Planning and preparing for your Kilimanjaro trek


Passports, visas and other documentsFlightsMedical MattersInsuranceA fitness regimeWhat to bring

Passports, visas and other documents

There are three things you need to get into Tanzania:

  1. a passport
  2. a Tanzanian visa
  3. a yellow-fever certificate

Let’s go through each of these in turn:


To enter Tanzania you will need a passport. Note that is must be valid for six months after you return from Tanzania, otherwise the airline will not allow you to board your flight to Africa.


Visas for Tanzania are required by visitors from most countries including the US, UK, most of Europe, Australia and South Africa. We recommend that you pick up a visa when you arrive in Tanzania.

Visas are available at Kilimanjaro, Dar-es-Salaam and Zanzibar airports, and the Namanga border crossing between Tanzania and Kenya. Note that at Kilimanjaro International Airport the fee that’s charged for a visa currently seems to be US $50 for all nations bar Americans, who have to pay double. You need to bring cash to pay for your visa.

If you’re going to buy your visa in advance from a Tanzanian consulate, you will need to provide a contact address in Tanzania when filling out their form. Just ask us what contact details to use and we’ll supply them to you.

Remember that, if you’re flying in and out of Kenya rather than Tanzania you will need a Kenyan visa too. If you plan to fly to Kenya and cross into Tanzania from there, you can return to Kenya using the same single-entry visa you arrived with providing your visit to Tanzania lasted for less than two weeks and that your Kenyan visa has not expired.

Yellow-fever inoculation certificate

You will need proof that you have had a yellow-fever jab if you are travelling via a country where the disease is prevalent. Officially you will need to have been in that country for at least 24 hours – though often staff at Kilimanjaro Airport will check that you have the certificate even if you were only passing through that country and were there for just a few hours. So often it’s worth getting anyway, just for peace of mind and to save any potential hassles at Kilimanjaro Airport.

Note that the regulations on this do change frequently, so it’s worth checking online to see if they’ve changed again since this was written. See under Medical Matters, below, for details.

Other documents

Bring a couple of passport photographs and a photocopy of your passport – in case you lose the original.


Flights are not included in the price of the trek and you will need to sort these out yourself. We give you an outline of services to Kilimanjaro Airport in the book. If arriving at Nairobi Airport, we can arrange a shuttle from Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta Airport or the centre of the city to Arusha (currently the cost is about US $35 one way). Just let us know in advance and we will do this for you.

Once you have booked your flights, please inform us as soon as possible with your arrival/departure details (flight number, time of arrival and departure), so we can book your airport transfers. If you are arriving by bus from within Tanzania or from Kenya, once again let us know the details of the journey so we can send a representative to meet you at the terminal or at your hotel if you are being dropped off there.

You can find out more by visiting our flights to Kilimanjaro & Tanzania page on the CMK website. 

Medical matters

NOTE: The following details are for your information only. You should always contact your doctor about any drugs or vaccines.


Sort out your vaccinations a few months before you’re due to fly. Note that it is compulsory to have a yellow-fever vaccination in order to enter Tanzania if you’re flying via a country where the disease is prevalent. In the UK the jab can cost anywhere from £25-45 (US$42.50-76.50). Remember to collect a health card or some other written evidence from your doctor to prove you’ve been vaccinated.

Other recommended inoculations: Typhoid, polio, hepatitis, tetanus, and meningococcal meningitis.


You won’t contract malaria when trekking on Kilimanjaro, which is too high and cold for the anopheles mosquito that carries the disease. However, it is rife in coastal areas and on Zanzibar. It’s also present in Arusha.

Your doctor will be able to advise you on what drug is best for you. Remember to begin taking them before you arrive and to complete the full course, which usually runs for several weeks after you return home.

Of course the best way to combat malaria is not to get bitten at all. A repellent with 30% Diethyltoluamide (DEET) worn in the evenings when the malarial anopheles mosquito is active should be effective in preventing bites. Note that, again, you won’t need to use these on Kilimanjaro.


You will need to buy insurance for your whole trip.

When buying insurance you must make clear to the insurer that you’ll be trekking on a very big mountain. Remember to read the small print of any insurance policy before buying, and shop around, too, for each insurance policy varies slightly from company to company. Details to consider include:

Remember to read the small print of any insurance policy before buying and shop around, too, for each insurance policy varies slightly from company to company.

Details to consider include:

  • How much is the deductible if you have to make a claim?
  • Can the insurers pay for your hospital bills etc immediately, while you are still in Tanzania, or do you have to wait until you get home?
  • How long do you have before making a claim and what evidence do you require (hospital bills, police reports etc)?
  • Remember the premium for the entire trip will probably double when you mention you are climbing above 5000m, even though you will actually be on the mountain for only a few days. However, you will need to be covered for your entire trip: there are just as many nasty things that can happen – indeed, many more – when off the mountain than on it; theft becomes a much bigger issue too.

For UK residents, the following companies offer insurance that should cover your Kili trek:

Big Cat Their Extreme Activity Pack seems to cover trekking over 4500m, which will be good for Kili and Meru.

British Mountaineering Council Their Alpine & Ski Policy is the one for Kilimanjaro.

ihi Bupa

Insure and Go You need to take out their winter sports option which covers trekking up to 6000m

True Traveller Their Extreme Adventure pack covers treks over 4500m.

World Nomads

For American trekkers the following have been recommended by readers:

Global Rescue

HTH Travel Insurance

International Plan We tried to contact these people to ask if they offered insurance for those climbing Kilimanjaro but failed to get a reply. Still, they were recommended by several clients so it would be worth checking with them.

Ripcord Specialist rescue and evacuation insurance company, used by Tusker (p000) for their clients. Travel Guard (: have an ‘Adventure package’ upgrade that currently covers trekkers on Kilimanjaro.

World Nomads

Do visit the Kilimanjaro insurance page on the book’s website for more details.

A fitness regime

Though altitude sickness is the main reason why people fail to reach the summit – and this can strike you regardless of whether you are fit or not – there’s no doubt that you do need to be in reasonable condition to tackle Kilimanjaro, and will have a much more pleasant time on the mountain if you are fit and healthy. An exercise programme for Kilimanjaro should be started about four months (three minimum) before the climb itself. This should help to reduce body fat, improve aerobic fitness and also strengthen the muscles in the places where it really matters: the legs. We think it helps to concentrate on aerobic exercises one day (say three times a week) alternating with leg strengthening exercises for the other three days – then follow God’s example and rest on the seventh day.

Aerobic exercise

Aerobic exercise is designed to improve oxygen consumption in the body. Thirty minutes to an hour of jogging, cycling, climbing stairs or even just brisk walking are all good aerobic exercise. Aim to exercise at 70% of your maximum heart rate for the best results.

Leg strengthening

Go to any gym and you’ll come across plenty of contraptions designed to increase the strength of your calves, thighs, hamstrings and buttocks. These are fine though the usual warnings apply: always read the instructions carefully before using any machine and never be too ambitious and overload the machine with too much weight. Either course of action could lead to serious injury and the cancellation of your trek altogether.

If you don’t have access to gym equipment, however, don’t worry: there are exercises that you can do without the need for machines. Lunges, where you take an exaggerated step forward with one leg, dropping your hips as low as possible while keeping your torso upright, are great for thighs, hamstrings and buttocks. A reverse lunge, which is the same as a regular lunge only you take a step backwards, until your forward thigh (ie the one you didn’t take a step backwards with) is parallel to the floor, is also good, particularly for the hamstring. Calf raises, where you position yourself with the front half of your feet on a platform, then gently raise and lower yourself on your toes so that your heel is alternately higher and lower than the toes, is also useful.

Other fitness preparations

While the above exercises certainly provide many benefits, we still maintain that nothing is better preparation than going for a long walk! A walk provides excellent aerobic exercise, is great for strengthening leg muscles and if the walk is long enough and involves plenty of uphills, can be great for improving stamina too. Find walks in your area, or take a walking weekend or holiday. For thos who live or are visiting the UK, we give you plenty of suggestions on our sister website about Walks in Britain.  You never know, you may even enjoy it too.

What to bring

How much are you allowed to bring?

The Kilimanjaro National Park has a maximum carrying weight per porter of 25kg, which includes the porter’s personal gear, which is assumed to be 5kg, plus 5kg of company gear (tents, food, cooking equipment etc). Thus the load they carry for the trekker should not exceed 15kg. This includes any equipment or clothing you have rented from us plus and special requests for additional / special food or clothing. Where the weight is in excess of 15kgs, additional porters can be arranged @ USD 10 per porter, per day for the duration of the trek.

Note that we supply sleeping mats to all of our climbers, so you will not need to bring one of those.

Also note that you are no longer allowed to bring plastic bags into Tanzania. Do not try to bring them into the country or you could face a heavy fine! This is a shame as they are useful for separating things in your rucksack and keeping them dry too. Bags that are clearly meant to be used more than once – and particularly zip-loc bags – are fine so maybe consider bringing those instead.

Rental Equipment

We can rent out a lot of (good quality) essential clothing and equipment. If there is anything you know you need, let us know as soon as possible (together, where necessary, with your size – small, medium, large, XL and XXL) and we will put the items aside for you. Rental equipment costs:

Summit jacket $5 per day

Sleeping bag $5 per day

Head-torch $1 per day

Large kit bag $5 per day

Gloves $2 per day

Walking poles $2 per day

Waterproof jacket/trousers $2/$2 per day

Daypack $3 per day


The secret to staying warm is to wear lots of layers. Not only does this actually make you warmer than if you just had one single, thick layer – the air trapped between the layers heats up and acts as insulation – but it also means you can peel off the layers one by one when you get too warm, and put them on again one by one when the temperatures drop.

A suitable Kilimanjaro wardrobe would include:

Walking boots The important thing about boots is comfort, with enough toe room, remembering that on the ascent up Kibo you might be wearing an extra pair or two of socks, and that on the descent the toes will be shoved into the front of the boots with every step. Remember these points when trying on trekking boots in the shop. Make sure they are also sturdy, waterproof, durable and high enough to provide support for your ankles. Finally, ensure you break them in before you come to Tanzania, so that if they do give you blisters, you can recover before you set foot on the mountain.

Socks Ahhh, the joy of socks … a couple of thick thermal pairs and some regular ones should be fine; you may stink but you’ll be comfortable too, which is far more important. Some people walk in one thick and one thin pair of socks, changing the thin pair regularly, rinsing them out in the evening and tying them to their pack to dry during the day.

Fleece Fleeces are light, pack down small, dry quickly and can be very, very warm. Take at least two: one thick ‘polar’ one and one of medium thickness and warmth. Make sure that you can wear the thinner one over all of the T-shirts and shirts you’ll be taking, and that you can wear your thick one over all of these – you’ll need to on the night-walk up Kibo.

Down jacket Not necessary if you have enough fleeces, but nevertheless wonderfully warm, light, compact – and expensive. Make sure it is large enough to go over all your clothes. Remember we can rent one out to you, which is certainly cheaper than buying one.

Thermals The value of thermal underwear lies in the way it draws moisture (ie sweat) away from your body. A thermal vest and long johns are sufficient. Trousers Don’t take jeans, which are heavy and difficult to dry. Instead, take a couple of pairs of trekking trousers, such as those made by Rohan, preferably one light and one heavy.

Sun-hat Essential: it can be hot and dazzling on the mountain …

Woolly/fleecy hat … but it can also be very cold. Brightly-coloured bobble hats can be bought very cheaply in Moshi/Arusha; or, better still, invest in one of those balaclavas which you can usually find on sale in Moshi, which look a bit like a knitted pizza oven but which will protect your face from the biting summit wind. Gloves Preferably fleecy; many people wear a thin thermal under-glove too. Rainwear While you are more likely to be rained on during the walk in the forest, where it’s still warm, once you’ve got your clothes wet there will be little opportunity to dry them on the trek – and you will not want to attempt to climb freezing Kibo in wet clothes. A waterproof jacket – preferably made from Gore-tex or similar breathable material, hopefully with a warm or fleecy lining too, and big enough to go over all your clothes so you can wear it for the night-walk on Kibo – is ideal; waterproof trousers are perhaps a luxury rather than a necessity, but if you have a pair bring them with you. Alternatively, one reader suggests a cheap waterproof poncho ‘from a dollar store’, preferably one that goes over the backpack as well as yourself.

Summer clothes T-shirts and shorts are the most comfortable things to wear under the humid forest canopy. You are strongly recommended to take a shirt with a collar too, to stop the sun from burning the back of your neck.

Other equipment

We will provide a tent and sleeping mat, as well as cooking equipment, cutlery and crockery. You will still need to pack a few other items, however.

Essential stuff for your trek

Sleeping bag The warmest you’ve got. A three-season bag (up to -15°C) is the minimum requirement (and add a thermal, fleecy inner bag to this if you can).

Water bottles/Platypus or Camelbak system You’ll need to carry a minimum of three litres of water up Kibo at the very least. Indeed, many people take enough bottles to carry four litres. Make sure your bottles are thermally protected or they will freeze on the summit. Regular army-style water bottles are fine, though these days many trekkers prefer the new Platypus/Camelbak systems, a kind of soft, plastic bladder with a long tube from which you can drink as you walk along. They have a number of advantages over regular bottles in that they save you fiddling about with bottle tops and you can keep your hands in your pockets while you drink – great on the freezing night-time walk to the summit. They will freeze, however (they always do!) so bring a normal bottle too, which you can wrap up in a towel and keep in your daypack to prevent it from freezing.

Water purifiers/filter Though we try to boil all water and treat it with Katadyn, it would be great if you could also bring some purifying agent (a filter or tablets for example) as occasionally we run low on Katadyn and they can be difficult to source in Arusha. Another way to clean water is the Steripen (

Torch A head-torch is far more practical than a hand-held one, allowing you to keep both hands free; on the last night this advantage is pretty essential, as you can keep your hands in your pockets for warmth.

Sunscreen High factor (35-40) essential.

Towel Bring a small towel only, as you won’t get many opportunities to wash on the mountain.

Sunglasses Very, very necessary for the morning after you’ve reached the summit, when the early morning light on Kibo can be painful and damaging.

Money For tipping, souvenirs, stamps, postcards, and for meals when not on the mountain or on safari (other than breakfast, which is included n your accommodation)

Toothbrush and toothpaste Ensure your dental checks are up-to-date; if there is one thing more painful than climbing to the summit of Kili, it’s climbing to the summit of Kili with toothache.

Toilet paper Tampons/sanitary towels Handwash

Diamox For more information on this wonder drug please visit the Diamox page on the book’s website; and visit this page for more information on how Diamox works

Highly desirable stuff for Kilimanjaro

Smartphone Some people may consider this to be unnecessary, others will consider their phone to be vital. Your average smartphone and the apps you’ve loaded onto it can certainly perform many roles: torch, MP3 player/ipod, camera, GPS, step counter, compass, etc etc etc. Your itinerary will tell you what mobile reception is like on your route. Remember to bring your charger – you won’t be able to charge your phone on Kili, but can in the hotel before you set off.

Battery pack for your smartphone Very essential, if you don’t want to run out of power after a day or two

Trekking poles If you’ve done some trekking before you’ll know if you need poles or not; if you haven’t, assume you will. While people often use them the whole way, poles really come into their own on the descent, to minimize the strain on your knees as you trudge downhill. Telescopic poles can be brought from trekking/camping outfitters in the West, or you can invest in a more local version – a Maasai ‘walking stick’ – from souvenir shops in Moshi or Arusha.

Boiled sweets/chocolate For winning friends, influencing people and maintaining morale.

Bandanna (aka ‘buff’) For keeping the dust out of your face when walking on the Saddle, to use as an ear-warmer on the final night, and to mop the sweat from your brow on those exhausting uphill climbs. Also useful for blocking out the odours when using the public toilets at the campsites.

Chapstick/ lip salve or vaseline The wind on the summit will rip your sunburnt lips to shreds. Save yourself the agony by investing in chapstick, available from pharmacists and supermarkets in Arusha/Moshi.

Camera and equipment

Useful stuff for Kilimanjaro

Earplugs A set of earplugs will reduce this disturbance at night.

Gaiters Useful on the dusty Saddle. Indeed, more than one trekker has written in to say that gaiters are essential. However, we’ve also met trekkers who can’t see the point of them – it’s a matter of preference.

Moist toilet tissues (Wet-wipes). Use several at the end of the day and it’s the closest thing to a shower on the mountain.

Sandals/flip-flops Useful in the evenings at camp. Make sure they’re big enough to fit round thick socks.

Sewing kit For repairs on the trail.

Insulating tape Also for repairs – of shoes, rucksacks, tents etc, and as a last resort for mending holes in clothes if you have forgotten your sewing kit.

Watch Preferably cheap and luminous for night-time walking

Other stuff you may consider bringing on Kilimanjaro

Books To help you forget you’re on the mountain – if you want to.

Map Not essential but interesting.

GPS receiver We supply GPS waypoints on each trek in the guidebook.

Penknife Always useful, if only for opening beer bottles.

Clothes pegs For attaching wet clothes to your rucksack for drying in the sun when you walk.

Contraceptives But gentlemen, please note: if your partner says she has a headache, the chances are she really does have a headache.

Champagne For celebrating, of course, though don’t try to take it up and open it at the summit.

What to pack it in

You’ll need two bags: a rucksack (or duffle bag) and a smaller, lighter daypack. On Kili our porters carry your rucksack (choose one of about 80-90L) for you (usually on their heads and inside a rice sack to protect it from getting wet or damaged), while you will carry your daypack. So make sure you choose your daypack with care and that it is both comfortable and durable. It also needs to be big enough (around 30L) to hold everything you may need with you when walking, as it is unlikely that you will see your main rucksack from the moment you break camp in the morning to the time you arrive at camp in the evening.

Suggestions for what you should put in your daypack include: water (2-4 litres); waterproofs; sunhat, sunglasses and sun-cream; snacks/sweets; and a copy of our guide book.

One more thing: don’t leave anything valuable in your rucksack; though porters are usually trustworthy, it’s only fair that you do not put temptation in their path.

If you have waterproof covers for the daypack and rucksack, bring them. If you have reusable zip-loc bags to store things inside the bag, bring those too (but don’t use plastic bags!!!!)