Ultimate Kilimanjaro® - The #1 Guide Service on Mount Kilimanjaro

How Do I Prepare to Climb Kilimanjaro?

This section covers what gear you need to bring, physical training, Tanzania entry requirements (passport & visa), immunizations and vaccinations, and travel insurance.

Please read this carefully and make sure you have gathered everything before you depart on your trip.


What Gear Do I Need to Bring?

You are responsible for bringing personal gear and equipment while communal equipment (tents, food, cooking items, etc.) is provided. Below is a gear list of required, recommended and optional items to bring on your climb (see How Should I Dress for Kilimanjaro?).

Technical Clothing
1 - Waterproof Jacket, breathable with hood
1 - Insulated Jacket, synthetic or down
1 - Soft Jacket, fleece or soft-shell
2 - Long Sleeve Shirt, light-weight, moisture-wicking fabric
1 - Short Sleeve Shirt, light-weight, moisture-wicking fabric
1 - Waterproof Pants, breathable (side-zipper recommended)
2 - Hiking Pants (convertible to shorts recommended)
1 - Fleece Pants
1 - Shorts (optional)
1 - Long Underwear (moisture-wicking fabric recommended)
3 - Underwear, briefs (moisture-wicking fabric recommended)
2 - Sport Bra (women)

Headwear
1 - Brimmed Hat, for sun protection
1 - Knit Hat, for warmth
1 - Balaclava, for face coverage (optional)
1 - Bandana (optional)

Handwear
1 - Gloves, warm (waterproof recommended)
1 - Glove Liners, thin, synthetic, worn under gloves for added warmth (optional)

Footwear
1 - Hiking Boots, warm, waterproof, broken-in, with spare laces
1 - Gym Shoes, to wear at camp (optional)
3 - Socks, thick, wool or synthetic
3 - Sock Liners, tight, thin, synthetic, worn under socks to prevent blisters (optional)
1 - Gaiters, waterproof (optional)

Accessories
1 - Sunglasses or Goggles
1 - Backpack Cover, waterproof (optional)
1 - Poncho, during rainy season (optional)
1 - Water Bottle (Nalgene, 32 oz. recommended)
1 - Water Bladder, Camelbak type (recommended)
1 - Towel, lightweight, quick-dry (optional)
1 - Pee Bottle, to avoid leaving tent at night (recommended)
Stuff Sacks or Plastic Bags, various sizes, to keep gear dry and separate

Equipment
1 - Sleeping Bag, warm, four seasons
1 - Sleeping Bag Liner, for added warmth (optional)
1 - Trekking Poles (recommended)
1 - Head lamp, with extra batteries
1 - Duffel bag, for porters to carry your equipment
1 - Daypack, for you to carry your personal gear

Other
Toiletries
Prescriptions
Sunscreen
Lip Balm
Insect Repellent, containing DEET
First Aid Kit
Hand Sanitizer
Toilet Paper
Wet Wipes (recommended)
Snacks, light-weight, high calorie, high energy (optional)
Pencil and Notebook, miniature, for trip log (optional)
Camera, with extra batteries (optional)

Paperwork
Trip Receipt
Passport
Visa (available at JRO)
Immunization Papers
Insurance Documents


download gear list

We recommend shopping online at REI, backcountry.com, and altrec.com for all of your gear needs (see Ultimate Kilimanjaro® Gear Recommendations).

The most common mistake that climbers make is that they over pack and bring way too much gear.

Be selective in what you take with you. Please note that our porters are limited to carrying 33 lbs (15 kg) of your personal belongings. Everything the porters will carry for you between campsites should be placed into the duffel bag, including the sleeping bag, but it is OK to pack the sleeping bag separately if necessary. If you rent a sleeping bag from us, note that the bag weighs 5 lbs 6 oz. and this weight does count against the 33 lb limit.

Our porters will place your duffel bag and sleeping bag into a large, sturdy, waterproof bag with a roll-top closure.

If you have excess weight, you will be required to hire an additional porter. It is rare to require an extra porter and should happen only in special cases, such as for carrying extensive photography equipment. You are expected to bring everything you need, though we do rent warm sleeping bags and trekking poles on location. All extra luggage, items you will not use on your climb, such safari clothing, gear and equipment, can also be safely stored at the hotel.

Checked luggage on airplanes can get lost or delayed on the way to Tanzania. You should prepare for this possibility by wearing or carrying on the items that are essential to your Kilimanjaro climb. While most clothing, gear and equipment can be replaced in Tanzania prior to your climb, there are some things that you should not replace.

Ultimate Kilimanjaro® recommends that you wear one complete hiking outfit on the plane, including a long sleeve shirt, hiking pants, underwear, socks, and hiking boots. In your carry on baggage, you should bring your backpack, waterproof jacket and pants, insulated jacket, fleece pants, snacks, toiletries, medications, camera and all paperwork. Airline regulations do not allow you to carry trekking poles on the plane. Make sure you do wear/carry your hiking boots; wearing a different pair of boots on your climb will likely cause blistering.

If your baggage is lost or delayed, please notify us immediately upon your arrival so we can assist you in assembling the necessary gear. We will take you to local, independently owned rental gear shops in Moshi. Note that these shops generally carry second-hand items that may not be up to Western standards. Ultimate Kilimanjaro® cannot guarantee the fit, quality or functionality of items found in local shops. Therefore, we strongly encourage you to carry on the most important pieces of gear as noted above. We will make reasonable attempts to deliver delayed luggage to you on the mountain. All additional expenses that are incurred by us while resolving lost or delayed luggage problems must be reimbursed locally.

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How do I Train to Climb Kilimanjaro?

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is a physical undertaking, so you should prepare yourself accordingly with a Kilimanjaro training program. Being in good shape is important in many respects. Obviously, strong, conditioned legs make it easier to walk uphill and downhill for sustained periods of time. General aerobic fitness allows the body to function efficiently with less oxygen. And a fit body is more likely to withstand the stress of consecutive days of hiking and camping. Finally, a positive mental attitude can work wonders for you when fatigue and doubts arise.

How hard is it to climb Kilimanjaro? That's a difficult question to answer because some people don't train much and fare very well, while others engage in a disciplined training program and succumb to the altitude in a few days. We've heard marathon runners tell us that climbing Kilimanjaro is the hardest thing they've ever done. The best advice we can give is to train adequately, as described below, and get yourself in the best possible hiking shape. The mountain is a big unknown, and you won't know with certainty how you will react until you are there. In a survey we administered, on a scale of 1 (easy) to 10 (difficult), respondents rated their climb with an average difficulty of 7 (see Can an Unfit Person Climb Mount Kilimanjaro?).

The best exercise that you can do to prepare for Mount Kilimanjaro is hiking.

There are training regimens on other operator's sites which entail strict, extensive, cross-training programs, featuring hiking, running, biking, swimming, weight training, etc. Do not be alarmed by this. Those programs are excessive and unnecessary to sufficiently prepare for climbing Kilimanjaro. The best and perhaps only exercise you need to do is to hike - period. After all, that is what you will be doing on the mountain. Ideally, you should try to hike as much as possible on hills or mountains to simulate ascension on Mount Kilimanjaro. Doing day hikes is superb training. For those who do not have access to trails, but have membership to a gym, you can train very productively on a stair master machine. If you have no access to trails or a gym, then try to walk as much as you can, with extended walks on the weekends.

You should start training for climbing Kilimanjaro at least two months prior to your departure.

If you've never hiked before, you should start with shorter time intervals, a slower pace, and no weight (in your day pack) and then gradually increase all of the above as your fitness level improves. Remember that on Mount Kilimanjaro, you will walk slowly for prolonged periods, and carry probably no more than 20 lbs in your day pack. Therefore, in your training, it is better to increase the time interval/distance and keep a slow pace than to shorten the time interval/distance and increase the pace. Try to train three times a week, for at least one hour per session, at a minimum. If you can do day hikes for four to six hours, with moderate elevation changes (~1,000 ft/305 m) while carrying a 20 lb pack, or if you can walk on a stairmaster for 1-2 hours, at 30 steps per minute while carrying a 20 lb pack, then you're probably ready for the real thing.

Your longest/hardest workouts should be performed two to four weeks before your departure. For the last two weeks, you should taper off your training and in the final days, rest so that your body has time to recover before your actual climb. In addition to walking/hiking, you can also supplement your training with exercises such as running or cycling, which will increase your aerobic capacity.

It is imperative that during Kilimanjaro training, you wear the boots that you intend to climb with so that they are sufficiently broken-in (to prevent blisters). Additionally, you should wear the day pack you intend to carry so you're your shoulders/back/hips get used to the points of contact and weight (to minimize chafing and soreness).

Lastly, physical training is just one part of getting in shape. If you have an unhealthy lifestyle, use the climb as your motivation to change. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Reduce your red meat consumption. Don't drink or smoke. Get eight hours of sleep per night. Don't worry. Be happy.

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How Can I Prepare for High Altitude?

Getting your body in great shape through physical training certainly helps prepare you for altitude. However, the ability to adjust quickly to the changing oxygen content is largely genetic. As the Kilimanjaro climbing success rates show, some people can climb Kilimanjaro in as little as 5 days (not recommended), while some still fail with 8 days. It is impossible to tell how well a prospective climber may fare in an oxygen deprived atmosphere until he or she is actually in it.

High altitude training systems enable climbers to pre-acclimatize at home, drastically improving the success rate, safety and enjoyment of the climb.

Altitude training systems simulate high altitudes to induce beneficial biological adaptations in the body. Besides going to (and staying in) high altitude places, using a high altitude training system is only way to pre-acclimatize to high altitude before your trip (see Pre-Acclimatization).

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Should I Get a Medical Check Up?

All climbers should have a medical check prior to attempting the mountain. Ask your doctor if high altitude trekking is permissible for your age, fitness level and health condition. Ask if you have any preexisting medical conditions that can cause problems on the climb. Ask if any of your medications can affect altitude acclimatization. Ask whether Diamox can be taken with your existing prescription medicines.

If you have any medical issues that can be make climbing Kilimanjaro more dangerous for you than the average person, we need to be informed of this before you book.

Such medical issues include but are not limited to: spine problems; circulation problems; internal problems such as diabetes, hypoglycemia, intestinal or kidney problems; respiratory issues such as asthma; high or low blood pressure; head trauma or injury; heart conditions; blood disease; hearing or vision impairment; cancer; seizure disorders; joint dislocations; sprains; hernia.

The minimum age for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is 10 years old. There is no maximum age. However, the climb is strenuous and presents health risks, especially to people in high risk categories. Serious consideration should be given to anyone under the age of 18 and over the age of 60. The climbers on the extreme ends of the age spectrum should definitely consult their doctor.

Our minimum fitness requirements are that each climber must have a resting heart rate of under 100 beats per minute. We will check your resting heart rate before your climb. If your resting heart rate is above 100, you will be required to see a local doctor prior to the climb to get approval. The average resting heart rate is 60-80 beats per minute.

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What Are the Entry Requirements for Tanzania?

Foreigners seeking to enter the United Republic of Tanzania should be in possession of a valid passport, at least six months prior to expiration. The passport is to be presented to the Immigration Control Officer at any entry point: border station, airport, harbor. The passport must be presented along with one of the following:

A visitor must also present an onward or return ticket together with proof that the visitor has sufficient funds to support himself or herself while in Tanzania.

All foreigners from non-Commonwealth countries are required to have a valid visa unless their countries have agreements with Tanzania under which the visa requirement is waived. Exemptions: Citizens of Commonwealth countries are not required to obtain visas unless they are citizens of the United Kingdom, Canada, Nigeria, or India. The visa is permission granted to a foreigner who intends to travel to Tanzania on business, for a holiday, to study or conduct research, or for other approved activities. When entering Tanzania, the visitor with a visa may then obtain from the immigration control officer, a pass or any other authority to enter the country.

Visas are issued by the following:

At Kilimanjaro Airport, passengers disembark their flights outside on the tarmac. Upon entering the airport (which would be from the left side of the photo), there is one line for visitors who have their visas and one line for visitors who need to purchase their visas.

To avoid potential loss of passports in the mail or delays in visa processing, Ultimate Kilimanjaro® recommends that US citizens obtain their visas upon arrival, at Kilimanjaro International Airport. It is an easy and simple process. The cost of a Tanzanian visa for US citizens is $100, payable in US dollars.

Canadian, Australian, British and most European passport holders can also obtain visas upon arrival at the airport. The cost of a Tanzanian visa is $50, payable in US dollars. Confirm with your embassy.

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What Vaccinations, Immunizations and Medications Do I Need?

The following information was obtained from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Tanzania.

Recommended Vaccinations and Preventive Medications
The following vaccines may be recommended for your travel to East Africa. Discuss your travel plans and personal health with a health-care provider to determine which vaccines you will need.

  • Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG). Transmission of hepatitis A virus can occur through direct person-to-person contact; through exposure to contaminated water, ice, or shellfish harvested in contaminated water; or from fruits, vegetables, or other foods that are eaten uncooked and that were contaminated during harvesting or subsequent handling.
  • Hepatitis B, especially if you might be exposed to blood or body fluids (for example, health-care workers), have sexual contact with the local population, or be exposed through medical treatment. Hepatitis B vaccine is now recommended for all infants and for children ages 11-12 years who did not receive the series as infants.
  • Malaria: your risk of malaria may be high in all countries in East Africa, including cities. See your health care provider for a prescription antimalarial drug.
  • Meningococcal (meningitis) if you plan to visit countries in this region that experience epidemics of meningococcal disease during December through June.
  • Rabies, pre-exposure vaccination, if you might have extensive unprotected outdoor exposure in rural areas, such as might occur during camping, hiking, or bicycling, or engaging in certain occupational activities.
  • Typhoid vaccine. Typhoid fever can be contracted through contaminated drinking water or food, or by eating food or drinking beverages that have been handled by a person who is infected. Large outbreaks are most often related to fecal contamination of water supplies or foods sold by street vendors
  • Yellow fever, a viral disease that occurs primarily in sub-Saharan Africa and tropical South America, is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected mosquitoes. The virus is also present in Panama and Trinidad and Tobago. Yellow fever vaccination is recommended for travelers to endemic areas and may be required to cross certain international borders (For country specific requirements, see Yellow Fever Vaccine Requirements and Information on Malaria Risk and Prophylaxis, by Country.). Vaccination should be given 10 days before travel and at 10 year intervals if there is on-going risk. · As needed, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria, measles, and a one-time dose of polio vaccine for adults.

Malaria
Malaria is always a serious disease and may be a deadly illness. Humans get malaria from the bite of a mosquito infected with the parasite. Your risk of malaria may be high in all countries in East Africa, including cities. All travelers to East Africa, including infants, children, and former residents of East Africa, may be at risk for malaria. Prevent this serious disease by seeing your health care provider for a prescription antimalarial drug and by protecting yourself against mosquito bites.

All travelers should take one of the following drugs:

  • atovaquone/proguanil,
  • doxycycline,
  • mefloquine, or
  • primaquine (in special circumstances).

Yellow Fever
A certificate of yellow fever vaccination is required for entry into Tanzania when arriving from countries where yellow fever is present.

Food and Waterborne Diseases

Make sure your food and drinking water are safe. Food and waterborne diseases are the primary cause of illness in travelers. Travelers' diarrhea can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites, which are found throughout East Africa and can contaminate food or water. Infections may cause diarrhea and vomiting (E. coli, Salmonella, cholera, and parasites), fever (typhoid fever and toxoplasmosis), or liver damage (hepatitis).

To stay healthy, do...

Do not…
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Do I Need Travel Insurance?

Travel insurance is required to participate on this trip.

Trip deposits are non-refundable and balance payments are only partially refundable. Therefore, it is prudent for you to protect your investment against trip cancellation, interruption, delays and unforeseeable expenses. Standard travel insurance provides coverage for:

At a minimum, the insurance should protect you against trip cancellation and trip interruption, should you need to cancel your trip due to circumstances such as training injuries or sickness or emergencies. Ideally, insurance should cover high altitude trekking (not to be confused with "mountaineering" or "mountain climbing" which most insurance will not cover) and all medical and repatriation costs.

For our customers residing in the USA, we recommend that you obtain Travel Guard's Silver, Gold or Platinum plans, which provide coverage for high altitude trekking, trip cancellation, interruption and delay; lost, stolen and damaged baggage; medical expenses and emergency medical evacuation; and luggage delay, for a low cost. You can compare the Silver, Gold or Platinum plans and purchase online through Travel Guard.

For our international customers, we recommend that you obtain travel insurance through World Nomads.

Climbers are strongly advised to obtain travel insurance immediately after booking their trip. Travel Guard insurance covers trip cancellation due to pre-existing conditions only when insurance is purchased within 15 days of booking. Clients must be able to provide proof of insurance to staff upon request. Clients who fail to obtain travel insurance will not be allowed to climb.

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Where Do the Kilimanjaro Climbs Begin?

Our climbs originate in Moshi, a coffee-producing gateway town to Mount Kilimanjaro. Moshi is located at the base of the mountain to its south, at approximately 3,000 feet. Moshi is a short 25 mile drive from Kilimanjaro International Airport (airport code: JRO). If you fly into Kilimanjaro International Airport, we can arrange for transport from the airport to the hotel. Transfers are available at any time, including early morning or late evening, and take about 40 minutes.

KLM flies from the USA and UK to Kilimanjaro International Airport regularly. KLM flights typically arrival at Kilimanjaro International Airport in the evenings. Most people choose not to take a rest day, and will begin climbing the following morning. But it is a good idea to take a rest day to recover from a long flight, to adapt to the new environment, and to get your things ready for the trek. Flights from the USA to JRO typically range from $1,500 to $3,500, depending on the season.

Vayama is a good source for domestic Tanzanian flights if you want to extend your vacation to other parts of Tanzania or East Africa, such as Zanzibar, Kenya or Uganda.

We do not recommend flying into Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (airport code: NBO) in Nairobi, Kenya or Dar es Salaam International Airport (airport code: DAR) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Although flights are cheaper than flying into Kilimanjaro International Airport, getting to Moshi from Nairobi requires an overnight stay in Nairobi, the purchase of a Kenyan visa, and a 7 to 8 hour bus ride (Riverside Shuttle) with a border crossing. Getting to Moshi from Dar es Salaam also typically requires an overnight stay and an 8 hour bus ride (Dar Express).

Arusha is about 50 miles west of Moshi. We can arrange a private vehicle for pick up and drop off in Arusha if needed. However taxis and shuttles are readily available between Moshi and Arusha. It is a 90 minute drive.

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