Important information on Tanzania & the Kilimanjaro Climb
Visas are required for US passport holders. You can visit the respective African Embassy web sites or
purchase them at the respective African airports upon arrival. Please note, at time long lines do occur at
some of these airports. As of November 2013, the Tanzania visa costs $100 USD.
We recommend that you contact the Centers for Disease Control to learn current information regarding
travel to Africa. You can contact the CDC through their website at www.cdc.gov/travel. Prior to any
inoculation or taking medicines, you should discuss this with your personal physician who knows your
medical history. A course of anti-malarial medication will also be recommended for individuals traveling to
these countries. Check whether your insurance company will reimburse for travel related immunizations
and/or medicines, but don’t be surprised if they won’t.
We strongly recommends the purchase of a Tour Protection Plan. This plan provides protection for your
non-refundable tour costs and cancellation fees should you need to cancel or interrupt your trip due to
unforeseen circumstances. It also provides important medical benefits and assistance while traveling.
Inquire with us regarding your travel insurance needs.
Technical descriptions of the causes and symptoms of altitude sickness can be found in many
guidebooks. It is likely that you will experience some form of mild altitude sickness on a high
mountain trek. What follows below is based on practical experience rather than on detailed
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. There are many different symptoms but the
most common are headaches, nausea, loss of balance, loss of appetite, tingling in the fingers
and toes, and swelling of the face/ankles/fingers.
Many of these symptoms are not serious and are often short lived.
In our experience there are three key steps to achieving successful acclimatization. You will
probably still suffer some mild symptoms of altitude sickness before adapting to functioning
with reduced levels of oxygen.
• Drink lots: we recommend a fluid intake of 4-5 litres 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 opportunities to drink! You need to drink lots of water
too. If your urine is clear, you are drinking enough. Drink lots during the day to avoid a
broken night’s sleep!
• Walk slowly: It is vital to place as little strain as possible on the body whilst it is trying to
adapt to a reducing oxygen supply. Unless there is a very steep uphill section, your
breathing rate whilst walking should be as if you are walking down your street at home!
• Walk high Sleep low: this means taking every opportunity to take afternoon excursions to
a higher level before descending again to sleep. A pleasant way to train the body too!
Obviously not a good idea if you already have some symptoms of altitude sickness.
Mild forms of altitude sickness are best treated by rest, maintaining fluid intake, and by aspirin
tablets. Aspirin is far superior to other painkillers because it has the double effect of both
relieving pain and helping acclimatization by thinning the blood. More serious forms of
altitude sickness can be temporarily (but not permanently) helped by powerful diuretics such
as Diamox. Some people take this drug before the climb whilst others use it only at higher
altitudes. Whether you should use Diarnox before and during the trip is more a personal
decision than scientific as the medical causes/treatments of altitude sickness are still not fully
understood. Our view is that drugs such as Diamox should not be recommended because of
the dangers of masking symptoms without removing the problem, and so encouraging you to
go beyond your safe medical limits. We prefer to follow the methods outlined above to treat
Serious cases of altitude sickness can only be treated by immediate descent. Our Head
Guides are all experienced in dealing with the problems of altitude. It may be necessary for
you to descend to a lower altitude until you recover or even to abandon the climb in the
interests of safety. The decision of the Head Guide in such situations will be final.
Most of the trails on all the mountain treks are well-defined and of good quality but some
forest sections are often slippery and moorland paths can be very wet. The last stages of the
climbs towards the summits of Mt. Kenya, Mt. Meru,and Kilimanjaro are almost exclusively on
loose scree without permanent footpaths but no technical skills are required. Snow lies
permanently on the summit of Kilimanjaro and seasonally on the other mountains but no
special equipment is required. These mountains are large volcanoes that tower above the
surrounding plains. All climbs therefore require a considerable amount of ascent and descent
but this is tempered by the short daily stages necessary for acclimatization. Be prepared for
lots of uphill and downhill; very little walking in East Africa is flat!
Clothing and equipment; Outer clothing
All mountain 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 also more
effective insulation than a few thick items of clothing.
This equipment list only describes the necessary items for a walking trip. We recommend
other equipment if you are also going on safari and/or the beach (e.g. binoculars and
Sleeping and carrying equipment
• 30-40 litre daypack (to ensure that all the layers of clothing and other personal kit can fit).
• Duffle bag or soft kitbag for porters to carry on the mountain (not suitcases).
• Plastic bags of various sizes to protect equipment you want to ensure is dry (e.g. sleeping
• bag and books) and for your day sack.
• . 4 seasons’s sleeping bag (especially for high camps on Kilimanjaro where the temperature
• can easily drop to well below zero). Consider a fleece liner if you really feel the cold.
2 x 1 litre water bottle or equivalent.
Purification equipment. Boiled drinking water is provided but you might want to use iodine
or chlorine for further purification. Bring powdered juice to take away the taste if you use
chemicals! Filtration pumps are excellent though costly.
Walking boots that are worn-in and of proven quality (leather is strongly recommended).
Thick socks and maybe also thin socks to wear under the thick socks (this often helps to
Trainers or trekking sandals to wear in camp.
Gaiters can be very helpful in wet conditions and to stop scree getting inside your boots.
Head and face
• Warm hat or (preferably) balaclava.
• Sunglasses (essential for summit days to avoid snow blindness).
• Sun cream with a high factor. The equatorial sun combined with the altitude is a very
• powerful combination even if you are used to the sun.
• . Lip balm, with total sun block
• Towel and toiletries.
• Toilet paper.
• Favorite snacks. Snacks are provided on all treks, but you might have something special
• you really like.
• Head torch. This is very useful in camp and also necessary on the summit day when you
• depart for the summit in darkness. Remember to bring lots of batteries and to allow for
• evening reading.
• Camera and films. Films of reasonable quality can be bought in Kenya and Tanzania but
• are often expensive and not always easily available. If you have a digital camera
• remember to bring lots of batteries and extra memory.
• Reading material and small games or cards. The need to acclimatize means that many
• daily stages are no more than long mornings.
Personal medical kit
Although all trips are equipped with a medical box, we recommend that you bring your own
personal medical kit for the most basic needs.
· Aspirin for headaches and mild pains. Aspirin is particularly good because it also thins the
blood, which helps acclimatization at altitude.
· Blister kits or plasters.
· Imodium for severe diahorrea.
· Malaria tablets. Malaria is obviously not a problem on high mountains but all trips begin
and end in malarial areas.
Expenses and guidelines on tipping
It is almost impossible to spend any money on a mountain trek except on the Marangu route
on Kilimanjaro (where beers, soft drinks, and chocolate are available at the huts).
Although tips are optional, and should depend on the level of service provided, we would like
to point out that tipping is customary in Kenya and Tanzania. Our detailed pre-trip briefing
advises you on tipping for your particular trip
Our staffs are carefully briefed not to pressure anyone for tips or equipment and are salaried
at a level that does not make them dependent on receiving tips or gifts.
General Standard of Services
Our mountain climbing trips offer high standards of service for food, accommodation, and
staff. Whilst there might be some variations on an individual trip, please find below a general
description of the level of services that we offer.
Our guides all know the mountains very well, speak English, and are very welcoming and
helpful towards the clients. They carry maps and National Park leaflets (where available) on
the mountain. When doing climbs such as Kilimanjaro, we ensure a ratio of guides to clients
that does not exceed 1:3. This ensures good mountain services and is particularly important
on the summit day.
In addition to our guides a specialist cook is provided to assist them. The staff take care of
all the chores, including erecting and taking down the tents. Clients need only carry a day
sack containing their personal effects and an extra layer of warm clothing.
Porter welfare is an important part of our staff policy. We pay a good salary and we pay it
immediately at the end of the climb. We also ensure that our staff have sleeping tents on all
camping routes. Porterage is the largest single cost element on mountain climbs and the
temptation to reduce this cost always exists. We believe our policy to be correct in human
terms, and it also has the commercial by product of removing the often unpleasant pressure
on clients to tip heavily.
We pay a lot of attention to finding the right staff for our trips. We recognize that they are our
biggest asset and we are currently developing a guide training program to enhance our
service levels that will include further instruction in the English language, mountain
interpretation skills, and first aid.
Accommodation when camping
We provide spacious tents of proven quality made in The USA and specifically
designed for mountain use. There is plenty of personal space, an 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 mat.
Breakfast and dinner are served in our communal dining tent with folding chairs, tables and
lanterns. This tent is also available for communal use in the afternoon and evening;
especially useful in the event of inclement weather.
Handling of luggage
Each client should bring a maximum of 15 kg when climbing the mountain. Client luggage
should be contained in a duffle bag or soft kitbag which will be carried inside a waterproof bag
by a porter. Clients carry only a light day sack. Additional mountain luggage may attract a
supplementary charge. Any unwanted client baggage and suitcases can be safely stored at
the foot of each mountain.
Group medical kits with instructions are provided on all climbs. Clients are asked only to
provide their most basic personal needs. We pay special attention to avoiding altitude
sickness by maximizing acclimatization. We do carry oxygen cylinders.
We always ensure that the clients have a bowl of hot washing water in the morning and again
after the walk at an agreed time in the afternoon. The only exception is the highest overnight
on Kilimanjaro (Kibo hut or Barafu or Arrow camps) where there is no running water and so all
water must be carried from a lower level by porters.
Hand washing water treated with dettol is available with soap before all meals, and clients are
strongly advised to make use of it.
Long drop toilets are available at most of the campsites and huts used on mountain climbs.
We very much encourage a policy of 'bum and bury' on all other occasions to avoid littering
the mountains and issue all clients with matches. We do not provide toilet tents as
experience shows clients often refuse to use them but they are available on request
All cooking is done on kerosene or gas stoves wherever possible, and all non biodegradable
rubbish (both from the camp and the clients) is carried off the mountain. We aim to follow
the Sierra Club motto "Take nothing but photos, Leave nothing but footprints".
Hire of equipment
We have a limited amount of personal camping equipment available for hire. Please contact
us in advance to ensure availability.
Serious cases of altitude sickness can only be treated by immediate descent. The decision of
the senior guide in such situations will be final. Any client refusing to accept this decision will
be deemed to have abandoned the climb. No further responsibility will be taken except to
ensure their safe descent and a porter will be provided to escort them to the nearest road
The information contained herein is given in good faith and covers the average range of
conditions likely to be found on these trips. High altitude mountain climbs are subject to
unexpected changes and abnormal conditions can prevail at any time.
EQUIPMENT LIST FOR KILIMANJARO
The correct kit for an ascent of Kilimanjaro should include the following. If you are in any
doubt as to the relevance of additional items, please do not hesitate to contact us for further
1. COTTON SHORTS - ideal for hiking while at lower elevations.
2. T-SHIRTS - the secret to climbing at this altitude is layered clothing
3. TRAINING SHOES - to wear in camp after a day of hiking.
4. SHADE HAT - equatorial sun is very fierce at altitude
5. SUNGLASSES - obligatory to combat glare, attachable sides preferable.
6. SUNSCREEN - factor 15 or more.
7. SLEEPING BAG - four-season to combat –15 degrees night time temperatures.
8. SLEEPING PAD - necessary for all routes except Marangu Route.
9. WATER BOTTLE - two 1-liters bottles. We recommend you drink 3 litres a day
10. PURIFYING TABS -preferably iodine-based against Giardia
11. GATORADE - or similar to make the water taste better.
12. HIKING BOOTS - comfortable and worn-in.
13. THIN SOCKS - to wear under thicker socks, helps to keep feet dry and prevent
14. THICK SOCKS - heavy wool to wear for warmth and cushioning with hiking boots.
15. UPPER BODY LAYER - three layers. Items should be wool, polypropylene or pile.
Cotton does not provide adequate insulation.
16. LONG UNDERWEAR BOTTOMS – to wear underneath your trousers
17. PANTS - loose- fit and comfortable.
18. RAIN JACKET - Gore-Tex advisable.
19. RAIN PANTS - Gore-Tex advisable
20. WARM HAT - has to cover your ears.
21. WARM GLOVES OR MITTENS
22. FRAMELESS DAY-SAC - for your own daily use.
23. DUFFEL BAG - for the porters to carry on the mountain – 15Kg per person
24. MOLESKIN - to protect your feet from getting blisters.
25. POCKET KNIFE
26. FLASH LIGHT OR HEADLAMP - bring plenty of batteries.
27. TRAIL MUNCHES - bring a pound or two of your favorite snack.
28. PERSONAL FIRST AID AND DRUG KIT
- intestinal disorders (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea)
- infection (antibiotic cream for cuts and abrasions)
- headache pills (Tylenol or aspirin, nothing stronger than codeine should be taken for
fear of masking potential severe altitude problems)
- high altitude sickness (Diamox, taken twice a day from 13 000 feet to the top)
Hotel and Lodge: $2 per person per night in a tip box
Safari – Drivers: $15 per day or $5 per person
Guide: $75 per Group and Climb
Assistant guide: $50 per Group and Climb
Porters: $25 per porter per Group and Climb
On Drinking Water
Water is generally safe in urban areas and established hotels/resorts. It is best to drink sealed bottled water,
which is available throughout – hotels, lodges and camps. This same sealed bottled or purified water is what
is used by hotels, lodges and camps to make ice cubes, so they are safe; but if you are not comfortable
doing so, avoid the ice cubes. Bottled water should also be used for brushing your teeth.
Electricity in Tanzania
The electricity supply is 220 / 240V AC, 50 Hz. and can be round 2-pin or flat 3-pin plugs. If you use
electrical appliances (shaver, hair dryer, curling iron, etc.) that are not compatible or at least dual-voltage, it is
suggested you bring a converter and appropriate adapter plugs. If for some reason your appliances do not
work properly, do not hesitate to contact Reception, who will likely have an appliance for your use.
English In Tanzania
Tanzania, with 120 different tribes and as many languages, both Kiswahili and English are the official
languages. An English speaker should not encounter too many problems in being able to communicate in
this former British Colony.
Currency in Tanzania
The Tanzania Shilling is the official state currency. For up to date exchange rates, we recommend that you
visit this website: www.xe.com/ucc/
Cash – US Dollars are widely accepted. We recommend you bring cash in $1s, $5s, $10s & $20s (no older
than 4/years) in good condition – not torn, folded or taped bills.
Extra costs in Tanzania
Most costs will be paid for prior to your departure. At some lodges/camps there will be a charge for bottled
waters, soft drinks, beer, and other alcoholic beverages. Of course, any items of a personal nature such as
phone calls, laundry, souvenirs, etc. are your responsibility.
Gratuities/tipping should always be at your discretion, based on the level of service received from your
guide/driver, lodge/camp staff and hotel staff in cities. For your guide/driver consider $5-$10/per person/per
day; trackers at $5/per person/per day; camp staff (porters, housekeeping, chefs, waiters) is shared and
placed in a “tip box” found at Reception at $3-$5/per person/per day. And remember the porters at city
hotels at $1/bag, housekeeping at $2 per night and meals ranging from $1-3 per person per meal.
Since you don’t have to pack much in the way of formal clothing, the ideal piece of luggage is a duffle bag
or soft sided luggage. These are easy to pack, easy to transport in safari vehicles, and a “must” if you are
taking any internal flights. As many roads will kick up lots of dust, it is recommended that you secure your
cameras in zip-lock plastic bags.
Most lodges/camps communicate to their home base, usually the closet major city. Some of the lodges
might have telephone service and some accommodations might have Internet services which can be used
for a small fee, but transmission speeds are often slow. Except for some hotels in cities, there are few
lodges/camps in the bush that have hook-ups for your personal laptop. Mobile (cell) phone service is
available, clarity will vary. We suggest you contact your local provider regarding International use of your