For you to summit Mount Kilimanjaro successfully, attention needs to be paid to each aspect of planning and preparation for your trip. At 5,895m above sea level, Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and the highest free-standing mountain in the world. Tanzania is a country famed for vast wildernesses, tropical islands and clear night skies- this is also the location of the great Serengeti plains and the tropical island of Zanzibar. These travel tips are intended to help you become more informed about what to expect on this adventure.
Your passport should be valid for at least six months on the date of entry into Tanzania and must have at least one blank page for entry stamps.
A visa is required to enter Tanzania. A large number of countries can now apply for visas using Tanzania’s online eVisa application system via this website https://eservices.immigration.go.tz/visa/
Visa issuing takes 10 days, so please apply in good time before travel. Confirmation of your visa must be brought with you to present to the immigration services on arrival in Tanzania.
US Citizens – You must acquire a Multiple Entry Visa to enter Tanzania. This permits multiple entries into the country and is valid for 12 months from issue for tourist purposes, with each stay a maximum of 90 days. The cost is currently USD 100.
Canadian, Australian and most European citizens - You must acquire a Single Entry Visa to enter Tanzania. This permits one entry into the country and is valid for 3 months from issue for tourist purposes. The cost is currently USD 50.
Visa issuance does not grant automatic access to Tanzania and is at the discretion of immigration officials on arrival. Some countries may be able to apply for a visa upon arrival in Tanzania. All other nationalities must check the visa entry requirements before your departure. You need sufficient funds and a return airline ticket.
• Consular Information
There are several major international embassies located in Dar es Salaam, the former capital, including those for the US, Canada and UK. However, embassies for other countries, including Australia and New Zealand are located in Nairobi or other African cities, offering coverage to Tanzania. Please check with your relevant government for the relevant contact details.
N.B. Please note, visa and entry requirements, regulations and restrictions can vary regularly. Please ensure you check in good time before travelling the current requirements applicable to you.
HEALTH, INSURANCE AND SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS
• Travel Insurance
It is company policy that all passengers must have valid travel insurance before travelling, including but not limited to health insurance and cancellation insurance. ALL members of the travelling party must be fully insured for the dates of travel. All pre-existing medical conditions must be declared to your insurer and the correct cover must be taken in regard to the specific type of holiday you are taking. Please specifically confirm with your insurance provider that your policy covers trekking to 6,000 metres' altitude, and helicopter evacuation - these are concrete stipulations of policies that are adequate for treking on Kilimanjaro. Many policies have restrictions on altitude and walking holidays.
The details of your insurance must be advised to The Big Journey Company at least 6 weeks before your departure date. Please make sure to also write down important information from your insurance policy, such as the company’s 24hr emergency telephone number (including dial code from abroad) and your policy number and take these with you on tour.
• General Fitness- Trekking Tips
The best preparation for trekking is… trekking! Get out for hikes in your home country. If you can manage some weekends away, walks in your local national park, low hills, high mountains, anywhere where you'll be on rough paths and doing some good ups and downs… it will all be good practice! It’s good practice to carry a similar weight to your day pack for the trek and begin your training at least 3 months before departure. The fitter you are before the trek begins, the more you will enjoy your time away.
Get used to your equipment - feeling that your backpack fits snugly; enjoying the re-assuring strength of a familiar pair of hiking boots; knowing what layers work best for you; what little extras to carry in your pockets… all this will be invaluable!
What’s more, some additional fitness from running, swimming, the gym, yoga, spin classes, etc. is also a plus! A strong cardiovascular system is going to help you cope at altitude.
• General Health
This tour includes a lot of trekking. It requires a high level of fitness and is not suitable for those with mobility problems.
There is often no shade from the sun. Wearing a factor 50+ sunblock on all exposed skin including on your lips and good quality sports sunglasses, drinking plenty of water, washing your hands properly before eating and avoiding insect bites should keep you healthy on tour. We recommend you carry a first-aid kit containing any items that you feel may be required, including remedies for minor stomach complaints and good quality blister treatments. If you do need to see a doctor during the tour, please speak to your Big Journey Company tour escort.
Please talk to your doctor or travel health clinic in person at least eight weeks before you travel, where a health professional can provide you with the necessary health information for your personal needs and for travel to Tanzania and Mount Kilimanjaro. Healthcare is poor outside of the main cities, so please ensure you have adequate health travel insurance. Mount Kilimanjaro is located at a high altitude above sea level. Acclimatisation days are incorporated into the itinerary, however, you should speak to your doctor about how this may affect you and any existing medical conditions you have. You should also discuss precautions available to you to avoid altitude sickness.
• Passengers with Disabilities or Reduced Mobility
The Kilimanjaro Adventure is a Physically Demanding tour. It is not suitable if you have limited mobility. It is not suitable if you use a CPAP machine. Please check our Activity Levels description page to see if this level is suitable for you or contact us if you require further information on the activities involved in the tour.
If you or any member of your party has any medical problem or disability which may affect your trek, please provide us with full details before we confirm your booking, or as soon as possible at the time they occur, so that we can try to advise on the suitability of your chosen arrangements. Please note, we may require you to produce a doctor’s certificate certifying that you are fit to participate in the tour.
• Medical Conditions and Personal Medication
Please advise us before travel if you have any medical conditions requiring special attention during your trip. If you have a specific medical condition, it is wise to carry the relevant doctor’s prescription with you. Important:
• Pack a sufficient supply of any medications you are taking, copies of the prescriptions and the telephone/fax numbers of your doctor.
• Please note, some countries require that prescription drugs be carried in their original container, with the label clearly visible. In the event of you losing your medication, a qualified pharmacist should be able to source a replacement.
Malaria and Yellow Fever are present in Tanzania. Please discuss all vaccinations and/or medications with your doctor for travel to Tanzania and to trek at altitude. Your healthcare professional is the best source of information for the most up-to-date immunisation information and requirements as well as advice according to your unique medical needs.
- Yellow Fever Certificate: There is a low chance of Yellow Fever in Tanzania. Depending on the areas you are visiting or have previously travelled to, you may need a Yellow Fever Vaccination certificate to show you have received said vaccination before travel. Check whether you need a Yellow Fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.
- Malaria: This mosquito-borne disease is prevalent throughout the year in Tanzania, but not above 1,800m. Please consult your healthcare professional about a suitable prophylactic. The adage ‘prevention is the best cure’ also holds true. Use repellent and cover up at dawn and dusk when the mosquitoes are most active by wearing long trousers, long-sleeved shirts, shoes and socks. If you develop a bad headache, have aching joints, and recurring fevers and chills after your trip, advise your doctor that you have been in a malarial area. Malaria symptoms can sometimes be confused with flu symptoms. Most anti-malarial medications have side effects that are similar to the symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness (headaches, nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting), we do recommend asking your health practitioner for a course of anti-malarials with this in mind. The common side effects of many anti-malarial drugs have the potential to jeopardise a successful summit bid.
Travellers should be up to date with routine vaccination courses and boosters as recommended before travel. These vaccinations include, for example; the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and diphtheria-tetanus-polio vaccine. Vaccinations for Tetanus, Hepatitis A and B, Polio, Typhoid, Cholera, Meningococcal Disease, Tuberculosis, Rabies and Malaria may be recommended depending on the tour you are taking and your medical history. For further information, please see: wwnc.cdc.gov/travel/countries
You should follow the advice of the National Travel Health Network and Centre and discuss your travel plans with your healthcare provider, particularly if you're pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Any feverish illness during or after returning from travel must be reported to a doctor immediately.
• Special Dietary Requirements
Please let us know in good time before travel if you have any special dietary requirements (e.g., vegetarian, vegan, diabetic, gluten-free, etc.). We will make every effort to accommodate your request with the resources available to us.
• What to Pack and Wear
Your packing list should include the following-
- Well, worn-in, lightweight and comfortable hiking boots;
- ultra-thin liner socks to be worn in conjunction with high quality, loop-stitched hiking socks, as this combination can substantially diminish the risk of blisters;
- Sandals or trainers for evenings at camp;
- Thermal layering - leggings and top, essential for summit nights and useful to sleep in;
- Lightweight, breathable long-sleeve trekking shirt;
- Lightweight short sleeve breathable trekking shirt/t-shirt;
- Long-leg mid-weight trekking pants;
- Warm Fleece to be carried your day pack for early mornings and for during rest stops when walking;
- Down jacket for evenings and summit night;
- Waterproof rain jacket;
- Wool hat; buff; 2 pairs of Gloves, thick and thin, mittens are useful for summit night;
- Sun hat/cap with neck protection, Sunglasses, Sunscreen factor 50+, Chapstick with SPF or vaseline.
- Water purification tablets - enough for consuming a minimum of 3 litres of water a day
- Water bottles and/or hydration bladder (Camelbak) - each day you will need to carry a minimum of 2-3 litres of water. You can use the water bottle as a hot water bottle in your sleeping bag at night. Also make sure that you bring insulating cover for the water bottle and the hydration tube, as the water may freeze when you are higher up.
- Washing items: biodegradable soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, personal toiletries & quick-dry towel;
- Dry bags - useful for organising your bag and separating dirty/clean clothes; but also when it rains.
- Re-sealable/zip lock bags to protect personal items;
- First Aid Kit containing paracetamol, aspirin (if you're not allergic to this, then take this, as it's also a blood thinner), bites/burn cream, (blister)plasters, small bandage, throat lozenges, antiseptic cream;
- Hand sanitiser; baby wipes (but you need to carry this off the mountain, if they are not biodegradable); toilet paper - 1 roll;
- Head torch with spare batteries for evenings at camp and for summitting during darkness;
- Sleeping bag with a comfort rating of at least -10⁰C /14⁰F and sleeping bag liner to add to the warmth of your bag;
- Camera/mobile phone with batteries, charger and memory cards; on summit day keep this close to your body so the battery doesn't get too cold. You can also put it in a sock, if you don't have a proper insulating cover for it.
- Trekking energy bars/candy/gum;
- Trekking poles - it is advisable to bring them if you usually use these for walking - highly recommended on Summit day, as you can rest on them and they are good to steady yourself when you're running down the scree.
- Books / Kindle;
- Pre-charged or solar-powered power packs.
- 25-30L Day pack. It is useful for the bag to have a section for a water bladder. This is the bag you will carry each day. No more than 7-10kg is an ideal weight.;
- A soft ‘duffle bag’ - 95L or more. This is required for your belongings which the porters carry, max packed weight 15-18kg. You need a seaprate bag which you can lock if you want to leave some clothes/stuff behind at the hotel.
If you want to buy a guidebook to read before travel, our local guides highly recommend the one written by Henry Stedman. Henry regularly travels to Tanzania to update his writing (five editions in 15 years!) and is passionate about the mountain and - while the local guides don't quite agree with everything in his guide – they say it is diligently researched, lighthearted, and easy to read. There's plenty of useful information on Kilimanjaro's wildlife, history, people and customs included in this book.
There is a complete ban on the use of plastic bags in Tanzania and offences are subject to fines.
• Luggage Allowances & Handling
Luggage handling is included in your Kilimanjaro trek with a limit of 2 bags (maximum combined weight 15-18kgs) per person.
25-30L Day pack. You will carry this pack. No more than 7-10kg is an ideal weight.
95L+ Soft waterproof duffle bag (or make sure that the contents are waterproof bags), which the porters carry. Max weight 15-18kg
Rucksacks and duffle bags should be carefully prepared before being checked in at airports etc. to ensure straps and buckles will not catch on baggage handling machinery and become damaged in transit.
A TYPICAL DAY ON THE TRAIL
You will be walking between 5-7 hours most days. It will be at a very steady pace so that your body has the optimum time to acclimatise. You will usually take the opportunity for a short rest around every half an hour.
At camp, in the morning and evening, you will have access to a sanitised toilet within a toilet tent. Long drops can be found along the route.
Laundry services may be available in the hotel at the beginning and end of this tour, but time for turnaround is very limited. There are no laundry facilities whilst trekking.
Tanzania has over 100 official languages. Swahili and English are the most widely spoken.
The time zone in Tanzania is GMT+3, 3 hours ahead of London GMT.
Tanzania is a large country, stretching from the coastline, across the plains and to the highest point in Africa- its climate varies considerably. There is a rainy season from March to May and a dry season from June to October. Temperatures vary depending on the region and altitude but days are usually clear and sunny.
On the Mount Kilimanjaro trek, you can expect conditions ranging from equatorial to arctic. The trek begins in a tropical forest, with average temperatures between 25-30⁰C, before ascending through various terrains and weather zones to arrive at the permanently snow-capped summit. Expect strong sunshine, rainfall and sub-zero temperatures on your adventure.
When trekking, access to electricity is limited. Pre-charged power banks or solar-powered power bars are useful for recharging electronic devices such as phones and cameras.
In Tanzania, the standard voltage is 220/240V and the frequency is 50Hz. Two types of plug are used - Type G (UK style three square pins) and Type D (three round pins, used in India and some African countries). Bring a multi-adapter and/or converter.
MOBILE PHONES & INTERNET COMMUNICATION
In the rural areas visited on this trek, phone signal will fluctuate and you should expect it to be non-existent climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. There is no WIFI on Kilimanjaro. On most days and on most routes - (except on day 1 on Lemosho and when it’s overcast on all routes) we are usually able to find sufficient data signal to send photo reports of the day’s activities.
Tanzania has a good communications infrastructure in cities. A number of cellphone/mobile phone providers offer national coverage and there are landline phone networks. In well-populated urban areas, there is usually good mobile signal Internet and Wi-Fi are easily accessible in most urban areas and most hotels and restaurants provide WIFI.
Please check mobile use and data roaming charges for Tanzania with your service provider before leaving home as these can quickly become very expensive.
The currency of Tanzania is the Tanzanian Shilling (TZS). The Tanzanian Shilling is a closed currency and can only be accessed in Tanzania, so you will have to exchange your money after arrival. US Dollars $ are widely accepted at higher-end establishments and for changing money. Notes must be in good condition and be issued after 2009 otherwise they will not be accepted.
It is advisable to carry some cash with you on tour. Credit cards are not widely accepted in Tanzania, except at hotels and restaurants etc. in the larger towns and cities. Visa and Mastercard are the most accepted and many places do not accept other cards such as Diners Club or American Express. Expect high service fees and a poor exchange rate when using credit cards. If you intend to use any of your debit or credit cards whilst away, please make sure that you contact your bank before you leave to inform them that you will be travelling in order not to cause any problems using your cards or whilst on the trip. Traveller’s cheques are not accepted in Tanzania. ATMs are available in city banks but will not be found in smaller villages. ATMs are often out of cash.
On the Kilimanjaro trek, due to the remote nature of this tour, most meals and tour elements are included in your package price.
Tanzania is a relatively inexpensive country for most western travellers to visit. As in most destinations, prices in tourist spots are higher than those for locals. In markets, you may be able to haggle on prices, but in most shops, prices are set.
• Bank Opening
Banks in Tanzania are usually open from 9 am to 3 pm Monday to Friday. there will be very little/ no opportunity to visit a bank on this tour.
After feedback from previous guests, we offer a group tipping package for this tour. Look out for more information in your pre-tour emails.
Most meals are included as part of your tour and are designed to be nutritious, high energy meals to aid in the maintenance of strenuous daily activity. These meals will be simply prepared as much of the food and cookware is carried by porters. Typical food on the mountain will include the following meals-
- Breakfast: Coffee, tea, hot chocolate and fruit juice; porridge; fruit; scrambled eggs or omelette; sausages; toast; honey and jam,
- Lunch: Coffee, tea; sandwiches; biscuits; chocolate bars,
- Dinner: Soup starter; cooked meat or vegetarian meal (these include chicken/beef with rice, sliced carrots and green beans, mashed potatoes, and salads); fruit; fruit juice and a variety of hot drinks.
Ugali- a thick staple made of cassava or maize flour- is the Tanzanian national dish. It varies in flavour and consistency depending on the flours used and is usually served with a sauce containing meat, fish, beans or greens. Rice and ndizi (cooked plantains) as well as meat kebabs and roasted meats are also staples of the Tanzanian diet. When in Arusha, try to make time to sample these traditional dishes.
Porters will collect water from the streams. It is boiled before use and can be used to fill your water canisters. You do not have to use purification tablets or a filtration bottle but this is recommended. You will be carrying a minimum of 2 litres of water a day, which will be provided each morning.
It is not advisable to drink tap water in Tanzania. Do not drink from wells, streams or rivers unless the water has been filtered or boiled first. Bottled water is available in hotels and tourist venues.
In Arusha, you will find a number of things to purchase, for example, local handicrafts – wood carvings, jewellery and colour fabrics.
• Opening Hours
In the cities and towns, most retail shops are open from 8.30 am – midday and then from 2-6 pm Monday–Friday, opening on Saturday mornings too, though may vary locally. Most shops are closed on Sundays, except certain grocery shops and souvenir shops.
• VAT/Tax Refund
Some shops in Tanzania offer a VAT refund when leaving the country. Please ask the salesperson whether tax-free shopping applies to the shop in question.
SAFETY & SECURITY
When trekking on Kilimanjaro, always follow the instructions from the local guides. Make sure you are well prepared and equipped to cope with the terrain, high and low temperatures. The extreme altitude on Mount Kilimanjaro can cause altitude sickness.
In Tanzania in general, there’s a high risk of petty theft and pickpocketing, particularly in airports, in popular tourist attractions and on public transport. Please take sensible precautions to protect your belongings, particularly your passport, money and credit cards. For this reason, we advise you to keep money and credit cards in a travel belt- preferably do not carry a wallet. Hotels offer a safety box service and we suggest that you put your valuables, passports and aeroplane tickets in them where they are available. It is advisable to leave expensive jewellery and other such items at home.
When in large crowds or major tourist destinations, you should remain vigilant and follow the advice of local authorities. If in doubt, ask your guide or at your accommodation for safety guidelines.
Smoking is banned in most indoor and public places, but there are usually designated outdoor areas where people can smoke.
Tanzania's two major religions are Christianity and Islam. Tanzania is a conservative society.
Tanzania offers photo opportunities one after another. You will return with many photos that can never be repeated. Remember to pack your camera, along with the charger, spare batteries and a spare memory card! It is recommended to carry spare batteries in your breast pocket during the summit bid, as batteries don’t seem to work well when very cold and it’s a shame to have a non-functioning camera on the summit.
Hotel check-in is 3 pm unless stated otherwise on your tour itinerary. If arriving earlier than this, your room may not be available. For those arriving early morning, we will do everything we can to work with the hotel to get you an earlier check-in subject to availability. Please ensure you have given your full, correct travel details to The Big Journey Company as soon as you have them. Please check your tour itinerary for further hotel information.
FLYING & TRAVEL HINTS
• Photocopy the personal information pages of your passport; leave one copy at home with a friend or family member, and take a copy with you, but pack it separately from the passport itself.
• It is advisable to carry all your travel documentation as well as valuables and essential items in your hand luggage, such as a camera, toiletries, reading material etc.
• Duty-Free shopping is always tempting, but please check the current Duty-Free limits applicable in the country of your destination.
• Longer flights can be made a little more enjoyable by wearing loose clothing and good, comfortable shoes. Walking in the aisles regularly, eating sensibly and drinking plenty of fluids (not alcohol) is also advised.
• Where possible, try to get some sleep during the flight and upon arrival at your destination, most people adjust better to the local time if they wait until the evening before sleeping – this should relieve some of the effects of jet lag.
OTHER COUNTRIES ON YOUR TOUR ITINERARY
For those continuing their stay in other countries, please check the relevant 'Travel Tips' pages for information on these countries.
If you have any other questions that we have not covered here please send an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note, the above information is provided as a guideline only. Although every effort has been made to provide complete and accurate information, The Big Journey Company makes no warranties, express or implied, or representations as to the accuracy of the content on this website. The Big Journey Company assumes no liability or responsibility for any error or omissions in the information contained on the website.
Updated Mar 2022