car accident (1 in 491), dying from heart disease (1 in 174), and dying from firearms (1 in 355) and you will see that Kilimanjaro is relatively safe. Mountains like Mount Everest have death rates of 10% (1 climber dies for every 10 successful ascents to the summit).







Tipping on Kilimanjaro

shllingsIn addition to your climb costs, travel costs, and incidentals, climbers need to budget tips for the guides and porters. Though operators say that tips are voluntary, your crew actually depends on receiving tips as tips can represent as much as 50% of their income. For bad companies, who do not pay any wages to the crew despite minimum wage requirements set by the Tanzania National Park, tips can even represent 100% of their income! Therefore, unless you received extremely poor service, you should definitely tip. In nearly every case, the crew earned every cent, and MORE.

The tip amounts will vary depending on who you climb with, however, the typical amounts are $5 per day for porters, $10 per day for cooks, $15 per day for assistant guides and and $20 per day for guides. This is the money they should receive from the entire climbing party. So if you climbed using 7 day Machame, the guide receives 7x $20 = $140 from the entire climbing party. If your climbing party consisted of 4 people, each person should contribute $140/4 = $37 (for the guide’s tip). To get a good estimate of the total tips each client should expect to pay, you will need to know the number of porters, cooks, assistant guides and guides on your climb.

I have read that 10% of your climb’s cost is an adequate tip. That really depends on a lot of variables. How many people are in your climbing party? How many days is your climb? How many personnel are accompanying you on the mountain? How much equipment/food are they carrying? This changes between companies, so therefore it is best to ask your operator what the tipping amounts are. It is smart to get these numbers before you book, so you can tally up the entire cost when you compare companies.

Certain countries are very willing to tip, such as people from the USA, where tipping is the norm. For other countries, where tipping is not typical, I cannot state enough how important the tips are to these young men who support the climb. Please do not withhold a tip from them for the simple reason that you are not used to tipping.

5 day Marangu Route

Marangu is a popular choice among Kilimajaro climbers due to the misconception that it is the easiest route. It is not. It is true that Marangu is the shortest route in terms of time needed to climb, 5 days. And it is also accurate that you sleep in mountain huts, so no camping is required. However, altitude illness is a serious concern for this route in particular due to its short ascent. Do not climb using the 5 day Marangu route.

Interestingly enough, Kilimanjaro operators do not due their job in advising clients to consider alternative routes, or adding an extra mountain night to better ease the burden on your body. If you take the Marangu route or the Rongai route, you will notice many ill climbers on the way up and down.

Marangu is known as the “Coca-Cola Route” because rangers will sell Coke and other goodies (even Kilimanjaro beer!) at the shelters.

I recommend the 7 day Machame route for the most scenic route and the best acclimatization.


Hiking Time: 5-6 hrs
Total Distance: 12km
Starting Altitude: 1980m
Final Altitude: 2743m
Habitat: Montane forest

After breakfast and a short briefing from the guide, transfer to the gates of Kilimanjaro National Park (it is a 45-minute drive from Moshi to the Marangu Gate). Upon registering with park authorities, begin the 4 hour walk to the Mandara encampment. Pass through a thick rainforest zone, where there is a high chance of rain in the afternoon. Spend the night at Mandara Hut (2743m), an attractive collection of buildings. Bathrooms are available with running water.

Most days the hiking will begin early in the morning. You will hike for about 5 to 6 hours each day. The guides will take you at a moderate pace, so as to allow you time to acclimatize to the altitude changes. Your guides will continually repeat the words, “pole pole” (po-ly, po-ly), which means “go slowly” in Swahili.

The lower terrain is gorgeous and fascinating, as we will pass through a thick rainforest zone, stopping at the Mandara Hut. Over the next two days you will continue your ascent to the saddle of Kilimanjaro. From up here the views are vast and beautiful. As the camps have limited activities, you should take advantage of your time on the hikes to take in all the scenery and great views.


Hiking Time: 6 hrs
Total Distance: 15km
Starting Altitude: 2700m
Final Altitude: 3720m
Habitat: Moorland

Continue the ascent through the temperate forest zone for a short time, before reaching the heather and moorland zone at roughly 3000m. Enjoy stunning views of the mountain peaks at this altitude. Spend the night at Horombo Hut (3720m), which lies in a valley surrounded by giant lobelia and groundsel, flora which are characteristic of this semi-alpine zone. Bathrooms are available with running water.


Hiking Time: 6 hrs
Total Distance: 15km
Starting Altitude: 3720m
Final Altitude: 4703m
Habitat: Alpine Desert

Continue today past the final watering point, and ascend onto the saddle of Kilimanjaro between the peaks of Kibo and Mwenzi. Notice the vegetation thinning out and enter the desert-like alpine zone (approximately 4000m) and, after crossing the saddle, Kibo peak comes into view. The saddle is an alpine desert that resembles a lunar landscape. This walk will be taken at a slow pace, be careful to notice signs of altitude sickness. Spend the night at Kibo Hut (4703m), a comfortable stone construction (no running water at Kibo Hut). This semi-desert zone receives an annual rainfall of under 250mm; the ground often freezes at night, but the temperature soars to above 30 degrees by day. Few plants other than lichens and grasses survive in these conditions.


Hiking Time: 14 hrs
Total visit this site Distance: 27km
Starting Altitude: 4700m
Final Altitude: 3720m (via 5895m)
Habitat: Stone Scree and ice capped summit

Shortly after midnight, commence the climb to the summit of Kilimanjaro, since it is easier to climb the scree slope to Gillman’s Point (5861m) on the crater rim when it is frozen. This early start improves the chances of reaching the summit in time for sunrise. From Gilman’s Point, it is a further 3 hour round trip along the crater’s edge to Uhuru Peak, the highest point in Africa. Though how high you go will depend on how you feel. Upon completion of the climb, your guide will begin your decent as quickly as possible, taking you down to Horombo Hut to spend your last night on the mountain.


Hiking Time: 6 hrs
Total Distance: 27km
Starting Altitude: 3720m
Final Altitude: 1980m
Habitat: Montane forest

Continue the descent past the Mandara encampment to the bottom of the mountain where each hiker will receive a well-earned certificate. Transfer by shuttle bus to Moshi and spend the night in deserved comfort.

Medical and Health Considerations

medicationTrekking at high altitude is dangerous. Various medical conditions may complicated matters on Kilimanjaro, especially any issues related to the heart or lungs. Additionally, certain medications may place climbers at a greater risk on the mountain. Therefore those intending to climb Kilimanjaro should seek the advice of their doctor to make sure that they are clear for the trip.

There are many vaccinations, immunizations and medications climbers should obtain prior to travel to Tanzania. These include:

*Tetanus, Pertussis, Diptheria
*Hepatitis A
*Hepatitis B
*Yellow Fever

Most purchasesildenafil health insurance policies will cover the cost of these shots and prescriptions.

The Yellow Fever vaccination may be required to enter Tanzania if the traveler is entering from what is categorized as an infected country. Travelers who fail to obtain this shot will be required to get it on the spot or denied entry.

Altitude Sickness on Mount Kilimanjaro

kiliweatherIt is very common for climbers to develop some symptoms of altitude sickness while on their climb. Mild symptoms include headache, nausea, loss of appetite and fatigue. However, more serious cases of altitude sickness can result in death.

Altitude sickness is caused by the body’s failure to adapt to the decrease in oxygen at high altitude. This occurs mainly when the climber ascends at a rate that is web too fast. Altitude sickness has little to do with someone’s fitness level, and factors such as age and sex do not have any correlation to one’s ability to acclimatize.

If you do get altitude sickness, do not panic. It is absolutely normal. I experienced headache and nausea during my climb at certain campsites. But after a few hours of rest, I recovered and was ready to go again. Follow your guide’s instructions as they know how to treat altitude sickness.

There are ways to reduce the likelihood of developing altitude sickness. First, climb slowly. Doing this allows your body the best chance to gradually adapt to the oxygen level. Climbing guidelines state that one should not increase their altitude by more than 1,000 feet per day above 10,000 feet, and should take a rest day for every 3,000 feet of elevation gained. Next, drink at least four liters per day and eat high-calorie meals while on the mountain. Lastly, there are prescription medications such as Diamox or even Viagra that are clinically proven to treat altitude sickness.

If one has mild symptoms of altitude sickness, it is best to stay at that altitude or descend slightly, until the symptoms disappear, before climbing higher. Finally, strenuous activity can induce sickness, so it is important for climbers to choose a route that fits their ability.



How Much Does it Cost to Climb Kilimanjaro?

Tanzania-shilling1To climb Kilimanjaro, one should budget at least $5,000 total.

Flights usually cost between $2,000-$3,000 from the USA. This can be cheaper during the low seasons or much higher during peak tourist months. There are ways to lower the cost by flying what may be inconvenient times or with many connections and long layovers. It is also possible to fly into Kenya, then shuttle into Tanzania. I would not recommend doing these things as traveling in third world countries can be very tiring, frustrating and even unsafe. In my opinion, the time and energy wasted is not worth the money saved. I think it is best to arrive in Tanzania feeling fresh and ready to go – in body and mind.

The land costs are $2,000-$3,000 for a climb with a decent Kilimanjaro operator (see visit this Selecting an Operator). Again, you can find cheaper prices with a budget operator or more expensive with luxury operators, but I strongly advise you go with one of my recommended operators. Hotels and airport rides are usually included in the climb packages.

You may see older articles which say you can climb for $1,000 or less. This is not possible anymore. Prices have been steadily climbing throughout the years – for good reason. One is that services are better than they were before. Guides and porters are better trained. Equipment is in better condition and replaced sooner. Most importantly, the treatment of the workers have improved a lot. So more porters are being used so that they do not carry heavy loads. More guides are used per group of clients so that there are enough people to watch the clients. Wages are higher, which was desperately needed. Also, park fees have increased.

Other expenses are staff tips, about $200-$300 (10% of your trip cost); visas, which are $100 for US citizens and $50 for everyone else; and vaccinations, which can cost as much as $500 if your insurance do not cover your shots. Please tip your staff! Some countries are not used to tipping but on the mountain it is expected. The porters do depend on tips for their compensation, much like a food server in the USA does.

The last big ticket item is the gear. If you are an experienced backpacker, then you probably have all or most of the required items. If you are new to backpacking, then this can get very expensive. Good boots are over $100. Warm sleeping bags start around $200. Nice parkas are about $300. Quality down jackets are about $200. Try to borrow gear from your friends, or rent from your operator. You can save a lot of money.

  • How do I Select the Best Kilimanjaro Operator?

How Cold Does it Get on Kilimanjaro?

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Because of the great elevation gain on a Kilimanjaro trek, you will experience all kinds of weather. At the beginning of the climb, in the rainforest, expect it to be hot and humid. Most likely you will be comfortable wearing just a tee shirt and shorts or trekking pants while walking.

However, it gets cold pretty fast. Even on the first night of your climb, it will be chilly. A fleece jacket and knit hat will be required to keep you warm.

As you make your way between visit this campsites, most commonly you will be fine with just one or two layers on top, such as a baselayer and a thin soft shell jacket, and one layer on bottom. As long as you are moving, or in the sun, it is not cold. However, if you stop for an extended period of time, or the clouds come, it is cold. It is a good idea to either put on a jacket when you stop for a break, or to not stop for any longer than 5-10 minutes at a time.

On every successively higher campsite, it will be colder. Most people like to hang out in camp wearing a down jacket and fleece pants. It frequently drops below freezing at night. You may wake up to ice crystals on the inside of your tent.

Some people make the mistake of trying to cover up the tent’s built in ventilation in order to keep cold air from entering the tent. But what this does is cause a build up of moisture in the tent. This actually makes you colder!  The vents are there for a reason – do not mess with it!

On the summit night, it can be very, very cold. You guide will advise you what to wear. Most people seem to do well with four layers on top – baselayer, soft shell, insulated jacket, hard shell, and three layers on bottom – tights, fleece pants, rain pants.

Once the sun comes up, it warms up fast. It can be below zero overnight, then as much as 30-40F in the morning sun. So remember to strip down and rid yourself of maybe 2 layers on top and a layer on the bottom for the descent.


Climb Kilimanjaro Training

hiking bootsPeople get really freaked out about training for their climb. It is normal, but calm down. There is no reason to worry if you train for it.

Yes, Kilimanjaro is a physically demanding mountain and yes, you want to be in shape. But you do not have to be superman to climb Kilimanjaro. A moderate training program is wholly sufficient. In fact, most people who hike regularly probably do not have to do much more additional training.

If you live in an area where there are mountains, you are fortunate. Take advantage of it by going on day hikes 2-3 times a week for about 2-3 months before your trip. Hikes that have elevation gains are the best workouts. Speed is not as important as stamina, as the walking on Kilimanjaro is at a very slow pace. So do not be concerned if you walk slower than other people. Building your endurance is the main objective here. Most of the sildenafil viagra days on Kilimanjaro you will hike no more than 5-6 hours, and that figure includes about 90 minutes of breaks.

If mountains are not in your vicinity, then train as much as possible on a Stair Master. Although you may look goofy, you should wear a backpack while you do this. You have to get used to carrying some weight. A pack with 15 pounds would be sufficient. Again, set the pace slow and go longer. Don’t go super fast for 20 minutes. This is not how to build stamina.

People who are not in shape currently should start their training a bit sooner, and add more exercises. Jogging will increase your lung capacity and oxygen absorption. Weight training will strengthen your legs faster. Overall, take it seriously and you will do fine.

The harder you train, the easier the climb will be.

Traveling to Tanzania

flightThe closest airport to Kilimanjaro National Park is Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) (airport code: JRO). Another nearby airport is Arusha Airport (ARK). KIA is located only about 25 miles from Moshi and Arusha, the two cities that are used for launching climbs. KLM, British Airways, Air Tanzania, Ethiopian Air and Air Kenya are international carriers that fly into KIA.

There are two other major international airports in Tanzania – Dar es Salaam International Airport and Zanzibar International Airport. Another option is to fly into Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya. It will be cheaper to fly into any of these airports. However, one must consider the cost and time of transferring by regional flight or bus to Kilimanjaro’s gateway cities. I personally wouldn’t do that because the cost savings isn’t worth the headache.

Regional flights are available through: Air Tanzania, Precision Air, Regional Air, Zanair.

Buses are available through: Scandanavian Express, Davanu Shuttle, Riverside Shuttle, Regional Luxury Shuttle.

The price of airfare goes up and down depending on the season. I have seen prices as low as $1400 from the USA  to Tanzania. I have also seen prices as high as $7500. The average fare is between $2000 to $3000. It is best to shop early and lock in your airfare as prices tend to creep up as the travel date gets closer.

visasFor most nationalities, a passport and visa are necessary to enter Tanzania.

The passport must be valid for at least six months later than your arrival.

Visas may be obtained prior to your arrival at Tanzanian Embassies within your home country. Visas may also be purchased upon arrival, at various points of entry.

US citizens must have a passport and visa.

About Mount Kilimanjaro

Mount Kilimanjaro stands at a staggering elevation of 19,345 feet. That is 3.7 vertical miles. As one of the seven summits, Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest peak . It’s also the tallest free-standing mountain in the world. Due to the mountain’s equatorial location as well as its high elevation, climbers can experience almost every climate type on earth during the journey to the top.

Kilimanjaro – the word means “shining mountain” in Swahili. The name is an appropriate one. When the sun’s rays hit the peaks of Kilimanjaro, the mountaintop sparkles with light. However, Kilimanjaro may not be a “shining mountain” for long. Based on scientific studies, the ice is melting at a rapid rate due to global warming. Most believe that the glaciers will be completely gone within 20 years.

Kilimanjaro, with its three volcanic cones, Kibo, Mawensi, and Shira, is an inactive stratovolcano. The highest point is Uhuru Peak on the volcano Kibo. The summit was first reached by the Marangu army scout, Yohanas Kinyala Lauwo, German Hans Meyer and Austrian Ludwig Purtscheller, on October 6, 1889. Kilimanjaro’s other peaks are extinct volcanoes: Mawenzi at 16,900 ft, and Shira at 13,000 ft.

Many consider Mt. Kilimanjaro to be the easiest of the Seven Summits because it requires no technical mountaineering experience and is a trek from base camp to summit. The biggest dangers climbers face on Kilimanjaro are altitude and weather, which can change unexpectedly. There are six official routes up Kilimanjaro.