When is the best time to climb Kilimanjaro?
Kilimanjaro can be climbed throughout the year.
January to March are very good months with mild temperatures and almost no clouds in the morning and late afternoon. During the day however there might be few short rain showers or little snow on the summit. The main rainy season starts end of March and lasts until end of May. For Kilimanjaro climbers, this means that clouds may block visibility and there might be heavy rains on the lower altitudes and snow on the summit. June, July and August can be cold, but visibility is usually very good. Temperatures rise in September and October, however during this time of the year, there is often a belt of mist on the middle altitudes, leaving the summits peak through the clouds. November and December usually have perfect visibility in the nights and morning, but short rains during the day and thunderstorms at the late afternoon are common.
How fit do I have to be?
Many texts state that Kilimanjaro is "easily accessible". However, you should not underestimate this mountain. There are no technical mountaineering skills required, but general fitness is necessary. However, the biggest problems for climbers are the effects of high altitude, which seem to be unrelated to fitness, age or gender.
It is a good idea to start some physical training prior to the trek, which might include aerobic cross training and hiking to familiarize your body with the rigors or the trek. The fitter you are, the easier the climb will be for you. Determination and will power is another important factor.
What if I am slower than the other trekkers?
There is no need to worry - this is a common concern. It is much better for your body if you proceed slowly and the guides will permanently remind you about this ("pole pole" - which means "slowly, slowly"). By walking slowly, your body will much better acclimatize to the high altitude.
There is plenty of time allotted each day for the treks, even for those who like to go very slowly.
What if I cannot make it to the top?
Some climbers may fall short of reaching the summit, but not at the expense of their overall experience. Even for those who never reached the top, the experience of the wonders of Kilimanjaro is rewarding.
If one or more members of a group decide they cannot continue, or if a guide deems it unsafe for an individual (or a group) to continue, they are escorted to the most convenient campsite or hut.
Our guides intimately know the network of shortcuts to escort climbers to safety, and they are trained to act quickly and calmly under any circumstance.
How much equipment will I carry?
You are expected to carry your own day pack, which should be able to sustain you until you reach camp at the end of the day. You do not need to carry your personal backpack/duffel pack - it will be carried by a porter. The weight per porter is limited to 15 kg (35lb). If you bring overweight luggage, every 15 kg will be charged extra at 100 US$ for an extra porter for the whole climb. Your backpack/duffel bag will be brought from campsite to campsite - before you arrive it will already be there.
What you need during the day in your day pack will depend on your priorities, but will generally include drinking water, basic medical kit, camera, waterproof layers, a pair of gloves and hat, a warm layer, and snacks.
What is the accommodation like at the trek?
On the Marangu Route there are simple, basic huts. The first two huts sleep four people each, and the last hut is dorm-style with bunk beds.
On all other routes, you will sleep in 3-person dome-style mountain tents, two people each. The tents are modern and have an outer flysheet and large vestibules keep equipment from the elements. They are set up, broken down and carried - along with everything else - by our porters. A toilet tent is set up at every campsite and hot water is provided for each person every morning if possible (no showers).
There will be dining tents with chairs and tables where all meals will be served. Before the meals, we will provide soap and hot water for washing your hands.
What luggage should I pack?
It is important to keep luggage to the barest minimum when on trek or safari, as this will ease the burden of the drivers, vehicles and porters. Baggage should be of the round squashy type rather than hard suitcases that are difficult to fit into vehicle. Try to use something that is both lockable and water proof as luggage can often end up sitting on the roof of the vehicle.
It is a good idea to bring another smaller bag so that unwanted clothes can be kept in it at the hotel or our office when you go on trek. This also helps to keep city clothes clean and free from dust. You should also bring a small day pack which can be carried while hiking or riding or can be readily accessible when you are traveling in the vehicles on long drives. On camping trips all equipment will be provided.
It should be noted that the luggage limit per person on domestic flights is 15-20 kg per person (checked-in and hand luggage).
On your inbound flight, don't check in items that you absolutely need (such as medicines), as it is not uncommon that checked-in luggage gets misdirected and arrives in Tanzania a couple of days after you. It is better to have such items in your hand luggage.