Kilimanjaro Preparation

Summit Mount Kilimanjaro During Full Moon

When the peak of Kilimanjaro and magnificent glaciers are lit up by the full moon, the view is absolutely stunning. For this reason alone, some climbers schedule their trek to coincide with this celestial event, occuring once a month. However, a practical reason for climbing at these times is that a bright moon along with a clear sky will improve your visibility throughout your climb, and most importantly, during the summit attempt.

Below are full moon dates:

Month
2018
2019
January 2, 31 21
February 19
March 2, 31 21
April 30 19
May 29 19
June 28 17
July 27 17
August 26 15
September 25 14
October 24 14
November 23 12
December 22 12

 

To summit during a full moon, a 7 day climb should start 5 days prior to the full moon date. It is not necessary to summit on the exact full moon date to take advantage of moonlight. A summit on the day before or day after is also beneficial. We offer several group climbs with full moon summits every month during the dry season. These dates tend to be the first to book completely full well in advance.

For those who favor a less crowded climb, avoid the full moon completely as these dates attract many climbers. Another method of dodging crowds is to choose an “off” day of departure. Most climbers will begin their climbs on Saturday, Sunday or Monday, with routes lasting 6 to 7 days.

When is the Best Time to Climb Kilimanjaro?

Due to Mount Kilimanjaro’s proximity to the equator, this region does not experience the extremes of winter and summer weather, but rather dry and wet seasons. Therefore, the best time to climb Kilimanjaro tends to be the warmest and driest months . The primary issue is safety, as the risks associated with climbing increase significantly when the weather is foul. The effects of rain, mud, snow, ice and cold can be very strenuous on the body. Correspondingly, your chances of a successful summit also increases significantly with nice weather. Of course, the mountain gets more foot traffic during these periods as well.

The table below lists the relative temperature, precipitation, cloudiness and crowds during the calendar months.

Month
Temperature
Precipitation
Cloudiness
Crowds
January Warm Medium Low High
February Warm Medium Low High
March Moderate High Medium Low
April Moderate High High Low
May Moderate High High Low
June Cold Medium Medium Medium
July Cold Medium Low High
August Cold Low Low High
September Moderate Low Low High
October Moderate Low Medium Medium
November Moderate High Medium Low
December Moderate Medium Medium Medium

From January through mid-March are the warmest months, with clear skies in the mornings and evenings. During the day, clouds may appear along with brief showers. The long rainy season spans from the end of March to early June. We do not recommend climbing during this time unless you are an experienced backpacker who has trekked in similar conditions . It can be very wet, and visibility may be low due to heavy clouds. The crowds are gone, however. From mid June to the end of October, the mountain is generally a bit colder, but also drier. The short rainy season spans from the beginning of November to the beginning of December. Afternoon rains are common, but skies are clear in mornings and evenings.It is possible to climb Kilimanjaro year round, however it is best to climb when there is a lower possibility of precipitation. The dry seasons are from the beginning of December through the beginning of March, and then from late June through the end of October. These are considered to be the best times to climb in terms of weather, and correspondingly are the busiest months (high season). Our group climbs are scheduled to correspond with the dry season.

Note that the rains are unpredictable and may come early or extend beyond their typical time frames. It is possible to experience mostly dry weather conditions during the rainy season, just as it is possible to have heavy rain during the dry season.

Available Gear for rent for Climbing Kilimanjaro

Prices are for the entire trek in U.S. dollars, payable in cash in Moshi.

  • Tents and foam sleeping pads are provided at no charge.
  • Rental prices are subject to change.
Sleeping bag $20
Hat: $5
Balaclava/Scarf: $5
Fleece Pants: $10
Warm Jacket: $10
Long Underwear: $5
Raincoat/Poncho: $10
Rain Pants: $10
Gloves: $5
Sweater/Pullover: $10
Socks: $2
Hiking Boots: $20
Sleeping Bag and Liner: $30
Duffel Bag/Backpack: $20
Rucksack/Daypack: $10
Hiking Poles (2): $10
Gaiters: $10
Torch/Flashlight: $10
Sunglasses: $5
Batteries: $3
Water Bottle: $5
Binoculars: $20

 

Where Will I Sleep While Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro ?

 

Climbers will sleep in state of the art, four-season mountain tents during the trek. Our Mountain Hard wear tents are warm, waterproof and roomy – perfectly suited for your Kilimanjaro adventure. We understand that some climbers are anxious about camping for so many days, so we aim to have them be as dry, warm and comfortable as possible.

Each three-person sized tent will comfortably house two climbers and their gear. The interior floor space is 48 square feet, with a large vestibule, dual doors, and internal mesh pockets. The Trango 3 is a fully waterproof tent with fully taped seams and welded corners.

A 1.5 inch foam sleeping pad is provided to all climbers. These locally sourced sleeping pads are better than any commercially available sleeping pad. They are thick, warm and comfortable, even for those not used to camping. The pad is placed inside a washable cover for cleanliness.

Mountain Hardwear Lamina -30F sleeping bags are available for rent on location in Tanzania. These warm, winter synthetic sleeping bags are constructed to enhance loft and eliminate cold spots. The durable nylon shell repels water while the polyester lining wicks away moisture, keeping weary climbers dry and warm.

The Lamina is long enough to fit someone 6′ 6″ tall, weighs 5 lbs 14 oz. and is temperature rated to -30F (-34C), more than sufficient even for Kilimanjaro’s chilly nights. They are washed after every use and rented for only a short period before they are removed from the rental inventory.

What Gear Do I Need to Carry in My Day Pack ?

You are only required to carry items from your gear list that you may need prior to reaching your next campsite. A small to medium sized backpack, with a volume capacity of up to 2000 cu in (30 liters), is appropriate. The specific items to carry generally depend on the time to reach camp and trail and weather conditions. Typically, you will have inside your day pack :-

  • waterproof gear,
  • extra clothing, water,
  • snacks,
  • gloves,
  • hat,
  • sunglasses,
  • and other small items, such as bug repellent and sun screen.

Consult us  if you are unsure of what you need.

Everything else should be placed into your duffel bag, which the porters will carry. The weight limit of the duffel bag is 15 kgs. The porters will carry the duffel bag from campsite to campsite. Use plastic bags or dry bags to separate and water proof your gear. You will be expected to pack your daypack and duffel bag each morning. Note that it is acceptable to use a backpack instead of a duffel bag. However, since porters bundle the bag with other items and carry the load on their heads, a duffel bag is preferred.

Kilimanjaro Frequently Asked Questions

Do you accept clients from all countries?

Yes. We are based out of the USA and primarily our clients are from the USA. However, a significant number of our clients are from Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. We have led climbers from all over the world, including Germany, France, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Kenya, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, China, Japan and more.

What is included in your prices?

Our prices include hotel accommodations before and after the climb, transportation from the hotel to the trail and back, all park fees, and meals on the mountain. Prices do not include flights, lunch, dinner or beverages at the hotel, personal gear and equipment, or tips. Our prices are listed in US Dollars.

How many people are in a group climb?

We limit our climbs to 15 people.

Can you explain the dates of your group climbs?

If you are not spending any extra days before or after the climb, you should book your flight to land on the “Arrival Date” and leave on the “Departure Date”. The “Arrival Date” is the day before the climb begins. It represents the latest date you should be in Moshi. We have our trip briefings at 5PM at your hotel on this day, though we can schedule a personal trip briefing for you later in the evening or the next morning if you arrive late. The “Departure Date” is the day after you climb ends, after spending the night at the hotel.

What routes do you offer for group climbs?

We have group climbs on the 9 day Northern Circuit, 8 day Lemosho route, 7 day Rongai route, and 7 day Machame route. We specialize in Lemosho so most of our group climbs are on this route.

What routes do you offer for private climbs?

We can arrange private climbs on 10 day Northern Circuit/Crater Camp, 9 day Lemosho/Crater Camp, 9 day Northern Circuit, 7-8 day Lemosho route, 7-8 day Shira route, 6-7 day Rongai route, 6-7 day Machame route, 6- 7 day Umbwe route, 5-6 day Marangu route, and 4 day Mount Meru.

What is the difference between a group climb and private climb?

With a group climb, you will be in a party of up to 15 climbers who have booked with us separately (strangers). Group climbs are scheduled for set dates on set routes. In a private climb, you will be in a party of people you specifically booked with (friends, family, etc.). Private climbs can be scheduled on any date you choose and on any route. There is no maximum number of climbers for a private climb. The service on the mountain is exactly the same.

If I am a single climber, do I have to share a room and tent with someone else on a group climb?

We pair same sex single climbers to share a double room before and after the climb and to share a three person tent during the trek. You can get a single room and single tent for yourself by paying for a single supplement. Single supplements must be arranged at the time of booking.

Which routes do you recommend?

We recommend the 9 day Northern Circuit, 8 day Lemosho, and 7 day Rongai routes. These routes offer the best balance of high success rates, beautiful scenery and smaller crowds. 7 day Machame is a nice route as well, but has a lot of other climbers on it.

What is the best way to increase my chance of making it to the top, before the trip?

First and foremost, choose a longer route. 7 days should be the minimum and 8 or 9 days is even better. Next, put effort into your training and do it for at least two months, incorporating some long hikes if possible. Third, assemble the right gear for your climb. Lastly, consider using a high altitude training system to pre-acclimatize.

What is the best way to increase my chance of making it to the top, during the trip?

Avoiding altitude sickness is key. Do this by walking slowly. Drink lots of water and eat enough food. Go on all optional acclimatization hikes. Consider taking Diamox. Also prevent other illnesses by disinfecting your hands after every time you use the bathroom and before any meals.

What gear do I need for my climb?

There is a variety of technical clothing and equipment you will need for your climb. A detailed gear list is available here.

How much of my gear can my porter carry for me?

The weight limit is 15 kgs (33 lbs). The sleeping bag is included in the limit. Porters will carry your duffel bag in a waterproof bag.

How much should my day pack weigh?

Try to keep it under 20 lbs. In fact, try to keep all of your belongings to under 40 lbs.

How should I dress for Kilimanjaro?

You should follow the layering principle when you dress. Layering is a systematic, logical approach to wearing multiple layers of clothing. The layers you will have are: base layer, mid layer, and outer shell.

What rental gear is available?

We have sleeping bags and trekking poles available for rent. You do not have to reserve them. You can acquire your rentals and pay for them at the trip briefing. If you need other gear, our staff can take you to independently owned shops to purchase or rent gear. However, we are not responsible for the quality of the gear you obtain at these shops. We provide foam sleeping mats for all climbers.

When is the best time to climb Kilimanjaro?

Kilimanjaro is best climbed when the weather is dry. There are two rainy seasons in Tanzania. The long rainy season is from mid-March to early June. The short rainy season is from November to early December. Therefore the best times to climb Kilimanajro are mid-December to early-March, and mid-June to end of October.

If I climb during the dry season, do I need rain gear?

Definitely. It can rain and snow all year round. The base of the mountain is in the rainforest. A quality waterproof jacket and pants is an absolute must.

How cold does it get on the mountain?

In general, expect to sleep in temperatures as low as 20F and to hike in temperatures as low as -20F. It can be even colder. Be prepared.

What kind of food is prepared on the mountain?

We serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, which consist of western style meals.

Can you cater to special diets?

We can accommodate vegetarian and vegan diets. For more specific requirements, we will try our best but please contact us to discuss.

How do I use the bathroom on the mountain?

At each campsite, we set up a private toilet tent, which contains a plastic toilet. Each campsite also has public “long drop” toilets. If you need to use the bathroom on the trail, find a spot behind a tree or rock. We recommend bringing pee bottles so that you do not have to leave your tent multiple times during the night to urinate.

How do I shower on the mountain?

You don’t. You can use wet wipes if you like to towel off. We also provide wash bins with soap for you to wash your hands and face.

What safety measures are taken by the staff?

Our guides are highly experienced to manage altitude sickness, which is the biggest obstacle on the mountain. They are certified Wilderness First Responders. They conduct twice daily health checks to measure your oxygen saturation and pulse. A rescue plan is in place in the event of an emergency. Bottled oxygen, a portable stretcher, and a first aid kit is carried on every climb.

What happens if someone in my group needs to descend? Does the entire party also have to descend?

No. We bring multiple guides on every climb so that when a climber needs to descend, it does not affect the rest of the party.

If I have to descend early, are the additional nights at the hotel covered?

Additional hotel stays are not covered and must be paid in country.

What do I need to enter Tanzania?

You will need a passport that is valid for at least six more months. You will also need a flight card which you will receive on the plane. Finally you need a Tanzanian visa.

Can I obtain my visa at the airport?

USA, Canadian, British and most European citizens can obtain their visas upon arrival at Kilimanjaro National Airport. The cost is $100 for USA passport holders and $50 for others. If you are a citizen of a different country, please check with your embassy whether you can obtain a visa upon arrival.

What vaccinations or immunizations do I need?

Nothing is required but many are recommended. A certificate of yellow fever vaccination is required for entry into Tanzania when arriving from countries where yellow fever is present.

Where do I fly into?

Our climbs begin and end in Moshi. Moshi is about 25 miles from Kilimanjaro National Airport (JRO). You should fly into Kilimanjaro National Airport and we can arrange for pick up.

Do you assist with flights in and out of Tanzania?

We do not book flights. We recommend flying on KLM. Flights from the USA to JRO typically range from $1,500 to $3,500, depending on the season. Vayama is a good source for domestic Tanzanian flights if you want to extend your vacation to other parts of Tanzania or East Africa.

Do you offer group safaris?

Unfortunately, we do not. With so many different safari options, it is difficult to put together groups who want to travel on the same itinerary on the same dates. Therefore we only offer private safaris.

Can I book a safari on the spot?

No, we must make preparations for your safari before your trip begins. All safaris must be pre-booked.

What gear do I need for the safari?

The only additional item you need for the safari is perhaps binoculars. Other than that, the clothing you have for your climb is sufficient.

What is the Weather on Kilimanjaro ?

The short answer is that the temperatures on Mount Kilimanjaro range from hot to bitter cold. The journey from the gate to the peak is like traveling from the equator to Antarctica in a matter of days. This is because the routes to the Uhuru peak cross different ecological zones. Mount Kilimanjaro has five major ecological zones, each approximately 3,280 feet (1,000 m) in altitude. Each zone is subject to a corresponding decrease in rainfall, temperature and life as the altitude increases.

Moshi, the gateway town from which our climbs are organized, is located just south of the base of Mount Kilimanjaro. At 2,667 feet (900 m) above sea level, the town is located in the lowest, warmest ecological zone. Average temperature, humidity and precipitation figures for Moshi are reflected in the following table.

 

 

Average
Temperature, Humidity and Precipitation in Moshi, Tanzania
Month
Low
(F)
Average
(F)
High
(F)
Humidity
(%)
Rainfall
(in)
January
64
78
92
58
1.4
February
64
78
92
57
2.0
March
66
78
90
63
4.7
April
67
76
85
73
13.8
May
65
72
79
77
9.3
June
62
70
78
72
1.5
July
60
69
78
69
1.0
August
60
70
80
66
0.7
September
60
71
83
61
0.6
October
62
75
88
57
1.0
November
64
76
89
57
2.5
December
64
77
90
60
2.1

 

As shown, January and February are the warmest months, April and May are the wettest months, June and July are the coolest months, and August and September are the driest months. These generalities about the weather in Moshi hold true for Mount Kilimanjaro as well.

Due to its proximity to the equator, Mount Kilimanjaro does not experience wide temperature changes from season to season. Instead, the temperatures on Mount Kilimanjaro are determined more so by the altitude and time of day. At the beginning of the climb, at the base of the mountain, the average temperature is around 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 27 degrees Celsius). From there, the temperatures will decrease as you move through Mount Kilimanjaro’s ecological zones.

At the summit, Uhuru Point, the night time temperatures can range between 20 and -20 degrees Fahrenheit (-7 to -29 degrees Celsius). Due to Mount Kilimanjaro’s great height, the mountain creates its own weather. It is extremely variable and impossible to predict. Therefore, regardless of when you climb, you should always be prepared for wet days and cold nights.

Below are the five zones from the lowest to the highest altitude along with the average annual precipitation and zone characteristics, of the current weather in each particular zone.

Bushland

  1. Altitude: 2,600 to 6,000 ft (800 to 1,800 m)
  2. Precipitation: 20 to 70 in (500 to 1,800 mm)
  3. Cultivated land, grasslands and populated human settlements characterize this zone.

Rain Forest

  1. Altitude: 6,000 to 9,200 ft (1,800 to 2,800 m)
  2. Precipitation: 79 to 40 in (2,000 to 1,000 mm)
  3. The forest receives 6 feet of rain annually, supporting a variety of plants and wildlife while clear nights can produce low temperatures.

Heath

  1. Altitude: 9,200 to 13,200 ft (2,800 to 4,000 m)
  2. Precipitation: 51 to 21 in (1,300 to 530 mm)
  3. This semi-alpine zone is characterized by heath-like vegetation and abundant wild flowers. The unique Senecio trees are abundant here.

Alpine Desert

  1. Altitude: 13,200 to 16,500 ft (4,000 to 5,000 m)
  2. Precipitation: 10 in (250 mm)
  3. The alpine desert receives little water and correspondingly light vegetation exists here. The temperature can vary from over 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the day to below freezing at night.

Arctic

  1. Altitude: 16,500+ ft (5,000+ m)
  2. Precipitation: <4 in (100 mm)
  3. Characterized by ice and rock, there is virtually no plant or animal life at this altitude. Nights are extremely cold and the day’s unbuffered sun is powerful. The oxygen level is half that of sea level.

How Can I Pre-Acclimatize to Kilimanjaro’s High Altitude ?

Altitude training systems work by simulating the high altitudes found on Mount Kilimanjaro. The altitude training system reduces the percentage of oxygen in the air you breathe. Through regular use, the body undergoes physiological changes to cope with the lower oxygen level.

Without pre-acclimatization, as climbers ascend on Kilimanjaro, their bodies respond with short-term adaptations. These quick-response adaptations are meant primarily to prevent sickness and allow for some semblance of normal cardiovascular and muscular performance in an oxygen deprived environment.

Pre-acclimatization through altitude training systems produces long-term adaptations, such as an increase in red blood cells, blood volume, and efficiency of oxygen absorption. These adaptations help:

  • Reduce the Incidence of Acute Mountain Sickness. Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is the main reason climbers fail on Mount Kilimanjaro .  Most people will experience some symptoms of AMS. Pre-acclimatization can reduce or eliminate symptoms of AMS.
  • Increase performance on the mountain. Pre-acclimatization significantly improves the body’s mechanisms for delivering oxygen to the muscles. The result is increased aerobic and anaerobic performance on Kilimanjaro, such as hiking strength and endurance.
  • Increase recovery on the mountain.  Breathing rates and oxygen intake decreases when the body is asleep. In an oxygen deficient environment, many people have difficulty sleeping. Pre-acclimatization enables people to sleep well, and thus, recover after physical activity.

 

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