Kilimanjaro Climbs - Questions and Answers
Q: What is the maximum number of people in each group climbing Kilimanjaro?
A: The maximum number on a scheduled departure climb on Kilimanjaro is ten climbers. Private trips can be any number within reason.
Q: What is your success rate for reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro?
A: Our success rate for climbing Kilimanjaro is currently 98% due to the careful planning that we have in place, the choice of routes, and the experienced and skilled guides.
Q: Which routes do you use to climb Kilimanjaro and can you briefly tell us why you recommend the routes which you use?
A: We recommend two Kilimanjaro routes, namely: Machame and Lemosho. This is for two main reasons; they are the most scenically varied and beautiful, and offer the greatest chance of success due to the length of time spent gaining altitude slowly, and the shorter final ascent route via Stella Point to Uhuru Peak. The main point though is the time taken to climb – the longer and slower you go the better your chance of success, and having plenty of beautiful and varied scenery helps you to go slowly.
Q: Could we start to climb the day after arriving at Kilimanjaro International Airport or do you recommend that we spend a day locally before setting off on the trek?
A: In most cases, clients arriving in Tanzania on an overnight flight on day one, spend the afternoon getting to know their Kilimanjaro guides and crew, and receive a full briefing. This gives them enough time to settle in, get over the long flight, and get ready for the climb. They spend the night in Arusha, and then proceed to the mountain the following morning.
It may sound like a waste of time at this stage, but preparation and familiarisation is crucially important to maximise your safety and chances of success. Climbing Kilimanjaro is a big task even with plenty of time, and it is simply not wise or worthwhile to rush it. We have seen several people who were fit, young and determined fail because they tried to rush the mountain.
Q: What extra costs can we expect to incur before, during or after the climb e.g. tipping of porters; mountain tax; and additional transport?
A: Tipping is discretionary but very much appreciated by the crew. The recommended amount would be around $300 per person for your group. Transfers to and from Kilimanjaro Airport and one night in a hotel before and after the climb are included in the cost of luxury climbs. The only additional costs you should expect to incur would be tipping, unless you wish to purchase any curios or drinks before and after your climb.
Q: Can children climb Kilimanjaro?
A: The minimum climbing age is 12 years, but anyone between the ages of 12 to 16 needs to take extra care and be monitored very closely as altitude sickness can creep up on undeveloped bodies and be much more severe than in adults.
Q: What washing facilities do you provide on Kilimanjaro?
A: Our luxury specification climbs provide a wash tent where you may stand up to wash yourself with hot water, provided in a bowl. You may use as much as you wish within reason, as the water is sourced from streams on the Kilimanjaro. On the lightweight specification climbs, you would wash in your own tent or outside. Again, hot water is supplied for you in a bowl. On the luxury and VIP climbs a long drop loo is provided for your group of climbers. On the lightweight specification, climbers use the public long drop facilities on the mountain.
Q: What is the food like during a climb?
A: All meals on Kilimanjaro are prepared with as many fresh ingredients as possible. Breakfast during the climb would consist of a selection of fresh fruits, cereal, porridge, and something cooked such as eggs, sausage, tomato, along with tea, coffee or hot chocolate. Lunch during the climb is often eaten en-route in the form of a picnic. Your cook sets this up in advance and it would usually include: fresh vegetables, fruit juice, hot soup, sandwiches with cheese or ham, a chocolate bar, and tea, coffee or hot chocolate. Dinner on Kilimanjaro is always three courses, and usually follows these lines; starter of soup with bread, main course of a carbohydrate like rice or pasta with a meat dish such as bolognaise, a pudding which will be banana fritters or something like it, tea, coffee or hot chocolate.
On the mountain it is essential to try and eat as much as possible and to keep very well hydrated on the climb. Your body uses up to three times as much water compared to normal whilst at altitude, so keeping hydrated is essential. Take in as much liquid as you can during meals - hot drinks, cold drinks and soups are all there to keep you well hydrated. Keep drinking during the day - you should be drinking at every opportunity and at no point on Kilimanjaro should you be in need of a drink.
Special diets can be accommodated with prior notice.
Q: What procedures are in place if one of the team is taken ill or injured during the climb and needs to be rescued from Kilimanjaro - and particularly what system you follow to deal with altitude sickness.
A: All climbers and our Kilimanjaro crew are monitored with oxymeters twice daily to assess their physical condition and their response to the increasing altitude. The information is relayed to the operations base, where there will be a duty manager dedicated to each climb.
Q: What emergency medical equipment and expertise do you provide on Kilimanjaro?
A: If the guide or the manager at base camp is unhappy with the situation for any client or crew member they are urged to either stop where they are, or to leave the mountain before an emergency situation arises. Every effort is made to allow climbers or crew to walk off the mountain, but if all goes wrong, we have special stretchers to carry people off. All Kilimanjaro climbs are accompanied by fully qualified and regularly updated first aiders, including CPR training.
Q: Do you supply oxygen?
A: Oxygen is carried on Kilimanjaro for emergency use, to assist with getting a sick person off the mountain.
Q: Do you require your clients to wear helmets?
Q: What are your safety procedures on Kilimanjaro?
A: We believe that Kiliamanajro safety starts well before a climb with training our guides and crew to ensure that they know how look after our clients and themselves properly, including avoiding situations that could lead to risk, and watching for anyone who is struggling, not eating or drinking, or unresponsive. The next stage is to brief our clients well, to make sure that they do not put themselves in danger when on the mountain.
This is followed up with twice daily scheduled communications with base while on Kilimanjaro, and all trips carry a two way radio and a satellite phone for use at any time. Our climbs are always guided by highly experienced people who know the mountain and its characteristics well, and thus know how to deal with any situation such as a rapid change in weather. Every trip carries a pulse oxymeter, supplementary oxygen, first aid kits, two way communications and a stretcher.
Q: What procedures do you follow for altitude acclimatisation and at what heights are the overnight camp sites?
The procedure for acclimatisation on Kilimanjaro is to ascend very slowly, and to camp slightly lower than the greatest altitude reached each day. It also helps to ensure that you eat and drink far more than you feel you need to, and to snack and drink as often as possible during the ascent. The camps on the Machame Route are at 3000, 3840, 3950, 4100, and 4600 meters and then back down to 3100 meters.
Q: What level of comfort we can expect in the tents and mess tent ie mattresses, sleeping bags, towels, mess tent facilities, lavatories etc.
A: We operate two main climb specifications on Kilimanjaro, lightweight and luxury. The luxury climb offers large dome tents designed for three people but used for two, a walk in mess tent, tables and chairs, and a loo tent. The lightweight climb uses smaller tents and thinner foam mattresses, uses a smaller tent for the mess, and has stools instead of chairs, and no loo tent. On this climb you would use the public loos at the camp site. Please see the climbing kit list page for greater detail.
In addition to these frequently asked questions, we occasionally get more detailed questions, or questions relating to people's particular wishes for a climgb. We've added some of these below as we feel they show how well our teams on the mountain in Tanzania work to get everyone to the summit:
Q: Do you have a sample menu? Can you tell us more about the types of fruits and vegetables served? Our health provider informs us of food items that we can/can't eat on trips and we would like to find out if there are items that we are advised not to eat. Do they use safe food preparations?
A: All of our food on Kilimanjaro is freshly prepared, East Africa has wonderful vegetables and fruits, we even have porters who come mid-climb to do a fresh re-supply. Some cans are used for example beans and mushrooms, but even the soups are not packaged, freshly prepared. We do have chicken and beef as proteins – we do not use fish as it is very perishable. Should you need vegetarian options, our cooks are well versed.
Q: Regarding the water preparation, if we would like to use another product instead of iodine (aqua mira) after the water is filtered, can we ask that this be used (if we provide it)?
A: Water comes from the streams on the mountain and is then purified by filters not iodine tablets. If there is another method you prefer that’s fine, but note that the water is drinkable and safe.
Q: Is toilet paper supplied during the climb?
A: Yes and our Kilimanjaro luxury specification includes a portable toilet in camp.
Q: What happens if someone needs to make a "pit stop" prior to a scheduled stop? I understand that they want people to use safe practices, but they can't always pop up the toilet tent, correct?
A: The guides will make arrangements. The toilet tent can’t be popped up a moment’s notice as it will be up in camp.
Q: We would like to bring our own sleeping bags, if that isn't a problem. Can you provide more information on the sleeping mattress pad? I see it is a 3 inch foam pad, or is it a self-inflating mattress pad?
A: The mattresses we use on Kilimanjaro climbs are custom made from foam and sealed with a canvas cover. They are about 3 inches – so much more comfortable than a typical foam pad mattress. Our sleeping bags are –30f rated Mountain Hardware and dry cleaned after every climb, but you are more than welcome to bring your own, but note that they are included as well as thermal liners for extra warmth.
Q: Some companies bring an AED for the crater camp for safety precautions. Does your climb team bring one? Is there any safety concerns about camping at that altitude on Kilimanjaro?
A: We do not bring AED, as generally, only very experienced health practitioners should use those. We carry supplemental oxygen, which generally will suffice to give a client an extra 7 hours to hike down. Only in extreme cases will clients be carried down with our stretchers – out goal is to not have clients get to that point, so hence our accurate preventative health monitoring. We also have portable altitude chambers should clients develop extreme AMS. Again, our guides are trained to catch these symptoms before any of these extreme conditions occur. The Crater camp is high and so altitude is not for everyone – if you react badly to altitude, we would suggest doing the Lemosho 8 day climb whereby you skip the Crater camp and ascend via Stella point from Barafu. The Crater does not emit gases.
Q: I see that the tips are given all to the head guide. Other sites recommend that we distribute the tip. Is that acceptable?
A: A sheet is given to clients to fill out how they would like tips distributed – we are very open about tips, so in essence guides cannot keep all tips.
If you have any other questions, please feel free to email us and you'll get an answer from one of our Kilimanjaro experts.