During the expedition

The delightful hotel


The first and last two nights of the Kilimanjaro Expedition you stay in an atmospheric and lushy green hotel in the centre of the town of Arusha. When you book, you can indicate if you prefer a single, double or triple room. The hotel has a bar, a restaurant, a massage parlor (very pleasant after the climb), safes for valuables and laundry services.

During your stay at the hotel the simple breakfast buffets are included.


The Expedition

You climb the Kilimanjaro in 7 days and 6 nights through the Machame Route. Through this route you 'climb' up, and after reaching the top, turn and descend via the Mweki route. During this route you will enjoy the views of tropical rain forests to the magnificent endless moon-landscape above the 4000 metres.

Every expedition is guided by one or two well-qualified mountain guides (depending on the size of your group). They are extremely well trained to assess your well-being. If you don't feel well during any point of the climb, always inform your guide. Usually the guide will have already noticed and will help and support you. Sometimes you just need a motivational push or small medical assistance (think blisters). The mountain guides are solely responsible for your health and welfare and will therefore do anything to help you.

On the first climbing day everyone gathers at Machame Gate, the entrance to the Kilimanjaro National Park and the start of the Machame route. Here you you the guides select the mountain porters who carry all belongings and weigh their baggage. Porters will be carrying over 60 kilograms. Here you must register yourself.

Safety

You should absolutely not climb if your doctor has advised against it, if you are pregnant, or have severe difficulty in breathing. If you are over 3500 meters and you have a burden of colds, cough, an elevated body temperature gets a nosebleed, you will be advised by the guide as ti whether you should continue or descend to prevent altitude sickness.

  • Porters provide you with daily drinking water. The first day water will be bottled, but on the mountain you will drink cooked and filtered fresh water. You need to drink at least three litres of water per day. The porters arrange breakfast, lunch and a solid nutritious dinner (several courses). You have to supply energizing daytime snacks yourself.
  • The communication to the park rangers at foot of the mountain goes through mobile phones.
  • All guides carry a first aid kit.
  • Every night the guide will check your heartbeat and the percentage of oxygen in your blood with an optimeter to determine whether you're fit enough to continue the next day.
  • Every night on the mountain you will get a briefing by the guide about the itinerary of the following day.

Walking speed

You'll notice immediately that the walking speed after the start is already very slow. There is absolutely no hurry. You'll soon notice that the slow pace is ideal: you don't get out of breath and you don't need many resting breaks. Meanwhile, you can enjoy the flora and fauna around you. Another advantage of the slow pace is that your body has the chance to properly adjust to the altitude.

The climb to the top of the Kilimanjaro

On the sixth day you will be given an early dinner after already a full day of walking. Your guide will advise you to quickly go to sleep to prepare yourself for the coming night. Indeed, around midnight, the ascent of the summit starts. After a light snack and drink the head lights go on, you're dressed up warm against the cold and you'll set off - very slowly - to the top of the volcano in the darkness of the night.

This is the most exciting day of the Expedition, because everything comes down to this. How far do you get, do you stay warm enough, do you get enough oxygen, do you quit? Always follow the advice of the guide and with enough stamina you can see the sun rise somewhere near Stella Point (5685 m). With the sun that slowly warming up your body you walk along the crater towards the ultimate summit: Uhuru Peak (5895 m). At that moment you reach the highest point on the African continent!

The temperature

During the days on the mountain it can easily be 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) and you can mostly walk wearing only a t-shirt at 3,000 metres. Wind can sometimes be a disadvantage, causing the temperature to drop to 15 degrees Celsius (59 F). You will notice a huge temperature change once the sun goes down and the night begins. At night, it can freeze (a warm sleeping bag is absolutely necessary). The morning is pleasant and soon you'll be taking off your sweater as the strong sun begins to shine again.

Unfortunately there can be no guarantee given for sunny days. Depending on the seasons it may also rain or snow. Be always prepared with the proper clothing. The guide can give you very good advice on how to dress for the next day.

Meals

You'll hardly believe it, but during the climb will you really never get any shortage of food. The chef cooks great mountain menus under the most difficult circumstances.

Breakfast includes wheat porridge (fibres!), toasted bread with a variety of sweet ingredients to put on it, omelets, fried bacon and a big bowl of fresh cut fruit. For drinks you can choose from tea, coffee, hot chocolate or filtered water.

Lunch starts each day with soup and fresh vegetable salad. Expect pancakes, cakes or sandwiches with various fruit drinks. In between the chef prepares grilled peanuts and salty popcorn and you can choose from chocolates and biscuits. Dinner is one of the most important meals of the day. After a long walk your body needs to be fed to recover and to prepare for the next day. Dinner may consist of fish, chicken, chips, pancakes, rice, pasta with various vegetables, the Tanzanian banana stew Ndizi, followed by a rich desert (fresh fruit, baked with chocolate sauce) and banana pancakes with honey and Tanzanian yogurt.

Every day you will be surprised with what the chef will serve you.

If you have special dietary desires, let them know when you book your Expedition Kilimanjaro. The chef will match your wishes with his cooking.

The porters carry your luggage

A porter may officially carry 15 kilograms of your baggage. So make sure your bag (clothing, sleeping bag and all other supplies) is not heavier than 15 kilograms.

You 'daypack' should also be as light as possible. If you already have three litres of water in it, there is already a good weight. Fill the rest of your pack with only those things you need on the route, such as energy snacks, sunscreen, a scarf and a warm sweater. Sunglasses and head protection should already be on your head.

In addition to your luggage a porter will also carry all supplies up the mountain: food, water, tents, the kitchen and their own belongings. In the morning they will pack up camp and they will run past you when you are already walking again. Once you arrive at the next camp at the end of the afternoon, you'll see that everything is ready. Your luggage will already be in your tent and hot coffee will be waiting for you.

Camping

You will be staying in daily double tents on camping grounds where you'll meet many other climbers. If you wish to have a tent for yourself, please request one during your booking. Depending on availability, this is usually free or a small fee is requested (locally).

The toilets on the mountain are wooden boxes with a hole in the floor. It may take a few days to get used to it.

Every morning the porters arrange a bowl of hot water for you so you can wash your self for as much as possible.

If you have any trash, gather it every morning and give it to the porters. Garbage is burned or carried along until the end of the expedition (when plastic).

Photography

If you use a digital camera, you should always bring enough full batteries with you during the climb. Because of the cold they become empty faster than normal. Also, put batteries in a place where they are no direct exposure to the cold. During my own expeditions, I held all batteries in my sleeping bag at night and had no problems.

Phone reception

At most locations on the mountain you'll notice there is a mobile (roaming) network available also supplying data traffic. Some people have even used Twitter to tell their friends they made it to the top!
Just remember there is no way to charge a phone on the mountain, unless you use solar panels.

After the climb

Anyone who made it to Stella Point or Uhuru Peak will receive theire official certificate after the expedition at Mweki Gate or at the hotel.
At the hotel you can relax and order a massage for those tired legs and back muscles. You will love it.

In Tanzania it is customary to tip about 10% of any total price. This applies to all services that might be provided for you. So please remember to also think about the guide that kept you safe for seven long days, as well as the chef and the porters. If the expedition will cost you $2,300 total, at least count on 230 dollars for a tip for your entire mountain team (one team of twelve participants can already have a support team of several guides, assistants, chefs and over 25 porters).

If you have finished your climb and you have clothing left which you'll no longer use and you want to make your luggage lighter, donate your old clothes, shoes or other supplies to your chief guide. He knows exactly which members of his team will be most in need with new shoes, winter gear and other accessories.


More information

The Expedition Kilimanjaro calls for a good physical condition, good planning and adequate acclimatization to the high altitude. The book Kilimanjaro, A Trekking Guide to Africa's Highest Mountain by Henry Stedman helps you with planning for the physical and mental condition and the need to acclimatize yourself.

All facets of the mountain and its environment are addressed in this great book. The author provides information about what you can expect and how then can reach the top with lots of practical background information. Details include information about de town Arusha, on the nature (flora and fanua) of the region and the mountain itself. 

You can order this book online at Amazon.com from US$ 13.57.