Focus on Kilimanjaro – The Ultimate Guide to Standing on the Roof of Africa
Posted: Monday November 7, 2022
Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain on the African continent, the highest free-standing mountain in the world and one of the coveted seven summits. Kilimanjaro holds an iconic place on many people’s bucket lists. It draws the crowds and can get very busy at peak times of the year.
Not everyone makes it to the summit of Kilimanjaro. There are numerous reasons for this and hopefully this ultimate guide to everything you wanted to know about Kilimanjaro will help you to decide when you should climb it and give you all the top tips for making a successful ascent.
Not everyone knows what Kilimanjaro is, they might have heard the name but don’t really know anything about it. To set the scene for the rest of this guide we’re going to assume that anyone reading only has very limited knowledge, that way we won’t miss any important points.
What is Kilimanjaro?
Kilimanjaro is a massive compound or stratovolcano. Stratovolcanoes are created by repeated eruptions of magma which slowly over time increase the height of the volcano, creating a steep-sided conical shape. Stratovolcanoes often have a collapsed summit crater known as a ‘caldera’.
Kilimanjaro is made up of three volcanic cones. The highest of these is Kibo (5895m), followed by Mawenzi (5149m) and Shira (4005m). Shira and Mawenzi are extinct. Kibo, thankfully, is dormant, having not erupted for around 360,000 years. That said, the last volcanic activity was only about 200 years ago, and it is thought that Kibo could still erupt!
The summit of Kilimanjaro that most people trek to is known as Uhuru Peak. At 5895m, this is the highest point on Kibo’s crater rim.
Where is Kilimanjaro?
Kilimanjaro is located entirely in Tanzania although its north-eastern flanks sit very close to the Kenyan border. At around 210 miles (330 Km) south of the equator, it attracts somewhere in the region of 30,000 to 50,000 visitors per year and has its own international airport (JRO). Kilimanjaro is 387 Km from Dodoma, the capital city of Tanzania.
How difficult is it to climb Kilimanjaro?
People often tell us that they couldn’t climb Kilimanjaro and we always respond by asking “what makes you think that?”. The answers are always very similar, such as “it’d be far too difficult”, or concerns about not being fit enough. These are common misconceptions that prevent people from taking the trip and having a fantastic and possibly life-changing experience.
So, just how difficult is climbing Kilimanjaro? We’re going to demystify this by splitting it into the technical, the physical, the altitude and the mental.
There is nothing technical about climbing Kilimanjaro. Even though Kilimanjaro is a big mountain, you can easily reach the summit without any technical skills. You won’t need to use ropes or tie any complicated knots; no technical skills are required. So, there’s no need to worry about that.
From a physical perspective, all you must do to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro is to walk. How far you must walk really depends on which of the 7 routes you choose. We’ll use the Lemosho route as an example, as this route has the longest distance between the start point and the summit.
On the Lemosho route, which for most people is 8 days trekking, 6 to reach the summit and 2 to get back down, the distance from the Londorossi Gate where the Lemosho route starts, to the summit of Kilimanjaro is roughly 46km/29 miles. This means that you have to walk an average of 7.6km/4.8 miles per day to reach the summit. That’s not a great deal of walking when viewed on its own.
To put the time and distance into perspective, for most people, it’s roughly equivalent to 2 hours of steady walking on the flat here in the UK. To find out the distance from the start to the summit on the other routes, please see the next section: What’s the best route up Kilimanjaro?
So, the short answer to the question ‘how hard is it to climb Kilimanjaro’, is not very! It’s really not that hard at all. Most people of average fitness are capable of standing on the ‘Roof of Africa’ and enjoying those spectacular views.
We haven’t yet covered the mental element of reaching the summit, but we can hear you asking, “If it’s not that hard then why do so many people fail to reach the summit?” It’s complicated, but the main reasons people fail to reach the summit don’t include technical skills or fitness; we have seen that technical skills are not required and that most people are fit enough. Failing to summit is normally down to two factors, altitude sickness due to a lack of acclimatisation and/or simply giving up due to a lack of mental toughness. The good news is that we can do something to reduce the impact of both these factors.
Altitude sickness is avoidable. By understanding how altitude affects our bodies and physical performance and then moderating our behaviour to minimise any adverse impact, we can successfully acclimatise and avoid altitude sickness.
As we climb higher, the air gets thinner reducing the availability of vital oxygen molecules for us to breathe and keep us functioning. For most of us, our bodies are conditioned to operate at low altitudes, where oxygen is plentiful. We can adapt to higher altitudes, but we need to give our bodies time for the process to be effective. If we try to acclimatise too quickly, we end up suffering from an intense headache with a rapid pulse, feeling nauseous and breathless, loss of appetite and trouble sleeping; all symptoms of altitude sickness or as it’s known medically, acute mountain sickness.
To avoid altitude sickness symptoms and acclimatise well, we need to walk much slower than we normally would. We need to drink much more than we think we need, ensuring we are well hydrated at all times. We also need to ensure we eat well and get plenty of good rest and that we stay warm, especially at night whilst trying to sleep. These are all simple steps which appear easy to take but you’d be amazed at just how many people don’t get this right, and that’s the main reason why the success rate on Kilimanjaro is only around 65%.
Knowing that you don’t need any technical skills for Kilimanjaro, that the walking on its own isn’t too difficult and that it is possible to avoid altitude sickness only leaves one final factor which may affect your chances of summit success on Kilimanjaro: Mental preparedness.
We won’t lie to you, climbing Kilimanjaro will feel tough. When you leave Moshi and start out on your trek, it’ll feel fairly relaxed and easy, and it is, because you are fresh, it’s warm and sunny, you are going at a slow pace and the air is rich with oxygen. As you climb higher, it’ll start to get colder, and the air will get thinner making it feel much harder. Sleeping in a tent can be comfortable but it will have an impact on how you are feeling.
On summit day, you can expect to be up and awake at around midnight, and it’ll be freezing. It’ll take 7 to 10 hours to reach the summit and you’ll still have to get back down. Make no mistake, summit day is a long day, and you will feel tired. But everything in life that’s worth achieving takes effort and believe me, the effort taken to stand atop of Kilimanjaro is well worth it.
Armed with these facts we can minimise the final factor that stops people from achieving the summit. We know it will feel tough, but we can be ready for that, we can mentally prepare.
What’s the best route up Kilimanjaro?
There are seven main routes to the top of Uhuru Peak, otherwise known as Kilimanjaro. All the routes pass through spectacular scenery, and can all be considered beautiful, so regardless of which route you choose, you won’t be disappointed with that aspect. The routes aren’t all equal though in terms of distance, ascent profile and how long it takes to reach the summit using each particular route. Some routes, such as the Lemosho, tend to have higher success rates so it is definitely worth looking at the details and choosing carefully. From shortest to longest, the routes are:
The Mweka route is an incredibly short route. From start to summit it is 20.6km of steep rough trail. Many years ago, it may well have been used for ascent but these days it only gets traffic in a downwards direction as it is the designated descent route for the Umbwe, Shira, Machame and Lemosho routes.
At 27.7km from start to summit, the Umbwe route is also a short route. It also wins the reputation of being the toughest route up Kilimanjaro. This is because it is unrelentingly steep and lower down, in the jungle, the trail is riddled with tree routes making it fairly taxing. You’ll need strong legs and a good level of fitness for this route, but the rewards in terms of scenery and best views of the dramatic volcanic geology are unrivalled.
Because of Umbwe’s steep rough trail, it is not a popular route so if you do choose to use it then you will almost certainly find peace and quiet. The steepness of this route does not make it a good choice for acclimatisation and as such, your chances of standing on that fantastic summit are drastically reduced.
The oldest route on Kilimanjaro and still very popular. If you aren’t a fan of camping, then the Marangu is the route for you. This is the only route that has huts on it that you can stay in overnight. This extremely popular route is often referred to as the “coca cola” route, however, the Marangu can be underestimated and has the lowest success rate of all the main routes.
At 36.5km from start to summit it is still a steep route and although it doesn’t “feel” too tough, Marangu can still take its toll. That said, it’s a great route in terms of flora and fauna along the early part of the trail and walking across the wild and hostile desert of the saddle to the Kibo hut is also fairly special.
The normal duration for this route is 5 to 6 days but this makes it a fairly rapid ascent and as such, many people fail to properly acclimatise, suffer from altitude sickness and don’t reach the summit. This was the first route we used to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro back in the mid-90s and whilst it was tough going, we have fond memories of it and can still remember standing on the summit, freezing cold as the sun came up and marvelling at the fantastic views.
Starting at the Londorossi Gate the first part of this route is completed in vehicles which convey you to the Morum Barrier at 3405m on the edge of the Shira Plateau. We feel this is a real shame as you miss out on walking through the magnificent jungles that cover the western slopes of Kilimanjaro. After crossing the Shira Plateau the route merges with the Lemosho and Machame to reach the summit via Stella Point. The normal duration for this route is 7 or 8 days.
The Rongai route is the only route that climbs Kilimanjaro from the North. Despite the long journey to get to the start, this route is very popular with a much better chance of seeing wildlife. The Rongai is also a great choice of route for anyone looking to climb Kilimanjaro in the rainy season.
Most trips up the Rongai last 6 days, but it is possible to add extra days to improve your chances of acclimatisation. Summit day is via Gilman’s Point, as per the Marangu Route which is also used in descent. Choosing the Rongai and descending by the Marangu gives an almost complete traverse of the mountain from North to South which is a great way to climb. Whilst the ascent profile is still fairly sharp, the success rate on this route is good. Read more about our 6 Day Rongai Route HERE.
It is estimated that around 40% of all attempts on Kilimanjaro are made by the Machame Route making it by far the most popular route on the mountain. It is a good choice, the 7-day option has a success rate of up to 85%. That said though, the first 2 days are steep, and many people succumb to some form of altitude sickness. If you take your time and can tough it out, there’s a good chance of reaching the summit by this route.
After day 2, the Machame joins the Lemosho and then goes on to reach the summit from Barafu, via Stella Point. Descent is via the Mweka Route. Read more about our 7 Day Machame Route HERE.
The 8-day Lemosho Route has a success rate of around 90%; tackling Kilimanjaro from the West, crossing the Shira Plateau, climbing the Barranco Wall and summiting from Barafu via Stella Point. The reasons people are more likely to be successful on the Lemosho Route are due to its relatively low starting point and the number of days taken to reach the summit. This combination when coupled with the time spent at around 4000m makes it much better for acclimatising than the other routes.
One of the main reasons that we like the Lemosho route is that it starts down in the forest which is a delight to walk up through and the first night is spent camping in a clearing in the trees. The last time we were there we were visited by a troupe of Colobus Monkeys and some very inquisitive Blue Monkeys! Read more about our 8-day Lemosho Route HERE.
To return to the original question; what’s the best route up Kilimanjaro – our answer has to be the 8-day Lemosho Route. This is because it gives the best chances of success, making the very most of your investment in the trip.
When’s the best time to climb Kilimanjaro?
In theory, it’s possible to climb Kilimanjaro on any day at any time of the year. However, on some days it would be fairly foolish, and some seasons offer much more favourable conditions and therefore improve your chances of reaching the summit. Since Kilimanjaro is such a big mountain, the weather you will experience on its upper slopes can be totally different to the weather you would be experiencing down at its base.
The vastness of Kilimanjaro means that it actually generates its own weather patterns, which are often totally different to the weather found in the surrounding countryside.
Things to know about the weather on Kilimanjaro:
Anywhere above about 4800m at any time of year it will be pretty cold, zero degrees Celsius and below and anywhere down to minus 20 on the summit. February tends to be the warmest month with temperatures reaching up to 15 degrees down in the rainforest. The coolest months tend to be June and July.
Between March and May, the south-east trade winds bring rain from the Indian Ocean, creating a rainy season, known locally as the long rains – this is the wettest season on Kilimanjaro. The bulk of the rain falls on the southern side of Kilimanjaro during this period, and so the northern Rongai route can be drier.
From May to October, the winds swing round and blow from the north east. At this time of year, the winds tend to be dry and fairly strong. This often creates cloud cover and rain for the first days of the southern routes, but then clear blue skies as you climb up above 3000m.
November through to February sees the north east winds bringing in moisture, creating a short rainy season. This doesn’t bring the same amount of rain as the long rains, but it is still fairly wet, less so on the south side of the mountain. With both rainy seasons, most of the rain falls below 3500m, whilst it is dry above.
When the northeast winds drop, the south easterlies then create giant clouds generally resulting in snow on the upper slopes. Most of the snowfall happens between November and April but it isn’t unheard of outside of this period.
Now you have a ‘big picture’ idea of what the weather might be like, you should perhaps also have an idea of when a good time might be to take the next step and book your trip!
So, there are two rainy seasons when it’s not great for climbing, these are March through to May, and November through to February. The long rainy season from March to May is definitely not the best time to climb. Outside of the rainy seasons from June to October and December through to February are therefore good months to climb Kilimanjaro.
From our perspective, we think June is a great time to climb. It tends to be cooler, there’s not much chance of snow and it’s generally not as busy.
The busiest months are August and September. October is also a great month to climb Kilimanjaro with conditions similar to June. That said, Christmas and New Year are also popular times to climb Kilimanjaro, especially if you are wanting to experience maximum snow on the summit!
How much does it cost to climb Kilimanjaro?
The short answer to this question is, it’s not cheap! That, however, depends on what you class as expensive and how you perceive value for money.
Pricing for Kilimanjaro treks is complex, with a big portion of the cost made up of taxes and park entry fees, it’s hard to know what you are getting for your money. That said, prices range from around £1500 up to somewhere in the region of £4000 depending on route, group size and tour operator.
Often people choose a provider for their Kilimanjaro trek at the lower end of the price range, the cheaper the better, but in doing so, they end up having a terrible time and their chances of success are generally further reduced.
Equally, there is no guarantee that an expensive trip will be any better or add to your chances of reaching the summit.
The price of most trips includes:
The Kilimanjaro National Park conservation fee.
A fee for each member of staff (on an 8-day Lemosho route trip for people there are likely to be around 30 members of staff – Guides, Chef, Porters etc).
Pre and post trek accommodation.
Airport transfers, transport to the start of the trek and back again at the end.
Food whilst on the mountain.
Some of the costs cannot be reduced, and the only real variable is staff wages. The implication of this is that if you choose a cheap trip then it is highly likely that your mountain crew will not be getting paid a fair wage, will not be properly equipped and they will probably only get one meal per day.
So, choosing a cheap provider not only reduces your chances of success and contributes to a terrible trip it also perpetuates the exploitation of the local population, who earn a living by working on the mountain as guides, porters, and chefs.
From our perspective and ethically, we would advise you to rule out the cheap trips and look instead to the mid-range prices. Choose a provider in the mid-range that is a member of the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project, who can guarantee fair and ethical treatment of their Mountain Crew.
You can find out more about the companies who are signed up to fair treatment of their porters HERE.
What clothing and equipment do I need to climb Kilimanjaro?
You may experience all forms of climatic conditions during your ascent of Kilimanjaro. Low down in the forest zone, it can be hot and humid. Temperatures will drop as you climb higher, and it is not uncommon for it to rain in the afternoon (this will fall as snow higher up, depending on where the freezing level is). Mornings can be cold and frosty even though the sun is out. Night-time temperatures can drop below freezing and there is often a chilly breeze at night.
In summary, when climbing Kilimanjaro, we need to be prepared for everything that the weather can throw at us!
With this in mind, it is important that we set out wearing the right clothing and carrying the right equipment. Listed below are all the items of clothing and equipment that you will need to climb Kilimanjaro successfully and safely.
Essential Clothing (to be worn/carried)
Walking boots. A good pair of walking boots which provide ankle support and are well broken-in. Boots are essential.
Hiking socks. We recommend a good pair of proper hiking/trekking socks. You should have a pair for each day on the mountain.
Shorts. These are optional but can be worn in the initial stages of the trek and again at the end if you want.
Lightweight walking trousers. Jeans or tracksuit bottoms are not suitable. These items will be worn for most of the trek.
Insulated or fleece walking trousers (or thermal long johns). It will be cold on summit day, and it is essential that you can keep your legs warm.
Long-sleeved thermal top. Take at least two of these.
Long Sleeved shirt. This should be lightweight and quick drying.
Tee-shirt. Should be a technical fabric – avoid cotton as it is slow to dry. You will need two or three of these.
Fleece or Soft-Shell Layer. This can be a fleece jumper or fleece jacket or a soft-shell jacket.
Insulated Jacket. This can be down or synthetic.
Waterproof Jacket. Ideally this will be made from a waterproof, breathable material and it will have a hood.
Gloves or mittens. A thin pair and a big waterproof pair that will go on over the thin pair. A pair of mittens would also be very useful.
Underwear. Ideally these will be quick drying and moisture wicking. Take 3 pairs as a minimum.
Sports Bra. Ladies only, take two.
Small Rucksack. 20 to 30l is adequate – just big enough to carry what you need for the day.
Large Holdall. For the porters to carry your equipment. This should be 50-100 litres and fit all your equipment in it. This should be a soft bag, suitcases and hard bags are difficult for the porters to carry and not really suitable.
Sleeping Bag. This should be a minimum of three seasons and be able to keep you warm down to at least minus 10 (we recommend taking as warm a sleeping bag as possible).
Sleeping Mat. Although most good trekking companies will supply a sleeping mat, it is worth considering taking your own. A lightweight inflatable mat would make sleeping that much more comfortable!
Head torch (and spare batteries). This is essential for summit day, and you might want it for reading in your tent.
Personal First Aid Kit. The guides for most trekking companies carry a group first aid kit, but we recommend you carry a personal first aid kit which includes sun cream, lip balm, blister plasters (Compeed), plasters, painkillers and any prescription medicines, insect repellent etc.
Water Bladder. It is essential that you have the means to carry at least 2 litres of drinking water. The best solution is a bladder type water carrier such as a Camelbak, as this then allows you to drink whilst walking with no need to stop to get out a water bottle.
Water Bottle. Nalgene type, 1 litre. Bladders can freeze on summit day so you should also take a robust bottle capable of holding at least 1 litre.
Toiletries. Include wet wipes, hand sanitiser and toilet tissues.
Walking poles. Not essential but extremely useful, especially when descending.
Camera. Make sure you have spare batteries or the means to re-charge whilst on the trek.
Mobile Phone. The signal is limited on most routes but there are places where you will be able to send and receive text and make calls. There is no mobile data.
Rucksack rain cover.
Pee Bottle. A wide-mouthed bottle such as a Nalgene bottle can be useful at night so you don’t need to get out of the tent – make sure it is clearly marked as you wouldn’t want to drink from it!
Other Clothing & Equipment:
Travel clothing. Clothing that you will not wear whilst on the trek. This can be packed in your porter load or left in a small bag at the hotel.
Sports Sandals/Trainers. Comfortable footwear for use in the evening whilst in camp.
Stuff Sacks/Dry Bags. Various sizes to keep kit dry and separate – much better than rucksack rain covers.
How fit do I need to be to climb Kilimanjaro?
Earlier in this guide, we explained that from a physical perspective, all you have to do to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro is to walk. You don’t have to walk a great distance each day, but you do have to carry a small rucksack. You also have to deal with the stresses and strains of gaining altitude and living in tents, but you don’t have to be an Olympic gold medal winner to achieve summit success.
Being physically fit, however, can help you take each day in your stride. Fitness will make everything you do feel that much easier and, in theory, the fitter you are, the easier you will find the task in hand and the quicker you will recover from exertion and physically demanding tasks.
To answer the question, most people of average fitness are capable of climbing Kilimanjaro and lots of people of average fitness do manage to stand on that prized summit every year. Being fit helps and the fitter you are the more likely you are to enjoy the journey. If you are thinking of climbing Kilimanjaro or have already booked a trip, then our advice is to try and improve your fitness before you go. Not only will you feel better for it, but it should make your endeavours on Kili that much more manageable.
What sort of training should I do before climbing Kilimanjaro?
There will undoubtedly be a thousand different answers to this question, depending on who you speak to, and a quick search of the internet will reveal a myriad of different training programmes, all designed to get you in tip top shape for your Kilimanjaro climb.
In our opinion, the more training you do beforehand, the more you will be able to enjoy the whole experience. If you are bewildered by the training programmes out there, then here are some practical tips from us based on having climbed plenty of mountains:
Walk as often as possible.
Walking should lie at the heart of your training programme, after all, that’s what you will be doing on your trek. You should aim to walk as often as possible. Start with short walks, maybe once or twice a week.
As your fitness improves and your trek date draws closer, try, and increase the distance you walk up to about 10 miles and try to walk on consecutive days in preparation for what you will be doing on your trek.
Improve your Cardiovascular fitness. Cardiovascular fitness, sometimes referred to as aerobic fitness, is extremely important, especially when your trek is going to be at altitude. This type of fitness is what stops you from getting out of breath and provides you with the ability to work harder and faster for longer. It is the ability of your heart and lungs to supply oxygen rich blood to the muscles and in turn, your muscle’s ability to use the oxygen to create energy for movement.
If your trek is at high altitude like on Kilimanjaro, where there is less oxygen, then your cardiovascular fitness is even more important. Activities such as running, swimming, cycling, and walking are all great for improving your cardiovascular fitness – the more you can do, the better!
Build leg strength. Strong legs are key when trekking so improving or building your leg strength will greatly contribute to your ability to take all the ups, downs, and long days in your stride. Exercises such as squats, lunges and leg presses are all great for improving leg strength. You can do these exercises with weights or just your body weight and joining a gym or getting involved with regular exercise classes should all help.
Bolster your core strength. A strong core is the link between your legs and your upper body. Your core will help you to keep your balance on uneven and loose terrain. So, strengthening your core should be as high on your training agenda as building leg strength. There are plenty of exercises that work your core, examples being crunches, plank and mountain climbers. If you aren’t sure how best to improve your core strength, then seek training advice from your local gym.
Work on your upper body strength. If you are following this advice, then you are already working to strengthen your legs and improve your core so why not go the extra mile and build some upper body strength? Trekking is physically demanding and whilst you might not think your upper body is doing much that’s not exactly true. You’ll be carrying a rucksack, supported by your upper body. You may choose to use walking poles which rely on arm strength to be effective.
Whichever way you look at it, your upper body will be getting involved in the action, so it makes sense to build some strength here too. There are plenty of exercises which work the different muscle groups in your upper body, and you can do them with or without weights. Again, if you are unsure where to start or want help with a training programme, pop down to your local gym for advice.
Focus on representative training. As already mentioned, walking should lie at the heart of your training programme, but it is important to try and replicate the type of walking you will be doing on your trek. To achieve this, try and get out walking in the UK’s fantastic hills and mountains such as those in the Lake District, North Wales, or the highlands of Scotland. Wear your trekking boots, carry a rucksack and include plenty of going up and going down in your route.
If you don’t feel confident to get out in the hills on your own then get in touch with us at Monkey Mountaineering to arrange some guided walking or better still, some skills training so that you can build the confidence to have your own adventures!
Get used to carrying a rucksack. During your trek up Kilimanjaro, you will need to carry a small rucksack containing your waterproofs, hat and gloves, a warm top and some food and drink for the day. A rucksack of around 30lt capacity should be adequate and roomy enough for all you will need to carry.
When choosing a rucksack, make sure it has a good waist strap, that it fits your back well and that it’s comfortable to carry when fully loaded. Packs with adjustable chest straps, side compression straps and attachments for walking poles etc are the most versatile. Wear it as often as possible when you go out walking, gradually adding to the weight so that you get used to carrying it loaded.
Ideally you should use a liner inside your rucksack to keep everything dry (rain covers, although very popular, aren’t very good and can easily blow off) and tighten up any compression straps to keep the load from moving about.
What’s the food like on Kilimanjaro?
It’s important to have a good idea of what you will be eating and equally important that you know there’ll be food you like. It’s also important that you have plenty to drink, so we have included information on this too.
What you get to eat will be based partly on how much you’ve paid for your trek, and partly on how good the trekking company and Chef are. Overall though, the food is good on Kilimanjaro.
Starting with breakfast, there will be plenty of fresh fruit and porridge, as well as cooked items such as sausage, bacon, and eggs. There will also be toast with jams and marmalades and plenty of tea, coffee, and juice.
Most days you will receive a packed lunch to eat whilst you are on the trail. This will consist of sandwiches with various fillings as well as fruit and cereal/chocolate bars. There’ll also likely be a carton of juice.
Water for drinking on the trail will also be provided at breakfast time. You simply take your drinking containers to the Mess Tent, and they will be filled for you with clean safe drinking water. There isn’t much water available on the trail so your mountain crew will have carried it from the nearest source before filtering and boiling it to make it safe to drink.
Some days, your mountain crew will set up on the trail and you’ll get a proper cooked meal for lunch sitting inside your mess tent. This is especially welcome on the Lemosho route at Lava Tower, where you will be able to take a good break and eat a good meal as part of the acclimatisation process.
Some trekking companies provide you with drinks and snacks or soup on arrival in camp at the end of the day. This is great as it allows you to just sit down and relax after your day’s trek; another important part of the acclimatisation process.
An evening meal generally consists of three courses, starting with soup, which is a great way to boost your hydration levels if you haven’t quite drunk enough through the day. This will normally be followed by a main course, with fresh meat or chicken, vegetables, and potatoes or sometimes pasta or rice. Afterwards there will be a desert which is generally homemade and often a local speciality, which is always delicious!
In summary, if you have chosen a reputable trek provider then the food you get on the mountain will be excellent and you won’t go hungry.
For those people with food allergies, vegetarians, or those in need of a special diet, then so long as you’ve let your tour operator know at the time of booking there’s no reason why your requirements can’t be met.
What about toilets?
This is a great question and really important.
The good news is that there are public toilets at all the campsites on Kilimanjaro. The bad news is that they are generally not in a good state and my advice is to avoid them at all costs as they are a serious health hazard.
Don’t let that put you off though as you’ll only have to use the public toilets if you’ve booked the cheapest trek possible!
Most good trek providers use portable, private toilets which are kept exclusively for you and your group. Your group size will dictate how many toilets are provided but they will be kept spotlessly clean by a dedicated member of the team. They should also be stocked with toilet paper and hand sanitiser but it’s always worth taking your own.
Whilst on the subject of hand sanitiser, it is important to keep as clean as possible whilst on the trek. Your mountain crew will provide you with warm water to wash first thing every morning and you can also request it in the afternoon when you arrive in camp. On top of this, soap and water will always be available outside the Mess Tent so that you can wash your hands before meals.