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FAQ – Climbing Kilimanjaro

What route should I climb?

Around 80% of climbers choose the Marangu Route (5 or 6 days), which is commonly referred to as the “Tourist” or “Coca Cola” Route. The rest usually goes for the Umbwe, Rongai or Machame Route (6 or 7 days). The other two routes (Shira and Lemosho) are far less frequented and therefore allow for a more remote and natural experience.

Please note that many of the routes meet on a mid-way point and there are only three routes to the summit.

Please see our route comparison table, read the descriptions of the routes and ask us if you have any question.

How fit do I have to be?

Many texts state that Kilimanjaro is “easily accessible”. However, you should not underestimate this mountain. There are no technical mountaineering skills required, but general fitness is necessary. However, the biggest problem for climbers are the effects of high altitude, which seem to be unrelated to fitness, age or gender.

It is a good idea to start some physical training prior to the trek, which might include aerobic cross training and hiking to familiarise your body with the rigors or the trek. The fitter you are, the easier the climb will be for you. Determination and will power is another important factor.

Please use the main menu on the left to browse through our section “Resources>Health information for Kilimanjaro climbers”.

How many hours will I trek per day?

You can see this from the description of the routes or from our route comparison table.

What if I am slower than the other trekkers?

There is no need to worry – this is a common concern. It is much better for your body if you proceed slowly and the guides will permanently remind you about this (“pole pole” – which means “slowly, slowly”).

By walking slowly, your body will much better acclimatise to the high altitude.

There is plenty of time allotted each day for the treks, even for those who like to go very slowly.

What if I cannot make it to the top?

Some climbers may fall short of reaching the summit, but not at the expense of their overall experience. Even for those who never reached the top, the experience of the wonders of Kilimanjaro is rewarding.

If one or more members of a group decide they cannot continue, or if a guide deems it unsafe for an individual (or a group) to continue, they are escorted to the most convenient campsite or hut.

Our guides intimately know the network of shortcuts to escort climbers to safety, and they are trained to act quickly and calmly under any circumstance.

How much equipment will I carry?

You are expected to carry your own day pack, which should be able to sustain you until you reach camp at the end of the day. You do not need to carry your personal backpack/duffel pack – it will be carried by a porter. The weight per porter is limited to 15 kg (35lb). If you bring overweight luggage, every 15 kg will be charged extra at 100 US$ for an extra porter for the whole climb. Your backpack/duffel bag will be brought from campsite to campsite – before you arrive it will already be there.

What you need during the day in your day pack will depend on your priorities, but will generally include drinking water, basic medical kit, camera, waterproof layers, a pair of gloves and hat, a warm layer, and snacks.

What is the accommodation like at the trek?

On the Marangu Route there are simple, basic huts. The first two huts sleep four people each, and the last hut is dorm-style with bunk beds.

On all other routes, you will sleep in 3-person dome-style mountain tents, two people each. The tents are modern and have an outer flysheet and large vestibules keep equipment from the elements. They are set up, broken down and carried – along with everything else – by our porters. A toilet tent is set up at every campsite and hot water is provided for each person every morning if possible (no showers).

There will be dining tents with chairs and tables where all meals will be served. Before the meals, we will provide soap and hot water for washing your hands.

What is the food like at the trek?

See our sample menu or vegetarian menu for climbers.

Who will be my guide?

Our guides have collectively mounted Kilimanjaro well over a thousand times. They are extremely knowledgable about
climbing the mountain. Further, we regularly train them in zoological and geological topics, first aid, customer relationship, English language, and environmental conservation.

Our guides are all full-time employees of our company and have a fixed salary. They are fully licensed by the National Park authorities. Most of them have been with ZARA for more than 10 years and really love their job.

You can see pictures of our guides here.

What luggage should I pack?

It is important to keep luggage to the barest minimum when on trek, as this will ease the burden of the drivers, vehicles and porters. Baggage should be of the round squashy type rather than hard suitcases that are difficult to fit into jeeps. Try to use something that is both lockable and water proof as luggage can often end up sitting on the roof of the vehicle.

It is a good idea to bring another smaller bag so that unwanted clothes can be kept in it at the hotel when you go on trek. This also helps to keep city clothes clean and free from dust. You should also bring a small day pack which can be carried while hiking or riding or can be readily accessible when you are traveling in the vehicles on long drives.

On camping trips all equipment will be provided except for a 4-season sleeping bag. You do not need to provide any other camping gear; only personal belongings. See our Kilimanjaro packing list and Safari packing list.

It should be noted that the luggage limit per person on domestic flights is 15-20 kg per person (checked-in and hand luggage).

On your inbound flight, don’t check in items that you absolutely need (such as medicines), as it is not uncommon that checked-in luggage gets misdirected and arrives in Tanzania a couple of days after you. It is better to have such items in you hand luggage.