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Sept 11-21 / 23, 2021 “AFS Climb to the Roof of Africa”
(Small Group for AFS Fitbits)
Join us on a trek to the Summit of Africa’s highest mountain. The snows of Kilimanjaro soar above Africa’s shimmering plains like an illusion – an iconic image to which you can now be transported. Our past AFS groups loved this once in a lifetime experience: “Climbing Kili has been on my bucket list for years. My dream came true with AFS in 2013. An adventure that challenged me to my core but I conquered that Mountain. Such an emotional experience at sunrise to stand on the “roof of Africa!” – Carol H
“Pole-pole” (slowly, slowly) is the mantra of our expert expedition guides who lead us on this quest. This trip is as much about the journey as it is the destination. Kili is the world’s highest free-standing mountain and also the most walkable. You’ll pass from tropical forests to a near lunar landscape high above the clouds in just a few days. We’ve perfected the best way to climb Kili with maximum acclimatization and shorter hiking days for the greatest chance of summit success! There are many different routes you could take. But, no matter what you read, the Marangu Route is the most popular and best established. The reward at the top? Dazzling views of the stunning Africans plains below with your selfie at Uhuru Peak and its iridescent glaciers.
You’ll see countless prices – but it’s vital to use a quality outfitter in Tanzania nowadays! We trust our licensed guides and professional porters who are with you every step of the way. They are passionate about making sure you have the best and safest experience ever. We provide your meals, sleeping bags and all details on preparation for this trek. (Beware – don’t book with a cut-rate company that goes offseason in inclement weather, uses poor camps with dirty water and risks your health by rushing you to the summit with no acclimatization or oxygen. Some don’t even pay their porters who only survive on tips. Many hide extra costs until departure.)
September is the perfect time to climb with the best weather. And our air is so easy and affordable on Turkish Airlines if you want it. At the end, you can reward yourself with a Safari extension into Ngorongoro Crater to witness the migration in the Serengeti. Make it two bucket list adventures in one!
Limited to only 24 participants. Book now. It’s a life-changing experience to stand on top of a continent.
“What we do when we reach the summit is weep. All inhibitions are stripped away with joy for having scaled this is a mighty mountain. Hardships mark the journey, but mountains become an appetite to want more. Standing on the summit at dawn seeing sweeping Africa below, I am hooked forever on climbing.” – Sir Edmond Hillary
Our Glorious AFS Itinerary
Summiting Kilimanjaro is an attainable goal by following the Marangu route. Used by most climbers, it has comfortable, mountain huts accommodations with solar power lighting along the way. This is classified as a moderate trek rather than a climb and is suitable for those adventurers who are not particularly experienced in the mountains, but you must be relatively fit. The views from Gillman’s Point as the sun rises behind Mawenzi on a clear morning are absolutely magnificent. The Rift Valley, Mt. Meru and the Masai Steppes stand out from the endless plains, almost three vertical miles below.
Sep 11 / 12 – Depart the USA
Detailed AFS Trip Tips emailed to participants to follow. These tips provide all you need to know! Air is easy roundtrip to Kili.
Group air : 2021 TBA
Sep 13 – Arrive Kilimanjaro – Land portion begins. D
Welcome to Tanzania Africa! You will be greeted at the Kilimanjaro airport by our guides and transferred to Springlands Hotel, located in Moshi Town. These are the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro and the perfect spot for starting our Kili expedition. Enjoy the property’s pool or bar and just relax. Today, you will have an extensive briefing by your guides about what lies ahead as you climb the tallest free standing mountain in the world!
If time permits for tours – Optional – An area tour which includes waterfalls, a culture visit to the local village and a tour of coffee plantations or Boma Bush Dinner with the Masai.
Overnight: Springlands Hotel (B)
Sep 14 – The Kilimanjaro Experience begins! BLD
After breakfast, we head to the Kilimanjaro National Park gate which lies at the edge of Marangu and an elevation of more than 6 thousand feet above sea level. After completing our registration formalities, we start our upward trek, climbing 3 to 5 hours through a beautiful, unspoiled forest, enjoying lunch along the way. The forest finally opens up to a clearing and our accommodations for the night – Mandara Hut – located at almost 9,000 feet. (We provide your sleeping bags and mattresses.)
Mandara includes a group of ‘A’ frame wooden huts which feature comfortable dormitory style rooms. Water is piped onto site from a spring above for clean water as well as flush toilets. There is plenty of birdlife to enjoy as well as some monkeys near the huts. You can rest and enjoy the beautiful forest or perhaps take a short hike to take in the volcanic remains of the nearby Maundi Crater. (Avg. 5 miles hiking 4-5 hours at 2700m)
Overnight: Mandara Hut
Sept 15 – Horombo BLD
Today, we have a 4 to 6 hour trek ahead of us. The first part of the walk is a steep ascent through the forest, but the path soon opens out into grassy moorland and in clear weather, there are breathtaking views of Kibo and Mawenzi peaks. It’s a steady climb ahead through the moorland zone, containing giant heathers and flowering herbs called groundsel. We eventually reach the hut complex at Horombo – almost 2 and a half miles above sea level.
Here, we truly get the sense of being above the clouds. The Horombo huts are similar to Mandara, but this is a larger complex. Here, too are spring fed waters piped in to handle water as well as the toilet facilities. Sunrises and sunsets are often spectacular, and the site is close to the strikingly beautiful glaciated dome of Kibo. (Avg. 6-hour hike, 7 miles to 37,000m)
Overnight: Horombo Hut
Sep 16 – Extra day for Acclimatization BLD
Zebra Rocks – There’s no need to pack today because it’s all about getting acclimatized. You can take in some sightseeing, but it’s important to use this time to have our bodies get used to the altitude so the rest of the trek will be easier. Our past groups found this to be crucial.
We’ll walk up the southern slopes of Mawenzi, to get some of the best views possible of Kibo as well as a gorgeous panorama overlooking the wild and inhospitable desert of the Saddle. We also visit places such as the strange Zebra Rocks -rocks streaked over the centuries by water until they resemble the flanks of a zebra.
Overnight: Horombo Hut (3,800m)
Sep17 – Saddle Between Mawenzi and Kibo BLD
We climb very gradually towards what looks like a lunar desert of the Saddle between Mawenzi and Kibo. During the five hour hike, the terrain changes to broken rock fragments known as scree as we experience the sense of high altitude wilderness. Our goal is to reach Kibo Hut by midday. Located at an elevation of almost 3 miles, it is at the bottom of the crater wall.
Kibo is a stone built block house with a small dining area and a number of dormitory rooms leading off a main corridor. At this elevation and the water has to be brought in.
We’ll spend the remainder of the day resting and eating in preparation for the final climb before a very early night! (Avg. 6-8 hour hike, 6 miles to 4703m)
Overnight: Kibo Hut
Sept 18 – Summit Day – Uhuru Peak! BLD
A long day, but so worth it. We have an 11 to 15-hour day ahead of us, starting our ascent by flashlight at about 1 AM. The goal is to reach Gillman’s Point by sunrise. The initial climb is over loose volcanic scree, but there are some well-graded zig-zags. A slow, but steady pace will have us up to Gillman’s in about five or six hours. We will rest there and take in the goose bump-inducing sunrise, looking out over the world three miles below.
(If you are up for it, you can make the additional three-hour round trip from here along the crater rim to Uhuru Peak. Elevation there is over 3 and a half miles and you will pass close to spectacular glaciers that still occupy most of the summit area.)
Then – it’s time to start heading back down. The descent is surprisingly fast and we return to Horombo for the night. (Avg. 6-8 hour hiking 10 miles to 5895m or 19,340’)
Overnight: Horombo Hut
Sept 19 – Final Descent Horombo to Marengo Gate BLD
Today is the victory lap! We head down towards Mandara, with rocky terrain giving way to green, lush forest. We retrace our steps with a pleasant moorland walk down to the National Park gates. (Avg. 5-7 hour hike, 12 miles at 12,000 to 6000’)
After we finish the climb, we are picked up and head back to Springlands Hotel for overnight and an AFS farewell celebratory dinner with your certificate of completion.
Overnight: Springlands Hotel
Sep 22 – Depart for home B
To main group not adding the extension.
Following breakfast, we are transferred to Kilimanjaro airport for our departure flight.
You made it! It’s time to reward yourself for all the hard work with a little R&R.
Optional Serengeti Safari extension! (Return home Sep 24). Go to top of page and click the next tab for info
Land Price $ 2695 pp twin share
Deposit $600 (Must be in good physical condition)
Limited to 24 participants (This year we limit to small group. Past groups on 32 had an army of 60 porters and guides in tow. We’ll have a perfect size for our leaders to handle. You must be fit with no respiratory, heart, foot, leg or hip problems.)
- 4-Star hotel accommodation in Arusha and multi share Alpine huts with prepped beds per itinerary based on twin share
- All airport transfers by private, air-conditioned coach (Any individuals travelling outside the group arrangement must organize own transportation)
- Arrival Meet & Greet guide assistance, Mountain guide and porters.
- Sightseeing and admissions as per the itinerary
- Local taxes on accommodation and sightseeing tours,
- Meals as indicated on itinerary (B-full breakfast, L-Lunch, D-Dinner) Full Board on the mountain. Meals are high carb and basic ( suitable for climbing). Special diets can be provided for but only with advance notice.
- All park fees, hut fees and rescue fees. Rescue fees cover evacuation to the gate only. Travelers must purchase insurance with medical and evacuation coverage.
$320 standard gratuities, Tanzania visa $50
AFS Group Air -Kenya Airways (KQ) at $1298 with tax The air will be adjusted since this trip was moved from 2020.
Check in JFK Sep 12 around 9PM for your flight Sep 13 that’s 10 mins after midnight.
Upon arrival home, if you need hotel google JFK airport hotel + free shuttle and plan flight home next morning.
- Land prices per person twin share. Trip price based on a minimum number of participants.
- Single rooms limited with $ supplement. Cost varies. Email us for availability. AFS will find you a roommate.
- The earliest we present group air is 10 months prior. We’ll send email to ask who wants it. A minimum number of 12 is needed.
- Please review AFS Terms and Conditions, Heading Abroad with AFS, Covid Policy. Travel insurance is important nowadays. It’s rare, but we reserve the right to modify schedules, tour and hotels.
- Read Trip Tips on its own tab next itinerary for latest details.
- All prices are per person twin share. Single rooms limited per group and a single supplement applies. Cost set by hotel/cruiseline and vary considerably. AFS will find you a roommate match. All hotel rooms are “run of house.”
- Please review AFS Terms and Conditions as well as Heading Abroad with AFS.
- Land – Price based on a minimum number of trip participants, as well as local currency exchange rates which can fluctuate.
- We write our itineraries over a year in advance. Though unlikely, we always reserve the right to modify schedules, tours and hotels if necessary.
- Group air – Airlines may add surcharges to offset fuel inflation or taxes. The total ticket cost is not final until we receive your final payment and the group is ticketed. If doing own air, airport transfer may or may not be included depending on your air schedule. Do not buy air until the group air is set or we advise – though unlikely, airlines, times and dates can change!
AFS Kili Trip Tips 2021
Prepare to be thrilled as you ascend Africa’s highest peak in gloriously wild Tanzania! Marangu route is most popular but challenging and we make it doable for you with plenty of support from the top licensed guides and an army of porters. Our three past groups loved it. Even if they didn’t all reach the summit, they all wrote travel journals on their experience.
“Incredible life-affirming experience, I will treasure forever. The dedication and thoughtfulness of our crew made the challenge attainable. I just proudly framed my summit certificate. Thank you, Suzy, for making this my most rewarding journey ever!” – Ed Sphritz
Your fearless GTL (Gracious Trip Leader, not a guide but liaison between our guides and group to ensure things run smoothly.)
Joey McGlamery My guiding/leading adventures began in 2013 with helping or leading events in which athletes with disabilities were involved. Before that I had already competed in many endurance events. Since that time I’ve taken part in many more adventures. I am a certified rehabilitation fitness therapist and personal trainer with over thirty years in the health and fitness industry. Below are but a few of over 610 events that I’ve completed.
- 3-Worlds Toughest Mudder(24 hr nonstop endurance race)
- 5-Spartan World Championships (all over 15 miles in length each)
- 7- Spartan Beast Races up Mt Killington on Vt (7,000 ft elevation each time)
- 6-100 mile trail and road races
- 27- Full Marathons
- 48- Half Marathons
- 18- 10 mile road races
- 64- 10k road races
- 1-60 hour nonstop endurance event
This is the oldest and most popular trail. It’s the only route without camping that provides dormitory-style hot. There are around 60 bunk beds in huts at Mandara, Kibo and Horombo. We supply mattress, pillow and insulated sleeping bags. The route can be done in five days, but we feel it’s vital to add an acclimation day at Horombo. The views are stunning. It’s also called the “Coca-Cola Route”. Trekkers are often misled into thinking it’s easier, but the success rate is lower as it’s usually chosen by inexperienced hikers. In our past AFS groups, 60 to 70% reached the summit. All get a certificate. “Pole-pole” (slowly-slowly) is the most important words you’ll hear as you go slow and stay hydrated. Listen to your expert guides who do this daily! The older clients tend to do better because they go slower. There’s no rush to reach Camp because there’s nothing to do there. It’s around 3 days up in 2 days down. Most days are 5-hour treks, but day five can be as long as 11 hours. With 24 in the group, they will divide you in half. 12 guests will have one senior guide, four assistant guides, two cooks, 26 porters. Total staff reaching around 40 for each group. They are registered with KPAP Porters Assistant Project Kili” and have gone through intense mountain rescue courses. You’ll be in awe of their efficiency and help from this to keep you safe. Note – If you cannot continue the climb, you will be escorted back to Springlands hotel. Lodging at your expense, but you’ll be assisted.
Private Facebook Group Page – Please ask.
The benefit of the Private FB Group Page is that you have an opportunity to introduce yourself to your fellow travelers before departure and share trip photos during and after the tour. Where can I find the FB link? In a departure from the past, the Private FB Group Page will be created when the Final Payment is due (about 3 months prior to the trip). The link will be emailed to you at that time.
Addendum (Oct 26) See Techincal Itinerary from Tanz below.
- Read the revised Heading Abroad with AFS, especially if you are new to AFS.
- Ensure your passport is valid 6 months after return date with two blank pages. We recommend renewing your passport well ahead of any planned international travel. Take a photo of your passport to store in the cloud or bring a copy.
- To speed through US Customs download Mobile Passport. Look in your App Store for details.
- Notify bank and cc company of travel dates so they don’t block charges.
- VISA – We will remind you a month before travel to obtain visa online at http://www.tanzaniaembassy-us.org/ Bring the form and pay $50 upon entry. A passport valid for a minimum of six months beyond visa issuance and/or date of entry, and at least one blank visa page, is required. PASSPORT VALIDITY: 6 months. More later.
- Travel Meds: no vaccines or meds required. Except if you add another Africa country prior to entry, you have to get yellow fever shot and show yellow fever form upon entry! 2 meds suggested – anti-malaria pills and Diamox 5mg to help acclimatize with your blood flow but only 65% effective. More on this later.
Fitness level – Level 1 – Fit Anyone who suffers pulmonary or cardiac problems should not be on this. If any doubt, consult your doctor beforehand. You must be able to walk 5+ hours per day.
Fitness Preparation: Both mental and physical are fundamental to success. Start a training program for both aerobics and strength. Leg presses and lunge walks are great. Experts suggest 30 minutes on the stair-stepper alternating with 60 minutes on elliptical three months prior to trek.
Group Air – Updates will be added here. A min. of 12 needed. If we do not get the minimum
GROUP AIR FOR MAIN GROUP (No extension) We have great air on Turkish Airlines voted Europe’s #1 carrier. Price $1198 with great schedule.
- All check-in by 9PM on SEPT 11
- TK 12 12SEP JFK-IST 0010 – 1650 (check-in JFK 9PM on SEP 11)
- TK 567 12SEP IST-JRO 1945 – 0505*
- TK 567 21SEP JRO-IST 0555 – 1255
- TK 11 21SEP IST-JFK 1835 – 2230
IST = Istanbul, JRO = Kilimanjaro Airport (Those extending return Sept 23 same flights)
Transfers- Airport transfer upon arrival and departure are included with Group Air. If your flight time coincides with the group, you may take our single airport group transfer. It’s your responsibility to find the group as they exit baggage claim. We will have a single return airport transfer at the end of the trip at a time that will accommodate most schedules. If your time doesn’t work out, you’ll need to make your private transfer or taxi.
Doing Own Air– You may arrange your own air from your hometown. Go in a day early to rest. We like Google Flights and Skyscanner. We highly recommend that you not rush to buy air until a Group Air is set (when offered). If your arrival or departure times do not align with Group Air times, you’ll need to arrange your own airport/hotel transfers. Great airlines that fly to Arusha: Turkish, KLM, Qatar, BA, Emirates, Ethiopian, Lufthansa and more.
If you go early and check-in AFS hotel before group arrives, it’s your responsibility to change rooms with your roommate if necessary day one when trip begins.
Meet Up With Group- On Sept 13 a time will be set to meet the group at the Springlands Hotel for a briefing. More on this later.
Luggage – Soft side bag only, duffels are the best. No hard cases. If soft side suitcase, you can rent a duffle there. While airlines allow 50 pounds, your porter limit is 36 pounds! If your vacationing longer on own before or after and need to pack more, you can leave a big bag at hotel! Your porters carry of your soft duffel from hut to hut. You only carry your day pack. I don’t want you to buy a bunch of gear you may use once. Rent or borrow. (The locals are so poor. Many past AFS groups leave clothes behind for them. Even a pair of your socks would be appreciated.)
Packing – Google Weather for Tanzania a week prior to departure. You need to plan for it all. Keep it simple and limit your bag to 36lbs. This is the maximum a porter will carry.
Suggest Packing List: Docs – passport, copy of medical and/or travel insurance. Keep money in money belt or pouch.
- 4-5 underwear, top and bottom base layer (use to sleep in)
- 3-4 short sleeve and two long sleeve shirts,
- 2 pairs of hiking pants- 1 heavy and 1 lightweight
- 2 pairs shorts
- Light rain jacket or poncho, rain gear
- Waterproof insulated winter jacket.
- Headgear: sun hat, neck bandanna or gaiter, sunglasses, headlamp with batteries, warm fleece beanie cap
- Hands – warm outer gloves, lightweight inner gloves, collapsible hiking poles or rent them there.
- Feet: waterproof hiking boots, mid-weight and worn in! 4-5 pairs of thin to thick socks, warm and light socks, sandals, tennis shoes
- Daypack – waterproof 30L pack to carry essentials
- General accessories: large water bottle (or rent) or hydration bladder, water purification tablets, Handi Wipes and hand sanitizer, sweatproof sunscreen, insect repellent with DEET, camera, solar charger (GoPro optional), small towel, Ziplock bags for toiletries
- First Aid: band-Aids, moleskin, tape or knee support, lip balm, Imodium, ibuprofen, aspirin, optional Diamox and malaria pills.
- Other Bits- snacks like energy bars and drink supplements, small lock for your duffel bag, swimsuit for hotel, gifts for locals-candy, pens, your old clothes to leave behind, sleeping bag liner (cheap)
- Please pack light, but pack for all conditions!
- AMS – altitude sickness can affect anyone with headache, nausea and difficulty breathing. It helps to take 5mg Diamox tablets on your third day even if you don’t feel symptoms. Guides have supplemental O2 and will insist you stop and rest. Listen to your guides!
- Prep for Descent – summit day is hard especially after a little sleep, but the steep drop down is the real test. Take anti-inflammatory meds for your knees that act as shock absorbers.
- What goes in your Daypack: snacks, water purifiers, camera, rain poncho, meds, hat, sunscreen. Essential to carry at least 2 Liters of water.
- Meals-high carb and protein, variety of food for all tastes. Coffee, tea, hot chocolate with cookies, but limited as these have a diuretic effect
RENTAL GEAR LIST Save space and rent items there. Perhaps only a warm jacket and poles.
RENTAL EQUIPMENT 2019 prices…
Prices are for the entire trek in U.S. dollars, payable in cash in Moshi. It is best to come well outfitted. Rates
|Mont bell Sleeping Bag –25-35C.Temp
Poncho – Heavy/Western/Europe:
|Poncho – Light/Local:||$ 12|
|Duffel Bag:||$ 6|
|Hiking Poles (2)||$ 12|
|Torch/Flashlight (We have Few):||$ 8|
|Sunglasses (We have Few in Store):||$ 8|
|Raincoat – G.T, Waterproof||$ 12|
|Rain Pants:||$ 12|
|Hiking Boots:||$ 9|
|Water Bottle:||$ 5|
|Fleece Pants:||$ 6|
|Warm Jacket G.T:||$ 12|
|Warm Jacket/Down Jacket||$ 8|
|Hat or Neck Scarf:||$ 6|
- We provide Tents and Foam Sleeping pads at no charge.
- Sunglasses are available for purchase in the gift shop for $ 12 – $15.
- Each Oxygen Cylinder – available for $ 12/ Day
Gratuities – Tips are costly on Kili. It’s the only way to say thank you to our “AFS army of crewmembers” for their hard work. Poverty is extreme here and most sherpas only depend on tips. In accordance with guidelines from K PA P, the system is to complete forms at treks end. Your senior guide must have all who assisted you each sign their names on form thus ensuring allocations are fair for everyone. After form, hand your guide an envelope of at least $320 in US currency in newer bills. This is the suggested minimum.
Other tipping on own – If service is stellar, feel free to give more directly. All we tourists leave behind is our reputation. I personally carry a personal stash of US ones in an envelope to draw from as needed. Bell staff/porters – AFSers roll bags to their room. If you use a porter, please tip $2. Restaurants – 10%. For group lunches or dinners, please leave a dollar or two for waitstaff!
Money Matters – You will need some cash for personal tipping, meals, and shopping. $200 in cash will suffice again newer bills. (Venmo may be convenient at home, but useless overseas, ATM may eat your card. Always bring some cash!) Change currency arrival at airport, bank, or hotels or withdraw local currency from an ATM. Note -independent ATMs are risky due to skimmer scams. Safest ATMs are at airport and banks. Always shield your pin number when entering. Avoid using unless it’s an emergency.
Currency Exchange Rate $1= 2300 TZS
Follow the link below to create a conversion cheat sheet
Credit cards are far safer than using your debit card. I know $300 cash is plenty of money for a week for me. I convert half of it upon entry. I use my credit card. Avoid using an ATM unless it’s an emergency. If you must use an ATM, use them at airport or banks. Credit cards far safer than your debit card. I know $300 cash is plenty of money for a week for me. I convert half of it upon entry. I use my credit card for most purchases. Many cards now offer no foreign transaction fees.
Communication- No WIFI on Kili, but cell works part way on climb.
Photography – Before taking pictures of locals, know it is polite to ask. Your AFS Private Facebook Group Page is a great way to share your best shots with each other. AFS loves photos with group participants (not typical churches, monuments, or any shot that looks like you pulled it off of the net, etc.) for our website. The best photos are ones that include a group member with a local, children, animals, or at iconic sites in the same frame!
Websites of Interest:
Amending tour pre-or post-trip or arranging private tours during free time. We often recognize this, as well as see AFSers on Facebook urging others to join them to countries before or after our trip. Stopovers are great to add, but understand AFS has nothing to do with this and is not responsible for the quality of these trips.
Emergency Contact – AFS Phone 770-432-8225, or email us at https://www.afstravelers.com/contact-us/ and more contacts will be provided with your Final Docs email 3 weeks before departure. Your guide can handle any true Emergency. Do not expect to use your trip leader’s cell phone; you’ll need to use your own cell phone.
Cancellation Penalty: At booking, we sent you our terms and conditions. Open the following link to review our terms again:
Travel Insurance– Supplier requires travel insurance policy with evacuation coverage. You can buy medical/evac package really cheap and little more, cover trip cancellation if you need to. If you would like the security of travel insurance. The trip cost can be amended or adjusted as needed after your initial purchase (eg. like adding an air ticket cost later). You can buy travel insurance at any time, just know that there may be some possible limitations if purchased outside the 15-day period.
Inexpensive option can be found at https://www.worldnomads.com/usa/travel-insurance/
Climb Mount Kilimanjaro: Reasons To Scale Africa’s Highest Mountain
From Tim Ward:
Why do 40,000 people a year seek to climb the world’s highest freestanding mountain – a mountain so popular it has become known as Everyman’s Everest? Here are the top ten reasons, from the most practical to the most profound:
- Kilimanjaro is technically the easiest to climb of the Seven Summits (the highest mountain on each continent). You don’t need ropes or special mountaineering gear, or even any previous mountain climbing experience. The youngest person to reach the summit was six years old, and the eldest (as of 2011), was 83. That does not mean Kilimanjaro is not without its risks. Rockslides and acute altitude sickness kill on average ten climbers each year (the subject of a forthcoming post).
- Paradoxically, Kilimanjaro is both remote and accessible. Kilimanjaro is located in Tanzania, just south of the equator, next to the Serengeti. But regular flights fly nonstop from Europe to the Kilimanjaro airport. Around the mountain there’s surprisingly good support infrastructure for an impoverished country – decent hotels, outfitters, gear to rent, ground transportation. On the mountain there are sleeping huts along the main route, with porters who carry and set up tents and kitchen facilities on the other routes.
- Kilimanjaro remains surprisingly pristine. While the base camp of Everest is strewn with trash, Kilimanjaro National Park is surprisingly clean. Park Rangers weigh all the bags coming on and off the mountain and trekking companies pay heavy fines if the bags come down light. This greatly reduces dumping on the trail. There are basic outhouses along the way what while far from luxurious, provide privacy and keep the mountain clean. There are only seven trails up to the summit, and no roads. As a result, despite relatively heavy traffic, the mountain has retained its wild nature. [Text continues after images.]
- Kilimanjaro one of the world’s greatest natural wonders: a snow covered mountain on the equator, an ocean of green forest surrounded by dry savannah. Climbing Kilimanjaro is like walking from the equator to the North Pole in a week, providing dramatic changes in vegetation and animal life day by day. Kilimanjaro is also a sky island. Its high altitudes have created habitat for strange and unique life forms found only on a few other peaks on the planet – such as the delicate elephant flower and the bizarre Kilimanjaro tree.
- Kilimanjaro is a hot spot for studying Climate Change. Al Gore showed photos of its rapidly shrinking glaciers in An Inconvenient Truth. Ice cores show the glaciers to be 11,700 years old – and yet they will all be gone in the next 20-30 years. Teams of scientists are working on the ice to better monitor and understand exactly why this is happening. One researcher I met said to me: “You can stand next to the ice and see the glaciers turning to vapor before your eyes.” Xpedition Online runs treks for youth up Kilimanjaro, accompanied by climate scientists. Find out more at www.xpeditiononline.com.
- Climbing Kilimanjaro contributes to a thriving local economy, generating about $20 million/year. Guides, porters, cooks, hotel staff, food producers, travel and trekking agencies, merchants, construction companies and banks all create local jobs in a region that remains one of the poorest on earth.7. Kilimanjaro inspired a continent to freedom. Kilimanjaro belongs to Tanzania, the first nation in Africa to win independence from colonial powers (it was then called Tanganyika). Before independence in 1959, soon-to-be President Julius Nyerere said: “We, the people of Tanganyika, would like to light a candle and put it on the top of Mount Kilimanjaro which would shine beyond our borders giving hope where there was despair, love where there was hate, and dignity where before there was only humiliation.” Today, the summit is called Uhuru Peak – Uhuru is the Swahili word for “Freedom.”
- People climb Kilimanjaro to mark a personal accomplishment. Individuals climb the mountain to mark important transitions: their graduation, their retirement, a marriage or a divorce. The event is significant enough that every year dozens of local newspapers write the story of a town resident who makes the journey to the peak.
- Many people climb Kilimanjaro to draw attention to a worthy cause or charity: to raise money to cure cancer or bring attention to a condition such as autism. Individuals with disabilities have climbed to mountain to demonstrate that with courage perseverance, a disability need not be a limitation.
- Kilimanjaro inspires transformation. When you climb Kilimanjaro and stand on the roof of Africa, you see the world a different way. What seemed impossible in your life might just be doable. The mountain top is a place for vision, inspiration, and a new beginning. As the famous song by Juluka goes: “I’m sittin’ on top of Kilimanjaro, I can see a new tomorrow. I’m sittin’ on top of Kilimanjaro. I cast away all my sorrows.”
Climbing Kilimanjaro: 10 Things I Would Do Differently Tim Ward is the co-owner of Intermedia Communications Training and co-author of The Master Communicator’s Handbook – a resource for experts and thought leaders seeking to create meaningful change. Good Excerpts…
- Read up on the volcano in advance of my trip. Kilimanjaro has no information boards along the way. It’s a genuine wilderness. Our guides were our only source of information during the trek. While they knew a lot about the wildlife and climbing, they didn’t know much about the geology or history of the world’s tallest free-standing mountain. So my advice would be read up in advance (my book, Zombies on Kilimanjaro is a great place to start).
- Weighed my bag before getting on the plane. I knew that our outfitter had a weight limit of 15 kg (33 pounds) per climber. It’s a rule strictly enforced. They put our bags on a scale when we arrived, and both my son and my bags were more than 5 kilos over! As a result we spent the night before our trip emptying bags, doing triage and repacking. It put a lot of unnecessary stress on our departure day. Shawn told me the weight rule was in force to protect the porters from being forced to carry too much: “Though climbers tend to view the weight limit as an inconvenience, the park sets limits to protect the porters from abuse. Using fewer porters and overloading them is one of the many ways that crooked Kilimanjaro companies cut costs.”
- Packed fewer clothes. I wish I had realized I could wash socks, tee-shirts and underwear along the way. There were a few times during the trip when it was possible to get an extra basin of water for washing. In the desert-like atmosphere clothes dry surprisingly fast. On the other hand, all my warmer clothes were vital to have on the final ascent to the crater. We both wore every layer we possessed.
- Brought powerful binoculars.I took only a pair of mini binoculars with me, because I thought my large ones were too heavy. I ended up regretting not having closer views of the ice-ringed summit and the amazing stars at night.
- Planned how to stay clean where there’s no running water. All we got to wash in was a tiny basin of warm water in the morning and at night. By day 4 of our 7 day trek, we looked and smelled pretty awful. All I had with me was a package of large wet-wipes, which helped wipe off the dust and sweat.
- Brought more chocolate and power bars.The food in camp is plentiful, but at higher altitudes, you need all the calories you can get while climbing. I thought I brought enough bars for Josh and I – two each a day – but I did not factor in that we would be walking with our guides, and it was only decent to share. I should have brought twice as much.
- Stayed an extra day on the mountain. I would have definitely added on another day, so that we could have better adapted to the altitude. Josh suffered from altitude-induced migraine headaches on our ascent. Taking Diamox, which reduces altitude sickness, helped him, but it would have been much easier had we acclimatized more slowly.
- Climbed down slower. After the exhilaration of the summit, we climbed down the steep, scree slope of the volcano then walked several hours down to our final campsite. My feet were sore with blisters, and both of us were near to exhaustion. Shawn said a slow descent is not best: “It’s normal for people to develop symptoms of altitude sickness during the summit ascent. We try to get people down quickly because it is far easier for the body to recover at lower altitudes. The higher concentration of oxygen helps people feel better very quickly.”
- Not risked our porters getting scammed out of their tips. At the end of the trek I turned my tip money over in a lump sum to our chief guide for distribution to the porters. Later I learned some guides keep all the tips for themselves! Shawn told me there’s an easier way for trekkers to make sure their porters don’t get abused. The best Kilimanjaro operators comply with the guidelines set by the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project (KPAP), an independent organization that monitors porter treatment. He told me “by operating under KPAP’s recommended procedures, partner operators not only abide by their fair treatment standards for tipping, but also for wages, food, shelter, clothing, and porter loads.” Go to www.kiliporters.org to find a list of companies that have signed the KPAP pledge.
- Planned more time in Tanzania for wildlife safaris. After the climb, I regretted not taking an extra week to go to the Serengeti. We only booked a short trip to the Ngorongoro Crater, a mini-Serengeti just a few hours drive away from Kilimanjaro, where for two days we watched lions, elephants, wildebeests, hyenas, hippos, zebra and rhinos. Tanzania is a mecca for wildlife safaris. It’s worth seeing.
About Anti-malaria drugs – This is a common question from our travelers to parts of Africa and So. America. It is a serious disease that can happen when being bitten by an infected female mosquito. However, it’s extremely rare. While locals, tourism staff and guides there do not take pills, many travelers prefer to play it safe with either weekly or daily pills which starts week before your arrival. In the US, we are limited to only 3 choices; Malarone, Doxycycline or Atovaquone (Larium). Malarone can be costly, but now there’s a generic. Wal-Mart or Kroger have the best prices. See your doctor for a prescription. Sometimes one only needs a strong DEET repellent (roll-on best) and wearing pants and long sleeves at dusk. Some clients go to CDC website which prepares all for the worst and creates unnecessary fear. We only stay in fine properties with clean food and water. We do not use needles, swim in rivers, work with the sick or have sex with locals. I don’t want you to over immunize yourself sick, spending hundreds for unnecessary dollars. Over 2 decades selling Africa and South America, no AFS client has ever contracted any disease. Ultimately, it’s your decision on what’s best for you.
Traveler’s diarrhea can happen anywhere outside USA. It can be caused from the stress of travel, different diets and water that is contaminated. However, all lodge meals are hygienic clean meals. (Cause of infection may be virus, parasitic or bacterial, so don’t think Cipro is a cure-all.) You all know not to drink untreated tap water, use ice cubes. It is contagious so be scrupulous with washing your hands and using clean towel to dry. And not to brush teeth with it. If you get sick, rehydrate with oral rehydration salts, take Imodium or Lomatil. If it doesn’t pass in a week, see doctor. Don’t reach for ‘’stoppers’’ right away. Allow toxins to pass. Fluids are essential.
Things for Children – Bring anything as all we be used. Think Dollar Store of Target. Some stores will even donate. (Get creative. I bring hair scrunchies and mirrors for girls and balloons for kids.). I poor places school supplies can be useless with no paper to draw on. They need shoes, socks, clothes. The love caps, toys and inflatable balls. You can always donate cash to the headmaster or visit Packwithapurpose.com to see who needs what in each country.
Kenya Airways (KQ) at $1298