Preparing for the climb of your life
Detailed Packing List: Clothing, Gear, and Personal Items
• waterproof hiking boots - 1
• tennis shoes or light hikers - 1
• wool or polypro socks - medium/heavyweight - 5
• polypro shirt, sock liners - 2 of each
• polypro long underwear (top & bottom) 2
• hiking shorts - 2
• hiking pants/fleece pants - 1 of each
• wool or fleece sweater/pull-over - 3
• water/wind-proof (Goretex) shell jacket - 1
• insulated rain/wind (Goretex) climbing pants - 1
• wool or fleece gloves - medium weight - 1
• wind/waterproof gloves -- heavy weight - 1
• wool or synthetic stocking cap -- windproof - 1
• sun hat - 1 balaclava - 1
• gaiters - 1 sunglasses - 1
• walking stick - 1 pair
• expedition pack or duffel bag - 1
• daypack - 1
• sleeping bag (rated to 0 F) - 1
• headlamp & spare bulb - 1
• camp towel - 1
• pocket knife - 1
• 1 litre water bottle - 4
• sunblock (30+SPF), sunblock lip balm & hand cream - 1
• large plastic garbage bags and ziploc storage bags of various sizes - 1
• lightweight toilet articles - toothbrush & paste, floss, hand and face cleansers - 1
• extra batteries - 6
• travel wallet - 1
• camera - 1
• energy bars, electrolyte powder & snacks (energy gel/gu is best for summit day) 2 per day
First Aid Kit
• Cipro (GI, general antibiotic) - 1 dose
• Diamox (altitude) - doses headache medicine (Ibuprofen) - as needed
• Imodium (diarrhea medicine) - as needed
• Pepto or Antacid (Rolaids) rolls (stomach acid medicine) - as needed
• Flu/sinus medicine - as needed ?Neosporin (cuts) - as needed
• Band-Aids - as needed
• Moleskin for blisters -at least 3 sheets
Please note that you may need to alter the quantity of items listed on the packing list based on the length of your climb.
As Kilimanjaro can be rainy, please carry waterproof jacket and pants in your daypack. Good waterproof hiking shoes are necessary for each day of hiking and, most importantly, the final summit day.
We place your gear bag in a waterproof bag after you arrive at the gate. We recommend packing your sleeping bag and clothing inside plastic bags in case of heavy downpours.
Porters will walk ahead of you on the trail. The same porter will carry your bag each day and will place it in your tent's vestibule. Your tents will already be set up when you arrive at camp, but you will unpack your own gear bag. For Mount Meru, you will receive your gear bag when you arrive at the rest station.
In addition to your gear bag, please pack a daypack to carry during the hike each day. We recommend carrying the following items in your daypack:
- rain gear
- 2-4 liters of water
- extra fleece jacket
- passport and money
If you usually drink a lot of water while hiking, we recommend carrying 4 liters in your daypack.
You will not have access to the luggage carried by the porter until you reach the camp/hut each evening. Be sure your daypack has a waist strap and good back and shoulder support.
Items available for rent in Tanzania
All prices are for the duration of the climb. Mountaineering sleeping tents, mattresses and pillows are included in the price of your climb – dining tent as well as tables and chairs are also provided.
• 0 degree Fahrenheit sleeping bag: $35 each
• Insulated jacket or Shell/insulated layer combination: $30 each
• Walking stick (pair): $35 each
• Jackets and pants: $15 each item
• Hats, gloves, gaiters and balaclava: $10 each item
Altitude Sickness Information
While a Kilimanjaro climb can be an exhilarating and fun-filled adventure, there are many dangers associated with high altitude climbing. Although the information below will help you plan and prepare for your Kilimanjaro or Meru climb, it is not a substitute for high altitude medical training or experience. You must be extremely cautious during your climb and inform the guide and others in the group of any altitude sickness you experience.
Altitude:Kilimanjaro and Meru
Altitude effects people differently and there are no specific factors such as age, sex, or physical condition that correlate with one’s susceptibility to altitude sickness. Most people can hike to 2,438 meters (8,000 feet) with minimal affect. If this is your first trip at altitude, it is important to be extremely cautious when hiking either Meru or Kilimanjaro.
Altitude is commonly given three rankings - high, very high, and extremely high. The lower and upper boundaries of these ranks are shown in the table below.
2,500 to 4,000 meters
8,000 to 13,000 feet
4,000 to 5,500 meters
13,000 to 18,000 feet
Adaptation not sufficient; acclimatization necessary
Over 5,500 meters
Over 18,000 feet
Acclimatization not possible; deterioration
The summit of Kilimanjaro, 5895 meters (19,340 feet), falls in the extremely high category and proper precautions should be taken to mitigate the risks of high altitude hiking. The highest camps of Kilimanjaro, Barafu and Kibo, fall in the very high altitude category and hikers could experience severe signs of altitude sickness at these camps. Although Mount Meru is often viewed as an acclimatization hike for Kilimanjaro, its peak, at 4,566 meters (14,990 feet), falls in the very high altitude category and hikers can also experience severe altitude sickness.
What is Altitude Sickness
Symptoms associated with altitude sickness result from the body's inability to adjust to lower levels of oxygen in the blood. At sea level, the concentration of oxygen is about 21% and the barometric pressure averages 760 mmHg. As altitude increases, oxygen concentration remains the same but the number of oxygen molecules per breath is reduced due to lower barometric pressure. At 3,658 meters (12,000 feet), barometric pressure decreases to 483 mmHg, resulting in roughly 40% fewer oxygen molecules per breath. In order to increase oxygen levels in the blood, your body responds by breathing faster. Although oxygen levels increase, sea level concentrations cannot be reached. The body must adjust to having less oxygen. This adjustment is called acclimatization. At elevations above 5,500 meters, acclimatization is not possible and the body begins to deteriorate.
The main cause of altitude sickness is going too high too fast. Given enough time, your body will adapt to the decrease in oxygen at a specific altitude. This process is known as acclimatization and generally takes one to three days at any given altitude.
Upon climbing to a higher elevation, the body must readjust to the new altitude again over a period of one to three days.
In order to cope with decreased oxygen levels, the body reacts in the following ways:
• Respiration frequency and depth increases
• Pressure in pulmonary arteries is increased, "forcing" blood into portions of the lung that are normally not used during sea level breathing.
• Additional red blood cells are produced to carry oxygen ?•Enzymes are produced to facilitate the transfer of oxygen from hemoglobin to body tissues.
It is imperative that hikers remain aware of Acute Mountain Sickness symptoms during Kilimanjaro and Meru trips, and that they communicate with the guide regularly regarding their condition. It is very important to rest and not ascend further if experiencing severe symptoms of AMS.
Above 3,000 meters (9,842 feet), most people experience a periodic breathing during sleep known as Cheyne-Stokes Respirations. The pattern begins with a few shallow breaths and increases to deep sighing respirations then falls off rapidly for a few seconds before shallow breathing begins again. This can disturb sleeping patterns, exhausting the climber. This type of breathing is not considered abnormal at high altitudes. Diamox is helpful in relieving this periodic breathing.
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)
Acute Mountain Sickness is common at high altitudes and 75% of people experience some symptoms over 3,000 meters (9,842 feet). The severity of AMS depends on several factors including rate of ascent, elevation, and individual susceptibility. Symptoms usually begin between 12 and 24 hours after reaching altitude and decrease in severity by the third day.
Mild AMS symptoms include:
headache, nausea and dizziness, loss of appetite, fatigue, shortness of breath, and inability to sleep. As long as the symptoms are mild, hikers can continue to climb at a moderate rate. All symptoms of AMS should be communicated to the head guide and progress reports should be given daily.
Moderate AMS symptoms include:
severe headache, nausea and vomiting, increased weakness and fatigue, shortness of breath, and decreased coordination.
Although the hiker may be able to continue walking on their own while experiencing moderate symptoms of AMS, normal activity becomes more and more difficult as the hiker gains altitude. At this stage, only medicine and descent can reverse the symptoms of AMS. Even a minor descent of only 300 meters will result in a significant improvement. All symptoms of moderate AMS should be communicated to the guide at which point the guide will make a decision whether or not to evacuate.
Severe AMS symptoms include:
increased shortness of breath, loss of ability to walk, decreasing mental awareness, and fluid buildup in lungs.
Severe AMS can only be treated by immediate descent to lower altitudes.
Other Severe Altitude-Related Illnesses
Two other severe forms of altitude sickness may result from failure to descend to lower altitudes. These include High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) and High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE). Although these happen less frequently, they usually result from fast ascents among people who are not properly acclimatized.
High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE)
HAPE results from fluid buildup in the lungs and can prevent effective oxygen exchange. Symptoms of HAPE include: shortness of breath even at rest; fatigue and weakness; feeling of impending suffocation or drowning; grunting or gurgling sounds when breathing; persistent cough which brings up white, watery, or frothy fluid; confusion and irrational behavior. In cases of HAPE, immediate descent is necessary. Patients should be evacuated to a medical facility for follow-up treatment.
High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE)
HACE is the result of swelling of brain tissue from fluid leakage. Symptoms include the following: headache; loss of coordination (ataxia); weakness; decreasing levels of consciousness including, disorientation, loss of memory, hallucinations, blindness, and coma. HACE generally occurs after a week or more at high altitude. Severe instances can lead to death if not treated quickly and immediate descent is a necessary life-saving measure. Follow-up care must be sought at a medical facility following HACE.
Preventing Altitude Sickness
There are two ways to prevent altitude-related illness: proper acclimatization and preventative medicines. These recommendations are written specifically for climbing Mounts Meru and Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and may not be applicable to other high mountains.
• Tell guide your AMS symptoms and keep him as well as the other group members informed of your progress.
• Climb high and sleep low. It is recommended that you acclimate during the day by climbing to high elevations and then descending to sleep.
• If you begin to show symptoms of moderate altitude illness, don't go higher until symptoms decrease.
• If symptoms become severe, descend.
• Stay properly hydrated. Acclimatization is often accompanied by fluid loss, so you need to drink lots of fluids to remain properly hydrated (at least 4-6 liters per day). Urine should be clear.
• Don't over-exert yourself at altitude. Light activity during the day is better than sleeping because respiration decreases during sleep, exacerbating the symptoms.
• Avoid tobacco and alcohol and other depressant drugs including barbiturates, tranquilizers and sleeping pills. Depressants further decrease the rate of respiration during sleep resulting in a worsening of the symptoms.
• Eat a high calorie diet of which 70% is carbohydrates.
Diamox (Acetazolamide) is a drug that allows you to breathe faster so that you metabolize more oxygen. The recommended dose is between 125 mg and 250 mg twice daily starting one to two days before the trek and continuing for three days once the highest altitude is reached. Contact your physician for more information and a prescription. Since Diamox is a sulfonamide drug, people who are allergic to sulfa drugs should not take Diamox. Diamox has also been known to cause severe allergic reactions to people with no previous history of Diamox or sulfa allergies.
Ibuprofen relieves altitude induced headache.
Duma Explorer is not responsible for any negative side effects of high altitude climbing including side effects resulting from medications used. Duma Explorer has merely included information on AMS and related medicines to inform you and help you prepare for a Kilimanjaro or Meru climb. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in proper condition to climb Kilimanjaro and Meru. There are certain inherent risks in adventure travel that apply to any Duma Explorer activity. These include, but are not limited to, risks of high altitude climbing, walking safaris, hiking and dangers from animals. The client assumes all risks in relation to these trips.
Because of weight restrictions on porters' bags, each climber's gear bag must weigh no more than 15 kilograms (33 pounds).
Visit our Kili Routes page for more information. We recommend longer climbs for those with little experience at altitude.
You can view a video about the Kilimanjaro experience here.
Best time to climb
Kilimanjaro's dry season (June through October) offers optimum climbing weather, however it’s also the busiest time on the mountain. December through February is also popular for hikers, however there’s more chance of rain and snow. Clear skies are more likely from June to October, as the cloud cover burns off after the tree line. Because Kilimanjaro is such a large mountain, it has its own weather pattern – it often rains on Kilimanjaro when it is not raining elsewhere. You should prepare for rain and have your rain gear with you at all times while on the mountain. The coldest temperature experienced at the summit is around -30C. The lower elevations can be quite hot, so pack for a wide range of temperatures.
Best climbing route
We recommend the Machame and Lemosho camping routes on the western side of the mountain. These camping routes are more scenic than the eastern routes and usually have better weather.
Preparing for your climb
Kilimanjaro is widely considered the easiest ‘high’ mountain to climb. However, the 5,895-meter (19,340 feet) altitude is still extremely high and proper preparation is essential. It is helpful to practice aerobic exercises several times a week for two months prior to the climb. Also, it is vital that you understand the causes and symptoms of altitude sickness before beginning the trek. Be sure to read the Altitude Sickness Information page before planning your trip.
Signs of altitude sickness
Almost everyone will experience some form of altitude sickness while hiking Kilimanjaro. Although the symptoms are easily treatable with rest and hydration, more serious symptoms can sometimes develop. Again, be sure to read the Altitude Sickness Information page before planning your trip to understand the symptoms, prevention and treatment of altitude sickness.
As you will always hike with several guides/assistant guides, if someone is too sick to continue, they will descend with an assistant guide.
Each of our guides have at least 7 years experience on Kilmanjaro. They have been with us for several years and are very familiar with Duma’s service and expectations on the mountain. Be sure to listen to your guide's advice while on the mountain and remember to hike slowly! This increases your chances of reaching the top as your body has more chance to acclimatize.
Daily hiking distances
On most days, you will hike about 10 km (6.2 miles). In order to adjust to the change in elevation, you will be hiking the day's distance at a slow pace.
Midnight final ascent
The final ascent to Uhuru is made at night because of the weather patterns on Kilimanjaro. It is important to be off the summit by the time the clouds roll in at 10am. If you summit during the day, you run the risk of being caught in snow, hail or rainstorms. The midnight trek to the summit is designed to ensure your safety. You will also have the best views from the top at dawn.
Please review our detailed packing list that explains what to bring on your climb as well as how your luggage will be carried up the mountain.
Duma has most gear you will need available for rent. Please email us for prices and availability.
Porters will carry most of your luggage. You will carry a small daypack that contains your drinking water, rain gear, camera and lunch.
First aid kits
Our guides carry first aid kits that contain bandages, over the counter medicines, a pulse oximeter and some emergency supplies. Duma guides do not carry prescription medicines so you will have to bring your own.
Purchasing energy snacks
You cannot get energy snacks or drinks in Tanzania so you should bring a supply with you. Gel energy snacks are extremely useful for the summit day as bars may freeze.
According to the United Nations Environment Program, Kilimanjaro's icecap receded 55% between 1962 and 2000. The mountain has lost 82% of its icecap since it was first surveyed in 1912. According to a 2007 study by the UNEP, almost 50% of the glaciers in Africa have disappeared and larger glaciers have been fragmented.
Tanzania generally follows the American style of tipping. Please view our tipping guidelines page for detailed recommendations on how much to tip each staff member.