You’ve booked your Kilimanjaro adventure and are now sitting in front of your computer trying to decide when is the best day to book your arrival flights. First of all, our climbs have an arrival and departure day built in. So if your climb says it starts on July 3rd, that is the arrival day. The trek doesn’t begin until the next day.
Extra Arrival Day
Despite the arrival day being built in, we do recommend arriving a day earlier. This extra day is important if your flight is delayed or canceled. There will still be time to make scheduling adjustments. We have had clients arrive at the ticket counter only to find that their flight is delayed, there is an airline strike in a connecting country, their ticket is not valid or their passport name doesn’t match their ticket. In some of these examples, the client was able to book an alternative flight, or they arrived several hours after they were expected. Other times, they missed out on their trek altogether.
If this happens, we recommend downloading WhatsApp and texting us. This is the fastest way to get a response. Our sales department is 10 hours behind Tanzania and if you email or call us while you are between flights, chances are you’re calling or email in the middle of the night. You won’t get a response for several hours. If you text via WhatsApp, you’ll be contacting our 24-hour emergency line. Let us know your new arrival time and we will try our best to be there on time to pick you up from Kilimanjaro International airport (JRO).
As you can see, there are many things that can cause a delay on your way to JRO. For these reasons, we really recommend booking that extra arrival day. Just let us know and we will reserve a room for you.
This extra day is also great to just relax. Most of the flights arrive in the evening, so you’ll have the next day to recover from your long flight. This is also important if your luggage gets delayed or lost. If you can’t find your bag at the airport, please let our driver know immediately so we can track it down. We recommend packing your carry-on bag with everything you’ll need for the first couple of days on the mountain. That way, you’ll have everything you need even if your checked bag is missing. Once we find your luggage, we will bring it to you.
And finally, it is great to book that additional arrival day so you get a good trip briefing the day before your climb. We generally try to have one in the late morning and one in the late afternoon. When you arrive at the hotel, there will be a sign that informs you of your trip briefing times.
So now that you have scheduled your flight to arrive in time for the trip briefing, what exactly do we go over with you?
Here are some of the items we will discuss.
Day to day itinerary with a map – We will go over your trek day-by-day so you know what to expect. We will also show you a map of the route.
Gear and equipment – We will distribute and collect payment for the rental gear at this time. We will make sure you brought everything you need for the trek.
Keep your passport and money at the hotel – we do not want you to take a lot of money on the mountain. That would increase your chance of having it stolen. We will let you know what to do with it at the trip briefing. For your passport, we recommend making a couple of copies of it. Keep one in your luggage and one with you. Only carry a small amount of cash with you for beer and snacks at the gate. It should be no more than $20-$30.
Food and Water
Drink four liters of water per day – drinking water is very important when hiking at high altitudes. We know it is cold and you won’t feel like it. But it is very important to help your body acclimate.
Eat as much as you can and want, don’t be polite – We will feed you, as much as you want. Eat. It is important to keep eating even when you don’t want to. You are burning calories and your body needs fuel to continue to climb. If you aren’t eating because you are shy about not liking something, remember, this is your trip, let us know and we will make something else. We also have resupplies along the route and we can use our Garmin inReach to have something else sent up.
Unfortunately, pizza delivery is not an option—but wouldn’t that be great? If you really can’t live without pizza, Pringles makes a pizza chip and the solid can prevents them from being crushed.
One of the most important factors in having a successful Kilimanjaro climb is safety. Climbing Kilimanjaro is dangerous. We want you to have the safest trip possible. One of the ways we do this is by giving daily health checks every day on the mountain. We start by giving you a medical check at the trip briefing and log your stats. We compare these stats each day on the mountain to make sure you are within normal ranges. Below are some of the important aspects of our health checks.
Check your temperature, oxygen saturation, and heart rate.
- We use an infrared or armpit thermometer for temperature readings
- We measure your blood pressure at the wrist. Of note, about 70% of all people have their blood pressure spike during the trek. It is normal. Within two days it should go back to normal levels.
Acute Mountain Symptoms (AMS) Symptoms
Don’t hide symptoms, If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, speak up. Either at the daily health check or along the trail.
- Headache: Throbbing, it gets worse during the night and when you wake up.
- Loss of Appetite: No desire to eat or drink
- Nausea: Feeling sick to your stomach, you may also vomit.
- Lethargic: Feeling weak and tired. In severe cases, you do not have the energy to eat, dress, or do anything.
- Insomnia: Waking up constantly during the night or not sleeping at all.
- Dizziness: You may feel dizzy and disoriented.
- We use a Stethoscope to listen to your lungs. We are listening for Pulmonary Edema which is fluid build up in the lungs. If this happens we will bring you off the mountain immediately.
- Our guides have medication to pull water from the lungs.
First of all, we do not provide medication for you except if it is an emergency. You should bring your own.
- Diarrhea – If you experience diarrhea, its best to let it run its course. Do not take Immodium since it may cover up a more serious stomach issue. Cipro is better.
- Aspirin – Don’t take aspirin because it is a blood thinner which is not good at high elevation.
- Diamox – Doctor prescribed. See below.
- Talk to our guides before taking any medications
If you decide to take Diamox, you’ll need to get a prescription from your doctor. We recommend getting a 125mg or 150mg dosage versus 500mg. That way you can take a lower dose and increase as you ascend. Some of the side effects of Diamox are:
- Increased urination may occur, especially during the first few days as your body adjusts
- Blurred vision
- Dry mouth
- Loss of appetite
- Upset stomach
InReach satellite communication
Another way we keep you safe is with the Garmin InReach satellite communication unit. We can text our Mountain support staff and have an evacuation already in progress as you are evacuated from the mountain.
Kilimanjaro SAR Evacuation Insurance
We offer Kilimanjaro SAR, free of charge to all of our clients. This is a helicopter evacuation and is only needed in cases of HAPE, HACE or a severe injury. Most of the time we can walk you down off the mountain.
Once we are done with the medical part of the trip briefing, we will go over the tipping process. We will start by handing out a list of your mountain staff and their job titles. We will also give you a KPAP recommended range of tipping. See the following chart:
|GROUP SIZE||6 DAYS||7 DAYS||8 DAYS||9 DAYS|
|1||$350 – $380||$400 – $430||$450 – $480||$500 – $530|
|2-3||$275 – $305||$305 – $345||$340 – $370||$375 –$415|
|4+||$200 – $230||$220 – $250||$245 – $275||$270 – $300|
After the trek, you may or may not see everyone that was on the mountain so there is a tipping ceremony the last night on the mountain. At this ceremony, your group will appoint one person to announce the tips for each person.
The money will then go to an assistant guide and a porter to count. We recommend using $100s whenever possible since the exchange rate is better for larger bills versus $1s and $5s. Plus it makes counting the tips easier. This list will also go to KPAP in case a porter files a grievance. This gives them something to use to investigate.
Additionally, many clients like to donate some of their gear to the porters. We are also asking people not to donate directly to porters since part of the culture is to then sell this gear in town. Instead, we will pile the gear up at the end of the trek, inventory it, and a porter will sign the inventory. We then clean the items and a committee decide who needs what. This way we can monitor each recipient to make sure they keep and use the items. Any extra gear is donated to KPAP.
Personal Hyperbaric Chamber
Furthermore, for the longer Northern Circuit route, we also carry a Gamow bag. It is a personal hyperbaric chamber that simulates lower elevation. If you would like to rent one for your trip, or simply want to know more go here: https://peakplanet.com/rental-gear/
Finally, if you miss the trip briefing either because your flights came in late or you were on safari, we will give you an abbreviated trip briefing in the morning before heading to the trailhead.