Important information on Tanzania & the Kilimanjaro Climb

 

Visa Information

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.
 

Immunizations

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.

 

Travel Insurance

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.

 

Acclimatization

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

medical explanations.

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

altitude symptoms.  

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.

 

Trekking conditions

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

swimming gear).

 

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.

 

Drinking

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.

 

Footwear

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

prevent blisters).

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.

•       Sunhat.

•       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

 

Personal usage

•       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.

 

Local Staff

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.

 

Medical equipment

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.

 

Hygiene

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

 

Environmental concern

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.

 

Special Note

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

head.

 

Disclaimer

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

advice.

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

blisters.

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)

 

TIPPING

Hotel and Lodge: $2 per person per night in a tip box 

Safari – Drivers: $15 per day or $5 per person

Kilimanjaro Climb

Guide: $75 per Group and Climb

Assistant guide: $50 per Group and Climb

Porters: $25 per porter per Group and Climb

 

Additional Info: 

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.

On Gratuities/Tipping 

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.

On Luggage 

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.


On Connectivity 

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

mobile device.