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KILIMANJARO FAQ

Please note that an very in depth information and preparation pack is included when guests book with us. This is available through your travel agent if they book Summits Africa climbs.

Climbing Kilimanjaro
How do I select which route is right for me?
How comfortable are the climbs?
Pricing - how much are Kilimanjaro climbs?
How much do the porters carry?
Is Summits Africa ethical?
How do I book a Kilimanjaro / other trip?

Before you come
What to pack
What training should I do for Kilimanjaro?
Is accommodation included?
What innoculations do I need?
Do I need a visa to enter Kenya or Tanzania?
What should I carry in my hand luggge?
Which airport should I fly into?
Can Summits organise airfare?
What if I cancel my trip / travel insurance


The Trip
Can I do acclimatisation trips?
When should I arrive?
Do we meet the managers?
Who are our guides?
How many guides to clients do you have?
Do I need to bring my own water filter / puritabs?
What should I wear day to day?
What do I carry / what do the porters carry?
How do I know if I have AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness)?
What happens if I get sick / in an emergency?
What will the weather be like?
Can I leave gear with summits?
Can I hire a sleeping bag?
Can I wash dirty gear after the climb / trip?
How much should I tip?
How does the tipping work?
Can I donate equipment to the porters?
If I don't reach the summit do I get a refund?


After the trip
Does Summits organise safaris / beach trips?
Can I sponsor a porter to develop his skills?
What other adventures can I do?


Climbing Kilimanjaro

How do I select which route is right for me?
For more people we tend to recommend a route that sees most of the mountain - this is normally a once in the lifetime trip and so selecting a route that sees more of the mountain is an obvious choice. Hence the Machame route or the Lemosho routes are among the prettiest routes available. The mountain is generally quite busy on most routes and so choosing simply on the basis of how crowded a route is can be a bit of a misnomer. So, for those with less time we recommend the Machame 7 day trip (we have departures on the luxury specification or lightweight specification) and for those that want the ultimate trip then the 9 day Lemosho is the best route to be had. For those that are more interested in culture and wildlife we even have a Plains to Peak trip which is a Lemosho with 2 added nights in a private reserve in West Kilimanjaro - the ultimate Kilimanjaro trip. For those that are very fit and have experienced altitude before then the Umbwe route is great fun! You can also see more here.

How comfortable are the climbs?
Depends on specification. Summits Africa runs 3 specifications to suit both comfort requirements and budget. By far the most popular is our "Luxury Specification" and we generally recommend this to most people. Items such as a portable toilet, 3 inch foam mattress and a mess tent with backed chairs might seem excess from the comfort of an office but on Kilimanjaro with most trips lasting around a week they really make sense! You can compare our specifications here. Bear in mind that for first time campers this will most likely be outside your normal comfort zone. The good news is that our gear is among the very best and our crews likewise.

Pricing - how much are Kilimanjaro climbs?
Depends on what specification and what company you book through. Budget operators are under immense pressure and competition to deliver low prices - that means that they pay their porters very low wages and simply provide less of everything from food to equipment. Summits Africa is not a budget operator. Most people find our prices to be quite high and that is reflected in the quality of service, quantity and type of meals, how much we pay all our crews, our ethics and the safety devices we provide. In short on Kilimanjaro you get what you pay for. Some trips that Summits Africa runs for leading tour operators internationally also include trip doctors and leading adventure specialists - these trips have custom pricing.

How much do the porters carry?
The national park regulations state that porters can carry 20kg and their personal items. We adhere to this strictly.

Is Summits Africa ethical?
Summits Africa prides itself in the way that we operate ethically. Our mentality is that training gives people choices and this underpins everything we do, notably our bi annual training programs and career progression plans.

How do I book a Kilimanjaro / other trip?
Summits Africa is a specialist adventure outfitter - that means we provide the end product. This means that most people book our trips as part of a wider trip that is normally put together by a travel agent or tour operator. If you would like help finding your local travel agent then please contact us.

Before you come
What to pack
You should bring all personal items with you. For luxury and VIP specifications we even provide sleeping bags and liners but for the lightweight trips you will need to bring a sleeping bag. You can rent sleeping bags from us for $30 a trip (dry cleaned before every trip). A packing list is available on booking but PLEASE REMEMBER to have your waterproof jacket, waterproof trousers, sunglasses and boots with you in your hand luggage when you travel. If you hold luggage is lost or arrives late you will still be able to hike.

What training should I do for Kilimanjaro?
Put simply you will be hiking from anything from 6 to 10 days and so you need to prepare your body for that. All round body fitness is essential to not only condition your body but also prepare you mentally for the trip as well. We recommend that you start training at least 3 months before you come and that you build up your training regimen gently. There is no point doing last minute long runs or heavy gym sessions as you will most likely damage muscles or ligaments. This is a once in a lifetime event and so getting fit will make it that much more enjoyable. A more detailed training regimen is included in our booking pack.

Is accommodation included?
Our luxury departures include accommodation pre and post climb and even airport transfers. The Lightweight specifications do not include accommodation and you will need to either book those yourself, through your travel agent or let us know if you need assistance.


What innoculations do I need?
East African Immigration requires that travelers have Yellow Fever vaccinations. Sometimes customs officials do not check it for it, however it is a good idea to get the vaccination, especially if you will be continuing on safari in areas with Totse Flies. It is important regardless of the time of the year, to take anti-malaria profilactics prior to your visit and for a period thereafter. Kilimanjaro is high enough to not be usurped by mosquitoes, however, pre and post accommodation and further holiday travel in East Africa is prone to mosquito bites. Malaria takes 10 days for the symptoms to be felt ie flu-like feeling, hot and cold shivers, aching joints, headache – see a doctor immediately if you begin to feel these symptoms. Taking precautions is good measure. Ask your local doctor about which malaria profilactic is best for you as they vary in price and side effects.


Do I need a visa to enter Kenya or Tanzania?
Most nationalities require an entry Visa for both Kenya and Tanzania. This can be purchased on arrival and for most countries is $50 per person, US Citizens pay $100 per person. Make sure your bills are post 2001 and in good condition. You can check if your nationality needs an entry visa on the Kenyan and Tanzanian government websites:

Kenya: www.kenya.go.ke
Tanzania: www.tanzania.go.ke


What should I carry in my hand luggge?
As previously mentioned - your waterproof jacket, waterproof trousers, sunglasses and boots with you in your hand luggage when you travel. If your luggage is lost or arrives late you will still be able to hike. You should also have your passport and wallet with credit cards and any money. We always recommend when travelling anywhere in the world to have your wallet and passport with you at all times, in fact make copies of the documents.

Which airport should I fly into?
The closest airport to Kilimanjaro is Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO). KLM (which partners with Northwestern), Ethiopian air both fly direct and there are also connections to Nairobi, to connect to other airlines (such as Virgin, British Airways). If you fly into Dar es Salaam you will have to connect to either Arusha or Kilimanjaro airports.


Can Summits organise airfare?
Not normally.This should be booked through your travel agent or tour operator.


What if I cancel my trip / Travel Insurance
The terms vary with travel agent. You need to ask your travel agent their cancellation policy but our strong advice is that when you book your holiday you take out cancellation insurance as part of your insurance package - most travel insurance companies can advise you on this and there are internet based portals where you can compare every major company, such as http://www.squaremouth.com/


The Trip
Can I do acclimatisation trips?
Sure! Generally we recommend that ALL guests arrive at least 2 nights before they start their trip. Why? To wind down and then have enough time for the full briefing before they start. In that time you can also do short hikes either in Arusha National Park up to 10,000 feet (3000 meters) or village walks in Arusha. For those that have more time or want to do significant acclimatisation then consider climbing Mt Meru (4 day trip) - which is stunning hike OR spend some time somewhere like West Kilimanjaro where hiking with Maasai guides, game drives and night game drives are all possible.

When should I arrive?
At the very least 1 day before your trip, preferably 2 nights before your trip to really wind down and relax pre trip. Note that flights into Kilimanjaro International Airport on KLM arrive in the evening and so those arriving the evening before the climb will be rushed as you will arrive late, have a very late climb briefing the same evening and hike the very next morning. So, give yourself a little more time - it's a holiday after all!

Do we meet the managers?
Our managers are guides and ex guides - you'll meet one of us during the full climb briefing and you can ask any questions that you need to and you'll see one of us post climb too - your feedback is essential to our business.

Who are our guides?
Almost all our guides have been part of a team that started in 2001. Essentially the Summits Africa team has 'grown up' together in the climb industry and after years of training, which continues to this day, we have become the leading group of guides on the mountain that all share a common ethos - one of community, dedication to our fellow team members and our guests. Indeed it would be fair to say that the entire crew look after you from start to finish, the guides carry the responsibility of monitoring and keeping you safe and lead our teams consistently and professionally.

What is your guide to client ratio?
We normally provide 1 guide to 2 clients BUT on nightime ascents to the summit we also send extra assistance to carry water / food and safety devices (emergency oxygen, stretcher, portable altitude chamber when applicable).

Do I need to bring my own water filter / puritabs?
No. We filter water with Katadyn water filters and then providing guests are not allergic to iodine, we add purification tablets as well. The water provided by our team is clean and ready to drink. Guides and crew carry extra water on trail and you will carry between 2 and 3 liters when you start in the morning from camp.

What should I wear day to day?
This varies as your ascend but there are 2 simple common denominators - waterproof jacket and waterproof trousers. Guests often forget waterproof trousers or do not consider them essential items - THEY ARE! Waterproof jackets and trousers are not only essential in wet weather but also for stopping WIND. The wind can draw away heat from the body extremely quickly and so waterproofs are essential, please do not foget them.

What do I carry / what do the porters carry?
You will carry a day sack (small backpack around 15 liters is fine) that you can fit in your waterproofs, a fleece, gloves, sunglasses, sunscreen, sun hat and warm (fleece or similar) hat. Other items you will have on you are your passport and wallet. The rest of your gear is carried by porters in your second bag. Your second bag should be a soft pack and we have our own waterproof stuff sacks to carry your second bag (i.e. your second bag does not have to be waterproof). You should aim to keep your personal day sack as light as possible and on trail, especially at higher altitudes, if you require assistance to carry your day sack then it will be provided - we're here to help and make your trip as comfortable as possible.

How do I know if I have AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness)?
AMS or Acute Mountain Sickness is a spectrum of possible side effects that you may experience when you ascend over 3000 (10,000 feet). Possible signs and symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Dizzyness
  • Un coordination
  • Changes in behaviour
  • Nausea - feeling sick
  • Confusion
  • Breathlessness even when resting
  • A cough or bubbling sounds from the lungs

At the light / non dangerous end of the sprectrum hikers often have light headaches and some nausea but all of our guide training is based on monitoring and assessment to keep you at the safe end of the spectrum. It therefore becomes obvious that clear, honest communication with your experienced guides is essential. Our guides have AMS scorecards for more in depth monitoring and also perform pulse oximetry - we use a simple electronic non intrusive device which monitors your oxygen saturations and heart rate, and with this monitoring methodology we are able to keep a good eye on you throughout. A great tip for giving feedback to your guides is to give feedback on a scale from 1 to 10, this is especially relevant for symptoms such as headaches. Hence, a minor headache that you can hardly feel is a 1 out of 10 headache. A 5 out of 10 headache is a serious headache. During your briefing these points will be reiterated by the climbs manager.

What happens if I get sick / in an emergency?
Summits Africa has distinct protocols to deal with emergencies and is in contact with guides twice daily. You must tell your guide immediately if you have any problems at all. Being honest is extremely important and so keep in mind that early reporting of any problems can really make a difference. If you do have any problems your experienced guides are there to monitor and make assessments to keep you within safe limits. They will make judgement calls as to how serious a given problem is and act accordingly. Sometimes people simply do not acclimatise well. In such an instance, or a number of other potential scenarios, descent is the safest solution. Even a small decent can be potentially life saving in serious mountain sickness. Once a descent has begun almost all scenarios involve a complete descent to the starting altitude where a manager will be waiting for further assessment. Almost all altitude related sicknesses tend to resolve themselves on descent and so you may simply be referred to a doctor that we know and use for altitude related issues and then head to a hotel. For more serious emergencies you may even be evacuated as far as Nairobi hospital but that scenrio is extremely rare with our company.

Do I have to pay for evacuations / hospital bills / hotel accommodation?
You do not have to pay for the actual evacuation and we also provide AMREF flying doctors cover so that we can guarantee covering our guests all the way to a hospital. You DO have to pay for hospital bills and any hotel accomodation that is not included in the standard program. For this reason we recommend that guests have full trip insurance that covers you for trekking altitude.


What will the weather be like?
There are two rainy seasons in East Africa, the short rains in November through December and the more heavy rains which occur from late March through to mid May. Generally the main rains in April tend to bring a lot of rain and snow and so most people avoid that time. A brief overview of weather and conditions can be found below but bear in mind that the weather at any time of the year can change very quickly but having good gear and the right clothing is the best way to prepare.

Month Conditions
January Medium chance of rain + snow. Overall great.
February Medium chance of rain + snow. Overall great.
March Medium moving to high chance of rain + snow later in month
April Very high chance of rain + snow. Often tough!
May Very high chance of rain + snow.
June Medium chance of rain / now. Cloud base usually quite low and so often spectacular days
July Cold but medium to low chance of rain / snow. Great time.
August Normally dry. Great time.
September Normally dry and by now usually very dusty.
October Medium chance of some rain / snow. Still a great time to hike.
November Medium to high chance of rain / snow. Bonus is there are normally less people on the mountain.
December Medium to high chance of rain / snow. Traditionally still a popular time to ascend.

Can I leave gear with summits?
Yes. We can lock it up in our stores until you come down. You can also leave gear with most hotels, enquire on arrival and always remember we can look after everything too.

Can I hire a sleeping bag?
On the VIP and Luxury climbs a sleeping bag is included. On the lightweight climbs you can hire a great sleeping bag for $30 on arrival.

Can I wash dirty gear after the climb / trip?
All depends on what your follow on plans are. Some hotels have drier facilities that can help wash and dry clothes quickly. Talk with the climbs manager and or the reception desk about this on arrival as it varies with accommodation. Most accommodation we prefer to use has drying facilties.

How much should I tip?
For small groups for 2009 we recommend $300 per person. For larger groups $200 per person is great. Tipping is discretionary and is in no way compulsory.

How does the tipping work?
Tipping is a very personal thing but at Summits we try to make this as easy and transparent as possible. Remember that it is the act of tipping rather than the amount that is appreciated and so we provide a simple piece of paper that you can fill out at the last camp on the way down / out with the amounts you want to tip and then the head guide can help distribute this once back at base. Tipping should be done right at the end and actual handing over of cash can even be done back at the hotel.

Can I donate equipment to the porters?
Sure. This should be done right at the end and preferably at the gate. Please note that promising items on trail or handing things out on trail just leads to a begging culture and so we strongly recommend that any equipment donated is done right at the end in person.

If I don't reach the summit do I get a refund?
No. Reaching the summit of a high altitude mountain is subject to a number of variables from weather to your physiology and so whilst our success rates are among the highest in the industry our safety record is impeccable and we intend to keep it that way!


After the trip
Does Summits organise safaris / beach trips?
Yes. Depending on requirements and what your wider requirements are, you can discuss your safari or beach extension with your travel agent and take it from there.

Can I sponsor a porter to develop his skills?
Yes. There are a number of different core skills that can be taught locally and certainly language skills are a key way that guests might like to consider helping a porter. Summits Africa can help facilitate this and we can refer guests to appropriate training centers for basic and more advanced training.


What other adventures can I do?
Summits Africa is a leading adventure outfitter and we love hiking, mountain biking and creating more off the beaten track itineraries. You can take a look at our website for some initial ideas and then in conjunction with your travel agent, we can put you onto another great Summits Africa adventure!

MORE QUESTIONS? Contact us with your questions.

You can also see more on Kilimanjaro climbs on our blog - Mr Kilimanjaro

Safari Njema! Have a great journey!



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