FAQs About Mount Kilimanjaro Climbing
What will it be like when I’m there?
The warmest and normally clearest months are January, February and September; they are therefore very popular periods to climb the mountain. In April and May heavy rain or snow might happen, but the mountain is usually very quiet and the routes clear at this time. June, July and August are also great months to climb (though somewhat colder), as are November and December (though it could be wetter this time of year). Through September and October it gets steadily warmer. October is a particularly dry month (little to no rain), with mild weather and few people on the mountain. January to March are the warmest months, almost clear of clouds except of occasional brief rain showers, followed by the main rainy season during April and May. The temperatures will be still up, but massive clouds will block visibility and on top it might snow – while heavy rains occur on the lower slopes of Kilimanjaro.
How cold does it get on Kilimanjaro?
The temperature at the top of the mountain is quite variable. Sometimes it is only a degree or two below freezing, but visitors should be prepared for possible temperatures as low as minus 25 degrees Celsius, especially in conjunction with wind.
What are my chances of success?
In general, almost all of our mountain trek clients make it to the hiker’s peak. There are two main reasons: as first, we always advise our clients to take the extra acclimatisation day, which already increases your chances of success; as second, we offer exclusively private climbs, meaning that our hikers can follow strictly their own pace, without feeling any pressure to keep up with others. Experienced guides will keep you at a steady pace without you having to push yourself too hard. These are the reasons why we have a very high success rate.
Does an extra day help acclimatization?
Most guidebooks recommend that climbers spend an extra day, especially during the Marangu route climb. This is quite a personal decision, anyway our statistics do not highlight any greater success rate amongst 6 day Marangu route climbers over 5 day climbers. More important for success is the overall approach to the climb, right from the start. That said, many people like an extra day spent on the ascent because it makes the whole climb more relaxed and gives an opportunity to go on some pleasant walks.
What should I know about altitude sickness?
There are different types of altitude sickness. The “acute mountain sickness” is very common, and it is not as frightening as its name suggests: the symptoms are headaches, nausea and vomiting, though not everyone suffers from all the symptoms. Normally, symptoms fade after a few hours, but if they do not a climber may need to turn back, especially if vomiting is leading to dehydration. Any enjoyment to be had from the climb will have disappeared by now anyway.
A much more serious type of altitude sickness is called “oedema”. This is a build-up of fluid in the body, and when the fluid collects in the lungs or the brain a serious condition develops, which requires immediate action in the form of descent to a lower altitude, where recovery is usually miraculously fast.
In most cases AMS can be avoided by following guidelines: drink lots of water, walk slowly, stay warm, eat well. We recommend that you familiarize yourself with the various effects that altitude might cause. During your pre-climb briefing, we describe altitude sickness to you in detail, and advise you how to cope with it. Most important is not to fear it, but to respect it, and to know how to deal with it. Our guides have seen every condition that the mountain causes, and they will always know how to deal with these problems.
If there is a problem on the mountain, what are the rescue procedures?
The National Park operates a rescue service, and the huts on the Marangu route are linked to each other and to the park headquarters by radio. In the vast majority of emergency cases, the problem is altitude related and the solution is immediate descent to a lower altitude. Our mountain crew are all experienced in dealing with such cases and can bring climbers down to safe altitudes very quickly and without park assistance, if it is not immediately available.
Will I need camping equipment?
It depends on which route you are taking. If you are taking the Marangu route, you will sleep in huts and you will only need your sleeping bag and personal effects. Other routes might involve camping, so you will need to bring any necessary camping equipment. Please note that tents, sleeping mats, folding camp furniture, all cooking equipment and a toilet tent (for larger groups) will be provided by us.
Is it possible to rent mountain equipment from us?
We have a large stock of equipment. This is primarily for the free use of our fully equipped climbers but we also make equipment available for hire to climbers where necessary. Anyway, we encourage climbers to bring as much of their own warm clothing as possible. In particular, climbers should avoid to hire or borrow boots.
Which medicines are recommended during the climb?
Mosquito sprays and creams – Not very useful on the mountain itself. But when you get back down, it is useful to have some “protection” against the Anopheles mosquito. We recommend Autan, Zanzarin or Anti-Brumm.
Malaria prevention – Please, consult your doctor about malaria prophylaxis before leaving to Tanzania.
Headache pills – Paracetamol or Tylenol pills (or whichever ordinary, over-the-counter painkiller you normally use) will help you in case of headaches.
Diamox – Diamox can be used to prevent Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). Please try them first to check if you don’t get too many side effects.
Sun cream – We recommend creams with minimum SPF 30-50, as the sun near the equator is very strong. Don’t forget to have something to protect your lips as well.
Personal medical supplies (optional) – As your tour leaders, we will carry a group medical kit.
Personal items & toiletries – Toothpaste and toothbrush, body lotion, toilet paper, disinfectant hand wash and other personal hygiene items.
How is cooking done on the mountain?
We use modern Kerosene stoves. These are very efficient (about 90% of the efficiency of gas, which is not always available here) and reliable. You can also feel satisfied that no firewood is being used, which might damage the ecology of the mountain.
What about qualifications of the Mountain Crews?
Since 1993, the guides and assistant guides who can assist during a climb are approved by the authorities of Kilimanjaro National Park. You will be accompanied by a guide, assistant guide, cook, waiter on camping routes, and a relatively large numbers of porters.
The guides and assistant guides do not carry any luggage; they take care of you, of your climbing and of your mountain team. The cook takes care of your meals and he is assisted by a waiter. Then, some porters will take care of your luggage. All the porters carry luggage, but they are considered ‘luggage porters’ , ‘toilet porter’ (carrying the mobile camping WC) and ‘summit porter’, especially experienced also to go up to the summit. This ‘summit porter’ is also considered ‘guide assistant’, and can eventually return to the camp with one/some expedition members who fail to summit or wish to break up while others proceed to the summit.
We arrange the so called ‘semi luxurious’ climbs, with a larger range of gear than usual provided (larger tents with sitting area), extended range of food and beverage, proper gear for your mountain team, portable camping toilet plus toilet tent, etc… Furthermore, we obey official rules regarding weight limit: porter carries 20 kg for the company and 5 kg of their own gear. Considering all these elements, a large number of crew members are needed to make sure that you have a safe and convenient summit to the top.
Do you pay wages to your guides and porters?
Yes, we do pay them wages, and we pay well above the levels recommended by Kilimanjaro National Park. All our staff know that tips from climbers are discretionary. If you want to give a tip, we always ask you not to do it on the mountain but back at the hotel after the climb. There everything is relaxed and open.