Preparing for Kilimanjaro
Best Time to Climb
Climbing Kilimanjaro will take you thru five climate zones ranging from rain forest to arctic temperatures. Cold temperatures and precipitation being the main concern. Tanzania has two rainy seasons, the long season lasting from late March to early June, and the short season from early November to the beginning of December. Although the mountain’s weather is unpredictable, especially since Kilimanjaro produces its own weather system, generally speaking the drier months being January, February, beginning of March, June, July, August, September and December are a better time to plan your climb.
Reaching Uhuru Peak requires great physical effort especially when getting to higher altitudes. Because trekking at high altitude can exacerbate any pre-existing medical conditions, a physical check-up is recommended for every client. While hikers with high altitude experience most likely are already aware of their physical condition, for those clients without prior hiking experience, a physical check-up is of utmost importance. Know thyself starts with a medical check-up. The minimum age of climbers on our treks is 16 years, and all clients 65 years or older are required to bring a written doctor’s approval.
The starting point of all climbs is Moshi. The easiest way to reach Moshi is to fly into Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) where a Local Moshi representative will greet you and take you to your hotel in Moshi. Alternative ways of getting to Moshi are buses from Nairobi or Dar Es Salaam taking anywhere from 7-9 hours.
Passports and Visas
In order to enter Tanzania, most nationalities will need a passport and visa. The passport must be valid for 6 months after the intended length of stay. Visas can be obtained at the airport upon arrival or at the Tanzanian Embassy in your respective country prior to departure. The price for a visa varies depending on Citizenship, with the cost for US Passports being $100, and most European Passports $50. Detailed visa and passport requirements pertaining to individual countries can be found on the Tanzanian Embassy Website designated for the particular country.
The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) recommends the following vaccinations: Malaria, Yellow Fever, Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and Rabies. Yellow Fever vaccination is required by the Tanzanian Government when entering the country from an infected area and you may be asked to show your vaccination record. Consult with your doctor about any additional vaccinations or medications concerning your personal circumstances.
Mandatory Travel Insurance
Travel insurance covering high altitude trekking, medical coverage including repatriation costs, as well as trip cancellation costs are a mandatory requirement to participate on our climbs. Upon your arrival we will verify that you have the appropriate insurance coverage. Failure to provide proof of proper coverage will result in climb cancellation and no refund will be given.
Training and Acclimatization
What makes Kilimanjaro so attractive is that anyone can do it. Although being in good shape is helpful, there is no training for the prevention of altitude sickness which can affect even the fittest of all. In fact, being fit may make it difficult for some trekkers to pace themselves while trekking on the mountain, subjecting them to altitude sickness since walking slowly is crucial for acclimatization. Nevertheless overall being in good shape will increase your chances of having a safe, enjoyable climb and a successful summit. Reaching Uhuru Peak may take hiking for six to nine days from as little as 4 hours per day to as many as 14 hours on summit day. Starting training which simulates the actual conditions encountered while hiking on the mountain at least three months prior are highly recommended. If outdoor training is not possible, a combination of walking, stair master and weight training for your legs and upper body are advisable.
What is Altitude Sickness
The higher the altitude the less oxygen in the atmosphere. Altitude sickness occurs when your body is getting less and less oxygen from the air at higher altitude. It manifests itself in symptoms ranging from mild to severe and experts do not know how to determine who will be affected. Neither physical fitness, nor age nor being male or female plays a role. Common mild symptoms while climbing Kilimanjaro are headaches, loss of appetite, nausea, light-headed and sleeplessness. Severe altitude sickness can affect your lungs (pulmonary edema) and your brain (cerebral edema). Pulmonary edema, caused by fluid build- up in the lungs, is diagnosed by crackling noises from the chest and the coughing up of pink sputum. Cerebral edema includes symptoms such as confusion and loss of balance. Both conditions are life threatening unless an immediate decent is made. There are many different symptoms of altitude sickness and we suggest that everyone planning to climb Kilimanjaro familiarize themselves with the warning signs indicating the onset of altitude sickness. Diamox is an FDA approved prescription medication and used to prevent and treat altitude sickness and aids in acclimatization. The use of Diamox is a personal decision, however since Diamox itself can produce side effects potentially making it more difficult to differentiate actual altitude sickness from the side effects of Diamox, it is our recommendation to acclimatize naturally. Please consult with your doctor to determine whether Diamox would be a good choice for you. While mild altitude sickness can be treated by ample fluid intake and over the counter pain killers, serious altitude sickness can only be treated by immediate decent.