money, tips, gifts, etc: $300 - $500 spending money should be sufficient
for main meals, extra beverages and goodies while in Tanzania, more if
you plan to purchase souvenirs. Be sure to save $20 for your airport departure
$200 should be reserved for gratuities. It is common practice to pool and divide tips for your guides, porters, drivers and other staff if service has been good. A $75 - $100 pp contribution into the tip pool is sufficient for the crew on Kili; $75 - $100 for the Serengeti safari crew. If you receive special attention or require additional assistance from a staff member, you may want to reward that person privately. Additionally, leaving clothing/gear that you no longer need, will be much appreciated.
Small, inexpensive gifts such as pens, key chains, nail clippers, T-shirts, etc. are much appreciated if someone shows you a special courtesy or favor.
TRAINING: Climbing Kilimanjaro involves a long stretch of uphill terrain, then a long descent. This can prove physically tiring, and can put a lot of stress on your knees and on the quadriceps muscles in the front of the thighs. The best training is to walk up and down hills as much as possible. If you don't have access to hiking in the hills, training on exercise machines such as a "Stairmaster", riding a bike or jogging will be beneficial. Also, try putting a pack on your back to increase the strength training associated with walking or jogging. Take stairs whenever possible rather than an elevator. Climbing Kili will be both mentally and physically strenuous, and the time you put into physical training before you go will definitely be rewarded. Please call us to discuss your specific training program.
MACHAME ROUTE Kili is probably the most popular climb in Africa, and it's easy to see why. Terrain on the ascent varies from dusty desert, through lush forests, alpine tundra to glacial snow and ice at the top. All the while there are huge desert vistas and wonderful wildlife to admire, and the final sections around the crater rim (ideally done at dawn) are nothing short of spectacular. To reach the Uhuru Peak, we'll be taking the Machame Route, climbing a natural, rather than manmade path, which is more demanding but is the much quieter and scenic route up the mountain. We'll camp overnight in tents, which are carried and pitched by our accompanying porters. Highlights of this route are the Shira Plateau, where we will spend two nights, the Barranco Wall and the Karanga Valley; we'll be reaching the summit, Uhuru, via Stella Point. Because this route is more taxing, it is recommended that you be physically fit and take each day very slowly. With the additional day built in to our trek itinerary, you should have ample acclimatization time with a very good chance of reaching the summit.
Temperatures: Being only 3° south of the Equator, altitude affects the temperature as the trek progresses. Daytime temperatures on the lower parts of the mountain can be pleasantly warm, even hot and muggy (~85°F at the beginning of the trek), although a brief rain shower in the afternoon can drop temperatures to below freezing. Certainly, we will find freezing temperatures at the summit. The climatic changes experienced while climbing Kilimanjaro are roughly equivalent to hiking from the Equator to the South Pole in six days!
Altitude: Although many people successfully reach Uhuru Peak without any real difficulty, many others do not make it to the top because they suffer from altitude sickness. Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) occurs as a result of failing to adapt to a higher altitude. The early symptoms include headache, loss of appetite, nausea, fatigue, sleeplessness and weakness. One should never ascend to higher elevations if suffering any of these symptoms. Luckily, the majority of these symptoms will disappear quickly by returning to lower altitudes. One must pay attention and be willing to recognize them when they occur.
To prevent AMS, it is very important that you drink plenty of fluids, maintain a healthy diet, and acclimatize properly by ascending slowly and steadily each day. Keep in mind the Swahili mantra: Pole pole ndio mwendo. "Slow, slow is the way to go." Even if you are fit, you should not try to rush up Kilimanjaro. Interesting fact: Uhuru Peak is about 2000 feet higher than Everest base camp.
Toilet: There are toilet facilities at each campsite and at our lunch stops each day. You should bring your own supply of toilet paper. For dealing with stuffy nose, We recommend using handkerchiefs or bringing your own tissues.
Clothing: On the mountain, weather conditions are highly variable. Hiking at the lower elevations, lightweight trousers and shirts will work well. Gaiters and waterproof clothing are recommended. As we increase in altitude, layering your clothes will essential. Clothes for a cold, windy environment will be very important, particularly on summit day, as well as warm gloves, head cover and insulated socks. While a down jacket is not essential, it will come in handy if the weather turns extremely cold in the evenings and early mornings.
It's a good idea to break in your hiking boots by taking a couple of extended (6-8 hour) walks before coming out. As you pack, remember you'll be wearing basically the same set of clothing for consecutive days, so no need to double up on everything. Always keep in mind that a porter will be carrying your bag up the mountain; the weight limit for you bag on the climb is around 30 lbs. (See clothing and equipment list below.)
Safari clothing should be of a neutral color (khaki, green, brown, etc.). White, light and camouflaged colored clothing is not recommended. Perfume, after-shave and citrus scents should be avoided; citrus, in fact, attracts elephants!