10 ways to make sure your Kilimanjaro trip is a success—best tips for increasing summit success

climb kilimanjaroClimbing Kilimanjaro should be on every outdoors enthusiast bucket list. Not only is it an epic adventure in the far away, almost mystical, country of Africa, it is also an amazing experience you can share with your friends, family and loved ones. So how to ensure you are doing everything you need to have a successful Kilimanjaro trip? Below are 10 ways that will make your climb safe and improve your chances of making the summit. Tip numbers 1-5 are on this page. Click the button at the bottom to see numbers 6-10.

FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS
FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS
FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS

The best way to make sure you summit Mount Kilimanjaro is to follow directions. Maybe your high school teacher used the phrase “When all else fails, follow the instructions”?  That is our recommendation as well. When you book a Kilimanjaro climb with us, we send you a long trip confirmation email with what to do next. In it, we have all the instructions on what to do for your trip.

Let’s take a closer look at our confirmation email. It reads as follows:

TRIP CONFIRMATION EMAIL

We have confirmed your trip. You may now purchase your airline tickets and make any other necessary travel arrangements.

Thank you for choosing Peak Planet as your guide for your Mount Kilimanjaro climb. This email should contain all the information that you may need during your trip. Please read it thoroughly and use it as a reference. Should you have any questions please feel free to contact us.

Our climbs have an arrival and departure day built in. If your flight arrives or departs on another day please let us know and we can book additional lodging. We recommend that you come in at least one day earlier. For example, if your arrival day is October 5th. Book your flight to arrive on the 4th. Booking this rest day allows for any flight delays and for any delayed or lost bags. This also gives you a day to recover from the long flight.

Additionally, we conduct a pre-trek briefing with your guide the day before your climb. This briefing ensures that everyone is well prepared for the trek. Briefing times do depend on the different arrival times of the group, but out of respect for the other participants and for our guiding team we can’t do them too late in the evening.  So if you have a late afternoon or evening arrival flight on this day you may miss the pre-trek briefing.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION THAT WE REQUIRE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE
Your trip code can be found on your booking form in the Trip Overview section.
peak planet trip code

Client Information Form (Client Information Form)
Client Information Forms must be filled out for each climber. If you have any diet restrictions, use this form to let us know.
Travel Insurance Form (Travel Insurance Form)
It is a mandatory requirement to have medical and travel insurance to participate on our climbs. We recommend purchasing travel insurance as soon as your climb is confirmed.
Flight Information Form (Flight Information Form)
Please fill this out as soon as you get your flights. You can also reserve airport pickup and drop offs using this form. Even if you are not using our airport transfer service, we still request that you fill out this form. This will allow us to double-check your arrival and departure dates to make sure that they match up with your itinerary.
Rental Gear Form (Rental Gear Form)
Use this form to reserve rental gear. You can view our rental gear here. This form is optional.

Please note: You will pay for the rental equipment with US Dollars, 2009 and newer bills at the trip briefing. It is not included in your booking form payments and we do not accept Credit Cards in Tanzania. Cash only.

CONTACT INFORMATION

PRE-TRIP
Should you have any questions about your trip prior to leaving for Tanzania, you can contact us by phone: (480) 463-4058 or email: info@peakplanet.com.

DURING YOUR TRIP
Since we are 10 hours behind, if you have any issues during your trip or while you are on your way, please contact Tanzania directly at +255 753 896962 outside of Tanzania. Once you are there the number is +255 0753 896962. The second emergency line before you are there is: +255 769 079525 once there: +255 0769 079525. This is their 24-hour duty phone number. We recommend you download WhatsApp to your phone and save these numbers so you can text us with any delays or issues.

TRIP PREPARATION

TRAINING
Being in good shape will increase your chances of having a safe climb, a successful summit, and enjoyable experience. Climbing Kilimanjaro does not take any technical mountaineering skills. It is a trek at high altitude and nearly anyone in decent physical condition can climb Mount Kilimanjaro.

However, one should not underestimate the effort required over six to nine days to reach the peak. The main reason that climbers fail to reach the summit is due to the inability to acclimatize to the high altitude quickly enough. Short of going to high altitude or renting an altitude training system (https://peakplanet.com/altitude-training-systems), there is little that one can do to pre-acclimatize before the climb. Being physically fit does not guarantee that climbers can overcome altitude issues, but it does reduce the strenuousness of the climb on the body, which in turn, makes acclimatization more likely.

Performing local trail day hikes is the recommended form of training. The trails should include uphill and downhill sections, and you should wear the clothing, boots, and pack that you intend to climb in. Try to hike for several hours. Your hikes on the mountain will on average be between four to six hours but can be as little as two (on easy days) and as high as 14 hours (on summit day). If it is impractical for you to train outdoors, you may exercise at the local gym. The staple of your training should be walking on a treadmill or Stairmaster, supplemented with general weight training for your core and legs.

A minimum of three days a week, perhaps shorter sessions during the weekdays and longer sessions on the weekends, for three months, is suggested. With proper training, you will develop the leg strength, endurance, and confidence necessary for Kilimanjaro.

TRAVEL

Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO)
When booking flights, clients ideally should fly into Kilimanjaro International Airport (airport code: JRO). This is the preferred arrival point for our climbs. This airport is about 45 minutes from Moshi.

Arusha Airport (airport code: ARK)
Arusha airport is a small airport located in Arusha.

Nairobi, Kenya
Some clients choose to arrive from Nairobi. From Nairobi, you can take a daily shuttle bus to Arusha for under $75 USD. The bus ride is about 5-6 hours. We do not provide any transportation to or from Nairobi. Clients must arrange this transportation themselves.

AIRPORT PICKUP AND DROPOFFS
Airport pickups are included in your trip price. Please let us know when you are arriving so we can schedule your pickup.  If you scheduled an airport transfer, our driver will be waiting for you outside the airport after baggage claim area at JRO. He will be holding a sign that says PEAK PLANET.

PASSPORTS AND VISAS

To gain entry into Tanzania, US citizens and most other 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 prior to departure from the USA (recommended due to long wait times at JRO) or at your point of entry into Tanzania. The visa cost for US citizens is $100. More information can be found here: http://tanzaniaembassy-us.org/?page_id=76#visaForms

Obtaining a Visa at JRO airport is a relatively simple process. When you arrive at JRO, as you enter the airport there will be one line. Hurry off the plane and get into this line. There are 3 windows for visas, but the staff will have you stand in one line. Once at the window, pay $100, submit flight card and passport and get your visa stamp on the flight card.

LODGING

Your climb includes lodging the night before and the night after the climb at one of the following lodges. It does not include dinner.

Stella Maris Executive Lodge
Mailisita Village
Moshi, Tanzania
Phone: +255 686 663 244

Weru Weru Royal Resort
Weruweru St, Tanzania
Moshi, Tanzania
Phone: +255 686 663 244

HEALTH

Vaccinations
There are no required vaccinations, however, the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) recommends the following vaccinations and medications: Yellow Fever (required if entering Tanzania from an ‘infected area’), Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Rabies. Additionally, the CDCP recommends routine vaccinations for measles/mumps/rubella (MMR), diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus (DPT) and polio, if you are not up-to-date.

Preventative Medications
The following medications are recommended and brought by most climbers. You should visit or consult with a travel doctor to determine if you may need other medications. Your travel doctor will be able to prescribe and/or supply you with the medications below.

Malaria
Malarone is an antimalarial medication which climbers bring to prevent malaria.

Altitude Sickness
Diamox is an FDA approved prescription medication used to prevent and treat altitude sickness.

Diarrhea
Stomach sickness is common due to the altitude, change in diet, and the overall climb schedule. Climbers will bring anti-diarrhea medications.

TRIP BRIEFING

On the day prior to the trek, we conduct a trip briefing with your guide. This briefing ensures that everyone is well prepared for the trek. Briefing times do depend on the different arrival times of the group, but out of respect for the other participants and for our guiding team we won’t conduct them too late in the evening. If you have a late afternoon or evening arrival flight on this day you may miss the pre-trek briefing. You will receive your rental equipment at this time. You will pay for it will cash, US Dollars, 2009 and newer, undamaged bills. We will conduct an abbreviated pre-climb meeting the morning of the trek for those who missed the evening briefing. We will also request a copy of your trip insurance at this time.

TRAVEL INSURANCE

It is a mandatory requirement to have medical and travel insurance to participate on our climbs. Even if you have medical insurance, we also need for you to have travel insurance as it may cover you in the event that you cannot make the climb.

Medical Coverage
Due to the inherent risks of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, we require that all clients have valid medical insurance. Clients must confirm with their provider that their insurance will cover high altitude trekking up to 6,000 meters. Climbing Kilimanjaro does not require any ropes or technical gear. Their insurance should cover medical evacuation from the mountain.

If your medical insurance does not cover the above, you must purchase travel insurance so that you have the appropriate insurance prior to the climb. No refunds are given for clients turned away due to failure to obtain the proper coverage.

Trip Coverage
In addition to medical coverage, travel insurance will cover unforeseen circumstances such as trip cancellation, trip interruption, lost luggage, etc.

Travel Guard
We recommend Travel Guard https://peakplanet.com/travelguard.php for travel insurance. We recommend purchasing Travel Guard’s Silver Insurance Plan. Travel Guard is only available to U.S. residents.

World Nomads
World Nomads provides travel insurance for many countries including the USA and most of Europe. https://peakplanet.com/worldnomads.php. 

GEAR

Kilimanjaro treks have a wide range of temperatures so the best clothing is a lot of layers. Such clothing is easier to adjust as the temperature fluctuates and is more effective than a few thick items of clothing. Special attention should be made to the fabric of base and middle layers; these garments should be constructed of a moisture-wicking material that effectively pulls sweat away from the body to keep you dry. Cotton is a very poor fabric for trekking and should not be worn.

Read more here: https://peakplanet.com/dress-mount-kilimanjaro/

Download our Peak Planet Gear List (https://peakplanet.com/wp-content/uploads/peak-planet-gear-list-2.pdf)

Porter loads are limited by our standards of porter treatment as well as by Kilimanjaro National Park authorities. Each client should bring a maximum of 15kg (33lbs) of luggage for porters to carry onto Kilimanjaro, so please choose your gear sparingly.  The luggage, which should be contained in a duffle bag, will be weighed prior to departure. You will only carry a medium-sized daypack, containing items that you will need during your daily walks. Accordingly, your duffle bag should contain the items that you will not need between campsites. The porters will carry your duffle bag inside another heavyweight client bag to give it further protection from dust, water, and abrasions. Any items that are not needed for the climb at all can be safely stored in the hotel.

RENTAL GEAR

We provide high quality, like new rental gear at reasonable prices. We recommend renting gear whenever possible. In addition to saving money, renting gear will lessen your baggage as sleeping bags, pads, and synthetic jackets will probably be the largest items that you will bring to Kilimanjaro.

You can view our rental gear information and prices at https://peakplanet.com/rental-gear/.

Viewing our rental gear page will also give you an idea of the type of jacket and sleeping bag that is required to comfortably sleep and hike the mountain.

Please note that our rental gear has a limited supply. During our busy months of September-October and January-February, it is not uncommon for us to run out of both. So please reserve these items early if you intend to rent them from us.

Altitude training systems are also available for rent. These in-home systems simulate low oxygen environments and can help your body acclimatize prior to your trip. You can read more about them at https://peakplanet.com/altitude-training-systems.

TIPPING

Tipping is an important part of the compensation to the crew for a climb. We believe that tipping is a fair compensation for a porter’s work done properly. We are aware that tipping may not be a common practice in some countries. However, it does play a part in the financial compensation for your Kilimanjaro climb crew. We encourage climbers to consider tipping. It should be based on the crew meeting your expectations. Read more here: https://peakplanet.com/tipping-on-kilimanjaro/

In addition to the above email, you’ll also receive a guidebook that reiterates most of this. It can be printed and brought with you to use as a reference.

TRAIN FOR IT
TRAIN FOR IT
TRAIN FOR IT

Secondly, train to climb Kilimanjaro. The mountain stands 19,341 feet tall and it takes several days to make it to the summit. Most notable, it is taller than Everest Base Camp but takes fewer days to get there.

train to climb kilimanjaroIf you are in good shape, the hiking will be easier. Additionally, the better shape you are in, the less likely your body will react poorly to the extreme elevation gain. Why is this? Because, the more fit you are, the less your body has to struggle which may help you adapt to the elevation.

Better yet, get a training partner to help motivate you. Have that partner join you on your climb. Having that person with you on the mountain will help you cope with the enormity of your undertaking. You can push each other and stand on the summit together.

Here is the training regiment we suggest for your Mount Kilimanjaro climb.

TRAINING SCHEDULE

Set a routine for training. Focus on discipline. Make a training schedule and stick to it.

  • Day 1: Hike/StairMaster for at least one hour
  • Day 2: Light leg workout with weights, or cycling, or jogging
  • Day 3: Hike/StairMaster for at least one hour
  • Day 4: Rest
  • Day 5: Open day to do any exercise you like
  • Day 6: Hike/StairMaster for at least one hour
  • Day 7: Rest

Notes: For your hikes and StairMaster sessions, you can begin with carrying a little weight in your daypack.

Build your foundation of endurance and strength. Keep workouts challenging and fun.

  • Day 1: Hike/StairMaster for at least one hour
  • Day 2: Moderate leg workout with weights
  • Day 3: Hike/StairMaster for at least one hour
  • Day 4: Rest
  • Day 5: Open day to do any exercise you like
  • Day 6: Hike at least three hours with a weighted pack
  • Day 7: Rest

Notes: Increase the weight of your pack to about 20 lbs. Weekly, do one long hike that takes a full day of 6-8 hours of hiking. Also, plan at least one overnight backpack trip where you can test out your sleeping gear.

Your hardest workouts should be at the four-week point. Increase the weight of your pack to 25-30 lbs. Do everything at a faster pace. Really challenge yourself this month to gain mental toughness.

  • Day 1: Hike/StairMaster for at least one hour
  • Day 2: Hard leg workout with weights
  • Day 3: Hike/StairMaster for at least one hour
  • Day 4: Light leg workout with weights, or cycling, or jogging
  • Day 5: Open day to do any exercise you like
  • Day 6: Hike at least four hours with a weighted pack
  • Day 7: Rest

Wind down your training to prevent injury. Maintain your strength and endurance with easy to moderate workouts. Be sure to get enough sleep before embarking on your travels.

  • Day 1: Hike/StairMaster for at least one hour
  • Day 2: Light leg workout with weights, or cycling, or jogging
  • Day 3: Hike/StairMaster for at least one hour
  • Day 4: Rest
  • Day 5: Open day to do any exercise you like
  • Day 6: Hike/StairMaster for at least one hour
  • Day 7: Rest
PACK CORRECTLY
PACK CORRECTLY
PACK CORRECTLY

Another tip for making it to the summit is to pack correctly. We give a list of the minimum recommended equipment and clothing to bring along with you. Keep in mind it has to be under 33 lbs in your duffle bag. The porter will carry it. Read more here: https://peakplanet.com/how-should-i-pack-for-kilimanjaro/

You’ll bring a 35-liter daypack to carry water, snacks, rain gear and camera equipment. Watch here to see how to pack this 35-liter pack as a carry on in case your other luggage is delayed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCMJL6BxpbA

For a detailed list of what to bring go here: https://peakplanet.com/wp-content/uploads/peak-planet-gear-list-2.pdf

You can also watch the video below to see what to pack.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJRkuspvkNo
DO YOUR RESEARCH
DO YOUR RESEARCH
DO YOUR RESEARCH

climb kilimanjaroYou are traveling halfway around the world and spending a lot of money. You should do your research and know what you are getting yourself into. Climbing Kilimanjaro is not easy. Don’t underestimate it. Not only is it many days of hiking, it is also very challenging. You are on the mountain for many days, with hours of downtime. You need to know that going into it so you can prepare for it.

Where to start? Try here: https://peakplanet.com/new-climb-peak-planet/guides-and-porters/

BE MENTALLY PREPARED
BE MENTALLY PREPARED
BE MENTALLY PREPARED

Another way to have a successful Kilimanjaro trip is to be mentally prepared. This may seem a bit confusing to you, but you have to understand what it is you are getting yourself into. You will be in a foreign country, away from everything you are used to. Things like TV, the internet, radio, cell phone coverage, friends, and family are not readily available. You will not be able to Google things you do not know or text a friend. You’ll be isolated from the outside world. You will have hours of downtime at camp each night, you may not be sleeping well, and you may be cold. This may seem daunting, but it isn’t as long as you are prepared.

We just told you what to expect, now it’s up to you to figure out ways to cope with it. Here is a short list of things you can do to pass the time.


Also published on Medium.

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