Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro
Mount Kilimanjaro, the "Mountain of Greatness", is the tallest freestanding mountain in the world. While you may have your own reason for wanting to climb Kilimanjaro, one thing is common amongst all those who visit - the desire to stand on the highest peak of Africa.
Climbing Kilimanjaro is a demanding, challenging feat. But despite the immense height, Mount Kilimanjaro can be successfully climbed by any reasonably fit person. No technical skills are necessary, making Kilimanjaro the highest, most accessible, "walkable" mountain on the planet.
The single most important factor in determining the success of your climb is choosing an excellence guide service.
Mount Kilimanjaro draws over 25,000 visitors annually. Nearly 50% of all climbers fail to reach the summit.
To achieve on the mountain, it is essential that climbers are guided by an experienced outfitter, with proven capability, reliability and safety.
Many tour operators offer Kilimanjaro climbs. Though, only a handful can be considered highly regarded. JJM Tours and Safari is one of the few specialist companies organizing high quality trips on Kilimanjaro since 2008. JJM Tours and Safari has established a reputation as a solid, safe, and responsible operator in Tanzania.
We oath to provide a firm standard of service on all of our climbs, including:
1. Trained, experienced, local guides
2. Hard working, team-oriented support staff
3. Quality, waterproof, four-season mountain tents
4. Roomy dining tents with table and chairs
5. Large portions of fresh, healthy, nutritious food
6. Clean, purified drinking water
7. Fair and ethical treatment of porters
8. Environmentally responsible trekking
Climb the most excellent Routes on Mount Kilimanjaro
The Marangu and Machame routes are used by the huge majority of visitors on Mount Kilimanjaro. But despite their popularity, these are not the prime routes on the Kilimanjaro.
These routes receive far too much traffic to provide any tranquility on the mountain, and do not offer the best views. Therefore, we avoid organizing climbs on the highly trafficked, poorer quality routes.
We have chosen the best routes to fit any skill level.
We offer the quieter, lesser traveled camping routes of Shira, Rongai and the new Northern Circuit.
Whether it is your first time trekking or whether you have climbed dozens of peaks, we have a route for you. For an unrivaled experience on Mount Kilimanjaro, select the route that best suits you- and maximize your comfort, enjoyment, and chance of success.
This 6-day route begins at the remote, northern side of Kilimanjaro, near the Kenyan border. We hike through a true wilderness area towards the jagged Mawenzi Peak, then cross a barren desert saddle, before climbing up Kibo's eastern crater wall. The Rongai route is a more gradual ascent, and is therefore preferred by those with little or no backpacking experience, but is equally enjoyable for even the most hardened trekkers.
Total trip duration is 8 days.
This 8-day route approaches Kilimanjaro from the west. A 4x4 vehicle transports us through a rich, lush rainforest until we arrive at the ridge of the Shira Plateau, where our expedition begins. We trek across an alpine plateau and traverse the great Southern Icefield, before summiting from Barafu Hut. The Shira route is ideal for those with backpacking experience and those seeking a more challenging adventure.
Total trip duration is 10 days.
This new 9-day route is the most amazing journey on Kilimanjaro. Starting at the north, this route traverses nearly the entire mountain before the summit push. This is absolutely the most scenic path available and has almost no traffic on its northern face. Become one of the first to enjoy the Northern Circuit's tranquility and stunning panoramic scenery. If you want something different, this is your route.
Total trip duration is 11 days.
If you would like to climb another route, variations of these routes, and/or select a custom date, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a private climb.
KILIMANJARO GUIDES & PORTERS
The Best Guides on Mount Kilimanjaro
The importance of your Kilimanjaro crew cannot be underestimated. A quality guide and porters will make for a wonderful time on the mountain, while a mediocre staff can put your life in danger.
We spend a great deal of attention is put into finding the right staff. Each and every employee - guide, assistant guide, cook and porter - has been screened intensely prior to hire, and only the top performers are retained. Because of this rigorous process, we can ensure professional, high quality, consistent performance across the board.
When you climb with us, you climb with the best crew on Kilimanjaro, period.
Our local guides are experts on the mountain. Each of our guides is licensed by Kilimanjaro National Park, climbs Kilimanjaro around 20 times each year, and speaks English fluently.
Each guide has his own team of assistant guides and camp staff who work together on every climb. This frequent collaboration yields a team dynamic that translates into an unparalleled level of service on the mountain. On all Kilimanjaro trips we keep a ratio of three clients to one guide so every climber receives personal attention and encouragement.
We believe that safety is the most important aspect of the climb experience.
Our guides have received first aid training from Kilimanjaro National Park prior to their certification and additional training from us on a regular basis. They can recognize the symptoms of serious altitude sickness and organize immediate descent, which is by far the best treatment, when necessary.
Our guides follow established protocol for handling emergencies on the mountain, including rescue and evacuation procedures.
We strive to be a steward of ethical porter treatment.
We are committed to improving the working conditions of the porters on Kilimanjaro. Porters make the trips happen behind the scenes, so their welfare is a priority. Our climbs are staffed with a sufficient number of porters to limit their loads to 25 kg per porter. Our porters are paid one of the highest salaries on the mountain, so they do not depend soley on tips, which can lead to begging, harassment or theft. Every climb departs with an ample food supply so that porters are well fed for the duration of the trip. Tents are examined after every trip and repair any leaks or flaws that would compromise the porters' shelter. Lastly, our porters have adequate clothing for the harsh mountain climate.
Many operators on Kilimanjaro do not have adequate standards for their porters. Porters have the hardest jobs on the mountain yet are the ones most commonly exploited. Many operators simply do not care about the welfare of their porters, and worse, some intentionally engage in unfair and unethical practices when dealing with porters. Other companies may make claims of ethical treatment of porters, but do not uphold their words. Please select your operator with porter welfare in mind.
But don't just take our word for it.
When you climb Kilimanjaro with us, you can be confident that your porters are treated well.
The temperature on Kilimanjaro varies widely depending on the season and altitude.
The main weather concerns while climbing Kilimanjaro relate to cold temperature and precipitation. The best times to climb Kilimanjaro are during the warmer and drier months. January, February and September are great times to climb. June, July, August are also very good months, though the weather is a bit cooler.
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.
We will pass through five major ecological zones on the way to the summit.
The climb begins in the lush rainforests at the base of the mountain, then proceed through heath, moorland, and alpine desert, before finally entering into the arctic zone. As we gain altitude, the temperatures drop as does precipitation levels and vegetation.
While the temperatures in the rainforest are generally very mild, averaging 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperatures during the night ascent to the summit are frequently below zero. Therefore, climbers need to be prepared for a wide range of temperatures, especially extreme cold.
All of our climbs are fully supported.
On the trail, our staff will do nearly everything for you, from breaking down and setting up camp, preparing meals, boiling water, carrying all of the communal equipment as well as some of your personal gear. You will have the services of a lead guide, assistant guides, a cook and a number of porters. Our climbs are limited to a maximum of 12 clients, and on average, there will be three staff members per client on a trip (i.e., a group of 12 clients will have the support of 36 staff). This high ratio of staff to clients ensures that you will be well cared for.
You will be required to carry a medium sized daypack (about 30L) containing items needed until the next campsite. Typically, this means extra layers of clothing, snacks, and personal usage items, such as sunscreen and insect repellent. The daypack will normally weigh 10 to 20 pounds.
Mileage varies depending on the route and day.
On average, you should expect to be on the trail for four to six hours per day. Guides set a deliberately slow pace ("pole pole", or "slowly, slowly") in order to give clients adequate time to adapt to the thinning air.
Individual clients need not worry about not being able to keep up with the group because the guide will dictate a pace to ensure group cohesion. Summit day is an arduous day, with trail times averaging between 14 and 16 hours.
Most of the trails used on our Kilimanjaro treks are well-defined and of good quality. The exceptions to this are the lower slopes, which can become very muddy after rains, and near the summit, where the paths are over loose gravel. These mountains are large volcanoes that tower above the surrounding plains and result in all climbs requiring a considerable amount of uphill and then lots of downhill. There are no technical skills necessary to tackle any of our routes, and only very short sections with steep drop offs. Your guides will help you pick the best path if and when difficult sections are encountered. For the most part, the trails are very steady and safe.
The food we provide is tasty, nutritious and specifically designed for altitude.
Our cooks use fresh food whenever possible. We choose the ingredients carefully to ensure that the food prepared by our team is tasty, easy to digest, and provides energy. The menu has a high liquid and carbohydrate content - the two important elements for successful climbing. At the highest altitudes, stimulants (such as coffee) and less digestible foods (such as meat) are not recommended. We can cater to vegetarians, ensuring that their meals are varied and inviting. Feedback from our clients often mentions the food on the mountain was outstanding.
Breakfast consists of seasonal fresh fruit (mango/banana/watermelon), porridge, cooked eggs, bacon and toast. Energy snacks are provided for the daily walk such as biscuits, bananas, and chocolate bars.
Lunch is either a packed lunch on longer days or, more usually, a hot lunch served in camp by a small team who have raced ahead of the clients. A hot lunch typically consists of soup, bread or pancakes, cheese, tuna, jam, peanut butter, pasta salad and cake. In the late afternoon, hot drinks and snacks such as peanuts or popcorn are served.
Dinner is the main meal of the day and always consists of three courses: soup and bread, followed by a main dish, which could be rice, potatoes or pasta, with fish, meat or vegetables, and is followed by a dessert, which often is fruit.
Boiled water is offered each evening for filling water bottles and is readily available at mealtimes. Further treatment of water, via chemical means or filtering, is not necessary. However, some clients prefer to take the extra precaution. At mealtimes a selection of hot drinks, such as tea, coffee and cocoa are available.
A fresh food resupply is provided for all groups on climbs of 8 or more days, and on shorter day climbs when the group is of 7 of more clients. This resupply reaches the group part way through the trip and includes fresh bread, fruits, vegetables, cheese and meat.
High altitude often causes clients to lose their appetite, which is a symptom of altitude sickness. However, it is important to continue to eat to ensure you have energy for trekking. Additionally, it is recommended that you drink about 4 -5 liters of fluid each day, which helps altitude acclimatization. Your guides will be carefully monitoring your food and water intake.
Our camping equipment is of proven quality and specifically designed for Kilimanjaro.
Our tents are guaranteed to be sturdy, warm, waterproof, and roomy. Each tent sleeps two clients, with plenty of personal space, ample luggage storage area, and a separate external flysheet. A limited number of these tents are available as single tents at a supplementary charge and should be reserved in advance. Clients should bring their own sleeping bag and sleeping pad.
There is always a bowl of hot washing water for you in the morning and again after the walk in the afternoon. The only exception is the highest camp where there is no water source and hence all water must be carried from a lower level by porters. Water treated with dettol is available along with soap for hand washing before all meals, and everyone is strongly advised to make use of it.
Breakfast and dinner are served in our communal mess tent with folding stools, tables and gas lanterns. This tent is also available for use in the afternoons and evenings. On climbs with 1 or 2 people the mess tent is shared between staff and clients. All groups of 3 or more have a separate mess tent.
Finally, we provide a private toilet tent so clients do not have to use the national park toilets
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.
Climbing Kilimanjaro does not take any technical mountaineering skills. It is a trek at high altitude, and nearly anyone in decent physical condition can climb Mount Kilimanjaro. However, one should not underestimate the effort required over six to nine days to reach the peak.
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 pack that you intend to climb in. Try to hike 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 staple of your training should be walking on a stairmaster, 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. With proper training, you will develop the leg strength, endurance and confidence necessary for Kilimanjaro.
Clients should fly into Kilimanjaro Airport.
Our trips begin in lodges in either Marangu or Arusha, Tanzania, depending on the route chosen. Clients should fly into Kilimanjaro International Airport (airport code: JRO) and make their way to the designated hotel. It will cost approximately $80 for a taxi from the airport to Marangu (54 miles), and about $60 to Arusha (32 miles).
We can also organize private transfers between the airport and hotels, which must be pre-booked along with your climb. Local contact numbers and details on how to meet up with staff will be distributed upon booking.
Passports and visas are required for entry.
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. The visa cost for US citizens is $100.
There are various recommended vaccinations for travel into Tanzania.
There are no required vaccinations, however 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 of 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.
The appropriate gear and equipment is required to climb Kilimanjaro.
Kilimanjaro treks have a wide range of temperatures so the best clothing is a lot of thin 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.
Sleeping and carrying equipment
o Medium sized daypack (30 liter)
o Duffel bag
o Plastic bags to protect equipment from rain
o Warm, four-season sleeping bag
o Sleeping pad
o Two one-liter water bottles or equivalent
o Water filter or chemical tablets (optional)
o Long sleeve tee shirt
o Long underwear
o fleece or down jacket
o Mid-weight long sleeve tee shirt
o Waterproof hard shell jacket
o hiking pants
o Waterproof pants
o Gloves or mittens
o Waterproof pants
o Knit hat or balaclava
o Sun hat Footwear
o Warm hiking boots (broken in)
o Gym shoes for camp (optional)
o Waterproof gaiters (optional)
o 2 pairs hiking socks
o 2 pairs sock liners
o Trekking poles (optional)
o Quick drying towel (optional)
o Camera and film (optional)
o Sun screen
o bug spray
o Toilet paper
o Headlamp and batteries
o lip balm
o Ear plugs (optional)
o Snacks (optional)
Personal first aid kit
o Painkillers (optional)
o blister kit (optional)
o Anti-diarrhea tablets (optional)
o Malaria tablets (optional)
o Diamox (optional)
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 safely stored in the hotel.
SAFETY & RESCUE
Successful altitude acclimatization is key to climbing Kilimanjaro safely.
Altitude sickness is caused by the failure of the body to adapt quickly enough to the reduced level of oxygen in the air as one gains altitude. It is likely that you will experience some form of mild altitude sickness on a high mountain trek.
There are many different symptoms but the most common are headaches, light-headedness, nausea, sleeplessness and a loss of appetite. These symptoms can be considered normal for climbing Kilimanjaro. However, complications can develop on Kilimanjaro, and every one attempting to climb the mountain must be aware of the risks involved.
Serious altitude sickness very rarely develops for climbers. Cerebral edema is caused by fluid leakage from the brain. Cerebral edema is recognized by severe headaches combined with severe loss of balance and dizziness. Pulmonary edema is caused by fluid build up in the lungs. Pulmonary edema is characterized by crackling noises from the chest and the coughing up of pink sputum. Both conditions lead rapidly to death unless immediate descent is made.
Our practical experience is that there are three primary steps to achieving successful acclimatization. You will probably still suffer some mild symptoms of altitude sickness before adapting to function normally with reduced levels of oxygen.
Drink lots. We recommend fluid intake of 4-5 liters daily. Fluid intake improves circulation and most other bodily functions. Fluid intake does not add to fluid leakage from the body. Our menu contains lots of soup, hot drinks and fresh fruit. And you need to drink 3 liters of water per day too! If your urine is clear and copious, you are drinking enough.
Walk slowly. It is vital to place as little strain as possible on the body while it is trying to adapt to a reducing oxygen supply. Unless there is a very steep uphill section, your breathing rate while walking should be as if you are walking down the street at home.
Climb high sleep low. This means climbing to a higher altitude during the day and the sleeping at a lower altitude at night. This is done through well planned itineraries that include afternoon acclimatization hikes to a higher levels (climbing high) before descent to camp (sleeping low). All our itineraries have this feature, although due to time and distance to be covered the longer 8 and 9 day climbs have more acclimatization walks.
Our guides are experienced in treating altitude sickness.
Mild forms of altitude sickness are best treated by rest, maintaining fluid intake, and by a painkiller such as paracetamol. Mild symptoms which have lasted for 24 hours or more can be treated with Diamox which aids acclimatization. Some people take Diamox before the climb as prescribed by their doctor. The use of Diamox in this manner is a personal decision. We as a company think it is better to listen to your body and give it a chance to acclimatize naturally before resorting to the use of Diamox. Serious cases of altitude sickness can only be treated by immediate descent.
The chief guide on the trip has received first aid training from both Kilimanjaro National Park and JJM Tours & Safari. Our guides are all experienced in dealing with the problems of altitude and their decision will be final. If there is a potential problem, the guide will take precautionary action and inform both the national park and our office in Arusha. Contact is usually made by mobile phone, as there is network coverage somewhere on each day while climbing Kilimanjaro. There are a number of national park ranger posts on Kilimanjaro and they also have radios to contact park headquarters in Marangu.
Evacuation from Kilimanjaro is initially either on foot or wheeled stretcher. This is until the highest access point that the national park rescue car can reach - either Shira Plateau, below Mandara Hut or Rongai Gate. The rescue car will transport the sick client off the mountain but often it is necessary for our vehicle to meet the rescue car to complete the journey. During the rescue an assistant guide would accompany the sick client. If the client is very sick the chief guide would accompany the sick client, and leave the group on Kilimanjaro under the charge of his assistant. The client is taken to either a doctor (KCMC Hospital in Moshi, or AAR Clinic in Arusha) or as in many cases the client has recovered due to losing altitude, and rests at a hotel.
During the rescue the sick client is accompanied by one of the guides and looked after carefully. On the morning after the rescue the guide would meet the client again. At this time there is a telephone communication from executive staff to ensure that the correct medical care is being offered and the client's wishes are being taken care of. This guide is then available to help the client in any way, whether they need to go to the doctor or do a short walk around town.
The trip coordinators of JJM Tours & Safari are also involved in looking after the recovery of sick clients as they are conveniently based in Arusha. In serious cases, one of the senior management of the company would visit the client to ensure the treatment and other arrangements are the best possible.
Group medical kits with instructions are provided on all climbs and looked after by the chief guide. All guides have had first aid training. We do not carry Gamow bags or oxygen on our standard climbs. We pay special attention to avoid altitude sickness by maximizing acclimatization. And the guides training means they can recognize the symptoms of serious altitude sickness and organize and immediate descent, which is by far the best treatment, on the occasions when this is necessary