Before Arrival




To get to Kilimanjaro you need to fly to Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA): CODE (IATA: JRO, ICAO: HTKJ) which is served daily by many airlines. The closest major cities to Kilimanjaro National Park are the city of Arusha and the town of Moshi. Depending on where you are traveling from, you can usually fly direct to Kilimanjaro Airport (JRO) via the Gulf (Qatar airlines, Emirates) or via Europe (KLM). Follow this link for flight option: Kilimanjaro Flight Options.
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Alternatively, you can fly into Tanzania’s capital, Dar-Es-Salaam (DAR), for a short internal flight to (JRO), or to Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta International (NBO) airport for a connection to JRO (Kenya Airways, Precision Air).
One of the best way to find cheap flights to Kilimanjaro International Airport is by flying into Nairobi Kenya. It’s also possible to travel by road from Kenya after flying in there. There are numerous bus and shuttle options to take you to Moshi town or the city of Arusha , though the roads can be quite rough at times; you might consider this if you’re feeling adventurous, trying to save money and have sufficient time.

Where to fly to climb Kilimanjaro – International Flights to Kilimanjaro
If you want To get to Kilimanjaro you need to fly to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO). The airport is situated south-west of Mount Kilimanjaro National Park. Below we have listed airlines that fly directly to Kilimanjaro airport (JRO).

KLM: Direct flights from Amsterdam to Kilimanjaro airport
Condor Air : Direct flights from Frankfurt to Kilimanjaro airport
Turkish Airlines: Direct flights from Istanbul to Kilimanjaro airport
Kenya Airways: Direct flights from Nairobi to Kilimanjaro airport
Precision Air: Direct flights from Nairobi to Kilimanjaro airport
Qatar Airlines: Direct flights from Doha to Kilimanjaro airport
Ethiopian Airlines: Direct flights from Addis Ababa to Kilimanjaro airport
RwandAir: Direct flights from Kigali to Kilimanjaro airport
If you are unable find direct flights to Kilimanjaro airport, you can fly to Kilimanjaro airport via Dar Es Salaam or Nairobi (Kenya). Mount Kilimanjaro is much closer to Nairobi than it is from Dar Es Salaam. Nairobi receives a lot more air traffic than Kilimanjaro Airport, making it have competitive prices.
Best way to fly to Kilimanjaro from us, Europe and UK
For climbers in US, Europe and the UK, the easiest thing to do is to fly from a major local airport hub near your location to Amsterdam (most major airports in US, Europe and the UK have flights to Amsterdam), and then catch the KLM Airlines to JRO connecting flight.

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Domestic flights within Tanzania and Kilimanjaro airport ( JRO ) The following airlines offer domestic flights within Tanzania region: Precision Air Fly540 Regional Air Fast jet Zan Air Coastal Aviation Air Excel Bus transfers from Nairobi For a supplementary charge we can help you arrange private transportation or shuttle bus transfers to Moshi or Arusha from Nairobi, and vice versa. Although the bus departs from Nairobi’s Park side Hotel, we arrange to fetch our clients from certain hotels in the Nairobi city center, at the Nairobi airport, and we do not charge extra for this service. In Arusha or Moshi town, pick up or drop off can be arranged to most hotels in the city center area.  
Routing Schedule Departing Arriving
Nairobi to Arusha Daily 08:00 14:00
Nairobi to Arusha Daily 14:00 18:30
Nairobi to Moshi Daily 08:00 15:30
Moshi to Nairobi Daily 06:00 14:00
Arusha to Nairobi Daily 08:00 14:00
Moshi to Nairobi Daily 10:30 18:30
Arusha to Nairobi Daily 14:00 18:30

Private transfers

    It is possible to arrange private transfers to Arusha or Moshi from Nairobi, Dar Es Salaam or Mombasa and vice versa, at extra cost.    

Where do the Mount Kilimanjaro Climbs Begin?

    The Tanzanian town of Moshi and the city of Arusha are the main starting points for any Kilimanjaro adventure. Bustling with activity, most tour operators have their base in one of these places, and there are plenty of good accommodation options, restaurants, shops, and markets. You can also read more about where is Mt Kilimanjaro     The town of Moshi is closer to the Kilimanjaro international airport (JRO), about 40 minutes by road ( 45 Kilometers ), where the city of Arusha is around 90 minutes (70 Kilometers )    

Other Considerations For Mount Kilimanjaro Travel

  • We highly recommend checking your Visa & Passport requirements well in advance of your booking, including any visa requirements for transit countries.
  • Make sure you are up to date with vaccinations, including Yellow Fever, particularly if you have a layover in a country at risk (eg. Kenya)
  • We recommend arriving a couple of days ahead of your climb. This allows for any unexpected delays and gives you an opportunity to be properly rested before the start of your climb.
    We’re here to help. We can help you plan your travel itinerary, book local options and any questions you’ve got!



A month or two before you travel to Tanzania, you’ll need to make an appointment at your local travel clinic, or with your GP to discuss vaccinations. It’s a good idea to do this early so that any side-effects you might suffer are finished before you travel.

There are no mandatory vaccinations needed for climbing Kilimanjaro, with the exception of Yellow Fever which is compulsory for any traveler entering Tanzania from any country that is considered a risk zone for Yellow Fever.

You’ll need to consider what areas you’ll be traveling to before and after your climb.

Important Information about Yellow Fever

You may be asked for your Yellow Fever vaccination certificate upon entry to Tanzania if you arrive from a flight departing in a Yellow Fever zone. A list of these countries can be found below.

Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Sudan, Togo, Uganda.

Even if you are only transiting through one of these countries, and do not intend to leave the airport, the rules state that if you’ve been there for more than 12 hours, you’ll need proof of vaccination. In the case of flight delays, this can become a problem.

You need to be vaccinated 10 days before your scheduled date of travel, and some travelers report side-effects from the vaccine, so we’d recommend doing this as early as possible. Travelers flying into Tanzania direct from Europe or the US do not need a certificate.

What vaccinations do I need for Kilimanjaro? Recommended Vaccinations

The Center for Disease Control recommends the following immunizations for travelers to Tanzania. It is up to you and your healthcare professional to decide which, if any, are right for you:

Your routine inoculations

It’s recommended that you are up to date with all your routine vaccinations such as MMR (measles, mumps and rubella), chickenpox, Diptheria, tetanus, polio, and your yearly flu shot.

1. Hepatitis A & B

We recommend you talk to your doctor about hepatitis vaccinations. Hepatitis A is transmitted through contaminated food and water (such as salads, fruits that you don’t peel and shellfish) and ice in your drinks. You can be exposed to Hepatitis A even if you are not traveling to remote areas.

Hepatitis B is mostly transmitted through bodily fluids and needles. If you need medical treatment in a remote area, work in healthcare or are sexually active, you’ll want to consider it.

2. Typhoid

It’s not uncommon to be exposed to typhoid in Africa as it’s transmitted through contaminated food and water. Ice in your drinks, eating at street-food markets, poor hygiene, eating raw food or traveling to rural areas.

3. Tetanus

It’s easy to forget our 10-yearly tetanus shot. You’re most at risk of tetanus if you cut yourself, it’s found in the soil and animal feces. If you’re a traveling, it’s worth keeping this inculation up to date.

4. Rabies

Your chance of exposure to rabies is fairly low, particularly if you aren’t planning to do any traveling in Tanzania before or after your climb. Usually transmitted by a bite from an infected animal (often dogs), depending on plans, you and your doctor will decide if you need it.

5. Cholera

A nasty waterborne disease, spread through poor hygiene. The CDC recommends vaccination if you are traveling to an area of active cholera transmission. Speak to your doctor.

6. Malaria

As with most of Africa, malaria is always a concern when traveling through Tanzania. As the mosquitos are generally not found above 6000ft, you are relatively safe whilst on the mountain. However, you need to consider that you’ll be Moshi or Arusha before and after your climb, which is when you are most at risk.

Malaria is a parasite transmitted through the bite of the female anopheles mosquito. It only takes one bite to be infected, and the illness is serious, sometimes fatal.

Talk to your doctor about anti-malarial prophylaxis, and which is the most suitable for you and where you are traveling to. Malarone is a popular, but expensive brand, with the fewest reported side-effects. See the Hospital for Tropical Diseases to learn more.

A note about Larium: this particular anti-malarial has been reported to have side-effects mimic the symptoms of altitude sickness.

Taking prophylaxis (antimalarials) does not guarantee that you won’t contract malaria. The only foolproof way to prevent it is to avoid getting bitten by taking precautions:

  • Staying indoors between dusk and dawn (the mosquitoes are most active in the evenings)
  • Wearing a strong mosquito repellent, preferably with DEET
  • Always use a mosquito net over your bed when you sleep
  • Spray your room with insect repellent, and treat clothes and bedding
  • Wear long sleeves, trousers, and socks in the evenings
  • Avoid densely populated areas, especially at night

Intestinal Trouble & Travelers Diarrhea

By far the most common problem affecting travelers to remote parts of Africa is some sort of tummy upset. Diarrhea can be caused by parasites, viruses or bacteria, and can be hard to treat.

You can avoid bacteria such as E.coli and salmonella, parasites such as Giardia and Cryptosporidia by being meticulous about your food, water, and hygiene.

  • Never drink untreated water from rivers, taps, or wells. Avoid ice unless you are sure it’s made with purified water. Boil, filter and/or purify all water before drinking.
  • Avoid eating fruit that you can’t peel
  • Be careful with uncooked vegetables and salads, be sure they are washed in purified water
  • Make sure any meat you eat is well-cooked and avoid rare meat
  • Clean hands with anti-bacterial gel before eating

On your climb, we will provide you with clean, purified drinking water. All our food is sourced, stored and prepared carefully to avoid any possible contamination.

Medications to bring with you

Your doctor will be able to recommend the best medications for you to carry, but we suggest, in addition to any prescription medication you need:

  • Antimalarials
  • Ciproflaxin or a similar antibiotic to treat bacterial diarrhea
  • Diamox if you are taking it – read our guide to diamox
  • Ibuprofen

Before your climb, we ask you to fill in a medical questionnaire, and recommend you have a full medical check-up from your doctor.

Questions? Let us know, we’re here to help.



A Valid Passport

All visitors to Tanzania planning to climb Kilimanjaro are required to carry and show a passport valid for at least six months beyond the date of entry into the country. Your passport should have at least one empty page for official stamps.

Check your passport well in advance of travel, in case you need to renew it.

Tanzania Visitor Visa

Most foreign visitors are required to obtain a visa for entry into Tanzania, there are some exceptions. The visa doesn’t always need to be obtained prior to arrival as they can be issued at the port of entry.

Generally, all visitors from non-Commonwealth countries need a visa for entry, unless your country has an agreement with Tanzania under which this requirement has been waived.

Visitors from some Commonwealth countries don’t need a visa for entry, but citizens of the UK, Australia, New Zealand, India, United States, Canada, and most EU countries are not exempt.

Some travelers prefer to arrange their visas in advance, and this can be done by contacting the Tanzanian embassy in your home country. They normally require you to send in your passport, an application form and passport photos for processing.

Frequently asked questions

Can you Get a Tanzania visa on Arrival?

In order to avoid lost passports or delays in obtaining the visa, it’s often a good idea to simply purchase a visa on arrival. Depending on the time of year, the queues can be quite long for visa issuance, but often it’s quick and trouble-free.

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So how do you get a Tanzania visa?
Visas can be obtained at the following entry points to the United Republic of Tanzania:
Dar Es Salaam International Airport
Zanzibar International Airport
Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO)
Namanga Entry Point (Tanzania-Kenya boarder point)
Kigoma port
At the time of writing, the current Tanzania visa fees (purchased upon arrival) are:
US Citizens: $100 (Multiple entry) for one year
Non-US Citizens: $50 (Single entry) for six months
Non-US Citizens: $100 (Double entry) for six months
These fees will need to be paid in cash, and you’ll need a clean page in your passport for the stamp.
Can you apply for Tanzania visa online?
You can now apply for an Online Visa to visit the United Republic of Tanzania (both Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar). You are required to fill in the online form, make payment, and submit your application online. Your form will be internally reviewed and processed.
Applicants will be notified through their e-mails whether their applications have been accepted or rejected. They may also TRACK their application statuses through the online system. Applicants may as well be required to visit the nearest Tanzanian Embassies or Consular Offices for interviews. Follow this link for online visa application :
Keynote before you start your online visa Process.
Please consider the following information beforehand.
Types of Visa
Required documents
Countries whose citizens do not require visa on entry
Countries whose citizens require approval by the Tanzania Commissioner General of Immigration.
What are the  Tanzania Entry Requirements ?
Yellow Fever Vaccination Card
If you are arriving from a country at risk of yellow fever (even if you’ve had a layover), you’ll need to show your Yellow Fever Vaccination card.
Proof of Return or Onward Journey
As a visitor you will likely be asked to show proof of your onward or return ticket out of Tanzania, so be sure to have that information handy (a printout is best) once you land.
Proof of Sufficient Funds
You will have to have sufficient funds to support yourself during your stay in Tanzania, and carry proof should you be asked. It’s not often that an immigration official asks for this, but it can happen.
We strongly recommend that you check your visa requirements well in advance of your trip to avoid unnecessary delays.
Don’t forget any visa requirements for other countries you are visiting or transiting through.
Additional Resources:
For Americans
You can obtain a tourist visa to Tanzania upon arrival, however, the US government encourages you to apply one in advance by post. For information, see
For British
You can obtain a tourist visa to Tanzania upon arrival, however, the UK government encourages you to apply one before your travel. You can apply in person or by a representative at Tanzania High Commission in London. You can also submit your application by post. For more information, see
Single-entry (business and tourist) visa is valid for three months from the date of issue. A multiple-entry visa is valid for either six or 12 months from the date of issue.
Transit visas costing US$30 are available for those traveling through Tanzania to other destinations within a 14-day period. An onward ticket or tour itinerary/confirmation and sufficient funds for transit are required.
Please note that you can only obtain a transit visa to Tanzania at the point of entry.
Temporary residence
Residence permits are granted to foreign nationals if they are employed by a Tanzanian company, or working long-term as missionaries or volunteers. You must apply for these through the Immigration Services Department (
Working days
Allow three working days (applications in person) or 10 days (postal applications) for visa processing if applying in advance. You can pay an additional fee for a 24-hour or same-day service.
Who Doesn’t Require a Visa? A list of Countries
As of August 2018, citizens from 66 countries can enter Tanzania without a visa. These countries are: Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Ashmore & Certie Island, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Belize, Botswana, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Island, Brunei, Cayman Island, Channel Island, Christmas Island, Cocoas Island, Cook Island, Cyprus, Dominica, Falkland Island, Gambia, Ghana, Gibraltar, Grenada, Guernsey, Guyana, Heard Island, Hong Kong, Isle of man, Jamaica, Jersey, Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho, Macao, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Montserrat, Mozambique, Namibia, Naue Island, Nauru, Papua new Guinea, Romania, Ross Dependency, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Helena, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, Samoa, Seychelles, Singapore, South African Republic, Solomon Island, Swaziland, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos, Tuvalu, Uganda, Vanuatu, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
This visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing,
We strongly recommend that you verify critical information unique to your trip with the relevant embassy before travel.
Embassies and tourist offices:
Embassy of the United Republic of Tanzania in the USA
Telephone: (202) 884 1080.
Address: 1232 22nd St NW, Washington, 20037,
Opening times: Mon-Fri 0900-1300.
High Commission for the United Republic of Tanzania in the UK
Telephone: (020) 7569 1470.
Address: Tanzania House, 3 Stratford Place, London, WC1 1AS,
Opening times: Mon-Fri 1000-1230 (visa applications) and 1400-1530 (visa collection only).
British High Commission in Tanzania
Telephone: (022) 229 0000.
Address: Kivukoni, Umoja House, Garden Ave, Tanzania



Climbing Kilimanjaro is not a technical mountain climb, its a hike. A tough, multi-day trek at altitude. It can feel like a long, hard slog in the thin air, especially on summit night. Being physically prepared can mean the difference between a safe and comfortable climb, and a miserable, exhausting experience. So, how do I train for Kilimanjaro?

Being in peak physical fitness does not guarantee summit success. Even the fittest athletes can succumb to the effects of altitude. You don’t need to be an elite athlete to tackle Kilimanjaro, as the altitude will be the ultimate deciding factor.

However, it’s possible that the fitter you are, the less of your aerobic capacity you need to utilize to trek, allowing you to handle the additional stress of acclimatizing to the altitude more easily.

Things to bear in mind:

  • You’ll be hiking slowly, but ‘slowly’ at altitude can feel more like a run at sea-level
  • You need to be able to hike 6-8 hours a day, then do it all over again the next day, and the day after
  • Summit night/day can be 10+ hours on your feet
  • The trails can be steep, rocky and uneven.
  • Mental stamina and mindset is very important

While fitness alone will not help you acclimatize to the altitude, being in the best shape possible will have the following benefits:

  • Ability to recover quickly from the day’s exertion and be energized for the next day’s hiking
  • Improved oxygen delivery to the muscles
  • Strong legs for the steep (both uphill and downhill) sections
  • Improved balance and flexibility to reduce injury
  • Enjoyment of your surroundings.

Don’t forget:

  • Wear your hiking boots during practice hikes, at the gym or around the house. Especially new boots, you want them well broken-in. Experiment with different sock combinations.
  • Practice wearing your daypack (put some weight in it) to get your shoulders and back used to hiking with it
  • Practice layering your clothes: how do the layers fit, and getting them on and off quickly
  • Hiking poles: if you’re planning to use them on the mountain.

There is no best fitness program for Kilimanjaro, and how much training you’ll need is unique to your situation. If you’re very fit or going to the gym regularly, then you might need to add some hiking trails (preferably uphill). If you’re unfit, then you may need to start at the beginning.

Disclaimer: Please consult your doctor or healthcare professional before embarking on any training program or change to your current routine. Have a medical check-up before you commit to any high-altitude trek. The information in this article is for information purposes only. 

Fitness and training to climb Kilimanjaro

Any Kilimanjaro fitness program will depend on your current exercise routine, injury status, and fitness levels. You don’t need superhuman levels of physical performance, with enough time (and if your doctor agrees) most healthy people are able to get in shape for Kilimanjaro.

It’s a case of getting your body used to the specific demands of the trek.

The main aspects you’ll need to work on are:

  • Endurance & cardiovascular fitness
  • Leg, core & back strength
  • Flexibility and balance (stretching)
  • Get out and hike, preferably incorporating rough trails and hills
  • Mental stamina

Top Tips for a Successful Fitness Program

Keep it simple & sustainable

Pick an exercise you enjoy. If you love biking, then get out on your bike, if running’s your thing, then do that. The important thing is whatever exercise you do, make it progressive, so you build up your stamina and keep pushing yourself.

If you’re short of time, consider high-intensity interval training. Anything that improves the work capacity of muscles and your cardiovascular system.

Use daily life events as training opportunities

In addition to your more formal training program, find other opportunities as you go about your day. Do you have a dog? Put on a daypack with 20lbs when you take Fido for his daily walk. Take the stairs, mow the lawn, anything that gets you moving.

In the Hills or in the Gym

Wherever possible, put on your boots and daypack, and get outside. Hiking up and down hills, over rough terrain will give you an idea of what it’s like on the mountain. Increasing the duration of your walks will help to prepare you for being on your feet for many hours at a time.

No access to hills? Crank the treadmill onto a steep incline, or use the stair master. Wear your daypack and hiking boots, and practice.

Make it Progressive & Listen to your body

You want your training to be challenging, to prepare your body and your mind. But you don’t want to burn yourself out. Prepare your training program to be progressive, so you keep making gradual gains in your fitness process.

If you’re not sure how to prepare your own training program, consider a consult with a personal trainer or an online training program to help you out.

The Importance of Rest & Recovery

There’s a delicate balance between pushing yourself hard and pushing yourself too hard. Muscle soreness, injury, poor sleep, and fatigue can be indicators that you are going too hard, too soon.

Start training for your Kilimanjaro climb early enough (3-6 months). Good training is not an overnight success, it’s the sustained process over time.

Prevent Plateaus

Switch up your training every 3-4 weeks and incorporate something different. If you do the same thing all the time, your body will adapt to it, and you’ll need to go harder for the same benefit. Switching to a different workout routine presents new challenges for your body to adapt to.

Note: this is the main reason it’s important not to “just walk” for your Kilimanjaro preparation. Your body will adapt to walking at sea-level quite quickly unless you’re doing multiple hours of hiking per day.

Taper your Training

About two weeks out from the start of your climb, keep up the training but lower the intensity. You’ll want to be fresh and well-rested at the start of your climb, and you don’t want to risk injury.

Endurance and Cardiovascular Fitness

Endurance or stamina refers to the body’s basic ability to maintain a high rate of work for long durations. Training for endurance is basically an organized method to enhance your metabolism, or, in other words, to increase oxygen efficiency and energy production in your muscles.

  • Biking, swimming, jogging, stair master, elliptical – build up to 60-90 minutes of sustained work at around 70% of your maximum heart rate
  • High-Intensity Interval Training – use if you’re short on time, and to provide a different training stimulus.
  • Wear your weighted daypack and hiking boots whenever possible, and try to get out for some strenuous hikes, preferably with some elevation gain.

You can also incorporate some specific altitude training protocols to help you get accustomed to the lack of oxygen on the mountain.

Strength Training

What is strength? It’s the body’s ability to perform the most work with the least amount of effort. Remember, you’ll have the altitude to contend with, so you want your body to be as efficient as possible at performing the “work” (trekking) it’s required to do.

Resistance training predominantly trains the anaerobic (without oxygen) energy production systems.

  • Work on your lower body (leg) strength – squats, lunges, anything that targets the large muscles in your legs.
  • Build your core strength for good balance on uneven terrain
  • Back and upper body strength for carrying your daypack

You’ll need strong legs to power you up the mountain, and the downhill sections can be hard on your hips, knees, and thighs. A good strength training program will help the larger muscle groups build strength, and also strengthen the smaller, stabilizing muscles around the joints to reduce injury.

You don’t need to go full-on bodybuilder strength training, but incorporating resistance training 2-4 times a week will pay dividends later on. If you’re not experienced with weight training, we highly recommend consulting a personal trainer.

Stretching, Flexibility & Yoga

When you’re doing a lot of cardio or strength training, it’s easy to ignore flexibility. Stretching your muscles before and after exercise reduces injury. It makes you more balanced and helps the muscles recover.

Incorporating some yoga into your program helps with your breathing techniques, promotes good posture and helps you to stay calm and focused on the challenge ahead.

Breathing Techniques

Learning to control your breathing is very important when you hike in the thin air. Shallow breathing and hyperventilation don’t allow you to take in enough oxygen and can increase your body’s stress response. Be mindful of your breathing and learn to take long, slow, deep breaths.

Using yoga, meditation or specific breathing techniques can help with your ability to listen to your body. Tuning into your body’s needs such as hunger, thirst, heart rate, aches, and pains means you’ll know quickly if something’s wrong.

Injury Prevention & Existing Injuries

Most of us have the odd sore knee, tight hip or weak shoulder. Knowing your current limitations (check with your doctor for any injuries you suspect you have) allows you to prepare better.

  • If you’ve got poor knees, ask your doctor or physiotherapist about a knee-brace, particularly for downhill sections
  • Hire a good personal trainer to devise a program to strengthen your weak points
  • Soft-tissue work or sports massage can help free up tight muscles in certain areas
  • Prevent injury by warming up and cooling down before and after intense exercise

On the Mountain

  • Choose the longest route possible, for the best acclimatization protocol
  • Take it slow and steady: conserve your energy, there’s no rush
  • Stay hydrated, and eat regularly
  • Use hiking poles to help you balance on uneven terrain
  • Treat ‘hotpots’ on your feet to prevent them from turning into blisters

Learn the Rest-Step

The “rest step” is a hiking technique that has you drop your heel with every step, completely straightening your leg. This puts the weight on your skeleton and gives your muscles a chance to relax for a moment.

And most importantly: tell your guide immediately if you feel unwell, have a headache, nausea or are suffering any kind of pain.

Mental Stamina

Trekking Kili is a mental challenge and requires perseverance and determination. The long hours of hiking, effects of altitude, and sleeping in a cold tent can all take their toll.

How can you ‘train’ mental stamina?

  • Remembering your “why”. Why did you choose Kilimanjaro? Are you raising money for a charity? Perhaps it’s to push your physical capacity or a lifelong dream. Either way, keep your “why” in mind
  • Mindfulness and meditation. There are plenty of resources explaining the benefits to mind and body of meditation, one of which is improving your mental resolve
  • Hard training: pushing yourself through a previous ‘limit’ can show you just what you’re capable of. Perhaps you’ve achieved a personal best of some sort.
  • Confidence, but not over-confidence. Achieving milestones that you set for yourself can increase your confidence in your ability to handle tough situations. Over-confidence can cause laziness and complacency
  • Draw on your own experiences. Remember some difficult situations you’ve overcome, and remind yourself that you can do this.
  • Be informed: read up as much as you can about the challenge you are undertaking, build up knowledge about the mountain as well as about yourself
  • One step, one breath, one activity, one achievement at a time.


On the mountain, we provide you with well-balanced nutritionally dense meals and cater for most dietary requirements. During your training, it’s important to follow a healthy nutritional plan for optimal results that aligns with your goals. Read more on Food on Kilimanjaro climb

Summing Up

Anyone, in good health (if your doctor agrees) can get fit enough to climb Mt Kilimanjaro. There’s no “magic bullet” or secret to training for Kilimanjaro, it’s a matter of putting the work in, and gradually building up your capacity.

Try not to compare yourself to others. Many people in sub-optimal physical condition have achieved the summit, and many athletes have failed. The effects of altitude are a great equalizer. Be your best self, train to be in your best physical shape. If in doubt, seek professional help from a qualified personal trainer or your physician.

Questions? Contact us today, or book now for your adventure of a lifetime!



In order to be safe and comfortable throughout your Mount Kilimanjaro climb, you’ll need to bring important gear and supplies with you. We have put together a comprehensive Kilimanjaro Packing list to help you prepare for your climb.

Trekking Kilimanjaro involves five main climate zones, from the warm, humid forest and lower slopes, to the bitterly cold summit zone, with glaciers, ice, and snow. You need to be prepared for all Kilimanjaro weather conditions: sunny, windy, and rainy.

We provide tents, the camp equipment, food, cooking facilities, and other shared items. You’ll have a duffel bag with all your kit, carried by the porters; and carry your own daypack during the trekking day.


Kilimanjaro Gear List

If you are packing for your climb it is important to really plan your clothing appropriately. This is why we recommend that you pack the following:

  • Top Base Layer
  • Bottom Base Layer
  • 4-5 Pairs of Underwear
  • 3-4 Short Sleeve
  • 1 Insulated Trekking Pants
  • 1-2 Long Sleeve Hiking Shirts
  • 1-2 Pairs of Hiking Trousers
  • 1 Insulated Winter Jacket
  • 1 Polartec Fleece Jacket
  • 1 Hard Shell Jacket
Basic Equipment
Daypack: Your main gear will be carried by a porter (up to 15kg) .You will need to carry your own daypack. 30-40L is sufficient. We recommend Osprey daypacks.
Recommended Options
Waterproof duffle bag: To carry your main gear we recommend using a 80-90L duffle bag. Large rucksacks (>65L) can also work.
Recommended Options
Sleeping bag: You will need a 4-season or -20 Deg C sleeping bag and compression sack. We recommend Mountain Hardwar or The North Face sleeping bags. You can hire sleeping bags from our team in Tanzania
Recommended Options
Trekking poles: Trekking poles can reduce the impact on your joints by up to 20%. They are great for going down Kili! We recommend adjustable Black Diamond trekking poles
Recommended Options
Water bladder / bottles: Capacity to carry 3 litres of water. Options: 2 x 1.5 litre wide mouth nalgene bottles or 2 litre platypus + 1 litre water bottle. Note that disposable plastic bottles are not permitted on Kilimanjaro
Recommended Options
Neck gaiter or scarf: It can get dusty on Kilimanjaro. We recommend bringing a neck gaiter or bandana. The most versatile options are made by Buff or Hoo-Rag Headwear
Recommended Options
Warm beanie style hat: Go for a version of a beanie that is either knitted or fleeced for extra warmth. The North Face, Berghaus and Columbia all make good outdoor beanies
Recommended Options
Sun hat: Preferably go for a hat that is wide-brimmed for protection, and has a neck cover if you aren’t going to be wearing a neck gaiter
Recommended Options
Headlamp: You will need a headlamp with good light output for any late night toilet journeys, and importantly for summit night. Petzl make market-leading and affordable headlamps
Recommended Options
Sunglasses: Choose a pair of high UV protection glasses as sun intensity above 4,500m is very high. Julbo are a great mountain sunglass brand but any brand with high UV protection will suffice
Recommended Options
Hands and Feet
Warm gloves or mittens: For the cold nights and for the summit push we recommend heavyweight, insulated, preferably water resistant gloves. The North Face and Black Diamond are recommended brands
Recommended Options
Lightweight Gloves: For lower slopes we recommend lightweight, fleece or quick drying fabric gloves. Berghaus and The North Face make good lightweight gloves
Recommended Options
Trekking boots: We recommend using a mid-weight trekking boots with good ankle support. Recommended brands include: Salomon, Scarpa, Hi-Tec and Merrell
Recommended Options
Training shoes: To wear around camp after a day’s trek we recommend bringing a pair of training shoes or sandals
Recommended Options
Socks: 3-4 pairs of outer socks and 2-3 pairs of liner socks. We also recommend bringing 1 x thick thermal socks for summit night. Merino wool is the best material and Bridgedale or Smartwool make good trekking socks
Recommended Options
Gaiters: Help keep your trousers clean in wet and muddy or dusty conditions.
Recommended Options
Upper Body
Thermal base layer: 1 x thermal base layer, ideally made from merino wool. Recommended brand is Icebreaker
Recommended Options
Short sleeved shirt: 2 x lightweight, moisture wicking short sleeved shirts. Recommend brands include Icebreaker, Under Armour, Columbia, Berghaus
Recommended Options
Long sleeve shirt: Go for a light or medium weight, moisture wicking long sleeve shirt (x2). Icebreaker, Berghaus and Under Armor make great breathable trekking shirts.
Recommended Options
Fleece or soft shell jacket: A mid-weight polartec fleece jacket is ideal for Kilimanjaro. Berghaus, Helly Hansen and The North Face all make great fleeces
Recommended Options
Insulated jacket: A good quality and warm down or primaloft jacket is required for the cold nights and summit push. Recommended brands include The North Face, Rab, Arc’Teryx and Mountain Hardwear
Recommended Options
Hard shell outer jacket: A water/windproof hard shell outer jacket to protect you from the elements. Goretex material is best. Recommended brands include The North Face, Arc’teryx, Berghaus and Mountain Hardwear Recommended Options
Leggings: Thermal or fleece base layer for your legs. Merino wool is preferable. Recommend brand is Icebreaker.
Recommended Options
Trekking trousers: Light or medium weight (x1) trekking trousers. Convertible trousers are an option. Recommended brands include Craghoppers and Columbia
Recommended Options
Hard shell trousers: To protect yourself from the elements you need a good pair of waterproof / windproof hard shell trousers. Ideally Goretex. Patagonia, The North Face and Arc’Teryx all make good outer trousers
Recommended Options
Other Bits and Bobs
Plug Adapter: A plug adapter for charging your devices in the hotels before and after the trek. The standard voltage and frequency in Tanzania is 230 V and 50 Hz respectively. The power sockets that are used are of type D / G. Recommended OptionsCamera and spare batteries: Unless you are a keen photographer we recommend taking a good quality and lightweight point and shoot camera like the Panasonic Lumix.
Recommended Options
Sun and lip screen: High SPF sunscreen and lip protection balm
Recommended Options
Toothbrush and toothpaste: Ideally travel size
Recommended Options
Personal snacks: Boiled sweets, nuts, energy bars and dried fruit are all a good shout. Isotonic drink powder to mix in with your water improves flavor and helps replace electrolytes
Recommended Options
Ear plugs: For light sleepers. Snoring travels in quiet high altitude camps!
Recommended Options
Wet wipes and hand sanitizer: Staying clean on Kilimanjaro is a challenge. Wet wipes and hand sanitizer are a huge help
Recommended Options
Pee bottle (optional): Useful for the ladies, but not a requirement
Recommended Options


Important Kilimanjaro Packing list Information:

  • The porters will carry your main duffel bag. The weight of this pack on Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru is strictly limited to 15 kg (35 pounds). Overweight or extra luggage will require an extra porter
  • Wrap clothing in rugged, waterproof stuff sacks.
  • In your daypack, take water, sunglasses, camera, binoculars, rain pants and jacket as a minimum. Add any other items you might need during the day because you won’t have access to your main luggage until the end of your trek for the day.
  • Bring extra sets of batteries as cold weather shortens their life.
  • Carry critical climbing gear on the plane with you (especially your boots) in case baggage is delayed.
  • You may want to bring some older items of warm clothing as gifts for your guides and porters.

Kilimanjaro Gear List More Information Clothing

  • You want your inner layer to be breathable and wicking – no cotton. Next layer should be insulating and warm, and the top layer should be waterproof, yet breathable.
  • You will need clothes for hiking during the day, resting in the evening, and for sleeping. Layers are key, as temperatures vary dramatically.
  • Your clothing should be lightweight, breathable, hand-washable, and quick-drying.
  • No cotton! Cotton doesn’t allow moisture to escape and ends up soaked very quickly
  • Don’t bring jeans, as they are unsuitable for hiking

If you’re an experienced hiker, you’ll be familiar with how to layer your clothing to stay warm and dry. For beginners, it’s pretty simple, if we focus on some basic principles:

  • Never stay in wet clothing, as soon as you get to camp, change into dry clothes
  • Your base layer needs to wick sweat away from your body
  • Your mid-layer retains your body heat, whilst allowing sweat to evaporate off
  • Your outer layers protect you from the wind and rain and add heat in cold conditions

Even in very cold conditions, if you build up a sweat, and your base layer doesn’t wick it away, you’ll end up chilled, or worse, hypothermic.

Weather on the mountain is unpredictable and can change quickly. Even if it’s not raining, low cloud, mist, and fog can make for a damp and chilly hike. The wind chill factor can make a sunny day feel icy cold.

As the trekking is quite strenuous at times, your core temperature will increase, so it’s very important the layers closest to your body are able to wick the moisture away. Sweat cools fast and you don’t want to be clammy and warm whilst on the move, only for it to turn bone-chillingly cold when you stop for a rest.

Tips for choosing your Kilimanjaro clothing:

  • Make sure underwear has “flatlock” seams to prevent chafing and is anti-microbial
  • Base layers are very important – choose merino wool or a combination of merino/synthetic for the best odor-control and breathability
  • Take an extra base layer to use for sleeping
  • “Convertible” hiking pants are great for the lower slopes where it’s often warm enough to hike in shorts – try them out at home first to make sure they’re comfortable
  • For the colder parts of the climb you’ll need good winter hiking pants – just make sure they’re breathable
  • Waterproof pants with full-length zips make getting them on and off quick and easy
  • Modern technical fleeces (such as Polartec) make excellent insulation layers
  • If you’ve got a favorite hardshell jacket (such as a ski jacket) just make sure it’s big enough to fit over your other layers
  • Don’t forget to bring a down jacket. You’ll need this for the summit bid as well as in the evenings at camp when you’re tired, you feel the cold a lot more.
  • Get the best lightweight rain gear you can afford
  • Your gloves are important: they protect from the sun as well as keep you warm. Make sure your inner glove fits easily inside your thermal gloves/mittens
  • Sunglasses are very important, they need to be 100% UV protective, and of the ‘wraparound’ variety. The sun at altitude is intensified and can reflect off ice and snow.
  • A lot of heat is lost through your head, so be sure to get a warm thermal hat as well as one that protects your neck from the harsh rays of the sun.

Footwear and Trekking Poles

Arguably the most important bit of kit you’ll need is your footwear. Make sure your hiking boots are well worn-in, that they fit properly (including with thick socks) and you are comfortable walking long hours in them. If you don’t have a favorite pair already, take your time choosing – don’t buy them online.

We recommend light- to mid-weight waterproof boots with good ankle support. You don’t need to go full-mountaineering boot, as you won’t be wearing crampons and you don’t need the extra weight. Sneakers or “trainers” are not appropriate, except for wearing around camp.

Your trekking boot needs to have a rugged, semi-rigid sole, and don’t forget to bring a spare pair of laces. Brands such as the Salomon GTX are a good example of a typical Kilimanjaro hiking boot.

Gaiters are a good idea to prevent mud, debris and mountain scree from getting into your boots and causing irritation. They also keep the lower part of your pants clean.

Don’t skimp on your socks. Just as with your clothing layers, the liner sock needs to wick moisture away from your feet, and the outer sock provides cushioning and warmth. Avoid cotton socks.

To use trekking poles – or not?

This is a personal preference, but we recommend using hiking poles to help with your balance and mitigate fatigue. You can rent or buy poles, but you should practice using them at home before you travel.

Head torch & Lighting

We recommend a lightweight head torch with a strong beam. You’ll be using this around camp to and from the toilet tent at night, and on summit night. Brands such as Pletzl or Black Diamond are good options. It’s very important to bring spare batteries, as the cold drains them quickly.

Some trekkers bring a small flashlight such as a mini-maglite, for lighting their tent after dark.


The nights are bitterly cold on Kilimanjaro. As you get higher up, you’ll be tired from the hiking and will feel the cold even more. You can either bring your own sleeping bag or rent one from us. Our rental sleeping bags are professionally cleaned after every climb.

If you decide to bring your own, it needs to be a 4-season rated, 0F (or -15F) sleeping bag. Whether you rent or bring your own, consider bringing a sleeping bag liner, to keep any mountain dust and dirt out of the bag, and add a bit of warmth.

A small inflatable pillow is optional, most hikers bundle up clothes to use as a pillow, but this is a personal choice.

Sleeping Gear:

  • Sleeping Bag rated 0°F, -15°F
  • Sleeping mat: we provide one, but you can bring your own if you prefer
  • Sleeping bag liner (for extra warmth or for rented sleeping bag)
  • Compression sack for sleeping bag

Down sleeping bags give the best warmth-to-weight ratio, they are easy to compress, and pack down small. They don’t like getting wet, so be sure to bring a waterproof compression sack. Mummy-shaped sleeping bags provide better insulation than the rectangular versions, as they fit closer to your body. A hood is essential to avoid heat loss from your head and neck.

We provide a thin mattress to roll out your sleeping bag on, but if you feel you’d like additional cushioning or have a favorite backpacking pad, then bring this with you.

Packs & Bags:

Our porters will carry your main duffel bag during the day, and you’ll only see it once you get to camp. You’ll carry all the bits and bobs you need for the day’s trekking in your daypack.

The North Face Basecamp duffel bag is a great choice, it’s waterproof, rugged, and the 90-liter version will be ample for all your belongings. Although it’s waterproof, we highly recommend that you pack your gear in waterproof stuff sacks or packing cubes, for extra protection.

Your daypack needs to be comfortable, with adjustable shoulder straps, and a hip belt. You’ll be wearing this all day, so make sure you get one that fits well, has space for a hydration bladder and water bottles, and is large enough to fit your rain gear, a couple of layers, and other daily essentials.

Not all daypacks come with a built-in rain cover, be sure to check and purchase one separately.

Water and Snacks

  • 2-3 liter hydration bladder (Platypus or Camelbak or similar)
  • 1-2 One-liter wide-mouth water bottle (Nalgene or similar)
  • Electrolyte/Sports drink powdered formula for adding to your water
  • Snacks: Energy bars of your preference – plan for 2-4 per day
  • Optional: Water purification tablets or filter pen (we provide boiled/filtered water)

Staying hydrated on Kilimanjaro is extremely important. If you get dehydrated, this will affect your ability to acclimatize and put your health at risk. We provide purified water for our climbers and recommend that you use a hydration system so you don’t have to keep stopping to drink from a bottle.

A couple of wide-mouth Nalgene bottles are good for having water on hand in your tent, and for when you’re on rest stops. Wide-mouth bottles work best to prevent water freezing as you get higher up.

Tip: fill your wide-mouth Nalgene bottle with hot water just before you go to bed, secure the lid properly – and use it as a ‘hot water bottle’ through the night. You can then drink the water the next day.

Water can get pretty boring, so it’s a good idea to bring along an electrolyte formula that’s flavored to your liking. Snacks such as energy bars, trail mix, and candy can help give you a quick energy boost while on the trail. Just avoid anything with caffeine in it.

Personal Health and Comfort

The following list is a good starting point. You won’t be showering on Kilimanjaro, so anti-bacterial ‘wet wipes’ are a good way of maintaining personal hygiene.

Sunscreen is very important as the sun’s rays are much stronger at altitude.

Bring two rolls of toilet paper, one to keep in your daypack for use on the trail, and one in your duffel for use at camp. Taking the cardboard center out makes it easier to transport.

  • Toiletries: toothbrush & toothpaste, hairbrush/comb, foot powder, hand cream, deodorant, soap.
  • “Baby-wipes” and anti-bacterial, hand-sanitizer wipes
  • Any regular medication you are taking
  • Anti-bacterial hand-sanitizer gel such as Purell
  • Fingernail brush
  • Nail clippers
  • Ear plugs
  • Sunscreen SPF 40+
  • Small microfiber quick-dry towel
  • Pee-bottle for night time calls of nature
  • Small torch (optional)
  • Headtorch
  • Pocket knife (Swiss Army Knife or “Leatherman”)
  • Spare contact lenses/glasses
  • Toilet paper (1-2 rolls. Take out the cardboard center for easier packing)
  • Camera/phone/ipod
  • Spare batteries

Medical Supplies

Our guides carry a comprehensive medical kit, but you’ll need to bring a few things for minor scrapes and blisters. We recommend speaking to your doctor or healthcare professional before you travel if you are in any doubt what to bring.

Personal first-aid Kit

  • Blister plasters – different shapes and sizes
  • Antibiotic cream or ointment
  • Band-Aid/Elastoplast for minor cuts and scrapes
  • Ibuprofen/Paracetamol – over the counter pain relief
  • Skin healing ointment such as Aquaphor
  • Immodium for diarrhea
  • Anti-nausea medication
  • Any prescription medications
  • Diamox (if using)

Top Tips for Preparing your Kilimanjaro Gear

  • Get started ahead of time. Don’t leave it to the last minute. Identify what’s on the list that you don’t already own, and find deals and sales from REI, Amazon, Moosejaw and Backcountry. Steep & Cheap is another good site where you can get last year’s clothing at a good discount
  • Practice packing and unpacking your duffel bag and your daypack – knowing where everything goes can be very helpful on those cold mornings when you struggle to get going
  • Practice hiking with your boots, poles and your daypack. Experiment with taking your daypack on and off and adjusting it to fit with different clothing layer combinations
  • Keep in mind what you will be doing before and after your climb, you’ll be able to leave excess luggage at the hotel while you climb.
  • Don’t be too shy to ask us! Get in touch with any questions you have and one of our friendly and experienced team members will be happy to help you.

Other Bits and Bobs

Don’t forget your travel documents. You’ll need your passport and visa, travel insurance, any vaccinations and your yellow fever certificate (if you are transiting through a yellow fever zone).

Check with your doctor about malaria’s and recommended immunizations.

Note that as of 2019, Tanzania has banned all single-use plastic bags. So don’t bring any Ziploc or other plastic bags of any description.

Questions? Let us know in the comments, send us an email or hit the live chat button, we’re here to help.

Altitude Sickness


At Big Time Kilimanjaro climb, Safety is our Number one priority: At 19,341ft, Kilimanjaro presents a unique set of challenges, the most dangerous of which being altitude sickness. A significant proportion of people who climb over 9,000ft develop some symptoms relating to altitude.

Effects of Altitude on Kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro has become a very popular trek as it’s a way for ordinary hikers to experience a high mountain summit with no technical skill. Being what’s known as a “walk-up”, without the need for ropes and climbing gear, some people underestimate the potential for serious, life-threatening situations as a result of the altitude. Kilimanjaro’s summit falls into the “extreme altitude” category, along with Aconcagua and Denali (Mt McKinley). Everest and K2 are “ultra” altitude, where acclimatization is impossible

A Brief Introduction to Altitude
At the summit of Kilimanjaro there is approximately 49% less oxygen than at sea level. However, it’s not the percentage of oxygen in the air that changes, it’s the barometric pressure (air pressure) of the atmosphere that’s reduced.
The percentage of oxygen in the air is the same 20.9%, but it’s availability is reduced by the reduction in air pressure. What this means, in simple terms is that for any volume of air you breathe in, there are less molecules of oxygen available.
The reduced air pressure has other problems associated with it as well, allowing fluid to collect outside of the cells, around the brain (High Altitude Cerebral Edema) and the lungs (High Altitude Pulmonary Edema), both very serious conditions.
Altitude Sickness: What is it?
Mountain sickness has three main forms: Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) and High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE). Additionally, AMS can be mild (very common and manageable with the right treatment), moderate, and severe (immediate descent necessary).
Let’s take a closer look at these conditions.
Acute Mountain Sickness
According to Dr. Peter Hackett of the Institute for Altitude Medicine, AMS can affect anyone above 6,000ft. The initial sign is usually a headache, which confusingly can also be a sign of dehydration or over-exertion. If other symptoms develop, then a diagnosis of AMS is probable.
Mild AMS
In it’s mildest form, the symptoms can resemble that of a hangover, with nausea, headache, fatigue, and a loss of appetite. If you experience any of these symptoms it’s important to tell your guide and not simply try to push through. Mild symptoms can often be resolved with rest and adequate hydration.
Moderate AMS
If the symptoms of mild AMS start to get worse, a headache that you can’t shift, dizziness, coughing, shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting this is an indication that you are not adapting to the altitude (acclimatizing) and at this point you should descend to the last elevation that you felt “well”.
Treatments such as ibuprofen for the headache or anti-emetics for the nausea can mask worsening symptoms and should not be relied upon for continued ascent.
Severe AMS If a person suffering with moderate AMS ignores the symptoms pushing through to a higher elevation, there’s a risk that the condition can become severe. Severe AMS can lead to life-threatening complications (HAPE and HACE) and immediate descent is mandatory.Symptoms can include severe headache, ataxia (lack of co-ordination, inability to walk properly, staggering), increased coughing and shortness of breath. Someone with severe AMS will likely need evacuation from the mountain either by stretcher or helicopter.
Complications resulting from severe mountain sickness are HAPE and HACE.
High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE)
Basecamp MD explains that HAPE can develop as a result of the lung arteries developing excessive pressure as a result of the low oxygen environment. This pressure causes build up of fluid around the lungs.
Confusingly, it’s possible for a climber to develop HAPE even if they don’t seem to have symptoms of severe AMS.
Look out for:
Coughing up blood or mucus
Abnormal lung sounds
Extreme listlessness
Difficulty breathing
Lips going blue
Confusion, lack of coordination
Anyone at altitude who feels as though they have a respiratory infection should assume it’s HAPE until a medical professional proves it to be otherwise. If HAPE is suspected, oxygen is often administered in conjunction with immediate evacuation to a medical facility.
As oxygen levels in the blood drop, the brain can suffer from lack of oxygen, leading to HACE.
High Altitude Cerebral Edema
HACE is a very dangerous condition that requires immediate medical treatment. As fluid builds up around the brain, the climber comes increasingly confused, lethargic and drowsy, incapable of walking and behaving strangely.
Look out for:
Disorientation, confusion, hallucinations, talking nonsense
Lack of coordination, staggering, inability to walk
Irrational behavior
Severe headache, sometimes accompanied by nausea and vomiting
HACE cannot be treated without immediate evacuation to a medical facility.
How is Altitude Sickness Diagnosed?
In our daily health checks, Big Time Kilimanjaro climb guides will use a pulse oximeter to measure your oxygen saturation and pulse rate and use this data along with any symptoms you are presenting to build up a picture of your situation.
Lake Louise Scoring System
Developed in 1991 and reviewed as recently as 2018, the Lake Louise Scoring System remains the basis for most diagnosis in the field of a climber’s condition. Big Time Kilimanjaro guides use this as a framework when they assess your condition. The ‘score’ attaches a number depending on the severity of your condition.
0—None at all
1—A mild headache
2—Moderate headache
3—Severe headache, incapacitating
Gastrointestinal symptoms
0—Good appetite
1—Poor appetite or nausea
2—Moderate nausea or vomiting
3—Severe nausea and vomiting, incapacitating
Fatigue and/or weakness
0—Not tired or weak
1—Mild fatigue/weakness
2—Moderate fatigue/weakness
3—Severe fatigue/weakness, incapacitating
0—No dizziness/light-headedness
1—Mild dizziness/light-headedness
2—Moderate dizziness/light-headedness
3—Severe dizziness/light-headedness, incapacitating
AMS Clinical Functional Score
Overall, if you had AMS symptoms, how did they affect your activities?
0—Not at all
1—Symptoms present, but did not force any change in activity or itinerary
2—My symptoms forced me to stop the ascent or to go down on my own power
3—Had to be evacuated to a lower altitude
[Source: High Altitude Medicine and Biology]
Acclimatization: Preventing Altitude Sickness
The term acclimatization or “acclimation” refers to the body’s compensatory processes to adapt to the low-oxygen, low-atmospheric pressure environment. From day one, your body will start to make adaptive changes to compensate.
Things you’ll notice:
Breathing deeper, sometimes faster
Elevated resting heart rate
Potentially higher blood pressure.
As you ascend slowly, your body has certain mechanisms it uses to adapt:
Producing more of the oxygen carrying hemoglobin
Higher erythropoietin production, this is a hormone from the kidneys that increases the manufacture of red blood cells
Lower volume of plasma, which can increase risk of dehydration.
Higher kidney function as excess bicarbonate ions are excreted as a result of changing acid/alkali balance of blood.
All of these changes are a gradual process, which is why the best and safest summit success rates are had on routes with a good acclimatization protocol. The longer it takes to reach high altitude, the longer your body has to adapt.
By building in acclimatization days “hike high, sleep low” and rest days increases your chances of adequate adaptation, resulting in lower incidence of mountain sickness.
Acclimatization is a complicated process, some people seem to have no problem at all. There are no tricks or hacks, it’s a matter of time, although the medication Diamox has been shown to up regulate the body’s natural acclimatization processes and can help speed it up.
How to Avoid Altitude Sickness on Kilimanjaro
Take a longer route. Instead of choosing the quickest way up Kilimanjaro, opt for a route that builds-in some acclimatization time. Also Kilimanjaro climb training and preparation is very important.
Hike slowly. You’ll hear your guides reminding you of this “pole pole” (slowly, slowly in Swahili). You don’t want to tire yourself out, always try to be the last person into camp.
Even if you’re very fit, you need to conserve your energy, avoid over-exertion. Fatigue is believed to be a major contributor to AMS.
Stay hydrated. Keeping your fluids up prevents dehydration in the dry air which can compromise your ability to acclimatize
Ask your doctor if Diamox is right for you.
Don’t climb higher if you are suffering any symptoms of altitude sickness.
Avoid narcotic pain killers, sleeping pills, alcohol or stimulants
Always tell your guide if you have a headache, nausea or any other symptom
Keep eating, particularly carbohydrates. The US Army studies show that carbohydrates increase ventilation, and are the most efficient fuel for high altitude exertion.
Stay warm. Hypothermia is dangerous, never stay in wet clothes.
Does Altitude Training help Acclimatization?
Altitude Training is becoming increasingly popular among st would-be mountaineers. Some athletes use these training protocols to enhance performance, and studies have shown a “per-acclimatization” process as a result.
The protocols vary from training in a simulated altitude chamber, sleeping in a hypnotic tent, and even intermittent exposure to hypoxic air at rest. You can read our in depth guide to altitude training for more information.
The best pre-acclimatization method would be to climb Mt Meru, or some peaks in your home country prior to traveling to Kilimanjaro. This isn’t possible for everyone, nor is it necessary but if you do have access to some high altitude you’ll get a good idea of how well you acclimatize.
Effects of Altitude on existing Conditions
Your doctor will advise you of whether your medical history prevents you from traveling to altitude. Many people with well-controlled pre-existing conditions are able to climb Kilimanjaro successfully.
Anyone with heart, lung or neurological conditions will need to have a medical sign-off from their doctor before joining one of our climbs. It’s particularly important for your doctor to assess how the altitude may affect your current medications and condition. Be aware that certain medical conditions may make getting adequate travel insurance more difficult.
Effects of Altitude on Sleep: Cheyne-Stokes Breathing
One of the main reasons for sleep disturbance at altitude is periodic breathing. This is not necessarily associated with altitude sickness, but can be uncomfortable and disruptive. The Institute for Altitude Medicine explains that it’s a “battle in the body over control of breathing during sleep”. The oxygen sensors tell the parasympathetic nervous system to breathe more deeply, whilst the carbon dioxide sensors tell it to stop.
The result is usually deep breathing followed by the breathing stopping, and then a deep-breath as it restarts. Diamox often helps with this condition.
Other Health Considerations on Kilimanjaro
While altitude sickness is the main concern, you need to take a pro-active view of your health whilst climbing.
Never stay in wet clothes. Whether from rainfall or perspiration, once you stop moving, a slight chill can turn to hypothermia in a short time, especially higher up the mountain. Make sure you carry adequate layers in your day pack, as rapid changes in temperature are quite common as you ascend.
The Sun’s Rays
Always wear sunscreen, preferably factor 40+, cover exposed parts of your body, including your head and neck. As you ascend, there is less atmosphere to filter out the harmful UV rays, and the sun’s rays are harsh.
Most importantly, wear sunglasses that block 100% of the UV rays. Wraparound glasses are best, to prevent reflected UV off glaciers and snow from damaging your eyes. Snow blindness is not common, but it’s a definite risk if you don’t protect your eyes.
Gastro-intestinal issues
Any travel to remote places comes with a risk of gastro-intestinal trouble. Different foods, sub-standard hygiene, and exposure to bacteria and viruses can cause stomach problems. Always use anti-bacterial gel or wipes on your hands, especially before eating.
Your main risk for stomach trouble is before your climb. Avoid eating at street stalls, stay away from tap water, salads, and fruit you can’t peel. On the mountain we adhere to strict food hygiene protocols and provide safe purified water at all times.
Climbing Kilimanjaro Safety Procedures
At Big Time Kilimanjaro climb we take your safety very seriously. Big Time Kilimanjaro climb trained  guides will monitor you closely, but to do that, they also need your help. If you feel in any way unwell, you should inform your guide immediately. Keep an eye on other members of your group, if you see someone behaving strangely or they appear to be suffering, tell your guide.
Every day your guide will check your oxygen saturation with a pulse oximeter, question you about how you are feeling, and listen to your chest for unusual lung sounds. Catching it early is the best way to prevent mild altitude sickness escalating.
Big Time Kilimanjaro Team carries emergency oxygen and portable stretchers on every climb. If a climber is suffering and cannot proceed, we have partnered with Kilimanjaro helicopter rescue for emergency evacuation.



Yes, it’s mandatory to have travel insurance that covers you for high altitude trekking up to 6,000 meters if you plan to climb Kilimanjaro.

Due to the high altitude, remote location, and demanding conditions of a Kilimanjaro trek, travel insurance is compulsory for all participants. Anyone taking part in a Kilimanjaro climb will be required to show proof of insurance before the start of the trek.

A trip to Africa is a significant investment and having the right insurance policy can

help mitigate the risk you face should something go wrong.

Travel insurance may cover you in case of:

  • unexpected trip cancellation
  • trip interruption
  • missed flight connections
  • travel delays
  • lost baggage
  • other unforeseen circumstances, such as injury or family illness or emergency medical evacuation

When you take part in adventure activities, you may need specialized insurance.

Your travel insurance will need to cover medical expenses that could arise while traveling abroad. In the case of a Kilimanjaro climb, you’ll need to make sure that it covers you for medical evacuation too.

Unexpected injuries and doctor visits need to be covered, and emergency evacuation expenses should you need to be airlifted off the mountain. Those situations are rare, but they do occur and you need the proper insurance.

When purchasing travel insurance it is important you understand exactly what it does, and doesn’t cover. Most basic plans will offer basic protection for trip cancellation, lost bags, and delayed flights.

However, if you need coverage beyond that (medical expenses, evacuation, etc.) then you’ll likely have to purchase a higher-tier policy.

It’s important that whatever policy you choose also covers high altitude activities. That isn’t the case with every insurance plan, so be sure to ask for it specifically.

For climbing Kilimanjaro, explain to your insurance company that you are not taking part in technical mountaineering, but that you are high altitude trekking up to 6,000m.

We suggest you look at and see if their policies are right for you.

Disclaimer: we are not insurance experts. We do not give insurance advice, please consider your own situation carefully when you purchase insurance.

Kilimanjaro Medical Evacuation Coverage

To ensure you are covered for medical evacuation to your home country, you might consider a stand-alone medical evacuation plan.

This is in addition to your standard travel policy, that covers you for high altitude trekking.

Companies such as Global Rescue or Ripcord specialize in disaster recovery in the case of a medical emergency if you needed an airlift evacuation home.

Supplemental medical evacuation coverage is not mandatory, and you should consider what’s right for your unique circumstances, and what’s covered in your travel policy.

Does Health Insurance cover me for Kilimanjaro?

Most standard health insurance policies do not cover you for adventure activities abroad. It certainly w

on’t cover you for lost baggage or abandonment of your trip or cancellations.

Read the small print!

Take some time to read through exactly what your policy covers, and where you might have liability. Don’t wait until you need to make a claim, make sure you’re clear about what’s covered – and what’s excluded.

Make sure you disclose any pre-existing medical conditions, or it may void your policy.

World Nomads for Kilimanjaro Travel Insurance

A lot of our clients use World Nomads travel insurance. You can buy and claim online, even after you’ve left home.

Available to people from 140 countries, it’s designed for adventurous travelers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.

7 things you should know about travel insurance from


1. Trusted reliable underwriters is backed by a suite of strong, secure, specialist travel insurers who provide you with great cover, 24-hour emergency assistance and the highest levels of support and claims management when you need it most.

2. Value for money with the cover you need provides cover for what’s important for travelers from 140 countries. By focusing on what you need and leaving out what you don’t, World Nomads prices are some of the most competitive online.

3. Flexibility when you need it most

Had a change of plans? You can buy more cover or claim online while you are still away. You can even buy a World

Nomads policy if you’re already traveling.

4. Cover for a range of adventure activities

From skiing & snowboarding in New Zealand to whitewater rafting in Colorado, World Nomads covers a range of adventure activities, giving you peace of mind to get the most from your travels.

5. World Nomads keeps you traveling safely

All World Nomads members have access to up-to-date travel safety alerts, as well as travel safety advice and tips on

line through the World Nomads Travel Safety Hub.

6. More than just great value travel insurance

All members can learn the local lingo through a series of iPod & iPhone Language Guides and can stay in touch with family and friends with an online travel journal.

7. Commitment to exceptional customer service

If you have any questions about your travel insurance or travel safety in general, please contact directly.

Disclaimer: Big Time Kilimanjaro staff are not insurance experts. We do not give insurance advice, please consider your own situation carefully when you purchase insurance.


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