The best time to climb Kilimanjaro is during the months of January, February, June, July, August, September, October and December. All of the above months tend to be the busiest times on Kilimanjaro. It is the high season for tourism.
Because Tanzania lies near the equator, the area does not have four seasons like most other countries. Instead there are two seasons – wet and dry. The temperature does vary but does not have the large swings that most people are accustomed to.
The only times that should be avoided are during Tanzania’s two rainy seasons. The long rainy season is from the end of March to the beginning of June and the short rainy season is from November to the beginning of December. Even during the “dry” seasons, climbers may still experience heavy rains. The mountain’s weather is unpredictable. Always be prepared for cold and rain.
The appropriate gear and equipment are required to climb Kilimanjaro. Kilimanjaro treks have a wide range of temperatures so the best clothing is a lot of layers. Such clothing is easier to adjust as the temperature fluctuates and is more effective than a few thick items of clothing. Special attention should be made to the fabric of base and middle layers; these garments should be constructed of moisture wicking material that effectively pull sweat away from the body to keep you dry. Cotton is a very poor fabric for trekking and should not be worn.
Down jackets, sleeping bags, sleeping pads and trekking poles are available for rent. For more information, please visit the rental gear page.
Porter loads are limited by our standards of porter treatment as well as by Kilimanjaro National Park authorities. Each client should bring a maximum of 15 kg of luggage for porters to carry onto Kilimanjaro, so please choose your gear sparingly. The luggage, which should be contained in a duffel bag, will be weighed prior to departure.
As noted previously, clients will only carry a medium-sized daypack, containing items that you will need during your daily walks. Accordingly, your duffel bag should contain the items that you will not need between campsites. The porters will carry your duffel bag inside another heavyweight client bag to give it further protection from dust, water and abrasions. Any items that are not needed for the climb at all can be be safely stored in the hotel.
1. Use Layers of Clothing
The best way of regulating your core temperature is by using layers of clothing. At the most basic level, the layering system consists of three different layers. Each layer serves its own purpose. These layers include a base layer, mid layer, and outer layer.
a) Base Layer – the base layer works by keeping your skin warm and dry. It also helps by wicking away moisture from the skin as it develops. This layer usually consists of a semi-snug fitting shirt such as an Under Armour type shirt or a Nike Dry Fit shirt.
b) Mid Layer – the mid layer is used to keep the warmth that your body naturally generates. This can be a fleece jacket or a soft shell jacket. Depending on the weather outside, this layer can be thicker or thinner.
c) Outer Layer – the outer layer protects you from wind, cold, or sometimes rain. On Kilimanjaro, you will need to bring a full compliment of rain gear – including a rain jacket and rain pants. Also, a warm down jacket is essential. Lastly, clients should opt for a pair of gaiters and also get a rain cover for their day pack.
2. Protect Your Head and Face
Protect your head from wind, sun and cold by wearing something on your head at all times while trekking. This can be a cap or wide-brimmed hat when it is warm, or a knit hat when it is cold. You may also want to get a balaclava or a scarf for your face to shield you from wind and dust.
3. Keep Your Extremities Warm
Your hands and feet happen to be one of the hardest parts of your body to keep warm, as the human body decreases the blood supply to your extremities when the body as a whole is cold. Climbers should bring warm, waterproof gloves and boots.
Achieving a reasonable degree of physical fitness should be a goal in your preparation. Being in good shape will increase your chances of having a safe climb, successful summit, and enjoyable experience.
The main reason that climbers fail to reach the summit is due to the inability to acclimatize to the high altitude quickly enough. Short of going to high altitude, there is little that one can do to pre-acclimatize before the climb. Being physically fit does not guarantee that climbers can overcome altitude issues, but it does reduce the strenuousness of the climb on the body, which in turn, makes acclimatization more likely.
Ideally, your training should simulate actual conditions encountered on Kilimanjaro. Performing day hikes on local trails is the recommended form of training. The trails should include uphill and downhill sections, and you should wear the clothing, boots and daypack (weighted) that you intend to climb in. Try to hike a few times a week, with a mixture of short hikes and hikes that last for several hours. Your hikes on the mountain will on average be between four to six hours, but can be as little as two (easy days) and as high as 14 hours (summit day).
If it is impractical for you to train outdoors, you may exercise at the local gym. The goals of the training program are to boost your aerobic fitness and to increase your endurance. The staple of your training should be walking on a stair climber machine, supplemented with weight training for your legs.
A minimum of three days a week, perhaps shorter sessions during the weekdays and longer sessions on the weekends, for three months, is suggested. Sometimes, try hiking on consecutive days. With proper training, you will develop the leg strength, endurance and confidence necessary for Kilimanjaro.
Here is a sample Kilimanjaro training program.
For those who cannot train at high altitude or want an added advantage, there are in home systems that may help you acclimatize to the high altitude prior to arriving in Tanzania. Usage of a high altitude system can reduce your symptoms of altitude sickness and increase your chances of reaching the top.
These high altitude training systems by Hypoxico can be rented for home use just prior to your trip to Kilimanjaro.
To gain entry into Tanzania, US citizens and most other nationalities will need a passport and visa. The passport must be valid for 6 months after the intended length of stay. Visas can be obtained prior to departure from the USA or at your point of entry into Tanzania, including Kilimanjaro International Airport. To obtain the visa upon arrival at the airport, you will need your passport, the flight card (given to you on the plane), and US dollars. The visa cost for US citizens is $100 and $50 for most other nationalities.
There are various recommended vaccinations for travel into Tanzania. However, there are no required vaccinations.
The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) recommends the following vaccinations and medications: Malaria, Yellow Fever (required if entering Tanzania from an ‘infected area’), Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Rabies. Additionally, the CDCP recommends routine vaccinations for measles/mumps/rubella (MMR), diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus (DPT) and polio, if you are not up-to-date.
You may also want to bring Diamox, an FDA approved prescription medication used to prevent and treat altitude sickness. Consult with your health care professional.
It is prudent for every client to have a medical check-up to see if you have any medical conditions that put you at increased risk when trekking at high altitude. The minimum age of participants of our climbs is 16 years old. All clients 65 years of age or older are required to bring a doctor’s certificate stating they are fit to climb Kilimanjaro.
Travel insurance is mandatory. It is a mandatory requirement to have travel insurance to participate on our climbs. Travel insurance should cover high altitude trekking, medical and repatriation costs, and trip cancellation.
We will verify that you have the appropriate insurance prior to the climb. No refunds are given for clients turned away due to failure to obtain the proper coverage
We recommend Travel Guard for travel insurance. We recommend purchasing Travel Guard’s Silver Travel Insurance Plan. Travel Guard is only available to US residents.
World Nomad’s Explorer Policy provides travel insurance for many countries including the USA and most or Europe.
US Dollars are accepted almost everywhere in Tanzania. There is no need to exchange your US Dollars into Tanzanian Shillings while in Tanzania. However, by paying with US dollars you will experience slightly less buying power. Most merchants will round up to the nearest dollar when doing a currency conversion. For example, if a bottle of water is 1700 shillings and the current conversion is 1900 shillings to one US dollar. They will charge you one full dollar for the bottle of water.
Please note that your US dollars must be dated at least 2006 or newer. Many merchants will not accept US cash that is older than 2006. You can find out the date of your dollars by looking for the Series date on each bill.
ATMs are not very plentiful in Tanzania so we suggest that you bring all the cash that you think you may need. Do not rely on being able to find an ATM while you are in Tanzania.
Large hotels and restaurants will take credit cards. However, many will impose a fee of up to 5% for using a credit card. Smaller merchants and street vendors do not accept credit cards.