What health requirements should I consider?
Anyone who intends to climb Kilimanjaro or any mountain for that matter should consider their fitness level and make sure that adequate and appropriate preparation is undertaken. The routes on Kilimanjaro that lead to the summit are not technical, but full consideration of the conditions of climbing to Uhuru peak should be at the back of every climber’s mind as they prepare for the climb. Note that the climb is not easy. Understand that altitude sickness affects everyone regardless of age or fitness level. Although most hikers will say that it is psychological, trekkers need to be physically and mentally ready for the hike. It is important to see your doctor for any health risks before the trek.
What vaccinations/inoculations do I need?
Be protected against malaria, hepatitis A, tetanus, typhoid, polio, and yellow fever. It is important to note that you will be required to provide a valid yellow fever certificate on arrival in Tanzania. All travelers from Europe through or transiting through an endemic country; including the airports in Nairobi (Kenya), and Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) are required to have a valid yellow fever certificate. Consult your travel clinic for latest advice on different prophylaxis available against malaria.
What clothing and footwear do I need on Trek?
All weather conditions can be experienced during the climb. Summit night itself will be very cold and perhaps even partly frozen, with snow falling and on the ground. You will need to wear warm and windproof clothing.
We strongly recommend walking in good, comfortable, warm, waterproof boots that you had a chance to break in before your climb. We strongly recommend not borrowing or renting boots. It is a good idea to carry your boots in your hand luggage on international flights or wear them – should your luggage be delayed, your well broken in boots are the one thing which will be irreplaceable. Gaiters are useful to keep snow and sleet out of your boots.
It is best to wear a pair of liner socks under a pair of fairly thick wool socks. This helps to protect your feet against blisters. Avoid nylon socks, they are abrasive, don’t ‘breathe’ well and can cause blisters.
After sunset, temperatures can fall below freezing. Down jackets are recommended especially for summit night.
Breathable jacket and trouser-type waterproofs made from a material such as Goretex not only protects against rain and wind but also stops you from overheating. They ‘breathe’ and avoid condensation that you will experience from nylon waterproofs. However, most guides also bring an umbrella with them.
For everyday walking, light trekking trousers are the most suitable. Jeans are not recommended.
Thick sweaters and fleece jackets
Thick sweaters or fleece jackets are essential as nights can be very cold at altitude. Make sure that your waterproof jacket is loose enough to wear over your sweaters and fleeces.
Thermal underwear/base layers
Long sleeve tops and “long john” legging thermal underwear is essential. Please note that cotton clothing like t-shirts are not suitable or recommended as a base layer. Cotton does not “wick away” any moisture from the skin.
Shorts can be very comfortable to walk in, but you must carry long trousers with you in case you get either sunburned or cold! Follow your tour leaders’ advice on local sensitivities to wearing shorts during the trek.
Waterproof gloves; a warm scarf & a warm hat
All of the above are especially useful in the morning and the evening at higher altitudes and are essential for summit night. Lightweight gloves or mittens are not practical. Also, bring a scarf to cover your neck and a warm balaclava or a warm hat.
What support and facilities are available?
Our crew consists of professional and well experienced English speaking mountain guides, assistant guides, cooks and porters. Our guides are trained in First Aid, and most of them have summitted over 100 times
Depending on the route chosen, overnights will be either in tents or huts. Toilet facilities are very basic, of the long drop variety at most campsites. Although, if requested Bless Africa Tours and Safaris can supply ‘Porta-loos’ and toilet tents to make the toileting experience more pleasant. There will be limited access to water, especially in the latter stages of the trek, towards the summit. Hot water will be provided to wash hands before meals.
Do I need to bring a tent or will I be expected to put up my tent?
Bless Africa Tours and Safaris will provide tents with roll mattresses. The porters will erect and take down the tents. There will also be camping chairs, tables and lamps provided for meals and downtime.
What luggage and Personal Equipment will I need?
Your backpack must be lightweight, strong and preferably waterproof, without wheels. Porters will carry your bag in heavy duty waterproof bags for added protection. The weight limit for bag AND its contents must not exceed 15kg.
Small rucksack/day bag
Your day pack should be waterproof and lightweight but large enough to carry the following: waterproofs, fleece, long trekking trousers (if walking in shorts), warm hat and gloves, sun hat, sun cream, platypus (at least 2 liters), water bottle (1-2 liters), tissues and your packed lunch. Most people normally find that this adds up to about 3 to 5kg. Camera equipment can be heavy so think carefully when deciding what to take.
Down or synthetic sleeping bags are recommended, but they must be of 4-season comfort rating (temperature –10°C to –5°C). A silk or fleece liner helps to keep your bag clean and warm.
Trekking poles are strongly recommended and can usually be rented in Moshi.
Water Bottle or Platypus/Camelback hydration system
Water along the trail must never be considered as drinkable until purified. Take at least two 2 liter personal water bottles or a system that allows for this much water. A personal supply of tablets/drops for water purification system is essential. Powdered fruit juice can be used to disguise the taste. If you elect to use a hydration system with a tube, then it is essential that the bladder and tube are insulated for high altitude and below freezing temperatures.
A good pair of sunglasses/snow goggles are essential for protection against UV rays and glare at high altitudes.
Sun hat, sunscreen & lip balm
Choose a high factor sunscreen (SPF 30 or more) to protect your skin against the sun at high altitudes. Lip balm or Vaseline will protect your lips in the hot and cold weather.
A head torch is essential for finding things at night and finding your way on summit night. Remember to bring some spare batteries and a bulb. There are no facilities on the mountain to recharge any digital equipment.
Keep heavy cosmetics to a minimum. Essentials are toothbrush/paste and small nail brush. ‘Wet Wipes’ are great for an alternative to washing and a quick clean up.
Personal first aid kit
On each trek, a first aid kit is carried, but you should have your blister kit, the supply of plasters, paracetamol, ibuprofen, and other essentials.
Personal supplementary snacks
Although sufficient food is supplied on this tour, we recommend that you bring some high energy snacks like cereal bars and chocolate with you.
When is the best time to trek Kilimanjaro?
Kilimanjaro can trek all year. Mid-December, January, February, and March are the warmest months, almost clear of clouds. April and early May may get heavy rain or snow, but is a better time to visit if you want a quiet clear mountain. By late June, July and through August it can be very cold at night, but the sky is clear above 3000m offering great views. Through September and October, it gets steadily warmer. October is particularly good if you want only a few drops of rain, mild weather and few people on the mountain. November to mid-December is the time of the ‘short rains’ with possible afternoon thunderstorms but clear evenings. There can also be heavy snow towards the summit.
Can I do a full moon trek?
Summiting Kilimanjaro under an African full moon can be an unforgettable experience, with the snow twinkling and the path lit by the light of the moon.
Do I need travel Insurance?
Travel insurance is essential. It is strongly recommended that comprehensive travel insurance is taken out which includes cover against cancellation charges. Depending on the reason for the cancellation, you may be able to reclaim the cancellation charges (less any applicable excess) under the terms of the insurance policy. If you are undertaking a Kilimanjaro trek, it is essential that the travel insurance covers high altitude trekking and adventure travel.