Preparation is a big word and an even bigger concept! It covers the vital question of getting yourself into shape, and here we at Easy Travel give you the benefit of our experience on matters such as strength conditioning, aerobic fitness and acclimatization.
But preparation covers much more, too. There’s no point of you being in excellent shape if your clothing and equipment are not – and you certainly want to know what to bring and what to leave at home. So, on these pages we advise you about your clothing, from head to toe, and about all the gear you should bring to make your climb a successful one.
1. Physical preparation
1.1) How can I increase my chances of reaching the summit, before the trip?
Choose a good operator, choose a longer route, and get yourself physically prepared. Physical preparation should start several months before you arrive in Tanzania and should include some hours of hiking with all your gear, if possible.
1.2) And what about increasing my chances of reaching the summit, during the trip?
Take it slowly, keep well-hydrated, keep well-nourished, rest well and listen to your guides – they are experts, having climbed Kili many, many times before. Avoiding AMS (referred to commonly as altitude sickness) is the key to getting to the summit, and all our helpfultips are geared to this.
1.3) Pre-climb training: How to prepare
The chances are that you will be planning your Kilimanjaro climb many months before you arrive in Tanzania. Of course, our expert team here at Easy Travel will be very happy to help you plan your adventure. But when it comes to physical preparation, you are the one who will take responsibility to be in good shape. ‘Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.’ In the meantime, we suggest that you look at our comprehensive information on preparation.
2. Clothing and equipment
2.1) What do I need for the climb?
Well, if you are asking about clothing and equipment, use our checklist to guide you. Try to be ruthless when packing as bringing too much will – quite literally – be a burden, either to you or your porters. For your daypack, our Trip notes will guide you as to its recommended weight (maximum 6kg) and its suggested contents.
2.2) Do I need to bring a sleeping-bag and a mattress?
You can bring your own sleeping-bag, but as an alternative, you can hire a warm one from us. Easy Travel will provide you with a mattress to use on your climb, included in the trip cost.
2.3) Is it true that we are banned from bringing plastic bags to Tanzania?
Quite simply, no. Without obtaining permission from the Tanzanian authorities, the use of drones is illegal. Obtaining such permission is a lengthy and costly process (for a start, you need to have a licence to pilot an aircraft!) and Easy Travel cannot assist in this process. Bringing a drone to Tanzania without permission can lead to a jail sentence. Instead, bring a good camera or camera phone and you will get some brilliant photos to treasure.
2.5) What kind of bags should I bring on my climb?
You will bring two bags on your climb, one will be your daypack – which you will carry each day of the hike – and the other will be a larger bag for your porter to carry.
Your daypack should be a maximum of 6kg (13lb) when full, and be used for your daily essentials such as your water, any snacks/energy bars, camera, waterproofs and an extra layer of clothing. Make sure you have hiked with this bag before you arrive, so that you know it will be comfortable on Kilimanjaro.
The second bag will carry the rest of the stuff on the packing list and will therefore be larger and weigh a maximum of 14kg (30lbs) to comply with the regulations on treating porter welfare. This bag can either be a backpack style or a holdall style, but in either case it should be waterproof or have a good rain cover. In this bag will be your spare clothing and other gear. You will not be able to access this bag during the daily hike, only at each campsite.
2.6) What weight limit is there on the luggage I bring on the climb?
You should pack as light as possible, using our packing list. Your daypack should be no heavier than 6kg (13lbs), not forgetting that you will also have to carry around 3 liters of water with you on each day’s hike. Most of your gear will be carried by a porter, but we would ask you to limit the amount you ask your porter to carry to 15kgs (33lbs). If you are going on safari or visiting Zanzibar before or after your climb, then you can leave any excess luggage with us at Easy Travel while you undertake your climb, at no extra charge. Any valuables can be left in the hotel safe in Arusha.
2.7) What sort of tents are used by Easy Travel?
At Easy Travel, we pay a great deal of attention to the equipment we use on the mountain, and tents are no exception. We choose either Vaude or Kailas tents, tough, hardwearing and ideally suited to the varied conditions you’ll find on Kilimanjaro. Our tents are designed to sleep three or more people, however we only ever put two people maximum in each tent.
2.8) Do I have to share my tent with anyone?
Our trips are all based on two people sharing accommodation, so you will share your tent and hotel room. On a group climb, you will be ‘paired up’ with a room-mate, unless you already have one. (Any allocated room-mate will, of course, be of the same gender.) If you want a tent and hotel room to yourself, then please let us know when making your reservation. A supplement will be payable.
2.9) Who carries our luggage up the mountain?
While you will carry your own daypack with your daily essentials, the rest of your luggage will be taken by a porter. We ask you to limit the weight that your porter carries to 15kg (33lbs); they also carry 5kg (11lbs) of their own gear, in accordance with KPAP (Kilimanjaro Porters’ Assistance Project) guidance. We at Easy Travel take the welfare of our porters very seriously, so please keep to this limit. If you have any excess above this weight, then this can be safely stored by us until your climb is complete.
2.10) How much should my daypack weigh?
We recommend a maximum weight of 5 to 6kg (11 to 13lbs) for your daypack. Believe us, you will appreciate a light daypack as you progress up the mountain.
2.11) What clothing and equipment do I need to climb Kilimanjaro?
It is crucial to have the proper technical clothing and equipment on a climb as challenging as this. You can see the full list of recommended items here, but if you have any additional questions, please ask your Easy Travel representative.
2.12) What clothing and equipment is available for rental?
If you don’t want to carry everything to Tanzania, Easy Travel has a variety of gear available for hire. This ranges from daypacks to sleeping bags, as well a variety of clothing and equipment. You can see the full list of what’s available and how much it costs in here.
2.13) Anything else?
Inform yourself about the climb, prepare yourself for the climb, and tackle it with a positive attitude! None of these either weigh anything or cost anything, but they are very important.
3.1) What money should I bring with me?
There is no need to worry about getting hold of Tanzanian Shillings, the currency of our country, before you arrive. US Dollars are accepted almost everywhere here, though the exchange rate when shopping is not always favourable. (A bit of ‘rounding up’ by shopkeepers, is quite common.) As ATMs are not as common in Tanzania as elsewhere, we advise you to bring enough US Dollars to last your trip. Make sure to check the series numbers on the dollar notes, as any notes older than 2009 will not be accepted here. You will not actually spend any money on Kilimanjaro, except for tipping your mountain crew.Bring a credit card or two as back-up, but note that these will only be accepted in large hotels and restaurants.Using a credit card will attract a charge of up to 5%.
3.2) If I have to abandon my climb and descend early, will I have to pay for any extra hotel nights?
Your trip cost includes one night in your Arusha hotel before your climb, and one night at the end of your climb, unless otherwise agreed with us. You will have to pay for any additional hotel nights, andin the event that you have to abandon your climb, you will also have to pay for an individual transfer back to Arusha. (Your trip cost is based on a group transfer at the end of a successful climb.
3.3) If someone in my group needs to descend, does the whole group have to descend with them?
Definitely not. At Easy Travel we provide enough guides to ensure that the climb can continue for the group, even if a climber has to descend. We provide sufficient guides according to the size of each group, as detailed below.
Total Number of crews in camping route (Lemosho, Machame and Rongai)
No of climbers
No of Guides
Total Number of crews in Hut route (Marangu Route)
No of climbers
No of Guides
3.4) What if my hiking pace is too slow?
The recommended pace on Kilimanjaro is pole, pole (slowly, slowly) and we mean it. A slow pace is the best way to climb at altitude. And remember that Easy Travel provide a number of mountain guides, so there is always one to accompany you, however slow you may walk. We will not leave you behind!
4. Health and safety
4.1) Do I need to have a medical check before I climb?
Many of our climbers will not have previously undertaken a trip such as climbing Kilimanjaro. With that in mind, we at Easy Travel strongly recommend that all climbers undergo a medical check-up before climbing Kilimanjaro. Your own doctor will be aware of any pre-existing conditions that affect you and will be able to advise whether your current state of health and fitness level, together with your age, makes you suitable for a challenge such as this. He or she will also be able to tell you if any of your existing medications/prescriptions are likely to cause difficulties at altitude; they will also tell you if any of these are incompatible with Diamox, which you might need on the mountain.
Remember that, although climbing Kilimanjaro is not dangerous, it remains potentially dangerous, so it is vital that you consult properly regarding your health. It is essential that Easy Travel are aware in advance of any health issues you may have, which may impair your ability to climb, before you book your trip. We cannot advise you on such conditions or health issues – that is the job of your doctor – but you should be especially aware of breathing issues such as asthma, abnormal blood pressure, heart conditions, impaired vision or hearing and diabetes, hypoglycaemia or kidney issues.
Although climbers of all ages have climbed Kilimanjaro, please note that there is a minimum age of 10 years old for undertaking the climb. Additionally, we would in any event urge caution to any climber who is either over 60 or under 18. It is especially important for young or old climbers to consult their doctor in advance.
Be aware that you will need to have a resting heart rate of less than 100 beats per minute, before you are allowed to climb. (We will test all climbers for this and will refer anyone who cannot comply with this to a local doctor).
4.2) What items does the mountain crew carry in their first-aid kit?
The first aid kit we carry on the mountain is comprehensive and includes the following
Sphygmomanometer (blood pressure monitor)
First-aid cleansing pads
Rehydration Salt (ORS)
Roll Medical tapes
Oxygen Bottle and mask
4.3) What shots and vaccinations do I need to come to Tanzania?
Do make use of the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to stay up-to-date on current requirements for vaccinations needed for visiting Tanzania. In general, you are advised to consult your doctor before you commit to climbing Kilimanjaro. Your doctor has your up-to-date medical history and should be able to provide you with details of all the vaccinations you need. Vaccinations considered as advisable for a visit to Tanzania are: hepatitis A and B, typhoid, rabies, rubella, polio, diptheria, mumps and cholera. For yellow fever, see below.
Although your time on Kilimanjaro will mostly be spent at altitudes where mosquitoes are not present, you will nevertheless be at lower levels both before and after your climb. At those lower altitudes, mosquitoes which carry malaria can be a problem, so anti-malarial tablets are required. You should consult your doctor or pharmacist, remembering that most courses of anti-malarial drugs begin well before your actual departure, so speak to them well beforehand.
Having a vaccination against yellow fever is always a good idea, especially as it provides lifetime cover. Tanzania does not have the yellow fever virus itself, but if you are arriving from a yellow fever endemic country, or have had a long stopover in such a country en route to Tanzania, then you will have to produce proof that you have had vaccination against yellow fever. Failure to do so could result in a refusal to enter the country, or vaccination on arrival followed by a period of quarantine – which will ruin your trip!
4.4) What is altitude sickness and how can I prevent it?
Everyone responds differently to altitude and the effects cannot be predicted in advance. Although you should be in good shape to climb, this will not prevent you getting altitude sickness. What happens at altitude is that the available oxygen decreases with the reduced air pressure. This can lead to headaches, nausea, dizziness and breathing difficulties. If it really persists, it can be fatal. Although altitude sickness cannot be prevented, taking a longer climb can help avoid it. The most important thing then is that its symptoms are detected earlyand action taken. Our guides are experts in detecting the symptoms and if your body is not acclimatizing, you will have to descend. No ifs, no buts, no arguments: safety always comes first. Even though we do everything to get you to the summit. If it is ‘summit versus safety’, thensafety wins every time.
4.5) But surely there is something I can do to avoid getting altitude sickness?
There’s nothing you can do to actually prevent it, but you can reduce the chances of getting it. These are:
Take it slowly, or pole pole, as they say here. Ascents should be as gradual as possible, there is no rush.
Sleep at a lower altitude than you have climbed that day. Our trips are designed to allow this, wherever possible.
Keep well-hydrated, feed yourself properly and rest often.
4.6) Can I climb Kilimanjaro if I have a medical problem?
Well, it depends on what that condition is. You should do a number of things before you decide to climb, namely consult your doctor and get their professional opinion. Secondly, you should also check with your insurance company to be certain that they are aware of your pre-existing condition and that they will still provide the necessary cover, given your condition. Thirdly, you must disclose the condition to us and e-mail us with your doctor’s approval to climb Kilimanjaro.
4.7) Do I need oxygen on the Kilimanjaro climbs?
You do not need oxygen to climb Kilimanjaro, but you will see that we do carry some on our climbs. Should you suffer the moderate adverse effects of altitude, then the answer is to descend – not simply to be given oxygen. Once an appropriate descent has been made, our guides will determine whether oxygen is appropriate; bear in mind that there are circumstances where simply taking oxygen can actually be dangerous. It is no substitute for descending to a safe altitude. And finally, safety is always more important than summiting. Easy Travel do not advise climbers to bring ‘personal oxygen systems’, but you can hire one if you so wish. We carry oxygen for emergencies only.
4.8) How does an evacuation work in practice?
Carrying out a medical evacuation from the slopes of Kilimanjaro is thankfully a very rare occurrence. But it remains a possibility, as someone can always break an ankle or have another mishap. Our mountain crews are medically trained and carry out health checks daily, so any signs of altitude sickness will be detected early and action taken.
If an evacuation does become necessary, our teams use stretchers which are kept by the rangers at each campsite. The stretcher and climber are carried down to the gate, from where a vehicle will transport the sick climber to hotel or hospital as appropriate. (Note this transport is payable by the climber, except where the group is of two climbers only and both climbers are descending).
4.9) What happens if I have to abandon the climb and descend early?
Don’t worry. If altitude sickness seriously affects you, one of our expert mountain guides will accompany you on your descent. Our guides are medically-trained and they will be constantly monitoring you. If a doctor is required, then they will make sure you get to one without delay. You will then be taken back to Arusha to your hotel. Please note that any extra nights’ hotel accommodation must be paid for by you in addition to the trip cost.
4.10) If the trek becomes too difficult for me, can I turn around?
If you cannot continue at any point, then you can turn around. And is our mountain crew determine that continuing would be unsafe for you, then you will have to turn around. You will be accompanied on your descent by one of our guides. Easy Travel always provide enough guides on any climb to allow for this possibility.
4.11) What is the coldest it is expected to be at the summit of Kilimanjaro?
With a huge variation in altitude on your climb, you can expect temperatures to vary significantly, too.From the plains around the mountain with their 30°C of heat, to the cold of the summit where it is often below freezing at night, there is a massive range on this trip. During the day, you will be hiking at anywhere between 5°C and 15°C.
4.12) What is hypothermia? Can I get it on Kilimanjaro?
You may well have heard of Antarctic and Arctic explorers suffering from hypothermia, but it is a possibility on Kilimanjaro, too. When the body is exposed to extreme cold for a short time, or even to moderate cold but over a longer period of time, hypothermia can occur. A body temperature below 34.5 C is a clear symptom. Hypothermia is extremely dangerous, but early warning signs are:
Very cold skin
Loss of coordination
If hypothermia occurs, the answer is to restore body heat as soon as possible.
4.13) Do I need to protect myself from the sun on Kilimanjaro?
Definitely. The effects of the sun are stronger on the mountain than elsewhere, so precautions are vital. Even on the higher slopes where it is much cooler, less ultraviolet light is filtered out and sunburn is a possibility. You should have a decent-strength (Factor 20 or above) sun screen lotion and a complete sunblock product for the higher slopes. A brimmed sunhat is recommended for the lower slopes and good quality sunglasses with side protection is also essential. These protect against the sun and also snow blindness as you approach the summit.
4.14) What safety measures are taken by the Easy Travel mountain crew?
Safety is the number 1 priority, for each and every one of our mountain crew. On the mountain, health checks are carried out before dinner every dayto check your level of oxygen saturation as well as your pulse rate. Our guides are fully trained in first aid and mountain rescue. They are knowledgeable in how to prevent, detect and treat the adverse effects of altitude. Bottled oxygen and stretchers are part of the equipment carried on every climb.