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Mt Kilimanjaro - Trekili Eco Expeditions


You’ve made the decision to climb Mt Kilimanjaro, or tour the Serengeti, but now what? What are the things you really need to know? This is going to depend on you, but here are a list of the frequently asked questions (FAQ’s). Click on the question to go to the answer. If your question isn’t here, then please contact us.

Do I need a visa for Tanzania?

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What types of insurance will I need?

As a minimum, your insurance policy 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.

Trip cancellation insurance

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 trip cancellation, interruption and delay; lost, stolen and damaged baggage; medical expenses and emergency medical evacuation; and luggage delay.

Medical evacuation insurance

Most people aren’t aware of the serious deficiencies of their health insurance, travel insurance, platinum card program or SOS hotline service.

It is a Trekili policy that all trekkers are required to hold medical evacuation insurance as a pre requisite for climbing Mt Kilimanjaro. Trekili has partnered with Global Rescue for advanced medical consultation, emergency evacuation and field rescues. Be assured you are in safe hands.

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What currency is used in Tanzania and can I use credit cards?

The Tanzanian Shilling is the national currency. US Dollars are widely accepted throughout Arusha, Moshi and at park entrances if undertaking a Safari. There are numerous money changers in Arusha, Moshi and major towns. Banks give the best exchange rates. Credit cards are only accepted at larger airlines and major hotels within Tanzania. Plan on travelling with sufficient cash and/or travellers cheques.

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Airport transfers

We provide airport transfers from Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) or the shuttle bus terminus for those travelling from Nairobi, to the pre-climb hotel in Arusha. You will be met as you come out of arrivals by a Trekili representative wearing our Trekili shirt holding a “Trekili Eco Expeditions” board.

Your transfer from Kilimanjaro airport to Arusha will take about 45 minutes. Upon completion of your expedition we provide transfers to Kilimanjaro International Airport for your flight home or onwards to other destinations.

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Can I leave excess luggage behind while trekking?

Yes, you can leave your gear at the hotel or the trekili office. Valuable items including cash should be carried with you at all times.

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What is the Best Time of the Year for Climbing?

The weather on any high altitude mountain can be changeable and unpredictable and Kilimanjaro is no exception. Just because it is the dry season there is no guarantee that you will not see rain!!

From our experience on Kilimanjaro, the following provides a general outline of annual weather conditions.

January to March is warmer with only the occasional brief shower. It is often quieter than the other peak season of June to October, which coincides with the main school holidays in Europe and Australia.

April and May are the rainy months and generally avoided though trekkers will find greatly reduced traffic on all routes. During these months we generally undertake Kilimanjaro climbs via the Machame and Rongai routes.

June to October are also good months to climb though a little colder than January to March. This is the main high season and therefore busier than at other times. Generally June and October are considered slightly quieter than July and September.

November is the time of the short rains and again is generally avoided as it is also starting to get cold. We undertake climbs via the Machame route during this period.

December: the short November rains have subsided and it is now getting clearer and warmer. It is more likely that you will experience snow at this time of year.

Climbing Mt Kilimanjaro during the full moon is an amazing experience as the benefit of a full moon is vast for fantastic night sky views.

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What route should I climb?

We offer the more scenic and natural traverses of Kilimanjaro including the Lemosho, Western Breach, Crater, Rongai and The Grand Traverse where the trails are much more scenic and fewer trekkers. These less crowded routes allow the best possible time for acclimatization, a sense of isolation and superb panoramic vistas. Our itineraries offer the best possible opportunity to summit.

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How far will I trek each day?

Depending upon your chosen route, you may trek an average of 4-8 hours per day with the summit day being the longest. Our detailed route itineraries outline day to day information.

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What’s the temperature on Kilimanjaro?

Equatorial to arctic conditions are present on Mt Kilimanjaro and temperatures vary widely; it may be in the 20-32C range in the rainforest and -20C nearer the summit. Above the rainforest and tree line, most days range between 0-20 C, however the weather often changes dramatically without warning, so you must always be prepared for four seasons in the one day including, rain, snow or a sudden hailstorm therefore making it very important to carry your waterproof shell at all times. The most flexible way of adjusting to the ever changing conditions as you trek higher is the layering of several thin articles of clothing to which you can add or remove as the conditions dictate.

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I’m not sure of my general health and fitness so what should I do?

We recommend all trekkers undertake a full medical examination well before you undertake your Mt Kilimanjaro trek, more as a precautionary measure and to see how your general fitness and condition are. It is an opportune time to consult with your doctor and discuss your general health, review any preexisting medical conditions, review your medications, discuss anti-malarial medication options, inoculations and medications to assist with altitude sickness and any other health concerns you feel need to be reviewed prior to travel.

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How fit do I need to be?

Mt Kilimanjaro is a serious undertaking not to be underestimated. While many state it is simply a walk up the mountain it is the most underestimated mountain in the world. Our routes do not require technical mountaineering skills, yet the effects of altitude consistently turn back many trekkers from Kilimanjaro’s upper slopes.

Altitude sickness is an uncertain phenomenon, and nearly impossible to predict when and how it will affect trekkers, and which trekkers it will affect. While you don’t need to be an athlete to climb this mountain, you certainly need determination, willpower and can-do attitude.

You will also need to commit yourself to a physical training routine as it is generally accepted that the fitter you are the better you will manage the rigours of trekking. Please see our Kilimanjaro Fitness Page.

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What equipment will I need?

For a complete listing see our gear list and for trekkers who do not want the burden of owning or carrying a lot of equipment, please visit our comprehensive Kilimanjaro Gear Rental page.

The following are the most important items required and we advise clients to wear trekking boots as these are the hardest kit items to improvise at short notice if you need to begin your climb while you wait for your bag to catch up with you.

  • Trekking boots. Choose quality warm waterproof hiking boots that provide excellent ankle support. Through experience we have found goretex boots very high quality as it is a breathable material that’s also waterproof and windproof and lightweight. It is essential that these boots are completely broken-in prior to undertaking your climb to prevent blisters.
  • Sleeping bag. A rating of -20C (0F) will ensure that you sleep warm, though trekkers who use liners will find that their bag does not need such a low rating. We also rent quality synthetic sleeping bags and ask that you bring your own fleece liner.
  • Trekking pole(s). These should be telescopic for ease of packing.
  • Gaiters. Though not essential they are useful for keeping mud, rocks and up high, snow out of your hiking boots.

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How much equipment will I carry?

Porters will set up and break down camps and carry the bulk of your gear except for your daypack. Your daypack will carry your daily hiking gear, water, camera, wet weather gear and sunscreen. They typically weigh 5-6 kgs. If required, a personal porter can be arranged to help carry your daypack. Other personal gear will be placed inside a waterproof duffle and carried by your porters. You can store clothing and other items not needed on the mountain in a locked bag at our office.

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How many trekkers in each group?

Our trek sizes are intentionally small with a maximum of 12 climbers (average 6-8) on any of our climbs. This allows us to offer a personalized trekking experience and ensures appropriate attention for every trekker. We cater to any size family group and arrange private treks to suit your needs. Our private commercial groups though cater to any size group and are tailored to suit the organisations specific needs and client numbers.

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What if I am slow?

At no point do we rush our trek. We like to take in the views and enjoy the experience. Inevitably some trekkers are slower than others, though with our client to guide ratio we are able to support you all the way. Our mantra “pole pole” (Swakili meaning “slowly slowly”) resonates in our ears from day one, ensuring our trekkers have ample time to enjoy the magnificent slopes and scenery of Kilimanjaro.

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How qualified are the guides and porters?

All Trekili guides and assistant guides are certified and licensed by Tanzania National Parks. All our guides are medically trained to render first aid and evacuation. Our guides are also trained on the flora, fauna and key localities on Kilimanjaro. All speak English well.

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How many guides and porters will be on my team?

There will be a guide for every three climbers and numerous porters carrying the mandatory limit of 20kgs each. In addition trekkers will be supported by a cook, assistant guides and waiter.

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What is a typical daily routine on Kilimanjaro?

The majority of trekking on Kilimanjaro is done in the morning, when the weather tends to be at its best. The length of trekking for the day is determined by the route you have chosen. On shorter days you will reach camp and have a cooked lunch there. On longer days you will take a packed lunch. Spare time in the afternoon can be used for rest or for an additional acclimatization walk.

Time Activity
06.00 to 06.15 hrs Wake up call. Hot drinks and hot washing water are delivered to your tent. Pack your gear before breakfast.
07.00 hrs Breakfast
08.00 to 08.30 hrs Depart camp
12.00 hrs Lunch
16.00 hrs Afternoon tea, comprising of drinks and snacks.
18.30 hrs Main meal.
20.00 hrs Most clients are usually quite tired and go to bed early, perhaps reading for a while before hopefully drifting off to sleep. Others will choose the communal mess tent to stay up later, play card games and share stories.

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Tips for crew

Our Kilimanjaro tipping guidelines were established after discussions with the Kilimanjaro Porter Assistance Project and are designed to give a fair tip to the porters and guides. KPAP publish recommended tipping amounts for all Kilimanjaro companies which we adopt. These are below.

  • Lead guide: $15/day
  • Assistant guide: $12/day
  • Porters: Summit porter $9/day (for each porter)
  • Porters: Ordinary porter $8/day (for each porter)
  • Cook: $12/day

These figures are intended to assist you in making a choice. You should not feel obliged in any way to tip, or be pressured by any member of staff to do so. It is perfectly acceptable to give more or less than these amounts.

The trekking team nominates a person to handle tipping formalities which occur after breakfast on the final morning.

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What happens if I have to come down early?

Trekili guides are trained to respond calmly and act quickly under all circumstances and will accompany you down the mountain or to the nearest lower camp as required. Our guides know the mountain exceptionally well and its detailed network of shortcuts to get you off the mountain quickly and safely.

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What flora and fauna will I see?

Each of Kilimanjaro’s six distinct ecological zones has its own climate and coterie of flora and fauna.

Today, crop and grasslands have replaced the natural bush and lowland forest, and large wild animals are few. Elephants, buffalo, and giraffes may be seen on the western and northern slopes. Small, noctural mammals thrive, however, including the lemur-like galagos and the tree hyrax, a furry creature with a distinct click-and-screech cry. Birds also are plentiful, the tropical boubou, a black-and-white bird with a pleasant flute-like call and speckled mousebirds with their long, tapering tails are two standouts.

In the lower forest sycamore figs and palms festooned with hanging mosses crowd river gorges, while higher up, huge camphorwood trees soar as high as 45 metres into the moist and clammy air. The treetops are alive with blue and colobus monkeys, while a variety of different antelope species inhabit the forest floor, along with their chief predator, the leopard (though rarely seen).

Most days mist and fog cling to the forest at the lower edge of the moorland zone, but before long the land opens out into a clear and cool landscape of heather and other plants characteristic of heath. The many grasses that abound here are vital for safeguarding the soil and conserving the fleeting moisture. They also harbor numerous everlasting flowers, from the leathery-leaved, artichoke-like Protea to the red-hot poker, a tall, striking plant with red or yellow tubular blossoms.

Epitomizing the moorland, senecios and lobelias are also the iconic plants of Kilimanjaro. The senecios, also known as groundsels, have thick, weathered stems capped by cabbage-like rosettes of tough leaves. Two giant groundsels common here, Senecio kilimanjari and S. cottonii, are found nowhere else in the world. Like the senecios, the endemic lobelia, Lobelia deckenii, closes its rosette of leaves at night to protect against frost. Often seen overhead are large birds of prey like the crowned eagle and the lammergeyer, while the lucky few might catch a glimpse of African hunting dogs, elands, duikers, or even sightings of elephants (exceptionally rare).

Characteristic of the alpine desert is the scarcity of water, high UV, high evaporation, and wide daily changes in temperature dropping to freezing at night and soaring to over 100°F during the day. Water is scarce, and the zone’s thin soils retain little of what does eventuate. The kinds of plants that can withstand such harsh conditions are tough everlastings and tussock grasses, along with the unusual moss ball, which envelops nodules of soil and rolls about with the breeze. Some of the same animals that visit the moorland appear here, but only passing through.

The summit is an inhospitable environment, though a few hardy lichen species make a go of it here, and the everlasting Helichrysum newii has been found at an altitude of 18,700 feet. Animals of any sort are few in this zone, though in 1926 the frozen carcass of a leopard was discovered near the summit crater by the Lutheran missionary Pastor Richard Reusch a then prolific summiteer residing at Marangu in the foothills of Kilimanjaro.

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Additional questions?

Please contact us with any questions you have.

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Trekili Diary

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