How Do I Prepare for Kilimanjaro climb-Tanzania Safari?
This section covers what gear you need to bring, physical training, Tanzania entry requirements (passport & visa), immunizations and vaccinations, and travel insurance for Tanzania safari.
Please read this carefully and make sure you have gathered everything before you depart on your trip.
(Kilimanjaro Hiking Gear Recommendations).
The most common mistake that climbers make is that they over pack and bring way too much gear.
Be selective in what you take with you. Please note that our porters are limited to carrying 33 lbs (18 kg) of your personal belongings. All of your gear should be protected from water, either by using plastic bags or dry bags, or placed in a waterproof duffel bag. Everything the porters will carry for you between campsites should be placed into the duffel bag, including the sleeping bag, but it is OK to pack the sleeping bag separately it if necessary.
If you have excess weight, you will be required to hire an additional porter. It is rare to require an extra porter and should happen only in special cases, such as for carrying extensive photography equipment. Although you are expected to bring everything you need, some gear and equipment may be rented, subject to availability. All extra luggage, items you will not use on your climb, such safari clothing, gear and equipment, can also be safely stored at the hotel.
Checked luggage on airplanes can get lost or delayed on the way to Tanzania. Therefore, you should prepare for this possibility by wearing or carrying on the items that are essential to your Kilimanjaro climb. While most clothing, gear and equipment can be replaced in Tanzania prior to your climb, there are some things that you should not and cannot.
Abakombe Tours recommends that you wear one complete hiking outfit on the plane, including a long sleeve shirt, hiking pants, underwear, socks, and hiking boots. In your carry on baggage, you should bring your backpack, waterproof jacket and pants, insulated jacket, snacks, toiletries, medications, camera and all paperwork. Airline regulations do not allow you to carry trekking poles on the plane. Make sure you wear/carry your hiking boots; wearing a different pair of boots on your climb will likely cause blistering.
How do I Train to Climb the Kilimanjaro?
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is a physical undertaking, so you should prepare yourself accordingly with a Kilimanjaro training program. Being in good shape is important in many respects. Obviously, strong, conditioned legs make it easier to walk uphill and downhill for sustained periods of time. General aerobic fitness allows the body to function efficiently with less oxygen. And a fit body is more likely to withstand the stress of consecutive days of hiking and camping. Finally, a positive mental attitude can work wonders for you when fatigue and doubts arise.
How hard is it to climb Kilimanjaro? That’s a difficult question to answer because some people don’t train much and fare very well, while others engage in a disciplined training program and succumb to the altitude in a few days. We’ve heard marathon runners tell us that climbing Kilimanjaro is the hardest thing they’ve ever done. The best advice we can give is to train adequately, as described below, and get yourself in the best possible hiking shape. The mountain is a big unknown, and you won’t know with certainty how you will react until you are there. In a survey we administered, on a scale of 1 (easy) to 10 (difficult), respondents rated their climb with an average difficulty of 7 (see Can an Unfit Person Climb Mount Kilimanjaro?).
The best exercise that you can do to prepare for Mount Kilimanjaro is hiking.
There are training regimens on other operator’s sites which entail strict, extensive, cross-training programs, featuring hiking, running, biking, swimming, weight training, etc. Do not be alarmed by this. Those programs are excessive and unnecessary to sufficiently prepare for climbing Kilimanjaro. The best and perhaps only exercise you need to do is to hike – period. After all, that is what you will be doing on the mountain. Ideally, you should try to hike as much as possible on hills or mountains to simulate ascension on Mount Kilimanjaro. Doing day hikes is superb training. For those who do not have access to trails, but have membership to a gym, you can train very productively on a stair master machine. If you have no access to trails or a gym, then try to walk as much as you can, with extended walks on the weekends.
You should start training for climbing Kilimanjaro at least two months prior to your departure.
If you’ve never hiked before, you should start with shorter time intervals, a slower pace, and no weight (in your day pack) and then gradually increase all of the above as your fitness level improves. Remember that on Mount Kilimanjaro, you will walk slowly for prolonged periods, and carry probably no more than 20 lbs in your day pack. Therefore, in your training, it is better to increase the time interval/distance and keep a slow pace than to shorten the time interval/distance and increase the pace. Try to train three times a week, for at least one hour per session, at a minimum. If you can do day hikes for four to six hours, with moderate elevation changes (~1,000 ft/305 m) while carrying a 20 lb pack, or if you can walk on a stairmaster for 1-2 hours, at 30 steps per minute while carrying a 20 lb pack, then you’re probably ready for the real thing.
Your longest/hardest workouts should be performed two to four weeks before your departure. For the last two weeks, you should taper off your training and in the final days, rest so that your body has time to recover before your actual climb. In addition to walking/hiking, you can also supplement your training with exercises such as running or cycling, which will increase your aerobic capacity.
It is imperative that during Kilimanjaro training, you wear the boots that you intend to climb with so that they are sufficiently broken-in (to prevent blisters). Additionally, you should wear the day pack you intend to carry so you’re your shoulders/back/hips get used to the points of contact and weight (to minimize chafing and soreness).
Lastly, physical training is just one part of getting in shape. If you have an unhealthy lifestyle, use the climb as your motivation to change. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Reduce your red meat consumption. Don’t drink or smoke. Get eight hours of sleep per night. Don’t worry. Be happy.
How Can I Prepare for the High Altitude?
Getting your body in great shape through physical training certainly helps prepare you for altitude. However, the ability to adjust quickly to the changing oxygen content is largely genetic. As the Kilimanjaro climbing success rates show, some people can climb Kilimanjaro in as little as 5 days (not recommended), while some still fail with 8 days. It is impossible to tell how well a prospective climber may fare in an oxygen deprived atmosphere until he or she is actually in it.
High altitude training systems enable climbers to pre-acclimatize at home, drastically improving the success rate, safety and enjoyment of the climb.
Altitude training systems simulate high altitudes to induce beneficial biological adaptations in the body. Besides going to (and staying in) high altitude places, using a high altitude training system is only way to pre-acclimatize to high altitude before your trip (see Pre-Acclimatization).
Should I Get a Medical Check Up before climbing?
All climbers should have a medical check prior to attempting the mountain. Ask your doctor if high altitude trekking is permissible for your age, fitness level and health condition. Ask if you have any preexisting medical conditions that can cause problems on the climb. Ask if any of your medications can affect altitude acclimatization. Ask whether Diamox can be taken with your existing prescription medicines.
The minimum age for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is 10 years old. There is no maximum age. However, the climb is strenuous and presents health risks, especially to people in high risk categories. Serious consideration should be given to anyone under the age of 18 and over the age of 60. The climbers on the extreme ends of the age spectrum should definitely consult their doctor.
The following information was taken from the Tanzania National website.
Foreigners seeking to enter the United Republic of Tanzania should be in possession of a valid passport, at least six months prior to expiration. The passport is to be presented to the Immigration Control Officer at any entry point: border station, airport, harbor. The passport must be presented along with one of the following:
- A valid visa
- Resident permit
- A pass
A visitor must also present an onward or return ticket together with proof that the visitor has sufficient funds to support himself or herself while in Tanzania.
All foreigners from non-Commonwealth countries are required to have a valid visa unless their countries have agreements with Tanzania under which the visa requirement is waived. Exemptions: Citizens of Commonwealth countries are not required to obtain visas unless they are citizens of the United Kingdom, Canada, Nigeria, or India. The visa is permission granted to a foreigner who intends to travel to Tanzania on business, for a holiday, to study or conduct research, or for other approved activities. When entering Tanzania, the visitor with a visa may then obtain from the immigration control officer, a pass or any other authority to enter the country.
Visas are issued by the following:
- The office of the Director of Immigration Services, Dar es Salaam, and the office of the Principal Immigration Officer, Zanzibar.
- Tanzanian representatives abroad: Visas can be obtained at Tanzanian Embassies and High Commissions, such as the Tanzanian Embassy of the United States.
- Entry points to the United Republic of Tanzania: principally Namanga, Tunduma, Sirari, Horohoro, Kigoma port, Dar es Salaam International Airport, Kilimanjaro International Airport, Zanzibar Harbour and Zanzibar Airport.
- Any other gazetted entry point.
To avoid potential loss of passports in the mail or delays in visa processing, Ultimate Kilimanjaro recommends that US citizens obtain their visas upon arrival, at Kilimanjaro International Airport. It is an easy and simple process. The cost of a Tanzanian visa for US citizens is $100, payable in US dollars.
UK, Canadian and most European passport holders can also obtain visas upon arrival at the airport. The cost of a Tanzanian visa for $50, payable in US dollars. Confirm with your embassy.
The following information was obtained from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Tanzania.
Recommended Vaccinations and Preventive Medications
The following vaccines may be recommended for your travel to East Africa. Discuss your travel plans and personal health with a health-care provider to determine which vaccines you will need.
- Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG). Transmission of hepatitis A virus can occur through direct person-to-person contact; through exposure to contaminated water, ice, or shellfish harvested in contaminated water; or from fruits, vegetables, or other foods that are eaten uncooked and that were contaminated during harvesting or subsequent handling.
- Hepatitis B, especially if you might be exposed to blood or body fluids (for example, health-care workers), have sexual contact with the local population, or be exposed through medical treatment. Hepatitis B vaccine is now recommended for all infants and for children ages 11-12 years who did not receive the series as infants.
- Malaria: your risk of malaria may be high in all countries in East Africa, including cities. See your health care provider for a prescription antimalarial drug.
- Meningococcal (meningitis) if you plan to visit countries in this region that experience epidemics of meningococcal disease during December through June.
- Rabies, pre-exposure vaccination, if you might have extensive unprotected outdoor exposure in rural areas, such as might occur during camping, hiking, or bicycling, or engaging in certain occupational activities.
- Typhoid vaccine. Typhoid fever can be contracted through contaminated drinking water or food, or by eating food or drinking beverages that have been handled by a person who is infected. Large outbreaks are most often related to fecal contamination of water supplies or foods sold by street vendors
- Yellow fever, a viral disease that occurs primarily in sub-Saharan Africa and tropical South America, is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected mosquitoes. The virus is also present in Panama and Trinidad and Tobago. Yellow fever vaccination is recommended for travelers to endemic areas and may be required to cross certain international borders (For country specific requirements, see Yellow Fever Vaccine Requirements and Information on Malaria Risk and Prophylaxis, by Country.). Vaccination should be given 10 days before travel and at 10 year intervals if there is on-going risk. · As needed, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria, measles, and a one-time dose of polio vaccine for adults.
Malaria is always a serious disease and may be a deadly illness. Humans get malaria from the bite of a mosquito infected with the parasite. Your risk of malaria may be high in all countries in East Africa, including cities. All travelers to East Africa, including infants, children, and former residents of East Africa, may be at risk for malaria. Prevent this serious disease by seeing your health care provider for a prescription antimalarial drug and by protecting yourself against mosquito bites.
All travelers should take one of the following drugs:
- mefloquine, or
- primaquine (in special circumstances).
A certificate of yellow fever vaccination is required for entry into Tanzania when arriving from countries where yellow fever is present.
Food and Waterborne Diseases
Make sure your food and drinking water are safe. Food and waterborne diseases are the primary cause of illness in travelers. Travelers’ diarrhea can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites, which are found throughout East Africa and can contaminate food or water. Infections may cause diarrhea and vomiting (E. coli, Salmonella, cholera, and parasites), fever (typhoid fever and toxoplasmosis), or liver damage (hepatitis).
To stay healthy, do…
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or, if hands are not visibly soiled, use a waterless, alcohol-based hand rub to remove potentially infectious materials from your skin and help prevent disease transmission.
- In developing countries, drink only bottled or boiled water, or carbonated (bubbly) drinks in cans or bottles. Avoid tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes. If this is not possible, learn how to make water safer to drink.
- Take your malaria prevention medication before, during, and after travel, as directed. (See your health care provider for a prescription.)
- To prevent fungal and parasitic infections, keep feet clean and dry, and do not go barefoot, even on beaches.
- Always use latex condoms to reduce the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
- Protect yourself from mosquito insect bites:
- Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats when outdoors.
- Use insect repellents that contain DEET (N, N-diethylmethyltoluamide).
- If no screening or air conditioning is available: use a pyrethroid-containing spray in living and sleeping areas during evening and night-time hours; sleep under bed nets, preferably insecticide-treated ones.
- Do not eat food purchased from street vendors or food that is not well cooked to reduce risk of infection (i.e., hepatitis A and typhoid fever).
- Do not drink beverages with ice.
- Avoid dairy products, unless you know they have been pasteurized.
- Do not swim in fresh water to avoid exposure to certain water-borne diseases such as schistosomiasis.
- Do not handle animals, especially monkeys, dogs, and cats, to avoid bites and serious diseases (including rabies and plague). Consider pre-exposure rabies vaccination if you might have extensive unprotected outdoor exposure in rural areas.
- Do not share needles for tattoos, body piercing or injections to prevent infections such as HIV and hepatitis B.
- Avoid poultry farms, bird markets, and other places where live poultry is raised or kept.
Yes. Travel insurance is required to participate on this trip.
Trip deposits are non-refundable and balance payments are only partially refundable. Therefore, it is prudent for you to protect your investment against trip cancellation, interruption, delays and unforeseeable expenses. Standard travel insurance provides coverage for trip cancellation, interruption and delay; lost, stolen and damaged baggage; medical expenses and emergency medical evacuation; and luggage delay.
At a minimum, the insurance should protect you against trip cancellation and trip interruption, should you need to cancel your trip due to circumstances such as training injuries or sickness or emergencies. Ideally, insurance should cover high altitude trekking (not to be confused with “mountaineering” or “mountain climbing” which most insurance will not cover) and all medical and repatriation costs.
Climbers are strongly advised to obtain travel insurance immediately after booking their trip.
Clients must be able to provide proof of insurance to staff upon request.
Our climbs originate in Moshi, a coffee-producing gateway town to Mount Kilimanjaro. Moshi is located at the base of the mountain to its south, at approximately 3,000 feet. Moshi is a short 25 mile drive from Kilimanjaro International Airport (airport code: JRO). If you fly into Kilimanjaro International Airport, we can arrange for transport from the airport to the hotel for a small fare. Transfers are available at any time, including early morning or late evening, and take about 40 minutes.
KLM flies from the USA and UK to Kilimanjaro International Airport regularly. KLM flights typically arrival at Kilimanjaro International Airport in the evenings. Most people choose not to take a rest day, and will begin climbing the following morning. But it is a good idea to take a rest day to recover from a long flight, to adapt to the new environment, and to get your things ready for the trek.
Vayama is a good source for domestic Tanzanian flights if you want to extend your vacation to other parts of Tanzania or East Africa, such as Zanzibar, Kenya or Uganda.
We do not recommend flying into Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (airport code: NBO) in Nairobi, Kenya or Dar es Salaam International Airport (airport code: DAR) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Although flights are cheaper than flying into Kilimanjaro International Airport, getting to Moshi from Nairobi requires an overnight stay in Nairobi, the purchase of a Kenyan visa, and a 7 to 8 hour bus ride (Riverside Shuttle) with a border crossing. Getting to Moshi from Dar es Salaam also typically requires an overnight stay and an 8 hour bus ride (Dar Express).
Arusha is about 50 miles west of Moshi. We can arrange a private vehicle for pick up and drop off in Arusha if needed. However taxis and shuttles are readily available between Moshi and Arusha. It is a 90 minute drive.
What Gear Do I Need to Bring on Kilimanjaro?
You are responsible for bringing personal gear and equipment while communal equipment (tents, food, cooking items, etc.) is provided. Below is a gear list of required, recommended and optional items to bring on your climb (How Should I Dress for Kilimanjaro?).
1 – Waterproof Jacket, breathable with hood
1 – Insulated Jacket, synthetic or down
1 – Soft Jacket, fleece or soft-shell
2 – Long Sleeve Shirt, light-weight, moisture-wicking fabric
1 – Short Sleeve Shirt, light-weight, moisture-wicking fabric
1 – Waterproof Pants, breathable (side-zipper recommended)
2 – Hiking Pants (convertible to shorts recommended)
1 – Fleece Pants
1 – Shorts (optional)
1 – Long Underwear (moisture-wicking fabric recommended)
3 – Underwear, briefs (moisture-wicking fabric recommended)
2 – Sport Bra (women)Head wear
1 – Brimmed Hat, for sun protection
1 – Knit Hat, for warmth
1 – Balaclava, for face coverage (optional)
1 – Bandana (optional)Hand wear
1 – Gloves, warm (waterproof recommended)
1 – Glove Liners, thin, synthetic, worn under gloves for added warmth (optional)
1 – Hiking Boots, warm, waterproof, broken-in, with spare laces
1 – Gym Shoes, to wear at camp (optional)
3 – Socks, thick, wool or synthetic
3 – Sock Liners, tight, thin, synthetic, worn under socks to prevent blisters (optional)
1 – Gaiters, waterproof (optional)Accessories
1 – Sunglasses or Goggles
1 – Backpack Cover, waterproof (optional)
1 – Poncho, during rainy season (optional)
1 – Water Bottle (Nalgene, 32 oz. recommended)
1 – Water Bladder, Camelbak type (recommended)
1 – Towel, lightweight, quick-dry (optional)
1 – Pee Bottle, to avoid leaving tent at night ( recommended)
Stuff Sacks or Plastic Bags, various sizes, to keep gear dry and separateEquipment
1 – Sleeping Bag, warm, four seasons
1 – Sleeping Bag Liner, for added warmth (optional)
1 – Trekking Poles (recommended)
1 – Head lamp, with extra batteries
1 – Duffel bag, (waterproof recommended) for porters to carry your equipment
1 – Daypack, for you to carry your personal gearOther
Insect Repellent, containing DEET
First Aid Kit
Wet Wipes (recommended)
Snacks, light-weight, high calorie, high energy (optional)
Pencil and Notebook, miniature, for trip log (optional)
Camera, with extra batteries (optional)Paperwork
Visa (available at JRO)