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You On Kilimanjaro

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Although Kilimanjaro is not a technical mountain climb, it is a major challenge and the rigors of altitude should not be underestimated. Remember that Uhuru Peak is 500m higher than Everest Base Camp! The pace of your ascent coupled with good acclimatisation will help you on the climb but it is essential to be mentally and physically prepared before you start. Regular hikes are one of the best ways to prepare, increasing frequency and length as you get closer to the trek. All aerobic exercises such as; cycling, running, swimming and funnily enough aerobics are good for strengthening the cardiovascular system. Generally, any exercise that increases the heart rate for 20 minutes is helpful but don't over do it just before the climb.


  • Altitudes are generally defined as ...
  • High altitude 2,400m - 4,200m
  • Very high altitude 4,200m - 5,400m
  • Extreme altitude above 5,400m (Uhuru Peak is 5895m)
During the trek it is likely that all climbers will experience at least some form of mild altitude sickness. It is caused by the failure of the body to adapt quickly enough to the reduced level of oxygen in the air at an increased altitude. There are many different symptoms but the most common are headaches, light headedness, nausea, loss of appetite, tingling in the extremities (toes, fingers) and a mild swelling of the face, ankles and fingers. These symptoms in a mild form are not serious and will normally disappear within 48 hours, the result of poor circulation or a small leakage of fluid within the body. In serious cases, the leakage can become large and start to fill up the brain cavity (Cerebral Oedema) or the lung cavity (Pulmonary Oedema). Cerebral Oedema is recognised by severe headaches, loss of balance and dizziness leading to coma. Pulmonary Oedema results in the coughing up of pink sputum. Both conditions, if left unchecked, will lead to coma and death unless a rapid descent is made.
Six factors that affect the incidence and severity of altitude illness ...
  1. Rate of ascent
  2. Altitude attained
  3. Length of exposure
  4. Level of exertion
  5. Hydration and diet
  6. Inherent physiological susceptibility
The following three steps are a guide to achieving acclimatisation:

Water: A fluid intake of 4 - 5 liters per day is recommended. Fluid intake improves circulation and most other bodily functions, but does not increase fluid leakage from the body. Thirst should not be an indicator of proper fluid intake, if your urine is clear then you are drinking enough. On the lower slopes, bottled mineral water will be provided but on the higher slopes drinking water is taken from mountain streams. The water is double-pumped and iodine is added for purification (Good enough to drink but you may wish to add extra purification tablets). All climbers should bring their own water bottles.

Slow Walk: Pace is a critical factor on all routes. Unless there is a very steep uphill section your breathing rate should be the same as if you were walking down the street. If you cannot hold a conversation you are walking too fast. Breathing through the nose for the first 2 days of the climb will limit the pace. Walk "softly" allowing your knees to gently cushion each pace. "Pole pole" (go slowly) is the phrase of the day.

Walk high sleep low: If you have enough energy, take an afternoon stroll further up the mountain before descending to sleep (not if you have any symptoms of altitude sickness!)

Almost all routes offer an extra day for acclimatisation. Taking this day increases your chances of getting to the  by 30% and increases you chances of actually getting some enjoyment out of the experience by much more than that. An extra day is a considerable expense, but we recommend that all climbers take this option. On some routes there is the option for two extra days - for this day you can read 'optional'. For the first extra day you should read 'necessary'.

Some climbers take Diamox, which is widely used to combat the effects of mild altitude sickness by causing the body to breathe more deeply during sleep. This is of course a personal preference.

If you plan to take any medication during your climb, you must consult your doctor prior to departure. The effects of medications may vary with altitude and stress. All climbers should consult their doctor or a specialised travel clinic well in advance of their trip. On the climb, guides carry all basic medications but it is recommend that all climbers should take a small, personal first aid kit.

First Aid

  • Painkillers (aspirin/paracetamol - aspirin is recommended as it thins the blood helping prevent blood clots - strong painkillers should not be taken as they may mask the symptoms of altitude sickness)
  • Blister treatment
  • Antihistamines
  • Imodium or other anti-diarrhoea tablets
  • Plasters/Band Aids
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Dressings, especially pressure relief for blisters
  • Talcum Powder
  • Malaria tablets
  • Sun block for skin & lips (Factor 15+)
  • Antacids
  • Knee supports etc.
  • Med Lemon or other cold cure sachets
  • Oral rehydration salts/sachets
  • Insect repellent containing DEET
  • Sanitary Towels or similar.

Other health tips for climbing Kilimanjaro  
Ladies please note that altitude may affect the menstrual cycle.

All contact lens wearers should take care to remove the lenses at night as the eye needs to absorb oxygen from the atmosphere. The rarefied conditions of altitude reduce oxygen levels and in extreme cases a Corneal Oedema can develop.


In the event of an emergency on the mountain the rescue team plus one of the assistant guides will descend with the casualty to the park gate. At the gate our agent will take over and make the necessary arrangements.

What is equipment supplied
All equipment such as tents and cooking equipment are provided by the climb teams.

What you should bring along
All other equipment from sleeping bags to walking poles can be hired in Tanzania, although it is essential that you pre-book any equipment that you might wish to hire well in advance of your arrival. Total luggage should be kept to about 15kg on the mountain. A day sack with a capacity of 25 – 40 liters should be used to carry all clothing and personal items. The porters will carry all other items. Extra luggage can be safely stored in your hotel.


  • Hooded anorak Gore-Tex if possible
  • Poncho (optional) to cover and protect daypack
  • Fleece jacket or windproof jacket
  • Four seasons duvet jacket (optional)
  • Three warm upper body layers (synthetic or woolen)
  • Two T-shirts, preferably synthetic for easy drying
  • Water/windproof trousers Gore-Tex shell
  • One pair of warm fleece-type trousers
  • Two pairs of lightweight trousers
  • One pair of shorts
  • Two pairs of thermal underwear
  • Three pairs of underwear
  • Lighter pair to wear as inner set
  • Heavier pair for extra warmth
  • Wide brim hat for shade against the sun
  • Balaclava or woolly hat
  • Scarf or bandanna
  • Waterproof gloves or mittens
  • Thin under gloves
  • Good quality sunglasses or goggles with side gusset
  • BROKEN-IN boots, leather recommended
  • Trainers
  • Spare laces
  • Waterproof, breathable gaiters
  • Thick socks
  • Thin socks to wear under heavy socks
  • 6 pairs woolen or synthetic
  • Four season sleeping bag with optional fleece
  • Inflatable sleeping mats with repair kit
  • Towel, kikoi or sarong
Other Items
  • Water bottles: 2 x 1 liter
  • Water purification tablets
  • Cordial or other water flavouring
  • Torch or headlamp
  • Spare torch batteries/bulb
  • Candle
  • Matches
  • Pencil & paper for the trip log!
  • Pocket knife
  • Camera plus film / batteries
  • Video camera / batteries
  • Plastic bags for keeping various things dry.
  • Walking pole
  • Reading material
  • Games & cards
  • Favourite snacks
  • High-energy bars for the final ascent
  • First aid kit
  • Toiletries
  • Lip balm
  • Ear plugs
  • One roll soft toilet paper
  • Wet wipes
  • Gel-activated (not oxygen-activated) hand/foot warmers
  • Spare contact lenses and/or glasses and/or dentures.
Any items of clothing or equipment that you do not possess (or have lost or forgotten) can generally be hired in Arusha with the help of your guide. Do not forget boots though, as they must be worn in.


The Kili climb is a once in a life time experience for most people and most people wish to preserve the event on film.

Cameras, whether video or film, need to be protected against the severe cold either in warm pouch or the interior pockets of your clothing. (Do not keep your camera in your backpack at higher elevations). A selection of lenses will aid the final results although weight and bulk will obviously influence your selection. A polarizer or neutral density filter is recommended as is slide film rather than print. Bring your own film as it can be hard to find and expensive in Tanzania.

For digital equipment, check with the manufacturer's specifications for temperature range (especially battery life), water-tightness and general hardiness.

Contact African Encounters on 0861 114 645 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

African Encounters is a tour operator run by travelers like you. We know & love Africa and believe that the African continent is there for everyone to exerience. From the rural townships to the lap of five star exclusive luxuary, our partnerships in Africa are unrivaled. We guarentee you the best holiday deal. Booking your honeymoon, holiday, safari, dive or beach holiday. We will make your dream vacation happen.

2 Travellers Comments
Written by Maria

Mchame Route

Dear African Encounters  
We would like to thank you for the Excellent service relating to our climb to Kilimanjaro (Machame Route) from 25 April -01 May 2010  
We had an incredible adventure & summiting was truly an awesome experience.  
Thank you for the excellent organization of this trip  
A special thank you to Farzanah Amod for her professionalism, efficiency and attention to details. Thanks to you it was a logistically trouble free experience.  
Most importantly we would like to thank the team that took up Kili. Attley Benson and he's team were absolutely fantastic.  
Their care, friendliness, dedication and efficiency was unforgettable! Attley and Baraka were pivotal in ensuring we submitted and that we did so safely! The food and organization of our tents, bags etc was impeccable ! we would like to thank the ground handler for making this team available to us! 
Thank you
Written by Pierre

Tanzania Migration Package

Hi Farzanah 
I apologize for only coming back to you now, but I have been very busy since I came back from holiday. 
In general we had a pleasant experience with our holiday in Tanzania. The ground handler was excellent and they went out of their way to cater for our needs. The accommodation, food and the location of the Serena lodges were also superb. The game parks exceeded our expectations with the numbers of animals viewed. The fact that the ground handler communicated with other drivers in the parks via radio improved our success rate with the number of sightings. 
Lastly our experience in regards African encounters were largely positive and I would like to commend you on your efficient service provided to make all the necessary arrangements.  

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