On Your Climb



We provide airport transfers from Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) to your pre-climb hotel in Arusha. You will be met as you come out of Arrivals by a Big Time Kilimanjaro representative holding a board saying “Big Time Kilimanjaro” with your name on it as well. Your transfer from Kilimanjaro airport to Arusha will take about an hour. When you arrive at your hotel you can agree the time for your pre-trek briefing that evening, when your guide will carry out a gear check and also review the route with you.

We will also drop you back at Kilimanjaro International Airport in time for you to catch your flight home or to another destination



When you arrive at Kilimanjaro International airport, you’ll be picked up by a member of our team and transferred to the Planet Lodge for two night’s of rest and relaxation before your climb begins.

Planet Lodge: Ideally located in the outskirts of Arusha, with down town being 10minutes away. Lodge is surrounded by lush tropical gardens with various species of birds and spectacular views of Mount Meru.

The day before your climb, you’ll meet your guides for a climb briefing, they’ll answer any questions you have and check your gear. We can arrange a walk in Arusha National Park (with an armed ranger) for game viewing, or you can opt to go into Arusha town for some last-minute shopping or a meal.

Set in ten acres of peaceful gardens, with a pool, comfortable, airy rooms, and excellent food, it’s the perfect place to recover after a long flight. The 15 guest rooms are situated between 11 individual cottages, taking advantage of the gardens, some have a private patio or terrace to enjoy your morning coffee.

All rooms are ensuite with shower and toilet, with tea and coffee making facilities. The restaurant uses fresh, local produce to cater for all dietary requirements. Free WiFi is available so you can keep in touch with family and friends.

After your climb, you can arrange for the friendly staff to launder your climbing gear and even clean your muddy hiking boots, ready for your onward journey.

Arusha National Park

Arusha National Park is in Northern Tanzania and is the home of Mt. Meru, the second-highest peak in Africa. Sixty kilometers away from Kilimanjaro, Mt. Meru is a stratovolcano formed at approximately the same time as Kilimanjaro and the Great Rift Valley. There’s an abundance of game and bird-life, guided walks (with an armed ranger) are the best way to explore this park.

Mount Meru

Climbing Mt Meru is an excellent pre-acclimatization trek for those wanting to climb Kilimanjaro. It takes 3-4 days to climb to the 14,980ft summit, with spectacular views across to Mt. Kilimanjaro. Mt Meru is not a technical peak, so you’ll need no climbing gear or mountaineering experience to safely reach the summit.



Unless you’re hiking the Marangu route, which has huts to accommodate climbers, you’ll be sleeping in a tent. Everyone hiking one of the other seven Kilimanjaro routes must camp. Camping on the mountain is part of the adventure, and after a long day on the trail, your tent will become your own private sanctuary to rest and recover.

Tents & Mattresses on Kilimanjaro

On all our climbs, we use Mountain Hardwear’s rugged, 4-season tents, designed specifically for mountain conditions. Built to accommodate three people, we only ever have two people in a tent, leaving enough room for your duffel bag containing all your gear. A vestibule at the front provides a sheltered spot for you to stow muddy boots and gaiters.

These tents are manufactured to withstand high winds, heavy rain and snow cover, making them ideal for the environment on Kilimanjaro.

When you arrive at camp, your tent will be already set up for you by our team, and your gear safely inside. The campsites are flat, not subject to any water accumulation, and our team will make sure there are no stray rocks underneath.

You’ll be provided with a rugged foam mattress, though if you have a particular sleeping mat you prefer, you are welcome to bring it with you.

Sleeping Bags On Kilimanjaro

You’ll need to bring your own sleeping bag or rent one through us. If you are bringing your own, make sure it’s rated down to -18 Celsius (0 F). You need an ‘expedition’ sleeping bag, not one you’d use for kid’s sleepovers or car camping in the summer.

Rent or Buy?

A good quality winter sleeping bag is quite a substantial investment, and if you’re not traveling regularly to high-altitude or very cold climates it can seem like a lot of money to spend for one trip. Check out our Kilimanjaro rental gear pricing

We can arrange for you to rent a sleeping bag suitable for the mountain conditions. Unlike some operators, we have our sleeping bags professionally cleaned after each climb, and replace them frequently.

Regardless of whether you rent or buy, we recommend bringing a good quality sleeping bag liner, preferably fleece. This keeps the sleeping bag clean as oils from your body and dust can damage the lining, and compromise insulation. It also adds much-needed warmth as you climb higher. The Sea to Summit Reactor Fleece is a good option.

Features of a Sleeping Bag suitable for Kilimanjaro

Make sure your sleeping bag is rated to -18C, 0F as a minimum. A 3-season sleeping bag won’t be warm enough, make sure you’ve got a 4-season bag, which can be either down or synthetic filled, as you prefer.

Mummy-shaped sleeping bags are recommended, as the closer fit provides better insulation and prevents cold spots from developing around your body. Make sure it’s got an insulated hood and neck baffle, and the zipper doesn’t allow cold air to get in.

Down or Synthetic?

For the best warmth-to-weight ratio, down wins every time. More expensive than synthetically insulated sleeping bags, down bags are superior in terms of warmth, but they don’t perform well if they get wet.

Synthetic sleeping bags are often a bit heavier than down-fill, but they repel water better, and dry out much quicker. Either work well on Kilimanjaro, but if you choose a down bag, make sure you’ve got a rugged waterproof compression sack to stow it in between camps.

If you rent a sleeping bag, you’ll have a choice between down and synthetic, as some people are allergic to duck and goose down.

Fatigue, Cold & Altitude Considerations on Kilimanjaro

As explained in our Kilimanjaro guide to altitude sickness, as you get to higher elevations, the altitude can affect your respiration, resulting in periodic breathing at night. Known as Cheyne-Stokes breathing, if you have no other symptoms, it’s not dangerous, but can be uncomfortable and inconvenient, making sleep more difficult at higher elevations.

Fatigue can make you feel the cold more acutely. You’ll be tired after a day on the trail, and even if you are in the best physical shape possible, staying warm at night is a priority.

Aches and pains do not make for a happy camper. A good level of fitness will mean you’ll recover well from the day’s hiking, which will in turn help you sleep better.

Top Tips for a Warm & Comfortable Night in Your Tent

Between us, we’ve spent hundreds of hours asleep on Kilimanjaro and here are our top tips to keep comfortable:

Sleep System

As soon as you arrive at camp, get your sleeping bag out of it’s compression sack and lay it out on your sleeping mat. This allows the insulation or “loft” to fluff up, as it’s the air between the synthetic fibers or down feathers that traps warmth.

Keep your sleeping bag away from the sides of the tent, as condensation may build up, and cause dampness, compromising the insulation.

Use a fleece sleeping bag liner for added warmth.

Sleeping Clothes

Have a set of clothes that you use for sleeping. A warm base layer (top and bottom) and a clean pair of socks can make all the difference to your comfort. At the higher camps you’ll most likely be wearing more than one layer. Sleep in a warm hat, as much of your body heat is lost through your head.

Other ways to stay warm and comfortable on Kilimanjaro

  • Do not wear wet clothes in your sleeping bag. Anything that causes damp and moisture will compromise the insulation properties of your sleeping bag
  • Before retiring to your tent, fill your water bottle with hot water, (make sure the lid is well-secured) and use it in your sleeping bag as a foot warmer or body warmer
  • Make sure you’ve eaten enough. Appetites can decrease at altitude, but your body needs the calories to generate heat as well as recover from the day’s exertions.
  • Put the clothes you’re wearing the next day in your sleeping bag, this’ll keep them warm for when you dress in the frosty morning air.
  • If you’re a light sleeper, bring ear plugs. The wind can be noisy, especially at Barafu camp, and noise from other climbers (or your tent mate’s snoring) can keep you awake.
  • Visit the toilet before bedtime. There’s nothing worse than waking up all warm and cosy in your sleeping bag needing a call of nature in the middle of the night!
  • If you know you have problems sleeping, work on fixing these at home, don’t wait until you’re on the side of the mountain! Avoid sleeping pills as they can have a bad effect on your ability to acclimatize.

Camping is all part of the mountain experience, and there’s no reason for it to be uncomfortable. If you absolutely hate the idea of sleeping in a tent, the Marangu route provides dorm-style accommodation in huts.

Read our complete guide to packing for Kilimanjaro here.



At the very heart of our business and fundamental to your safety and enjoyment, are the mountain guides we employ. All of our guides are hand-picked by us to ensure you get the very best leadership on the mountain.

  • Our guides Licensed by the National Park and are certified Wilderness First Responders (WFR)
  • Our guides conduct health checks twice daily using pulse oximeters to measure pulse and oxygen saturation
  • We carry emergency oxygen, a portable stretcher and a medical kit on all our Mt Kilimanjaro climbs
  • We have established protocols for handling emergencies on the mountain, including rescue and evacuation



For the camp staff, the day begins well before sun-up. The team prepares hot water for your washbasin, tea, and other hot beverages and breakfast. Your day will start bright and early, with a friendly wake-up call as the sun peeks over the horizon.

A team member will bring you a basin of warm water to wash your face and brush your teeth, and a hot beverage, to warm you up before breakfast.

You’ll need to re-pack your duffel bag and daypack, taking only what you’ll need for the day’s hiking. Roll up your sleeping bag, (make sure you’ve packed any loose bits and pieces) before you leave your tent, dressed and ready for the day’s trek.

Breakfast is served in the mess tent, and we’ll all gather here for the day’s briefing, followed by a hearty breakfast, and daily medical checks. Take this opportunity to refill your water bottles or hydration reservoirs.

Once everyone’s pronounced fit and healthy, we’ll hit the trail, usually at around 8 am. Trekking poles in hand, we’ll be hiking at a slow-to-moderate pace, with plenty of rest stops for you to catch your breath, eat a snack, and appreciate the dramatic scenery of this unique mountain.

The team will stay behind to break camp, and will most likely overtake you during the course of the morning, moving quickly to establish our next camp.

Your guides will hike with you, making sure the group stays together, giving frequent reminders of “pole pole” (slowly, slowly). Keeping the pace slow helps with acclimatization and prevents anyone from getting unnecessarily fatigued.

Be sure to let your guide know if you have a headache, nausea, disorientation, or any other unusual symptoms.

We’ll stop for lunch along the way, some days this will be a hot lunch served in a mess tent; on other days we’ll have a picnic lunch, depending on the weather conditions, route or schedule. We aim to do most of the hiking in the morning so that after lunch it’s a shorter trek to our campsite.

On arrival at camp, you’ll find your tent ready for you, and your duffel bag inside. It’s important to change out of any damp clothing (whether from rain or perspiration), roll out your sleeping bag so it has a chance to “fluff up” (a compressed sleeping bag doesn’t insulate well), before heading over to the mess tent for a tea time snack and hot beverage.

Some afternoons we’ll do an acclimatization hike, up to a higher elevation, as part of the “hike high, sleep low” protocol, others we’ll rest and relax in preparation for the following day.

An early dinner will be served, after another medical check and briefing. Most trekkers crawl into their sleeping bag for an early night, others prefer to stay up talking. The mess tent is comfortable and well-lit, a good place to catch up on your diary or a bit of reading.



Our chefs will serve large, healthy meals to keep you happy and well-fed on your Kilimanjaro climb. You’ll have hot meals at breakfast and dinner, freshly prepared with locally-sourced ingredients. We prepare all our food to strict hygiene standards, ensuring it’s delicious and safe to eat. Our menus are designed to be nutritionally-dense, with plenty of variety to cater to the energy demands of the trek.

Daily Kilimanjaro Sample Menus

We have a dining tent with chairs and for just dinning. Whilst each day you will be served different meals whilst on the Kilimanjaro climb, below is a guideline to what type of food you can expect :

  • Breakfast is usually porridge followed by sausage and eggs, toast and marmalade or jams and hot drinks such as tea, coffee or chocolate. Climbers are asked to communicate with the guide as regards their appetites or we will tend to err on the side of caution in providing much more food than necessary.
  • Lunch is usually a packed lunch that you will carry in your daypack. It normally consists of a boiled egg, some sandwiches, a chicken portion, fresh fruit and a cold drink.  At the end of the day’s walking, afternoon tea is served with biscuits, peanuts and, best of all, salted popcorn and plenty of hot drinks.
  • Dinner begins with soup, followed by a main course including chicken or meat, a vegetable sauce, some cabbage, and rice, pasta or potatoes, with fresh fruit for dessert .

Even though you are far from home we recognise that it’s nice to have some creature comforts, so don’t be surprised when you see some of your favorite food brands, such as Heinz, Nescafe and Nestle!

We can accommodate all dietary restrictions, just let us know in advance. In the case of very strict diets, we recommend you bring along some of your favorite “energy” foods, as some specialty ingredients can be hard to source in Tanzania.

One very common effect of the altitude is a reduced appetite. We offer enticing meals, rich in “good” carbohydrates. According to the US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, “carbohydrate is the most efficient fuel for optimizing performance at altitude”, speeding up recovery and replenishing muscle glycogen stores for the next day’s activity.

The same study goes on to say, “a high carbohydrate diet at altitude is recommended as an intervention to alleviate symptoms of AMS (acute mountain sickness)” as it increases ventilation and blood oxygenation.

With the decreased appetite, carbohydrate-based foods are often more palatable than high protein or fats, and altitude changes your metabolic processes. The combination of hours on the trail and your body’s adaptation to altitude means you’ll have a much higher energy requirement than you would have at home.

Experienced hikers who are used to eating horrible dehydrated foods on the trail are often surprised at the quality and variety of food that comes out of our mountain kitchens. We use only fresh produce, no dehydrated “ready meals” and all food is carried up Mount Kilimanjaro by our porters.

Drinking Water on Kilimanjaro

We provide boiled, filtered, purified water to our climbers at all times. A major cause of gastro-intestinal problems in Africa is as a result of drinking untreated water. We treat all our water, including the water we use to wash food and cook with.

Staying hydrated is very important for acclimatization. The dry air, exertion, and altitude can quickly dehydrate you, and if you’re taking Diamox to help acclimatization, you need to keep fluids up.

How much water should you drink when Climbing Kilimanjaro?

You should aim to drink around 3-4 liters of water per day. We recommend bringing an electrolyte formula to add to your water, and any flavoring drops if you find plain water too boring.

At each Kilimanjaro camp, there will be tea, coffee, hot chocolate, squash and fruit juices, we don’t bring sodas or bottled water.



When you arrive at Barafu Camp, you’ll need to get as much rest as possible. Prepare your daypack as soon as you arrive, as you’ll be woken at around 11 pm to start your summit trek.

After an early dinner, we retire to our tents, though sleep can be hard to come by at this altitude and the excitement of what’s ahead.

At 11 pm, your team will bring a hot drink, there will be some snacks in the mess tent before we start our climb at around midnight. You’ll need your head torch, water, snacks and any other essentials in your daypack.

There are several things that you can do to prepare yourself for your summit ascent.

Get your temperature right
Conserving energy by ensuring that you always have the right body temperature will mean that your body is not working overtime to either cool down or heat up.

When you set off walking you need to be slightly cool, so just before you start remove your down jacket or over jacket. When you stop moving for your “maintenance stop” then you immediately need to put on your down jacket or over jacket to keep warm. This will help you conserve energy.

Eat and drink plenty
To ensure you have enough energy to summit and descend you need to “feed your climb “. You will be trekking for 13-15 hours on summit day and could easily consume approx. 4000 calories during this time. We suggest that you bring with you a selection of things you like, and find easy, to eat such as candy bars, crisp, cookies, trail mix, fruits, nuts, energy bars, and hard sweets for summit day.

Use stops effectively
During your summit ascent we will have “maintenance stops” not rest stops- you need to use this time effectively to make sure that you are ready for the next stage. Plan in advance what you need to do: adjust your clothing, have a loo visit, eat and drink and most importantly before you stop put on something warm to prevent heat loss.

Go slowly but not too slowly
Our guides will set a pace that they think is best for you and you should try and maintain this pace. Going too fast puts you at risk of altitude sickness, going too slow will mean your walking day becomes impossibly long. Just keep plodding and you will get there.

One foot in front of the other. By daybreak, we reach the crater rim. You’ll see the sun rising over Mawenzi and spectacular, 360-degree views. Looking down into the crater you’ll see the glacial icefields, the famous “snows of Kilimanjaro”.

From the crater rim, it’s another 1-2 hour hike to Uhuru Peak, the Roof of Africa, the highest free-standing mountain in the world: 19,341ft above sea level.

How cold is the summit of Kilimanjaro Uhuru Peak?

The temperatures decreases as you move through Mount Kilimanjaro’s ecological zones. At the Mount Kilimanjaro summit, Uhuru Peak, the night time temperatures can range between 20 and -20 degrees Fahrenheit (-7 to -29 degrees Celsius). Due to Mount Kilimanjaro’s great height, the mountain creates it’s own weather patterns.

It’s Not Over Yet: the Descent From The Summit Uhuru Peak

After we’ve taken our photos and congratulated each other on our achievement, it’s time to head back down to Barafu Camp. Descending can be tough. If you’ve got knee problems, this is a good time to put on your knee brace. Use your poles for balance, and take it slowly. The extra oxygen in the atmosphere as you get to lower elevations will be a welcome relief from the thin air at the summit.

We’ll have lunch at Barafu Camp before descending to our final camp on the mountain. Tired and exhilarated, you should get a good night’s sleep.

The following morning, you’ll have a 3-4 hour trek, mostly downhill through the forest and back to the trailhead where you’ll be transported to your post-climb hotel accommodation. 


“Taratibu, Taratibu” you will hear our guides tell you, which is Swahili for “slowly, slowly”. Even if you feel you can go faster, the best way to acclimatize is to walk slowly and stay within your fitness zone so that you do not put your body under too much strain.

Hydration is vital in acclimatizing well, you should carry 2 litres of water with you each day with the aim of drinking all of this during your day’s trek. Drinking plenty of fluid at breakfast and evening meals is also important. You will understand why we suggest a “pee bottle” as a “must have” piece of kit to save you having to de-tent during the night and do a toilet visit when it’s cold and pitch black outside!

Be as physically fit as you can before you start to ensure you enjoy the adventure rather than it being a hard slog. Also, the fitter you are the less likely you are to put your body under pressure and stress.

Make sure you have the right Kilimanjaro gear and that you have tried and tested it before the trek to ensure that it works and functions and that you are as comfortable and confident as you can be. Don’t leave it till summit day to find out whether your head torch works or day one of the trek to try out your new walking boots.


We follow Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Program (KPAP) recommended guidelines on all aspects of guide and porter payments and welfare. KPAP publish recommended tipping amounts for all operators which we adopt.

Recommending tipping amounts for Climbing Kilimanjaro are the same no matter which route you end up choosing. You should tip;

  • Lead guide: $25/day
  • Assistant guide: $20/day
  • Porters: $13/day (for each porter)
  • Cook: $20/day

These amounts are per group of climbers NOT per climber. You will be advised of the total size of your crew in your final briefing pack.

As a general guide for a climb for two people over 7 days, a normal crew would comprise 1 x lead guide, 1 x assistant guide, 1 x cook and 6 to 7 x porters. If your climb is longer then the number of porters will increase as more food will need to be carried for everyone. Also, if you have booked a private toilet there will an additional toilet porter who carries the equipment and makes sure it’s kept clean.

Tips should be paid to the head guide on the morning of the last day of the climb. The head guide will then distribute tips according to our strict policy.

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