Kilimanjaro Packing List

Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with our recommendations on what to bring with you on your Kilimanjaro trek in Tanzania.

If you would like a printable, two-page version of this list, please click here to download a PDF copy. (If you’re also joining us for a safari before or after your climb, be sure to check out our separate Safari Packing List as well.)

If you have any questions please contact us.

Contents

  1. Weather
  2. What to Wear
  3. Footwear
  4. Accessories
  5. Luggage
  6. Accommodation
  7. Water
  8. Hygiene
  9. Immunizations & Medication
  10. Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), Injury, and Evacuation
  11. Post-Evacuation
  12. Diamox
  13. Trip Cancellation & Travel Medical Insurance
  14. Electronics
  15. Money & Currency
  16. Internet Access
  17. Gratuity/Tipping
  18. Arrival & Departure

 

Weather

There is generally little or no snow or ice in the first few days of the hike. If there is any snow, it will be mostly be near the peak of Kilimanjaro. Since we’ll only spend a few hours at the summit, this won’t really be an issue at all (no cramp-ons are needed for your boots, for example).

If we do encounter snow during our ascent, it will usually be a foot (.3 m) or less — nothing too challenging as far as hiking goes.

The glaciers at the summit are quite small at this point, and far off of the hiking trails, so we do not get very close to them.

The weather gets colder as you go up the mountain, and it is not uncommon to be at, or a bit below, freezing at night during the last couple days near the top. Pack warm clothes, and dress in layers (as it could be cold in the morning when we start, get warmer during the day as the sun is out and we are hiking, then get cold again in the evening).

Regarding rain, definitely bring a poncho if you can (one that covers your bag, preferably) — it may rain at the lower altitudes. Making sure your pants/boots/outer layer is rain repellent or rainproof is also a good idea, just in case it rains at lower altitudes.

More info on weather can be found here.

 

What to Wear

What you wear has a huge effect on the overall Kilimanjaro trekking experience, so it definitely pays to bring the right stuff.

You’ll be traveling through a few distinct climate zones during your hike, from an elevation of about 8,000 ft (2,400m) — which will be tropical forest — all the way up to the summit, which can be cold any icy no matter what time of year you decide to climb.

As the temperature can fluctuate throughout each day as well, it pays to dress in layers. We’ve found that light Merino wool (such as Icebreaker, or Woolly), or synthetic blends (such as Ex Officio), work best as base layers. Cotton absorbs moisture and doesn’t tend to dry quickly, making 100% cotton anything a poor choice for the climb.

On top of your underwear wear a long-sleeve button-up shirt, sweatshirt, or sweater along with jeans or khaki pants. Your top layer will consist of jackets — a light shell-type jacket for the lower elevations, and an insulated winter jacket for the last day or two of the ascent, as it starts to get colder.

You may also opt to wear long underwear underneath everything, as that does a great job of keeping you insulated and warm. Snow pants are also encouraged as a third layer for the lower half of your body, even if you don’t need them until the final ascent.

Winter gloves will be necessary for the last couple days of ascent, so be sure and include them in your kit. A winter hat is important a well, as you lose the most heat through your head.

Earmuffs and a balaclava are optional, but in general we recommend over-packing rather than under-packing when it comes to gear. If you don’t need it, great, but at least you have it with you if you do.

Note: you do have the option to rent some of the outerwear (jacket, gloves, snow pants, etc.) if needed. Please let us know in advance if this is something you would like to do, and we will check on options available in your size.

 

Footwear

Arguably the most important piece of gear you’ll be bringing, it is super important to bring a comfortable (worn before the trip to break them in) pair of hiking boots. To prevent ankle injuries, these boots should be at least mid-length in height and have a rubber sole on them to prevent slippage.

Tennis shoes/sneakers are not acceptable for the climb — your feet will be freezing, most let moisture in and don’t dry quickly, and they won’t protect your foot from rocks and debris. You can, however, wear such shoes for the first couple days of the hike, while you are still in the lower elevation areas, and then switch to your boots once conditions warrant.

If you tend to be the type that suffers from foot irritation, or want to prevent any unnecessary rubbing due to new footwear, be sure to pack some anti-blister foot balm or blister pads (not corn pads).

 

Accessories

Be sure to bring the following items to ensure a comfortable safari for you and your companions:

  • a soft-sided (duffel or backpack) day pack, and a larger main pack (that the porters will carry)
  • mobile phone (there is service, even high up the mountain)
    • make sure your phone is unlocked in order to use a local SIM card (ask us in advance if you’ll need one), or be sure to sign up for a travel package through your provider
  • a wide-brim hat (to keep the sun out of your eyes and prevent sunburn on your face and head)
  • sunglasses (along with cleaning spray and wipes, as it gets quite dusty)
  • water bottle or Camelbak-type hydration reservoir
    • electrolyte hydration powders or tablets
  • sunscreen and SPF lip balm
  • bug spray/insect repellent (DEET or Picaridin-based, just for the lower portions of the climb)
  • hand warmers (for the ascent night/day especially)
  • camera (something better than your smartphone, if available and you don’t mind carrying the extra weight in your day pack)
  • extra batteries and USB charging packs (as we won’t have any access to electricity for the duration of the climb)
    • some bring USB solar chargers, but they only work if cloud cover is low during the day while we hike, so don’t rely on them
  • flashlight (torch) or headlamp (preferred)
  • travel pillow (or just roll up some clothes)
  • collapsible walking poles (optional — some prefer to use them, some do not)
  • energy bars and snacks (we are fed well, but you are burning thousands of calories each day)
  • ear plugs and sleep mask
  • personal toiletries and medication

Regarding sun care/prevention: we are pretty close to the equator, and the sun here burns a bit stronger than you may be used to. Be prepared!

Please note that we will carry a first aid kit, emergency oxygen, and water (see Water).

 

Luggage

You’ll be carrying one smaller day pack with some warmer clothes, rain gear, snacks, water, camera/phone + charging pack, etc. in it during the day. This can be a smaller pack, such as a 25-30L backpack.

You’ll also be bringing one larger bag/backpack, which will have all of the rest of your gear in it, such as clothing, summit day supplies, etc. This is usually 50-70L, and the porter carries it the entire climb. This bag MUST be soft sided — a duffel back, backpack, or similar.

I would recommend making sure both packs have some sort of rain tarp/poncho attached to them, to protect the bag (when porters are carrying it along with their other loads), and for water protection, should it rain.

You will be able to leave anything not needed for the hike at the lodge in Moshi town for pick-up after the hike.

 

Accommodation

If more than just a single traveler we will be assigning two guests of the same sex to each 3-4 person four-season tent. This will allow ample room for you to move around, as well as to house your gear.

We will provide tents, sleeping bags, and sleeping pads, but if you would like to bring your own you are more than welcome to do so.

If you choose the shorter, more crowded routes such as Machame or Marangu, there is an option to sleep in your sleeping bag in a hut, which most choose to do (provided the trip is booked far enough in advance to secure reservations).

 

Water

Initially, potable water from town will be carried up the mountain by porters. Later on in the hike water will be gathered by springs, and boiled to ensure potability. We will be able to refill at the very least in the morning, afternoon, and evening, when we stop or make camp and/or eat meals.

There is no need for sterilization tablets/UV devices to purify your water (although some choose to bring it anyway to be extra safe). You will however need to carry your own water bottle/water reservoir/Camelbak etc. with you in your day bag during the hike.

Be aware that if you are using a hydration reservoir that is sitting on the outside of your body, it may get too cold on summit day to function properly (unless you have the ones with the insulation, such as this model).

It is a good idea to bring electrolytes or other hydration powders to keep your properly hydrated and full of vitamins. I recommend NUUN tablets for taste + ease of use.

 

Hygiene

There will be no access to showers starting from the start of the climb until we leave the mountain. We will have access to enough water to wash your hands and face each day, but that is about it.

The best way to stay as clean as possible is to bring a pack or two of moistened baby wipes, which you can use to at least wipe some of the sweat and dirt off of your body each night before bed. Some climbers — especially those with longer hair — choose to also use dry shampoo to keep their hair as manageable as possible.

 

Immunizations & Medication

We encourage all guests to consult with their licensed medical professional prior to setting off to Tanzania.

Malaria prevention medication, such as Malarone or doxycycline (both prescription-only), may be taken if you wish. Each medication has its side effects, so consult with a physician before you decide on which to choose, if either. We will not be encountering many mosquitoes after the first couple of days due to the altitude, so it is up to you whether you prefer to take the medication, or to use insect spray and long clothing instead.

Make sure you are up-to-date on your basic travel immunizations, such as Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Tetanus, MMR, DPT, etc. See a full list of recommended immunizations at the U.S. Center for Disease Control website, here.

Proof of the Yellow Fever Vaccine having been administered is required if coming from an endemic country, or if spending more than 12 hours on a layover in an endemic country (e.g. Brazil, Kenya, etc. – check the current list of countries here).

If you may need any other medication, such as prescriptions, aspirin, an inhaler, Imodium, etc., please make sure to bring enough with you to last the duration of your trip (and maybe a bit more, for good measure).

 

Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), Injury, and Evacuation

Despite the easy-going reputation of Kilimanjaro, climbing it can be dangerous, and people have died while attempting to summit the mountain (although this is a rare occurrence).

The number one cause of aborted summit attempts is due to Acute Mountain Sickness, also known as AMS. This happens when your body’s red blood cells cannot acclimate to a sudden drop in the amount of oxygen in the air, causing your body to struggle to keep up with any exertion you put on it. Symptoms of AMS include: dizziness, vomiting, loss of appetite, loss of sleep, and in severe cases, even death.

Acute Mountain Sickness can affect anyone, at anytime. We have seen 60-something year olds that have done little to no training summit with no issues, while an athletic 20-something that has trained for weeks is hit with moderate-to-severe AMS symptoms. The amount of training, your age, and your fitness level has little to do with how AMS may impact you during your climb — you could climb once with no issues, and then climb again a week later and have issues.

The best way to combat the chance of experiencing AMS symptoms is one of two things:

    1. Train, or at least spend time, at as high an elevation as possible. Since this isn’t possible for many people, we at least recommend to do a safari before your Kilimanjaro trek (if also going on a safari), as we spend most of the time at 4,500 ft (1,300 m) or so, which helps quite a bit versus spending time at or slightly above sea level.
    2. Take a longer, less strenuous route. You can theoretically climb Kilimanjaro in as little as five days, but we don’t recommend it. Instead, we recommend spending at least seven, if not eight days on a longer, less crowded route, such as the Lemosho Route. The added cost is negligible, and your chances of summiting increase with every day.

If your mountain guide detects that you may be suffering from AMS, they will slow down the pace a bit, and check with you to see how you feel. If symptoms appear severe enough your guide may send you back down the mountain with one of the assistant guides. Your safety is our utmost concern, so please keep this in mind if your guide determines that your symptoms are too severe to continue up the mountain.

In the case of severe AMS, or an injury, your guide may radio for assistance and send you along with a team (with a stretcher, if needed) back down the mountain as quickly as possible for recovery and/or medical treatment.

Please note there are no refunds given in the case you cannot summit, as all park and crew fees are paid in advance.

 

Post-Evacuation

If you suffer from AMS and need to head back down the mountain, chances are that you will recover fully within a day or two after reaching lower elevation.

This may mean that you have extra days left in your schedule before your flight onward. Seeing as you cannot have another go at the mountain, you have two choices:

  1. Check into a hotel, and rest up and/or do a couple of day trips.
  2. Book a safari (either through us, or through a partner firm, based on availability)

Based on how you feel, and how many days you have left (as well as if you already did a safari, or have a safari planned), this decision is up to you. In the meantime, we will meet you at the bottom of the mountain and drive you back to Arusha or Moshi, depending on your choice of accommodation/activities.

If you are looking to fill your remaining time with a day-long or multi-day safari trip, you may be limited as far as choices by the last-minute nature of your booking. In the case that you cannot book a safari through Pamoja Safaris, or in the case that you do not want to book a safari through us for cost reasons, we may refer you to another company that has an opening in their safari schedule (whether it is a private, or a group experience).

Note: although we will do our best to ensure the quality of any companies we refer you to, they are completely separate entities from Pamoja Safaris, and we assume no responsibility for your experience once you book/start a trip with them.

 

Diamox

Diamox pills (a.k.a. acetazolamide, prescription only if in the U.S.) can be taken in order to try and prevent altitude sickness. It’s good to at least have it on-hand in case you start to feel symptoms when climbing higher and higher, although it works best if you start the regimen before you start climbing.

One unfortunate side effect of Diamox is that it dries you out — making you need to drink even more water than usual.

Please consult your local medical professional regarding Diamox use, side-effects, etc.

Note: if allergic to sulfa/sulfonamide-based drugs, you cannot take Diamox.

 

Trip Cancellation & Travel Medical Insurance

We require all Mount Kilimanjaro trekking guests to purchase at least travel medical insurance, in the event that you get sick or injured while you are on the climb.

Optionally, trip cancellation insurance will cover your trip costs, including airfare, if for whatever reason you cannot make your trip as previously scheduled (illness, death of a family member, etc.).

There are few companies that provide the needed insurance to cover you when climbing over 14,000 ft, as we will be doing on Kilimanjaro.
Two of the better companies we’ve found that do include such coverage are:
Note: be sure and select the ADVENTURE/EXPLORER (i.e. Athletic Sports & Hazardous Activity Rider) package for either plan to ensure you are covered while hiking at high elevations.
Note: each company allows coverage for people in some states/countries, but not others, so between the two you’ll be able to find one that covers you.

 

Electronics

Make sure to bring all necessary chargers to power any devices you’ll be bringing with you. There will be power outlets in the hotel rooms as well as in the vehicle itself so that you can keep everything charged up.

Tanzania runs on a 230 volt/50 hertz electrical grid. Most power sources auto-switch voltage nowadays, so you most likely will NOT have to bring a voltage converter with you (notebook PC’s, smartphones, anything with a USB charger, camera battery chargers, etc.).

Tanzania’s plug-type is the same as the UK plug (as it was once a British colony). We will have some plug converters on hand in case you need them, but we recommend grabbing some converters on your own as well—such as this one, available on Amazon.com.

We don’t recommend bringing high-draw electronics that don’t auto-switch voltage, such as curling irons and hair dryers, as using them on the local voltage could ruin the devices.

Note: there will be no access to electricity once we begin our climb, so be sure and bring enough batteries and USB charging packs to charge your phone, camera, etc. during the duration of the climb.

 

Money & Currency

The local currency is Tanzanian shillings/shilingi (TSh/TZH), and is available via ATM withdrawals in Arusha city, or by local money changers at Kilimanjaro International Airport, or at the banks in town.

Denominations of paper currency include 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, and 10,000 shilling notes. With the largest note — TSh10,000 — valued at just over USD$4.00, be aware that you’ll be carrying a ton of notes around if you make a large withdrawal/currency exchange.

However, most transactions during your stay will be listed in U.S. dollars. U.S. dollars are the preferred currency for everything from souvenirs, alcohol and services at the lodge, and gratuity. If you prefer to pay a bill listed in U.S. dollars in Tanzanian shillings instead, just let the clerk or staff member know and they will convert the total to shillings.

Euros are also accepted, but are not as preferable as U.S. dollars.

Note: there are no shops on the mountain.

 

Internet Access

If you have an unlocked mobile phone you will be able to use a local SIM card in your phone (iPhone, Android, etc. — check with your carrier if you don’t know if your phone is SIM locked or not, as many carriers will unlock your phone for you if you just ask).

However, in order to get a local Tanzanian SIM card you’ll need to bring your passport and some Tanzanian shillings to one of the registration centers in Arusha or Moshi,  choose your calling/Internet package, and wait for them to sign you up.

Although this can be arranged, we ask that you let us know in advance if this is a service that you’ll be needing, so that we can try and fit it into your schedule before the climb.

You will have wifi Internet access at your lodge before and after your climb. During the actual climb itself, your access will go in and out, but it is amazingly quite descent up to about 15,000 feet or so in elevation (around day four or five of your climb).

For basic use — messaging, checking social media, email — you shouldn’t have any real issues until you get above 15,000 feet or so on the last day or two of ascent, other than occasional outages when you are not in the range of a tower. However, uploading/downloading large files — such as video and high resolution photos — may be problematic.

 

Gratuity/Tipping

Your hiking crew relies almost solely on tips to support themselves and their family, so if you have a great trip, please make sure you tip. (As you’ll see on the mountain, this job is one of the hardest gigs in Tanzania — the entire crew will be working hard to make our trip a fun, successful one.)
You should budget $200-300 for tipping the crew, which consists of porters, guides, assistant guides, and chefs. Be sure to bring small denominations — $1, $5, $10, $20’s, in order to easily divvy up money at the end of the trip (usually done on the last day).
For example, a crew for just two climbers will consist of:
  • 1 Chief Guide ($20/day)
  • 1 Assistant Guides ($10-12/day)
  • 1 Cook ($10-12/day)
  • 1 Waiter (optional) ($5-7/day)
  • 1 Tent Crew Headman (optional) ($5-7/day)
  • 6 Porters ($5-7 day, each)

Because of the nature of the climber versus crew ratio, expect to tip on the higher end if a small group (1-4 people) and on the lower end if a larger group (12-16 people).

It is easiest to bring a few envelopes with you on your trip, and split the money for each group (guide, assistant guide, chef, porters, etc.) into separate envelopes before handing the tips over (if more than one type of position is present, they will split equally whatever is in each envelope).

More details on Kilimanjaro crew tipping can be found here.

 

Arrival & Departure

If arriving from an international destination, the airport you’ll be flying into will be Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO). (Tip: bring a pen with you on the flight so that you can fill out the immigration form and have it ready when you land at the airport.)

If you will be flying to Arusha via a domestic flight (e.g. from Dar es Salaam or Zanzibar), you can choose either Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) or Arusha City Airport (ARK). (ARK is is closer to Arusha city but further from Kilimanjaro/Moshi city, and usually costs a bit more while having fewer flight options.)

In either case, we’ll be there to pick you up when you arrive! Just look for our representative holding a sign with your name(s) written on it outside of the baggage claim area. From JRO airport it will be about an hour drive to Moshi, from ARK (Arusha city) it will be about two hours. We’ll be dropping you off at your lodge in Moshi, where you will meet your head guide before dinner to talk about the adventure ahead, and go over any questions you have before dinner.

The next morning, after breakfast, you’ll be driving a couple hours to the gates of Mount Kilimanjaro National Park, where we’ll begin the climb.

On your departure day — either later in the same day you finish the climb, or the following day — we’ll be driving you to the airport, timing everything so that we arrive approximately two hours before your flight departs. Kilimanjaro airport is quite compact, so you won’t need much time for check-in procedures.

 

Looking for what to pack on the safari portion of your trip? Click here.

 

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