Jun 092016


Over the years, we have had many couples celebrate their weddings on a high note – literally. It makes sense. Climbing Kilimanjaro is symbolic of their relationship – reassurance that together they can accomplish amazing feats.

Ultimate Kilimanjaro is featured in this month’s issue of Wedding Inspirations. The article, “The Road Less Travelled,” talks about bucket list adventures couples may want to consider for their honeymoon including:

  • Climbing Kilimanjaro
  • Cycling through Vietnam
  • Rafting the Zambezi
  • Diving the Wild Coast
  • Kayaking in Madagascar


Here is the excerpt on Kilimanjaro.


You’ll most certainly feel on top of the world as you and your number one mate summit Mount Kilimanjaro. The world’s tallest free-standing mountain at 5 895m, and the highest mountain in Africa, a ‘quick’ trip up is the ultimate addition to any Tanzanian honeymoon. Its majestic peak permanently covered in snow and its three dormant volcanic cones, Kibo, Mawenzi, and Shira, make for a heady mix.

Your quick trip will take between five and nine days on average, depending on a number of factors such as weather, your state of fitness, acclimatisation and the route you choose. There are seven well established routes to the summit which vary in degrees of difficulty as well as in type of accommodation (they range from camping only to huts and electricity in some places). Despite the dramatic mountainscapes, rocky formations, beautiful forests and spectacular ridges, climbing Kili is no walk in the park and travellers are advised to research thoroughly, use an established and reputable company, and prepare properly in every way. SA-based company Climbing Kilimanjaro has ticked off over 15,000 successful summit attempts since 1994, and offers hikes up Mt Meru, Mt Kenya, and active volcano Mt Ol Doinyo Lengai. Ultimate Kilimanjaro is also worth a thought.

Situated in the 1 668km² Kilimanjaro National Park, there’s plenty to do and see even before you summit. The park consists of five main vegetation zones, the foot slopes characterised by plains and lush forest home to elephant, leopard, buffalo, and many endangered small antelope and primates. On the eastern side of the mountain, Chala Crater Lake is also a must visit with its deep blue-green waters and surrounding 100m high crater rim.

Acclimatisation is essential on any honeymoon, whether or not you’re heading up the hill, and the Bay Leaf Hotel in the nearby town of Arusha is just the spot. With five gorgeous suites promising luxurious comfort – just the place for a little post climb pampering – it also prides itself on fine dining with a combination of continental and traditional North Indian Punjabi cuisine, an “intriguing match-made-in-heaven mix”.

Click here to read the full article.




Mar 212016

We are quite proud of our Kilimanjaro staff.

Our guides are experts on the mountain and do everything in their power to help you achieve your dreams while keeping you safe. Our mountain cooks make incredible meals to keep you strong and well fed throughout the expedition. Our porters carry all the food and supplies, set up and break down the campsites, and fetch water.

These hardworking people make up your all star support crew, so all you need to do on Kilimanjaro is simply enjoy your time there. And you can enjoy it with a clear conscience, knowing that the friendly staff who make your trip possible have been and always will be treated well.

Ultimate Kilimanjaro® is one of only 14 U.S.-based Kilimanjaro operators who are members of the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project (KPAP), organized by the International Mountain Explorers Connection (IMEC). Most customers do not know the importance of being a KPAP member. They assume that all operators treat their staff fairly. They would be wrong in that assumption.

IMEC is a nonprofit organization that was founded in Boulder, Colorado in 1996 to promote responsible and sustainable tourism in Tanzania and Nepal –  home of the world’s tallest mountain, Mount Everest. (Kilimanjaro is the world’s tallest free-standing mountain).

Scott Dimetrosky founded IMEC after returning from a six-month trip climbing the Himalyas in Pakistan, India and Nepal. He was disturbed by the negative environmental and cultural impacts of the tourism he saw. IMEC initiatives have included a homestay program, volunteer handbook, teacher placement program and a porter clothing bank.

Kilimanjaro climbing does a lot of great things for Tanzania. It generates about $50 million a year in revenue for touring companies, of which the majority goes to the government for park fees and of which about $13 million is paid directly to guides, porters and cooks, according to a World Bank report, “Tourism in Africa: Harnessing Tourism for Growth and Improved Livelihoods.” The report concluded that tourism is an important way for countries such as Tanzania to alleviate poverty.

The revenue from the park supports about 400 guides, according to the report, 10,000 porters, 500 cooks and constitutes about 13 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. Data on what these people are paid vary, but its far more than $2 a day that Tanzanian farmers make, for work that require some muscle and physical fitness but no training, the World Bank report found.

Volcanic soil around the mountain is fertile for growing a wide variety of crops, including bananas, coffee, fruits, vegetables and cereals, but the climbing industry provides an important complement to farmers’ income. As a result, the area around the mountain has the nation’s highest school enrollment rate (100 percent) and highest adult literacy rate (85 percent).

Unfortunately, many Kilimanjaro companies, including both luxury operators and budget operators, have chosen to opt out of KPAP’s efforts to make life better for Tanzanian guides, porters and cooks. We assume that having the oversight of KPAP may be a problem for their usual operations.

In order to be a partner, companies must meet the Guidelines for Proper Porter Treatment, which are monitored continuously (a KPAP representative accompanies every single climb led by Ultimate Kilimanjaro® from beginning to end).

Criteria for membership include detailed provisions that ensure fair treatment for the company’s crew and compliance with the proper treatment guidelines.

These guidelines include:

  • Porters should not carry loads heavier than 20 kgs (44 pounds).
  • Porters receive the full amount of tips intended for them.
  • Porters are outfitted with proper clothing and equipment.
  • Porters have proper shelter and proper sleeping equipment. Tents should be good quality with a ground sheet provided.
  • Porters are provided at least two meals per day and access to water.
  • Sick or injured porters are properly cared for.


KPAP has found significant differences in how porters are treated by member companies and non-member companies. In 2014, members paid porters an average of $5.91 per day, compared to $4.49 per day paid by non-members. Non-members had porters carrying bags that weighed 45.9 pounds on average, which was about 1.5 pounds heavier than members.  Porters have told the KPAP that a few non-members make them carry bags ranging from 48.5 to 66 pounds.

96% of porters received two or more meals per day from members, compared to 71% by non-members (Ultimate Kilimanjaro® staff receive three meals per day). In 2009, just 52% received two or more meals from members, compared to 28% by non-members.

Since June 2015, partner companies have been paying porters at least $6.80 per day and guides $13.60 per day, according to IMEC (Ultimate Kilimanjaro® porters earn more than these figures).

An IMEC-KPAP report released in June 2015, looking at data from 2009-2014, found that things have gotten much better for Kilimanjaro workers during that time.

“Fair treatment practices have become very important to the climbing public,” the report concluded. “Clients and overseas tour operators are seeking to climb Kilimanjaro with climbing companies employing responsible practices toward the crew. Significant improvements in treatment practices are being noted on Kilimanjaro and the stakeholders should be proud of their achievements.”

We hope that once you are aware of the issues surrounding porter mistreatment, you will only support Kilimanjaro operators that demonstrate their commitment to porter welfare.

KPAP member companies, like Ultimate Kilimanjaro®, are leading the industry to improve working conditions for all porters on Mount Kilimanjaro.

Feb 152016

Kilimanjaro_W_3may12_rex_bMt. Kilimanjaro is famous for being the home of Africa’s highest point, and being the tallest free-standing peak in the world. It’s estimated that 50,000 people come every year to climb it.

It is also repeatedly quoted that less than 50% of climbers make it to the peak. But do statistics suggest that it is becoming increasingly easier for people to succeed?

Before we go into the history of climbing Kilimanjaro, let’s first discuss Kilimanjaro itself. What most people don’t know about the mountain is that it isn’t simply ‘a mountain.’ It is classified as a stratovolcano; the mountain is actually three separate volcanic cones.


Geologists believe that Kilimanjaro actually began life as a volcano now known as Shira, which erupted about 2.5 million years ago. At the time, it was likely about 17,000 ft tall, but has collapsed and eroded over the ages to a mere 13,140 ft, making it the shortest of the three cones.  Much later, approximately 1 million years ago, Kibo and Mawenzi erupted, now standing at 19,341 ft and 16,893 ft, respectively. These two volcanoes were separated by what is now known as the Saddle Plateau, located at 14,400 ft. Aside from being the tallest of the three, Kibo is also the largest, over 15 miles wide at the Saddle Plateau altitude. It’s also noteworthy that, while Shira and Mawenzi are extinct, Kibo is technically dormant, meaning that it still has the potential to erupt.

The earliest known written record of Kilimanjaro comes from Ptolemy, an Alexandrian mathematician, astronomer, and most importantly in this case, cartographer around 100 AD. He wrote of sailor’s reports of a “Moon Mountain” with references to the Nile, which may indicate Kilimanjaro or any of several other African mountains. Whether or not Ptolemy was, in fact, speaking of Kilimanjaro, nothing more was recorded about the mountain for over 1,700 years. In 1848, a German missionary named Johannes Rebmann became the first European to officially report the existence of Kilimanjaro. Unfortunately, his reports were considered unreliable by the Royal Geographical Society, and confirmation of Rebmann’s claims were not made until 1861.

Karl_Klaus_von_der_Decken_(1833-1865)AfrikaForscherAlmost no time passed before explorers began making attempts at the peak. Prussian officer Baron Karl Klaus von der Decken made an attempt in 1861, along with a crew of fifty porters, but bad weather foiled his plans. He made it to only 8,200 ft. He tried again a year later and made it to 14,000 ft before turning back – this time due to heavy snow. Hungarian Count Sámuel Teleki and Austrian Lieutenant Ludwig von Höhnel were a bit more successful in 1887; Teleki and his crew of 300 porters made it to 17,400 ft before stopping the expedition due to ear aches.


Numerous others tried and failed to reach the coveted peak until 1889. German geology professor Hans Meyer made his third attempt at the summit of Kibo, with the assistance of Ludwig Purtscheller, an Austrian mountaineer. They established several camps stocked with food and supplies ahead of time to prevent to allow for multiple attempts without making a full retreat. Finally, on October 6, 1889, the pair reached Kibo’s summit and were the first to confirm that it had a crater.

So why did it take several trained, experienced explorers, with the support of large mountain crews multiple tries to reach the peak of Kilimanjaro?

The simple answer – snow and ice. In Meyer and Purtscheller’s day, there was a layer of ice over the top of the mountain, so thick that they had to spend quite a bit of time carving footholds in it just so they could proceed. These days, the ice has retreated, allowing for reliable routes to the different peaks of the three volcanic cones. One can climb to the top without ever stepping on snow.

But while snow and ice no longer are significant obstacles in the ascent of Kilimanjaro, the more modern barrier is altitude sickness. Because the early explorers had to battle the grueling terrain, they were encumbered, making slow progress on their ascent. They spent many days gradually gaining altitude and becoming acclimatized. Conversely, altitude sickness is the main reason for unsuccessful summits today.


Today’s well maintained routes can be done in as little as 5 days (which we strongly discourage). The original route that Hans Meyer took for the first summit closely resembles the Marangu route being used now. It was also the route that was first used to guide commercial expeditions. For a long time, it was the only route available. But Marangu is not a well planned path. Even today it has a paltry success rate of 27% when done over 5 days.

As the years passed, more and better routes were established. The new routes on Kilimanjaro are designed to control the flow of visitors and have more reasonable elevation gains from day to day, thus reducing the likelihood for altitude sickness (though AMS is still the biggest risk while climbing Kilimanjaro). The longer routes that are used today, like the 8 day Lemosho and 9 day Northern Circuit, have success rates of over 85%. More and more people are choosing these routes with the education of reputable operators who steer clients away from the 5 day Marangu and 6 day Machame routes. Therefore, the percentage of total climbers who reach the summit is increasing. This is a welcome trend on Kilimanjaro, as it is safer and more fulfilling for everyone involved.


Kilimanjaro has consistently changed over its several million-year history, and it’s not stopping now. Due to global warming, scientists predict that the ice on Kilimanjaro, the remains of ancient glaciers, could be gone by 2060. And it shouldn’t be forgotten that Kibo still has the potential to erupt. While it doesn’t appear that there is anything we can do about these changes, perhaps we should simply be grateful that this picturesque geological marvel is available for us to experience during our lifetime. And chances are, if you climb on a longer route with a professional outfitters like Ultimate Kilimanjaro, you’ll make it to the top –  in just one try.

Jan 212016

215529_Angela_Vorobyova_Mount-KilimanjaroWhen she reached the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro, 86-year-old Angela Vorobyova danced joyously with her guide. Accompanied by her 62-year-old physicist daughter, Vera, and a group of guides, Vorobyova was thrilled to have set the world record as the oldest person ever to reach the 19,341-foot peak. But something else made the feat even sweeter.

The retired Russian teacher had dedicated the climb to the memory of her older sister, Lida, who died of pneumonia at age 12 in 1935. She choose Oct. 29 to climb because it was her sister’s birthday. “Eighty years ago I made a promise to my sister Lida that I would travel for both of us,” Vorobyova told The Siberian Times. “I loved her.”

It was an exhilarating but tough seven-day trek, she said. “It was extremely hard,” Vorobyova, speaking in Russian through a translator, told Russian TV network RT.

On the first day, she said they hiked through a forest. On the second day, her ears started ringing. On the third day it became almost unbearable, she said.

These are symptoms of mild altitude sickness, which is very normal for climbers to experience. Altitude sickness develops when the body is unable to adapt to the lower oxygen content at high altitudes. The symptoms often include headache, nausea and dizziness. However, severe altitude related illnesses can result in death.

“When I tried to speak, my ears hurt, so for the entire week I just whispered,” she said. “I also couldn’t eat. I drank tea with a teaspoon of honey because I needed the energy to keep going. The weather wasn’t going great either.”

Late October is a risky time to climb Kilimanjaro because the short rainy season starts in November. During the rainy season, climbing can become much more strenuous due to muddy trails, wet clothing, or bad visibility.

They would wake up in the morning and it was sunny and warm, but then when they got into the clouds it started raining, and they were completely soaked with no way to dry their clothes.

“When people asked how I managed to finish the climb, I tell them that there was no way I could have stopped,” she recalled. “I believe if you start something, you have to finish it.”

Assisting the mother and daughter was a support team that included her guides and a team of porters. Kilimanjaro operators use porters to carry the food for the expedition. Typical meals include rice, pasta, bread, vegetables and chicken. Mountain cooks prepare the food for the trekking parties.

inside_climbing_2Her guides said she did not need any first aid or oxygen on her journey. Bottled oxygen is carried to treat climbers who get altitude sickness.

The previous record holder had been American Robert Wheeler, who was 85 when he reached the summit in five days on Oct. 2, 2014. Like Vorobyova, Wheeler, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and psychology professor from suburban St. Louis, made the climb with his child, 46-year-old William “Jack” Wheeler.

Robert Wheeler had already climbed Mt. Whitney and Mt. Fuji. Before Wheeler set the record, it belonged to Martin Kafer of Switzerland, who also was 85 but was a couple months younger than Wheeler.

Wheeler in 2010 published a book, Mountains and Minds, which combines adventure, psychology, and philosophy in an attempt to answer why we are here, what we are doing, and where we are going.

Despite the difficulties she encountered, Vorobyova was determined to make the Guinness Book of World Records.

“I had never thought about turning back,” Vorobyova told The Siberian Times. “At an altitude of 4,000 meters, we even danced the tango with our guide. And at 5,000 meters we saw the sunrise. Sunrise above the clouds. That’s impressive.”

“I love the mountains,” she told The Siberian Times. “They have always attracted me. And I love Africa, its nature. It is tempting to climb to the highest peak of Africa. Moreover, on the one hand, it is a huge mountain, and on the other, Uhuru Peak is not covered by ice, like Everest or Mount Elbrus, so requires no special climbing skills.”

Vorobyova said she walks regularly and has no problems with blood pressure. She exercises every morning before pouring cold water on herself. She said her next trip is planned for Machu Picchu, Peru.

Dec 272015
  1. Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain in Africa, making it one of the seven summits. It is considered to be the easiest of the seven summits because it requires no technical skills or equipment, such as rope, harness, crampons or ice axe.
  2. Kilimanjaro is the world’s tallest free standing mountain, at 5,895 meters (19,341 feet). While most high mountains are part of ranges, such as Mount Everest’s Himalayan Mountain Range, free standing mountains are usually a result of volcanic activity.
  3. Kilimanjaro lies 205 miles from the Equator. When early explorers reported seeing glaciers on the top of Kilimanjaro, people did not believe them as they thought it was impossible for ice to form so close to the equatorial sun. Scientists now believe that the glaciers shrink and then regrow during the planet’s ice ages.
  4. Kilimanjaro once had three volcanic cones – Kibo, Shira and Mawenzi. Kibo is the tallest. Shira has since collapsed, creating the Shira Plateau. Mawenzi is 5,149 meters (16,896 feet) tall, and is the third highest peak in Africa, after Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya.
  5. Shira and Mawenzi are extinct volcanoes. However, Kibo is a dormant volcano; it can erupt again. The last major eruption was 360,000 years ago. The most recent activity was 200,000 years ago. Those who climb to the crater rim will be greeted by the smell of sulfur from the volcano’s lava.
  6. The origin of the name Kilimanjaro is not certain. The most popular answer is that the name comes from the Swahili word “Kilima” (mountain) and the Chagga word “Njaro” (whiteness).
  7. Mount Kilimanjaro was first climbed in 1889 by a German geologist Hans Meyer, an Austrian climber Ludwig Purtscheller and a local guide Yohani Kinyala Lauwo.  On Hans Meyer’s first attempt in 1887, he made it to the base of Kibo because he did not have equipment for heavy snow and ice. He made a second attempt in 1888 that was also unsuccessful.
  8. Now approximately 30,000 people climb Kilimanjaro every year. Unfortunately about 50% of climbers fail, mostly due to altitude sickness. The best way to climb is to use a longer route to aid in acclimatization.
  9. The fastest ascent and descent of Kilimanjaro was completed by Swiss Karl Egloff in just 6 hours and 42 minutes in 2014.
  10. The oldest person to climb Kilimanjaro is 86 year old Angela Vorobyova, a retired Russian school teacher, who climbed in 2015. The previous record holder was American Bob Wheeler, who climbed Kilimanjaro at the age of 85 years and 201 days in 2014.
  11. The youngest person to climb Kilimanjaro is American Keats Boyd. He climbed Kilimanjaro at 7 years old in 2008. The minimum age for climbing Kilimanjaro is 10 years old, but exceptions are made with children that have significant experience trekking.
  12. Kilimanjaro’s glaciers have shrunk 82% since 1912. Scientists estimate the glaciers may be completely gone in 50 years. The cause of this is thought to be due to deforestation, and not necessary global warming. Nearly 5 million indigenous trees were planted around the base of the mountain in 2008 to combat the issue.

Nov 162015


Did you know that your stay at Stella Maris Lodge helps pay for the operation of the adjacent Stella Maris Primary School? All income goes towards the education of orphaned and underprivileged children. We encourage everyone to meet the children. They love visitors!

The Lodge and the adjacent Stella Maris English-Medium Primary School were built by the people of Mailisita in partnership with the Mailisita Foundation – a US-based orphan and vulnerable child relief organization. The income from the Lodge goes exclusively to paying the teachers and buying food for the children. So not only is the Stella Maris a beautiful place to relax, but your stay directly helps the underpriviliged children of the local village.  You can hear their happy songs while enjoying your morning fresh-brewed Kilimanjaro coffee!

Jul 282015

1378321742370346160President Barack Obama said Sunday that climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, a safari in the Masai Mara and a beach holiday in Lamu were all on his bucket list for after his presidency.

“I know that there are places in this beautiful nation that I haven’t discovered, so I am gonna make sure when I get back, and it is not just Kenya, it is an ecosystem connected from Uganda to Tanzania,” he told Kenya’s CapitalFM in an interview marking the end of his Kenya visit.

“Climbing Kilimanjaro seems like something that should be on my list of things to do once I get out of here. The Secret Service generally doesn’t like me climbing mountains, but as a private citizen hopefully I can get away with something like that.”

The 5,895-metre (19,341-foot) peak, just over the border in Tanzania, is Africa’s highest mountain.

He said he loved the Masai Mara and Serengeti national parks in Kenya and Tanzania, and had fond memories of a trip to Lamu island, on Kenya’s Indian Ocean coast, that he made with his wife Michelle when they were engaged.

“Lamu is high on my list. Michelle and I went there when we were engaged, I remember taking those dhows out, fishing, and the captain of the boat cooking the fish right on the beach. It was remarkable,” he told CapitalFM

Jun 162015

imagesGuides and porters of budget operators are threatening to strike again over low wages and poor working conditions. Our customers need not worry. Ultimate Kilimanjaro staff are paid well and treated well. We are one of only four USA based Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project (KPAP) partner companies, which means every one of our climbs are independently monitored to ensure compliance with proper porter welfare guidelines. We have a happy crew and happy customers.


Jun 042015

What’s it like climbing Kilimanjaro? In this episode of Million Ways to Live, author and documentary filmmaker, Luke Sniewski, along with professional mountain guide, Eli Mamuya, show what it takes to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.

Luke: What you see behind me is the world’s tallest freestanding mountain. Mount Kilimanjaro is the pride of Tanzania and represents the social, economic and agricultural foundation of this region. Today on Million Ways to Live, we meet someone whose job is leading people as they achieve their lifelong dream of reaching the roof of Africa.

Eli: My name is Elibahati and I’ve been on top of Kilimanjaro over 100 times. The word Kilimanjaro is the first part Kilima means mountain. Njaro means God. For those who are living on the wind side of the mountain. This mountain helps us. As a source of rain, the people who are living around here. The eggplant, bananas, coffee, corn, beans. It helps alot with agricultural especially.

Luke: Eli has wanted to be a guide since early childhood. Growing up only one kilometer from the national park entrance, he spent his childhood talking to travelers. And the soft skills he learned made him the guide he is today.

Eli: I do enjoy working with people. The way I do inspire my clients to reach the top, I do encourage them to eat as much as they can, drink well, an stay positive.

Luke: Less than 50% of those that attempt to summit Kilimanjaro succeed, mostly due to the harsh cold weather conditions of summit day or because of succumbing to intense altitude sickness. Eli and his team manage the challenging task by conducting health checks twice daily and making sure everyone is eating and drinking plenty of water. Their best strategy for client success, however, is setting a slow and steady hiking pace.

Eli: I said, “Pole, pole.” “Pole, pole” meaning “slow pace, no rush.” And we even sometimes advise clients to stay longer days on the mountain because that helps with acclimatization. You get used to altitude, so they can’t affect you even getting to the very top.

Luke: We’re nearing the end of day four and all of us are feeling the altitude a little bit. We’ve got light to moderate headaches but we’re doing the best we can.  We’re moving. We’re doing burpees and exercising at 4,200 meters. I don’t know if that strategy will pay off  but we’ll see when we get to the top, if we get to the top. But our spirits are high. The porters are singing and dancing. And we’re getting good meals and we’re just going to keep it going.

Porters signing: Jambo, bwana! Habari gani! Mzuri sana!

Eli: “Hakuna matata” – basically this word is from Kenya – Kenyan Swahili – meaning “No worries.”  While you are in Kilimanjaro we like to tell the clients “Hakuna matata” so you don’t have to worry. You are with the guides taking care of you. So hakuna matata.

Luke: Mount Kilimanjaro is symbolic for a life well lived. Throughout life there are peaks and valleys that are fun, challenging and stressful all at the same time. But regardless of what happens you need to keep moving forward one pole pole step at a time. And just like Kilimanjaro there are guides like Eli who want nothing more than to help you reach your goals.

Easily the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life by far. Eli, thank you so much for motivating, inspiring.

Eli: When will you come back again? Will you come back?

Luke: When my son is old enough to do it. Are you going to guide my son?

Eli: OK, I will.