Kilimanjaro Travel Information
FAQs about Climbing Kilimanjaro
The main weather conditions that can cause concerns while climbing Kilimanjaro relate to cold temperature and precipitation. Though the average temperatures on the lowlands of Tanzania are relatively warm and stable throughout the year, the temperature on Kilimanjaro varies widely depending primarily on the altitude.
The dry seasons of mid-June through October and December through the beginning of March are the best times to climb Kilimanjaro. But even during the “dry” seasons, climbers may still experience heavy rains. The mountain’s weather is unpredictable and climbers should be ready for wet and cold conditions no matter when they come.
There are distinct climatic zones on different altitudes with changing vegetation. We will pass through five major ecological zones on the way to the summit. This varies from agricultural zone, Rain forest zone, Moorland zone, highland desert zone and arctic zone. As we gain altitude, the temperatures drop as does precipitation levels and vegetation. While the temperatures in the rainforest are generally very mild, averaging 21 degrees Celsius, the temperatures during the night ascent to the summit can be below zero up to -18 degree Celsius. Therefore, climbers need to have the appropriate extreme cold weather gear to endure harsh winter weather for many hours.
We generally advise our Kilimanjaro climb clients to avoid the two rainy seasons in Tanzania: the “long rains” in April and May and the “short rains” from late October through November. It is simply uncomfortable to climb in wet and cold weather for days at a stretch.
The remaining months are all very good to trek up Kilimanjaro.
It is important to understand, however, that weather on Kilimanjaro is as changeable and unpredictable as mountain weather all over the world is. Some light rain is virtually constant in the lower sections of the mountain throughout the year, but it might dry out on any given day or week. And the upper reaches of the mountain, which are quite arid, can see passing rain or snow storms at any time of year.
The most popular months on Kilimanjaro are July and August, with December running a close third.
We keep our group sizes small to around 6-8 people. If you have a larger group, then it does not matter how many are part of it, we will run the trek.
Sometimes if no one else joins set departure date, we also run trips with just 1 or 2 clients in them.
All our treks have guaranteed departures.
We currently use three-person tents on our Kilimanjaro program. Two climbers per tent.
Yes, we have a large dining tent and tables and chairs that are used at all camps. Sometimes we forgo the table and chairs at High Camp.
These are especially nice if it happens to rain. Often people will go inside to get their food and then eat outdoors in beautiful evening light.
We also provide toilet tents with commodes.
You will need a medium-sized backpack (say 2,500 to 3,500 cubic inches or 40-58 liters) that can hold your layers of clothing for changing temperatures and activity levels through the day. One thing that many people do not expect is the porters who carry your large bags with most of your belongings.
In your day packs you carry only those items that you will need during the active hiking hours.
Most people carry packs that weigh about 20 lbs (9 kgs). You could pare this down to perhaps 15 lbs (7 kgs) if you were careful, but with a lot of camera equipment, or other personal preference-type items, it might be more.
We offer carefully planned, highly nutritious meals prepared by trained chefs on the mountain; food quality is one of the highest praises we receive. It is not just about the great food, but getting the right food during such a demanding climb. As a climbing company (as opposed to a safari or light trekking company), we understand what and how people need to eat while in the mountains. We are happy to give you an outline of our menu plan. The quality of our expedition food is well known for all our expeditions, but is something special on Kilimanjaro climbs.
Resupplying during our trip allows us to provide lots of fresh and whole grain cooked foods.
We have private toilet tents set up at every camp. These are clean, sit down, commode-type toilets with water.
Yes, all hotels for the scheduled trip, meals on the mountain and on safari, airport transfers, and shuttle to Arusha are included. One thing that is not included in town and on safari are bottled drinks (soft drinks, bottled water, alcohol.) Also not included are tips at the hotels, tips for safari drivers, and tips for guides and porters at the end of the trip on the mountain.
On the mountain, we will provide you with a large three- to four-gallon cooler of water at each camp, and during our sit down lunches. This water is cartridge filtered by the staff using a large, commercial Katydyn filter. We strongly recommend that each client then treats this water one liter at a time as you fill your bottles several times each day, using iodine or other recommended water treatment solutions. We have found that this two-stage process is the most effective in preventing water-borne issues. Steri Pens work well, but use a lot of batteries and can break, so you always need the backup treatment pills.
For the past few seasons, we have relied on the satellite phone for possible emergency communication while we are on the mountain. Things change from season to season, however. We also carry a cell phone and radio phone on the mountain and safari. All our Kilimanjaro trips are run in our normal, self-contained expedition style. That is to say, complete medical kits and equipment to deal with emergencies travel with us. This self-reliant approach is especially important in Tanzania where, unlike, say, Nepal, helicopter evacuation is very limited. The crew of porters, assistant guides and head guides who travel with each group are who we really rely on for possible emergency response. If necessary, they could carry an injured person, and they can run from any location on our routes to a road head and telephones in less than one day.
Climbing a mountain as high as Kilimanjaro does have dangers. You should ensure that you have good insurance to cover these risks. It is a condition of booking to climb Kilimanjaro that you have medical and accident insurance.
Your insurance must cover helicopter evacuation and medication. It should also cover the costs of getting home should you miss your scheduled flight due to accident, injury, illness or simple bad luck.
Your insurance must specifically include cover you to climb up to 6000 meters above the sea level.
Your insurance should also protect against the ‘standard’ travel dangers, including: baggage delay, loss of personal items etc.
We highly recommend global rescue insurance https://ss.globalrescue.com/partner/topclimbersexpeditions/ . Different policies provide different levels of cover, so make sure you understand what is and isn’t included in your policy. So be sure to read the small print carefully for any policy you are considering
Despite the long list of recommended vaccines, Tanzania has only one compulsory vaccination: Yellow Fever.
Tanzania has no recorded case of Yellow Fever and efforts to ensure this superb record mean that all visitors from countries that have a risk of Yellow Fever must present vaccination certificates upon entry.
Below are the lists of what is the general advised for travel to Tanzania. We strongly advise you to consult with your medical specialist. They will have the most up to date and medically accurate information relevant to you, and should be relied upon over these recommendations.
Gently Advised Vaccinations
Hepatitis A – This can be spread via contaminated food and water.
Typhoid – Typhoid can also be spread via contaminated food and water, and poor hygiene.
Yellow Fever – This can be contracted by being bitten by a contaminated mosquito. This vaccination is not essential if you are arriving directly in Tanzania. You do need it though if you plan to arrive through any country that is subject to yellow fever. Simply stopping over at an airport in an affected country should not require vaccination, but leaving the airport even briefly would make it necessary.
Tetanus – Tetanus is often present in the soil, and can contaminate open wounds easily. Tetanus vaccine should be used every ten years if travelling.
Diphtheria – This potentially fatal disease is spread mainly via spit, but occasionally through contact with cuts on the skin.
Optional but necessary
- Tuberculosis – TB is generally contracted through inhaling airborne sputum.
- Measles – This disease is spread through inhaling sputum.
- Rabies – Rabies is spread via contact between the saliva of any infected animal and an open wound
- Cholera – Cholera is spread via contaminated food and water, and poor hygiene.
- Hepatitis B – This illness is spread via contact with blood or bodily fluids
You are highly unlikely to contract malaria on Kilimanjaro, which is too high and cold for the anopheles mosquito. Nevertheless, Tanzania is a malaria zone and therefore you will be at risk of contracting the disease. We recommend that you take malaria tablets.
While there are no mosquitoes above 2,000m on the mountain itself, they are present in Moshi, in the safari parks and on Zanzibar. Some of the hotels provide mosquito nets but you are still safer to take the tablets as well.
When beginning a course of anti-malarials for Tanzania, it is very important to begin taking them before you go; that way the drug is established in your system by the time you set foot on Tanzanian soil and it will give you a chance to see if the drug is going to cause a reaction or allergy. Once started, complete the full course, which usually runs for several weeks after you return home.
Those opting to travel to Tanzania are required to comply with the rules and regulations laid down by the government. Some visitors may be able to obtain a visa on arrival, while others will need to apply for it at the Tanzania Diplomatic Consulates in their home country or online at https://eservices.immigration.go.tz/visa/. We highly recommend you apply for your visa online 6 weeks prior to arrival into Tanzania.
Below is an overview of the visa requirements. Please note that requirements can change at any time with or without notice; always check Tanzania’s consular website for complete details. We Top Climbers Expedition will do our utmost to advise you about any other information you may need.
For your visit in Tanzania, you must meet certain entry requirements before being allowed into the country. Some nationals are exempted from this requirement when entering the country and staying for three months or less.
You should obtain your visa prior to departing your home country as this will ensure that you are able to begin your travels without delay in case of any passport hitches. To apply for a visa, we recommend you apply for it online or contact the Tanzania consulate in your country. Many consulates also have the forms and instructions on their websites. Your passport must be valid for a minimum of six months from the travel date of your arrival and departure out of Tanzania.
The fee for a single or multiple entry visa for a US citizen is USD $100, and for other non-exempted nationals, the fee is USD $50. Visas costs must pay by cash, or money order if applying via a Tanzanian consulate. Personal checks and credit cards are not accepted as payment. You do not need a separate visa for visiting Zanzibar Island though; the same above Tanzania visa requirements applies for Zanzibar. Cash US Dollar payments are only accepted as payment for your entry visa on arrival.
If you are short of time, you are be able to obtain a single-entry tourist or business visa upon arrival at one of the entry points, although it is recommended that you obtain your visa prior to departing your home country. To obtain a visa upon arrival in-country, you must meet all standard immigration requirements before a visa will be granted to you.
If you plan to work or volunteer while in Tanzania, you will need a valid work permit which can be obtained through your employer or volunteer organization. If your stay in Tanzania is beyond the valid period of your visa or permit, you are subject to being arrested, detained and fined prior to being deported.
To get to Kilimanjaro you need to fly to Kilimanjaro International Airport (IATA code is JRO). The airport,is situated south-west of Mount Kilimanjaro National Park and is nearly equidistant from the two main towns, Arusha and Moshi. 95% of trekkers spend the night before their Kilimanjaro climb in Moshi, which is about a 45 minute drive from Kilimanjaro International Airport. Pick up from Kilimanjaro airport (JRO) to your lodge in Moshi is included in your trek package. Also drop off to Kilimanjaro international airport after the climb is included in your package.
It is also possible to fly into Arusha airport (ARK), but this is a small domestic airport that only receives internal flights and a few connecting flights from Kenya. Pick up from Arusha airport to your lodge in Moshi will involve extra charges $ 70 USD. The same charges will apply to arrange a drop off to Arusha airport from Moshi.
The most affordable, yet convenient flight for most prospective trekkers from the Northern Hemisphere is to fly from Amsterdam on a direct KLM flight to Kilimanjaro.
This flight departs Amsterdam around 10:00am everyday and arrives at Kilimanjaro International Airport around 20:30pm the same day
For trekkers in Europe, UK and the US, the easiest thing to do is to fly from a major local airport hub near you to Amsterdam (Most major airports in Europe, UK and the US have flights to Amsterdam), and then catch the KLM to JRO connecting flight
Also In terms of indirect flights to major African airport near Kilimanjaro International Airport, The best option is either Kenyan Airways or Ethiopian Airways. Both operate routes from major United Kingdom, United States, European and some Southern Hemisphere airports.
Turkish Airlines, Emirates and Qatar also fly into JRO now, but these flights often involve long delays and flights leaving late at night for UK travelers. However, climbers travelling from the US often report better service and experiences flying with Turkish Airlines, Emirates and Qatar, so we do recommend these flights.