"Pole-pole" is the motto on Kilimanjaro - it means "slowly, slowly" in Kiswahili – and throughout the trek, your guides will keep saying "pole-pole" to you. They will ensure that you walk at a slow and steady pace, and constantly remind you of the importance of adequate hydration.
Regardless of your fitness levels and how slowly you ascend, it is likely that you will still feel some of the effects of altitude.
Most people experience mild altitude sickness and recover quickly. However, if you’re affected by a serious altitude problem, you will need to descend to a lower altitude with a member of our local team and it may be necessary to abandon the trek in the interest of your safety.
Symptoms of altitude sickness
The symptoms of altitude illness are similar to those of a hangover. Initially, it starts with a headache, lack of appetite, tiredness and feeling off balance.
More severe acute mountain sickness includes blue skin and lips (cyanosis), grey or pale complexion, tight chest, cough and coughing up blood, confusion, decreased consciousness or withdrawal from social interaction and not being able to walk well.
If you’re feeling any symptoms of altitude sickness, please tell your guide immediately and follow their advice. It is irresponsible to continue if you’re suffering from any symptoms which need expert assessment.
Please note that the risk of altitude sickness will be increased if you’re already suffering from a respiratory tract infection, such as a cold. If you have a cold or the flu, do not attempt to climb Kilimanjaro until you are fully recovered.
Luggage and camping equipment
All communal equipment (tents, food, cooking items, etc.) is provided. Porters carry all the communal equipment between campsites, plus they will carry your duffel bag or a large backpack with your personal belongings (including your sleeping bag) up to a maximum of 15 kilograms.
Any additional luggage that you may require after your trek can be safely stored at our office in Arusha. You will climb with a small backpack for your water, clothing layers, snacks, camera etc.
Personal trekking gear
We can send you a comprehensive list with details of all the personal gear (clothing, footwear and other items) that you’ll need for the trek and we’ll let you know what items are available to rent locally, including the prices.
Unfortunately, from time to time checked-in luggage gets lost or delayed on the way to Tanzania, therefore we recommend that you wear a hiking outfit on the plane (including a long sleeve shirt, hiking trousers, socks, sock liners and hiking boots).
In your hand luggage, you should bring your waterproof jacket and trousers, insulated jacket, toiletries, medications, camera and all paperwork.
It is important that you wear your hiking boots on the flight, as if these are delayed or lost in your luggage, you will need to buy a new pair and wearing a different pair of boots on your climb will be uncomfortable and may cause blistering.
Planning, logistics & other information
In addition to your Kilimanjaro trek planning, there are other things to consider on the ground in Tanzania. For more information, read our Wayfairer Travel Guide to Tanzania.
British nationals require a passport with at least one blank page and six months' validity, plus a visa to enter Tanzania. Single entry visas are available upon arrival at Tanzanian airports (around US$50) or you can obtain one in advance.
For other nationalities and up-to-date visa requirements, check World Travel Guide.
Arriving into Tanzania
We recommend that you fly into Kilimanjaro International Airport (airport code JRO). A Wayfairer representative will meet you at Kilimanjaro Airport and transfer you to your accommodation in Arusha.
The following morning, your local guide will meet you at your accommodation and then you’ll have a scenic drive to Londorrosi Gate (starting point for the Lemosho Route), located in the western base of Kilimanjaro.
On the way, you may stop at local shops to pick up perishable items for your trek, energy bars and any other light snacks you might like to take in your day pack. If you are renting equipment, such as sleeping bags and hiking poles, then we will also take you to the rental shop to pick up these items.
After your team has completed all the registration formalities with the park authorities, your Lemosho trek begins on the lower slopes of the mountain.
Visitors to Tanzania should ensure that they have Hepatitis A, Typhoid and Tetanus vaccinations. There is a high risk of malaria in most areas of Tanzania, therefore anti-malaria medication is recommended and you should take precautions to avoid mosquito bites.
Avoid mosquito bites by wearing long sleeves and long trousers, especially after sunset, using insect repellents on exposed skin and sleeping under a mosquito net.
With the exception of the rainforest section, there are almost no mosquitoes on Kilimanjaro, due to the height above sea level. However, you might want to consider taking anti-malaria medication, especially if you’re going on a safari in Tanzania either before or after your climb.
Please be aware that some anti-malarial medicine may have side effects. We recommend that you consult your doctor for advice on whether or not to take malaria prophylaxis and about the effect of altitude on the effects of your malarial medicine.
It is essential that you obtain travel insurance that covers you for trekking at altitude (up to 6,000 metres). If you're unsure, please ask us for a quote.
If you’re considering climbing Kilimanjaro, we’d love to help you with your plans. As well as the trek itself, we can take care of all your Tanzania arrangements including international flights, transfers, and pre- and post-trek accommodation.
If you’d like to experience a safari before your trek or enjoy a well-deserved break on the paradise island of Zanzibar afterwards, we can help with that too. Please call our Luxury Travel Specialists or send an online enquiry to start planning your Kilimanjaro trekking adventure.