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Things to consider during your Kilimanjaro Safari

ByJuma Chai

Dec 4, 2018

Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa,climbing this mountain must therefore be in your to do bucket-list. but there are few things you must consider before embaking on this epic safari.

  1. Know the climate

Kilimanjaro is one of the few mountains in the world that are climbable throughout the year. But the difficulty level for climbing increases with the wetness in the area. It is thus good that one familiarizes themselves with the wet seasons of Tanzania. The two wet seasons are the long rains in March May and the short rains November to early December. Most climbers therefore opt for a summit bid between January and February or between June and October. For a combination of good conditions and fewer crowds, go during one of the seasonal transitions between wet and dry, or vice-versa.

  1. Use a local tour company.

The Tanzanian national government stipulates that one must hire a local guide outfitter to climb Kilimanjaro. It becomes cheaper if one opts for an all-inclusive package from a tour.

  1. Pay for the optional bathroom tent.

For an extra $100 or so, you can ensure your camp is outfitted with a zippered, waterproof, and portable bathroom tent, a convenience that the guides and porters jokingly call the “Bank of America.” Otherwise, you are stuck with the scant shelter of volcanic outcroppings, and the old hole-in-the-floor wooden outhouses that are scattered around each trail camp. You don’t absolutely need the Bank of America—but you’ll be glad to have it, especially if your party is caught in the rain or snow.

4. Gather your gear.

Its one of the easiest climbs in the world, but climbing 5000m summit needs a lot of preparations Hydration is key, so carry two or three one-liter reusable water bottles. Bring a light inflatable sleeping pad and a sleeping bag rated for 0 to 10° Fahrenheit. Pack thermal leggings, warm fleece pants, and lightweight, quick-drying hiking pants. Include sunglasses, a warm head cover, and a sun-shading hat. Perhaps most importantly, bring a good pair of waterproof hiking boots and carry a fresh pair of socks for each day on the mountain. Many hikers also opt for poles because the terrain is rocky and steep. The lowland jungle is rife with mosquitoes; the altitude can make you dizzy; and the unfamiliar bacteria can wreak havoc upon your immune system. Bring bug repellent and antimalarial pills. Use Dramamine and ibuprofen to stave off the effects of the altitude. Carry Pepto-Bismol in case of traveler’s diarrhea. Also make sure you bring a tube of high-SPF sunscreen and any specialized medication or toiletries you need; they may not be readily available in rural Tanzania.


  1. Take time to acclimatize.

Everyone responds differently to the altitude, but it’s wise to add an extra day or two to your trip so you don’t need to rush up the mountain. If you climb too quickly at high elevations, your body may have difficulty adjusting to the lower oxygen pressure. You risk altitude sickness, which can jeopardize your journey and even lead to death in severe cases. “Pole pole” is a Swahili phrase meaning “slowly slowly,” and you will hear these words repeated throughout your journey. While a good mountain guide will make sure you take your time, you should still stay aware of your own pace.

6. Respect the mountain.

 Guided tours make for a safer trek, but this is still a challenging endeavor that is not to be taken lightly. People do die on Mount Kilimanjaro every year. The way is arduous and steep, between four and 15 uphill miles each day, depending on the route. You will find that prolonged walking is more physically taxing at high altitude, and as you make your way across the exposed mountainside, you may encounter wind, rain, snow, and scorching sun. Only about 60 percent of climbers are able to successfully summit the peak. Proper preparation will help ensure that you are one of them.

Juma Chai

A writer dedicated to providing the world with the best insights into Africa.

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