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Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro Cost and Complete Guide

Mount Kilimanjaro, known as ‘the roof of Africa’ in northern Tanzania is Africa’s highest mountain and thus the continent’s ‘7 summit mountain, Kili is also the world’s highest free-standing mountain and not a technical ascend. It is clear why this mountain is a major destination for mountaineers and trekkers from around the world. In this article we discuss the cost of climbing Kilimanjaro, different route options and recommendations, we give you the itinerary we followed and discuss important points around fitness, altitude sickness, tipping and climbing Kili as a responsible tourist.

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro is often referred to as a long hike or a trek, true it is not technical requiring no special training or equipment and is thus not really a climb, but this is a very special trek. Climbing Kilimanjaro the aim is to climb to Uhuru Peak at 5895m the highest point on the crater rim of the dormant volcano, Kibo and the highest point on the African continent. Kilimanjaro is the ‘7 Summit’ climb in Africa. The Seven Summits are the highest mountains of each of the seven continents. Climbing to the summit of all of them is a serious mountaineering challenge and was only achieved in 1985! We have climbed to both 7 Summits on our home continents, Mt Elbrus in Russia and Kilimanjaro in Africa.

Kilimanjaro, snow on the summit far away!
Kilimanjaro, snow on the summit far away!

Climbing this dormant volcano with its three cones takes you through five distinct climate zones due to the climate being influenced by the height of the mountain, there is a dramatic change in vegetation going with the change in climate zone which is awesome to witness. The trek starts off in Bushland up to 1800m above sea level taking you through farm lands and forest. The next 1000m elevation gain you walk through a rainforest zone that is really a beautiful tropical jungle up to 2800m above sea-level, from 1200m up to 4000m above sea-level is a stark contrast walking over sparsely vegetated moorland, ascending another 1000m from 4000m to 5000m you hike through the alpine desert zone with very little vegetation and large areas of volcanic rock, the arctic zone to the peak at 5895m above sea level will have you huffing and puffing mesmerized by awesome glaciers on top of this diminishing ice peak. 

How hard is climbing Mount Kilimanjaro?

My opinion is anybody with a relatively good fitness level can do it without special preparation. I was backpacking through Tanzania with no Kilimanjaro plans, with only beach clothes and flip flops I had to rent everything, My fitness level was not too bad and I did it without serious problem.  If you can walk about 20 km (12 miles) a day without any problems for 5 to 10 days in a row, the duration of the hike, you should be physically able to climb Kili. If not, train, the best training for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro will be hiking. The elevation makes it much tougher than walking the same distance at home and makes climbing this beast as much about mental toughness as your physical condition. My experience was that the whole trek was relatively easy until summit night, it is tough, this is proven by the fact that only 60 to 70% of trekkers make it to the summit every year. Everybody comes here motivated after spending a lot of time and money, one third goes home disappointed, it is not easy come prepared.

Summit night Kilimanjaro – all routes end at Kibo hut (4730M) the day before the summit your attempt to reach Uhuru Peak starts at 12am with headlamps. It is a hard 6 or 7 hours slowly climbing to reach the summit for sunrise fighting the exhausting effects of the increasing altitude, then a couple of hours back to your camp for the night.

climbing-kilimanjaro
Climbing Kilimanjaro, summit night was a tough one!

Climbing Kilimanjaro cost

How much does it cost to climb Kilimanjaro? the average trek price is $2000 to $4000 with many variables, read on for some prices. Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is an expensive venture. You can book the trek online or book it with a local company in Tanzania. The best place to look locally for an agency is  Arusha where many tours are sold by touters on the street, hotels and there are plenty of established local tour agencies, here you can ask to meet the crew and look at the gear when booking. Booking a trek online is obviously much easier, no hassles when you arrive, but you will pay more. Most international companies make use of local operators, the advantage is that they tend to use reliable operators and you can go and read reviews by many people that did the climb before.

Book Mt Kilimanjaro Trek in Arusha

Similar to booking online you will find local companies with tours for every style and price range. If you decide to go the local route check that the agency has an in date TALA trekking license and go and read TripAdvisor and Facebook reviews. Booking a trip when arriving in Arusha is probably your cheapest option, with tours starting at about $1400, this is for a 5 day trip on the Marangu route.

Extra trekking costs to keep in mind you should be able to add an acclimatization day for $200.  Gear rental, if you need most things it will be about another $100. Credit card fees are high in Tanzania, be prepared to pay about 5% credit card fees, we ended up paying cash, we had to do more than one withdraw transaction since the amount was large which ended up being almost 5%.

Book Mt Kilimanjaro Trek Online

Mt Kilimanjaro treks are offered online by several local and international companies. I have found treks that you can buy with local companies starting at about $1700. Reputable international companies G-Adventures and Intrepid travel offer several Kilimanjaro treks starting at about $2100 it is possible to combine the trek with their Africa overland truck tours. 

Kilimanjaro – responsible travel

Booking it through a company in Arusha the good thing is all the money goes back to the local community, this does not mean the porters or guides are getting paid a decent salary or even 3 meals a day while trekking. Support a company that is a KPAP (Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project) partner. This means that the crew is treated correctly and not exploited. This non-profit association fights  for a minimum wage, 3 meals a day for crew and more. Out of around 900 trekking companies only about 137 are partners meeting the KPAP guidelines for fair/ethical treatment of their crew.

Porters-Kilimanjaro
Porters work hard carrying your luggage, food and more, tip them appropriately.

Is your company on this list? Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project partners

Intrepid Travel is a socially conscious company and official partner of IMEC’s Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project (KPAP). This means all of their climbs have been assessed and scored based on a number of criteria, all of which are designed to ensure the proper treatment of porters on the Mountain.

Read more about the Responsible travel policy by Intrepid travel.

Kilimanjaro Tipping 

Tipping is a part of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and you should accept it and work it into your budget, 10% is what is expected, so $200 on a $2000 trek. The crew on a trek is large with 2 porters per person carrying food, tents and your luggage, a cook and guides, we had a crew of 8 for 3 people trekking. The cheaper your tour obviously the smaller the pot to be distributed and the worst the pay for the crew.  These guys work hard and deserve to be compensated. 

Why is the tip not just included? Well tips are not taxed so more money for the porters and less for ‘the man’, it also makes the trek seem cheaper by not including the tip and climbing Kilimanjaro is a very competitive industry. In my experience, it would be better for transparency and for the staff on the mountain to rather include this 10% in the price.

There was a lot of drama and unhappiness after our trek, we were all backpackers traveling on a budget, the 2 ladies that did the trek with me just refused to tip, they said they paid enough, the one lady was unhappy since she did not reach the summit. I gave more than my expected 10%, but could not afford to pay 30%

Mount Kilimanjaro Routes

There are seven routes to climb Mount Kilimanjaro – Marangu, Machame, Lemosho, Shira, Rongai, Northern Circuit and Umbwe. They all vary according to the price, scenery, difficulty, duration, popularity, success rate and accommodation options. The figure below shows how many trekkers successfully summit  on each route and reflects an average of stats given by several online resources since the official stat from the tourist office is not available. 

Percentage of trekkers successfully completing different routes per year, Marangu is the lowest and Northern Circuit the highest.

Marangu route 64km (40 miles) 5 or 6 days

  • Accommodation – Huts
  • Acclimatization profile – Not Great
  • Success rate – Low about 65%
  • Difficulty – relatively easy
  • Known for – Camps with huts and toilets, same route up and down

The Marangu route also known as the ‘Coca Cola Route’ is historically the most popular and can get crowded. It is the only route with huts for accommodation. Many people think the Marangu route is the easiest way to go, it has by far the lowest success rate due to many people suffering from altitude sickness. This route can be completed in 5 days, which makes it cheaper, taking an extra day at Horombu hut greatly improves your chances of success if you climb this route. It is a fairly easy climb with gentle gradients to summit day. On the down side, if you trek 5 days you ascend very fast, more than 1000m on summit and the day before! Increasing your chance of altitude sickness.  The route is not circular, you go up and down the same way, the other routes all have different paths to the top, taking the Marangu route down, it is also known not to be as scenic as other routes. My experience of hiking the route was that the trekking was fairly easy everyday, but summit day which was tough. I thought the scenery was nice with a lot diversity passing through several climate zones during the climb.

kibo-hut-kililmanjaro
All routes come to Kibo Hut for the night before summit, you can see some people are still camping around Kibo Hut that sleeps 65 people.

Machame route 49 km (30 miles) 6 or 7 days

  • Accommodation – Tents
  • Acclimatization Profile – very good
  • Success rate – High 85%
  • Difficulty – Medium
  • Known for – probably most popular route, very beautiful, varied scenery

This route is also called the ‘whiskey route’ in reference to the ‘Coca-Cola’ route, it is insinuated to be the tougher of the two. The Machame is by many considered to have the most spectacular scenery. Accommodation is in tents. The incline is steeper  making it a tougher trek than the Marangu route, but due to a better acclimatization profile it has a higher success rate. Walking the Machame over 7 days has a great acclimatization profile, the day before the summit is short giving you some rest before the last push, this profile has a very high success rate.

Rongai route 65km (40 miles) 6 or 7 days

  • Accommodation – Tents
  • Acclimatization profile – Good
  • Success rate – High about 85%
  • Difficulty – relatively easy
  • Known for – Only route that approaches from the north, not crowded

The Rongai route is the only route starting on the North side of the mountain, the longer drive to the start is a double edged sword, this is the most isolated route with the least traffic, but it is also more expensive due to less demand and extra transport costs.  It has a gradual slope and is not a very difficult climb, the extra day also greatly improves the acclimatization profile. Known as an easy climb, away from the crowds with a good success rate.

Lemosho route 56km (35 miles) 7 or 8 days

  • Accommodation – Tents
  • Acclimatization profile – Good
  • Success rate – about 80%
  • Difficulty – Medium
  • Known for – Many say this is the most beautiful way to climb the mountain.

Famous for its beauty and variety you even have a fair chance to see wildlife on this route (no, no lions). Lemosho starts on the west of the mountain going through remote rainforest and joins the Machame route, sharing its well known views. Being remote, a longer route with more transport costs this route is one of the more expensive options.

Lemosho Route with G-Adventures

Shira route 56km (35 miles) 7 or 8 days

  • Accommodation – Tents
  • Acclimatization profile – Not Great taking a jeep to 3500m
  • Success rate – Good
  • Difficulty – Medium
  • Known for – approach from the west, jeep track going high

The Shira route also comes from the west joining the Machame route, this route is known to have some beautiful scenery. It is the only route with a jeep track going up to 3500m. If you go high with the jeeps before starting to walk the fast ascend increases the chance of altitude sickness.

Umbwe route 37km (23 miles) 5 or 6 days

  • Accommodation – Tents
  • Acclimatization profile – Not Great
  • Success rate – medium about 75%
  • Difficulty – Steep, a tough route
  • Known for – short, steep, tough route

The Umbwe route approaches from the south, it is the shortest and steepest route making it tough and it has a bad acclimatization profile, the success rate is thus low and mountain climbing experience is strongly recommended. Accommodation is camping. The forest is said to be very beautiful. The route can be dangerous due to the exposed ridge that you have to walk on and is not recommended if you have a fear of heights.

The Northern circuit 90km (56 miles) 9 days

  • Accommodation – Tents
  • Acclimatization profile – Excellent
  • Success rate – Very high 95%
  • Difficulty – Medium
  • Known For – ‘The Grand Traverse’ Longest route known for great views of the whole mountain

Due to the long climb and slow ascend this route is excellent for acclimatization and has a very high success rate. With the same starting point as the Lemosho route the views are said to be excellent traversing the whole mountain. 

Marangu Route kilimanjaro itinerary

I trekked the Marangu route with the itinerary below and have since updated this article, when I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro I was not an experienced hiker, since then we have done many high altitude hikes and climbs around the world. 

I enjoyed the scenery on the Marangu route and found a lot of variation as we passed through different climate zones, with some nice views. 

We were a group of three, the lady that walked the fastest and seemed to be the most experienced got very bad altitude sickness on summit day and she did not reach Uhuru Peak. If I could choose any route today, I will trek the Northern route, we like longer hikes, it sounds beautiful, the ascend is slow and I like that it is not crowded, I would probably recommend a 7 day Machame route for most hikers.  Our crew was excellent, the food was good. We slept in small wooden huts with a handful of beds each night, each bed had a mattress. Toilets varied from flushing toilets at lower camps to a wooden shack with a hole in the ground at Kibo hut.

marangu-route-day-1
The first day trekking on the Marangu route was hot and really beautiful walking through the tropical forest.

Day One – Kilimanjaro in the Jungle

  • Marangu Gate (1860M) – Mandara Hut (2715M)
  • Ascent 855m
  • Hiking time: 4h 30min
  • Distance:  8.1 km
  • Habitat: Forest

Nice day walking through beautiful tropical forest, it was hot, humid and a gradual ascend most of the day, not too tough, remember to go slow from the start ‘pole, pole’. There was talk of monkeys, we did not see any animals (some birds).

Day Two – first views of the peaks

  • Mandara Hut (2715M) – Horombo Hut (3705M)
  • Ascend 990m
  • Hiking time: 5h
  • Distance: Approximately 12 km
  • Habitat: Moorland

Started of in the forest and walked in to the moorland the temperature was lower than on the first day, but the sun got hot later in the day. Vegetation is very interesting with strange plants like the Giant Lobelias in the clearing. We saw the first views of Kibo and Mawenzi peaks. I started feeling the effects of altitude at night, feeling a bit nauseous and not sleeping well. Ascending 1000m a day at this altitude it can be expected.

Marangu-route-huts-and-Giant-Lobelias
Huts on the Marangu route surrounded by some Giant Lobelias, Kilimanjaro is peaking over the hill.

Day Three- walking on the moon

  • Horombo Hut (3705M) – Kibo Hut (4730M)
  • Ascend 1025m
  • Hiking time: 6h
  • Distance: Approximately 10 km
  • Habitat: Alpine desert

I was overruled by the ladies in wanting an extra day at Horombo Hut for acclimatization so we pushed onto Kibo hut on day 3.  This part of the hike was unique with lots of nothing, there was very little vegetation left, only some grassland here and there and patches of Giant Grounsel trees dendrosenecio kilimanjari these trees are huge and will always remind me of Kili. We walked over a desolate lunar landscape crossing the saddle to Kibo Hut. 

kibo-hut-landscape
The desolated landscape around Kibo hut, it looks like you are staying on the moon!

Day Four – this is tough!

  • Kibo Hut (4730M) – Uhuru Peak (5895M) – Horombo Hut (3705M)
  • Ascend: 1165m
  • Hiking time: 7  hours 30 minutes to reach Uhuru Peak, 6  hours to descend to Horombo Hut 
  • Distance: Approximately 6 km ascent and 16 km descent
  • Habitat: Stone scree and ice-capped summit

Climbing Kilimanjaro – this was the big day and after having done many high altitude hikes and climbs I still rate this as one of the hardest days. We got up at about 23:30 to start climbing at 00:00. We walked up the mountain slowly, slowly or ‘pole pole’ as the locals say for about 5 hours to Gilman point (5,681 m/18,638 ft) with headlamps. One of the ladies in our group suffered from such bad altitude sickness that she was dehydrated from vomiting and had to turn around with a porter that walked along after 2 hours. The sun came up just after we past Stella Point (5,730m/18,800ft) after about 6 and a half hours of climbing. From there it was another 30 minutes to Uhuru Peak at 5895m, this last half an hour the scenery is fantastic with the sun coming up and glaciers all around you.

kilimanjaro ascend
Walking above the clouds at sunrise on Kilimanjaro.

The lack of oxygen really starts breaking you down and at close to 6000m above sea level this is the time to dig deep and for pure will to carry you over the finish line. The fantastic thing when you reach the Uhuru Peak sign is how you immediately feel better, when reaching the summit. I remember thinking ‘how the hell am I ever going to get down from here?’, but super excited, fueled by adrenaline it was almost a jogging pace, skiing down the skree descending the volcano we just conquered, another 6 hours trekking to Horombo Hut. It is an amazing dinner after very little sleep, almost 14 hours of trekking with a 1000m climb!

Stingy Nomads Uhuru Peak Kilimanjaro
Uhuru Peak, on top of the world! OK on top of Africa 🙂

Day Five – Goodluck Guys 🙂

  • Horombo Hut (3705M) – Marangu Hut (1860M)
  • Hiking time: 7h
  • Distance: Approximately 19.7 km

The last day is an easy 20km ‘downhill’ to the gate, smiling, chatting and encouraging groups on the way up. Doing the Marangu route we covered the same route going up.

Best season for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro

It is possible to trek Kilimanjaro all-year-round, however it is certainly easier and more pleasant to trek in nice weather conditions. The best time of the year to climb Kilimanjaro is January-March and June-October. It is colder January-March even snowing on the summit (I climbed in January), but June-October tends to be busy with summer holidays in Europe and N.America. March, April and November it rains and is not ideal for trekking. Snow and cold temperatures are common during December-May.

Toilets while climbing Kililmanjaro

There are toilets in the camps even sit down toilets on the Marangu route. You can ask for a private loo which is a portable toilet carried and cleaned by a porter. The toilet comes with a toilet tent and cost about $100 for the trek.

Glaciers on top of Kilimanjaro.
Glaciers on top of Kilimanjaro.

Altitude Sickness on Kilimanjaro

Altitude sickness also known as Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is caused by ascending to quickly, the pathological effect is due to less oxygen being available at higher altitude. Ascending to quickly symptoms of AMS normally start at about 3000m (10 000 ft) above sea level, for some people it starts lower. Some symptoms are Fatigue, Headaches, Nausea and Dizziness, Shortness of breath, difficulty to sleep and a Loss of appetite. Treatment for AMS is easy, just go down to a lower altitude. I have gone to a lower altitude with AMS on a different trek and continued climbing the next day and felt perfect, this is not possible climbing Kilimanjaro if you are in a group, so climb slowly!

Altitude sickness can be very serious it can escalate into High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) and High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE). These conditions require immediate medical attention and a couple of climbers have died on Kili.

Altitude sickness is very common while climbing Kilimanjaro, because you climb so quickly giving your body very little time to acclimatize. During other high altitude hikes such Everest Base Camp in Nepal, Ausangate in Peru and Torres del Paine in Patagonia we always followed the rule of not ascending more than 600m per day once we are over 3000m. With the Kilimanjaro trek you climb about 1000m per day! You can see this is not a very good acclimatization profile.

Altitude sickness can happen to anybody, irrespective of how old or fit you are or if you have previous trekking experience. It often happens that young, fit trekkers climb to fast suffering AMS.

descend-kilimanjaro
Going back, I remember going down thinking ‘how the hell did I ever get up here?’

How can you prevent altitude sickness?

  • Pole Pole – you will hear this a lot on Kili, slowly slowly, go slow the whole way, stay behind your guide.
  • Walk a route with a good acclimatization profile, not going up to fast and walking higher than sleeping lower.
  • Go with a company with well trained and qualified guides and medical equipment.
  • Be insured
  • Diamox

Diamox (Acetazolamide) is medication commonly taken by trekkers to prevent AMS on high altitude hikes. At high altitude the air pressure is low and less oxygen available, Diamox prevents AMS by acting as a respiratory stimulant, it basically makes you breath faster by making your blood more acidic. Contraindications Diamox, a negative effect is that it is a diuretic so you constantly have to urinate, it is a pain to go to the toilet in the cold at night. Some people get needles and pins (paraesthesia) in hands in feet, Diamox is taken to prevent AMS, you need a prescription from your doctor, generic Acetazolamide will be cheaper and do the same job.

Insurance for the Kilimanjaro climb

It is always important to have travel insurance, even more so when doing high risk activities in a foreign country. Medical costs can be massive when getting injured abroad. .

Food on Kilimanjaro, eating on the mountain

Similar to other famous guided hikes like The Inca Trail, Kilimanjaro is known for the culinary skills of the cooks on the mountain. Cheaper trips will obviously have more basic food. If you need to obey certain dietary restrictions remember to check and confirm with the tour company ahead of time. I was on a budget trip, but was happy with our food. We were woken up with tea or coffee every morning, breakfast was oats, eggs and a fruit. Luch was packed in the morning, sandwiches, fruit and tea. We had afternoon tea everyday with biscuits. Dinner was the biggest meal, pasta or rice with vegetables and chicken or meat. I packed some chocolates and cookies for extra snacking. 

Combine Kilimanjaro with Serengeti and Zanzibar

I loved traveling in Tanzania, climbing Kilimanjaro, diving and chilling on the powder white sand of Zanzibar and seeing the big 5 while camping in the Serengeti is some of my best travel memories. I will definitely recommend combining your Kilimanjaro climb with Serengeti and Zanzibar Scratch around here for some more awesome Tanzania adventures!

Want to tick of a bucket list item? Make your Kilimanjaro summit part of a massive 55 day Africa Adventure! Spanning nine countries, this journey is full of diverse cultures, abundant wildlife, spectacular landscapes, stunning beaches, and loads of adventure. Track the “big five” across open savanna, explore the Okavango Delta in a dugout mokoro canoe, encounter gorillas deep in the Ugandan wilderness — do it all on this ultimate 55-day adventure and get a real feel for how large Africa truly is.

lions-serengeti
Safari in the Serengeti is only one of hundreds of great memories of the year I spent traveling in East Afri

Accommodation in Arusha

Accommodation is available in Arusha in a variety of price ranges. To make searching easier for you we searched for well rated accommodation with many reviews close to the center.

Budget

Mid Price Range

Luxury

Packing for Kilimanjaro Trekking

To rent or to buy? Most operators have all equipment available for rental, like I said earlier I had to rent everything. Now I prefer to take my own gear with me, quality equipment that fits and keeps me comfortable, warm and dry, it just makes the trek so much more enjoyable. This is what I suggest to pack.

Backpack – your main pack will be carried by a porter (unless you insist on carrying it), they tend to not wear the backpacks so a duffel bag is perfect, exactly what this one was made for The North Face Base Camp Duffel 

Are you traveling long term and planning to do some serious hikes? for the best of both worlds,, traveling and hiking go for a top quality, well designed hiking pack with easy access. Long term travel and serious hiking.

Osprey Aeather 70L AG Rucksack or Ariel 65 women’s version

Hiking boots/shoes – make sure your shoes are;

  • waterproof
  • breathing
  • have good grip – sometimes you walk on muddy or rocky terrain
  • fit good – you have some space to wiggle your toes
  • good quality

Should you climb Mount Kilimanjaro in boots or shoes? this is a very common debate, the need for ankle support is a personal preference. Many porters walk in sneakers, but for mere mortals proper trekking footwear is essential for summit day when it is cold, you will be walking in the dark on rocks, stones and maybe even snow. If you do not have hiking experience I would go for a higher cut for some ankle support.  Wearing merino wool socks in waterproof hiking shoes, the temperature should not be a problem.

If you like a low cut shoe – Merrell Moab 2 Waterproof or Salomon X Ultra Prime  are good option for you; durable, waterproof, comfortable, have good grip. For those who prefer high-cut models – KEEN Targhee II Waterproof or more budget option – Columbia Granite Ridge. 

For ladies – Alya prefers a more ‘girly’ option to leather boots – shoes like KEEN Targhee IISalomon Ellipse 2 or Merrell Moab 2 Waterproof. She has walked about 3000km in her Merrel Moab2’s ! If you’re looking for something cheaper Columbia Dakota Drifter is a good option. For ladies that prefer a boot cut Columbia Women’s Newton Ridge Plus Hiking Boot, is an excellent choice.

What clothes to pack? – Layering is key, this popular hiking jargon just means wearing a couple of layers of clothing. Breathable clothing can help you to keep warm, dry and comfortable in changing conditions by removing layers depending on how you feel and the conditions you’re in. Multiple thin layers will keep you warmer than a single thicker layer is because warm air is trapped between the layers acting as an insulator.

Clothes are arranged in 3 layers from your skin outwards; a Base layer (underwear) that wicks (draws moisture away) sweat off your skin use a synthetic material that doesn’t absorb wetness. Middle layer (insulating): retains body heat protecting you from the cold. An Outer layer (the shell) waterproof and windproof.

The Shell

Outer Shell Rain Jacket – wind and waterproof jacket ladies or (men’s model) with hood in case of strong wind or rain. 

Rain poncho – In the rainy season a poncho that can fit over you and your daypack is a good idea to keep you completely dry, light and small to carry in your daypack.

Trekking pants – One or two pairs of light fast dry hiking pants  on summit night you can layer up with thermal underpants.. If you go hiking off season when it is very cold – warmer waterproof pants. For women I’d suggest to pack trekking pants and yoga pants. Alya always take both and prefer wearing yoga pants – they stretch easy and are more comfortable. 

Insulating Later

Fleece – Essential item. I where a fleece under my outer shell on cold days. Check these fleeces for women they come in so many  different colors.

Fleece vest– very light to pack,  a fleece vest is nice for extra heat layering,  ladies.

Down Jacket – light to pack, very warm this is great to wear under your hard shell, rain jacket on summit night and in the camp at night. I live in my down jacket on cold, high altitude hikes.

Base Layer

Hiking shirt – Do not pack cotton, if you sweat under your jacket you will be wet and freezing underneath. Alya prefers hiking in breathable, moisture wicking, quik dry T-shirts, packing a long sleeve shirt and one short sleeve T-shirt. I love hiking in Columbia shirts, they do not absorb water so dry quickly and protects me from the sun if I take my jacket off. Quick dry if I get importunity to hand wash on the way. 

Sport bras – they are great for hiking and outdoors, Alya says that she prefers sport bras over normal bras. 

Thermal underwear – really recommend to pack it with, you can use thermals (men’s models) for sleeping and as an extra layer for hiking if it gets cold. I always take normal cotton socks for sleeping as well.

Underwear – take two-three pairs with depending on a hike duration.

Merino wool socks – a must have especially for long hikes. In the past we didn’t pay much attention to socks – bought any random cheap socks and used to have blisters. We’ve heard a lot from other hikers about merino wool socks and finally decided to give it a go. They do work great, now we always wear them for hiking. Some advantages of merino wool socks; don’t absorb odors, protect your feet, dry quick and very durable. For even more comfortable walk check Darn Tough hiking socks they’re famous for great foot support and blister protection. Alya likes their ladies’ models; colorful and funky.

Beanie – since I don’t have much hair I often wear a beanie. Even though she has a lot of hair, Alya sometimes wear a beanie when it is very cold, pack one.

Gloves – Wearing thin fleece gloves or no gloves was fine most of the time. For summit day I recommend a pair of winter ski gloves .

Cap/hat – a must have in the mountains for sun protection. Alya prefers wearing a cap, I usually takes a hat on hikes. 

Sunglasses – bring sunglasses for hiking in the mountains with high UV protection and polarized lenses.  

Suggested trekking clothes for women

Shell Rain jacket | Fleece | Running shirt | Running T-shirt | Hiking pants | Yoga pants | Rain poncho | Fleece vest |Thermal underwear|Sport bras|Gloves|Beany | Cap | Sunglasses | Socks | Ski Gloves

Suggested trekking clothes for men

| Rain jacket | Fleece | Fleece vest| Hiking shirts | Hiking pants | Rain poncho | Thermal underwear | Beany | Gloves | Buff | Hat |Sunglasses |Socks |

As a outer core layer you can wear a thick, waterproof jacket such as the North Face Nuptse Jacket, when climbing Mount Elbrus it was -20C. If you do the trek in cold season this might be necessary. Ladies Nuptse Jacket

Kilimanjaro Trek Accessories

A good headlamp is very important for summit night, you will be climbing in the dark for hours! Also in your tent and around camp at night not to be left stranded in the dark. We have been using our Petzl’s for ages, Petzl Actic 300 Lumen waterproof headlamp

Balaclava/ski mask I loved wearing a ski mask on summit day, it was cold!

Pack a BUFF Multifunctional Headwear – protects your neck and face from sun burn, wind and weather. Get a funky one, mine is a South African flag, awesome for photos!

Gaiters – Waterproof Windproof Warm Shoes Cover. Your shoes often fill with water and debris from the top. Keep them dry and keep snow, debris and dust out while hiking in any terrain or weather. Nice on Kili when going down in that skree.

Rock Down slippers – these super comfortable, warm, down slippers with soles are great for wearing around camp at night and when taking off your hiking boots Rock Dove Women’s down Slipper

Trekking Poles – very popular on this trek, great for reducing impact on your knees, huge variety available. You are looking for durability, comfort, shock absorption, quality and adjustibility. TrailBuddy Hiking Sticks, TrailBuddy Hiking Sticks very well rated, good value for money, aluminium trekking poles. Aluminium is strong and a bit heavier than carbon, my advice is save some money, go for these guys! Top of the line Black Diamond Trail Pro Shock Trekking Pole, 68-140cm.

It gets very cold in a tent at night. Stay warm in sub zero temperatures.  Down is awesome, you won’t regret it! Kelty Cosmic 20 Degree DriDown Sleeping Bag 

Microfibre towels take almost no space, are light and dry easy so that they won’t get moldy and start smelling.   Active Roots Microfiber Travel Towel

Travel wet wipes are very handy if it is to cold (or expensive) to shower, we have been sitting in our tent ‘washing’ with these on countless hikes, a must on your EBC packing list.

Hand cleaner easier than finding a tap and soap to wash your hands if you want to eat.

Trek Kilimanjaro First Aid Kit

Some essentials I always pack for high altitude trekking.

pain killers paracetemol/aspirin/ibuprofen

imodium for an upset stomach

rehydrate (isotonic drink) for when you are dehydrated and helps with cramping

Diamox

Altitude RX Oxyboost Complex for Mountain Sickness – natural remedy against altitude sickness, we have never used it, but it has good reviews, check here for about 500 reviews, sound like it works to me!

Plasters – make sure you have enough you might get blisters  Tip! If you have spots on your feet where you usually get blisters try to prevent them by first putting some vaseline on it and then plaster. If you already have blister you can use Compeed – a special plaster that you can put on blisters, it reduces the pain and protects against rubbing. There are special blister prevention patches for shoes as well. We’ve never used them but the reviews are quite good.

Antiseptic/iodine.

Toiletries

Toiletry bag

Sunscreen

Mosquito repellent

Lip balm with SPF factor

Recommended books and guidebooks

    1. Kilimanjaro – The Trekking Guide to Africa’s Highest Mountain: All-in-one guide for climbing Kilimanjaro.  Henry Stedman, this is probably the best guide book out there.
    1. Five Big Mountains: A Regular Guy’s Guide to Climbing Orizaba, Elbrus, Kilimanjaro, Aconcagua, and Vinson by David Schaeffer. Kindle and paperback. 
    2. From Zero to Kilimanjaro – Adventure sports video
    1. Higher Love: Skiing the Seven Summits by Kit DesLauriers. Kindle and paperback.
    1. The Mountain: My Time on Everest by Ed Viesturs. Kindle and paperback. 
  1. The Mountain Guide Manual: The Comprehensive Reference–From Belaying to Rope Systems and Self-Rescue by Mark Chauvin and Rob Coppolillo. Kindle and paperback.

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12 Comments

  1. Kilimanjaro trekking guide explained above helps budgeting and preparations. First thing is to acclimatize and hence avoid altitude sickness. If you get altitude sickness, you will not be able to hike to summit. So it is advised to learn ways to acclimatize and hence your trip will be worth your money value. Ways to acclimatize are well explained at Mountain climbing forums Kilimanjaro Tanzanite.

  2. This looks really nice. It toke some time and preparation but pictures do show it was great climbing!

  3. Kathleen Bonvicini

    Hi Chris, Thanks for this very honest and descriptive account of your experience. I am going back to Moshi area next September for 4 weeks and considering if I should do the climb. The cost is surely an issue and wondering if you recommend any other hiking or adventures in Tanzania that are less costly. I’ve already done the safari circuit and loved it.

    • Stingy Nomads

      Hello Kathleen, thanks for reading. In Tanzania I did the parks, Kili and I went to Zanzibar for a couple of days. I enjoyed the island, I did a couple of dives that I enjoyed. Hiking in Tanzania seems to be expensive for all well known parks, like Kilimanjaro hiking Mt Meru, the second highest peak in the country permits are also very expensive.To trek in the Udzungwa mountains sound like a nice independent option, much more off the beaten track. Goodluck and enjoy Tanzania!

  4. desert trips

    that’s a great climb! well done!

  5. Great post. I’m climbing in Jan 2018. I was wondering if I should book the climb when I get to Kil. Was it difficult to find a tour company?

    • stingynomads@gmail.com

      Hi Chris, in my experience organizing it in Arusha was the cheapest way to go, some say it is even better to organize it in Moshi. Many touters approached me on the street trying to sell tours to us. As I mention in the article I would recommend that you clear up the expected tip before the hike.

      Goodluck and Safe Travels!

  6. Were you just in Tanzania and casually decided to hike Kili with no training? That’s amazing if you did that. With the plane ticket, park fees, and equipment costs, I’m not sure how worth it is anymore, other than its big name.

  7. Pingback: Everest Base Camp Trek on a Backpacker budget - Travel blogTravel blog

  8. Hi I really like this review very honest and good level of detail! I can only hike for 3 days so I would have to take the Marangu route and would not reach the summit. As such my trek will end at Horombo Hut, in your opinion is this worthwhile, given I’m interested in beautiful views and vegetation.

    • stingynomads@gmail.com

      Hi Liz, glad you enjoyed the post! If money is no object and you are in the area it would be a nice hike to do. I don’t think you will get a big discount since park entry is the big expense. You are going to pay $1000 to hike 40km through forest and moorland to a maximum altitude of 3705m over 3 days.

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