Faq about Climbing
What will it be like when I’m there?
The warmest and normally clearest months are January, February and September; they are therefore very popular periods to climb the mountain. In April and May heavy rain or snow might happen, but the mountain is usually very quiet and the routes clear at this time. June, July and August are also great months to climb (though somewhat colder), as are November and December (though it could be wetter this time of year). Through September and October it gets steadily warmer. October is a particularly dry month (little to no rain), with mild weather and few people on the mountain. January to March are the warmest months, almost clear of clouds except of occasional brief rain showers, followed by the main rainy season during April and May. The temperatures will be still up, but massive clouds will block visibility and on top it might snow – while heavy rains occur on the lower slopes of Kilimanjaro.
How cold does it get on Kilimanjaro?
The temperature at the top of the mountain is quite variable. Sometimes it is only a degree or two below freezing, but visitors should be prepared for possible temperatures as low as minus 25 degrees Celsius, especially in conjunction with wind.
What are my chances of success?
In general, almost all of our mountain trek clients make it to the hiker’s peak. There are two main reasons: as first, we always advise our clients to take the extra acclimatisation day, which already increases your chances of success; as second, we offer exclusively private climbs, meaning that our hikers can follow strictly their own pace, without feeling any pressure to keep up with others. Experienced guides will keep you at a steady pace without you having to push yourself too hard. These are the reasons why we have a very high success rate.
Does an extra day help acclimatization?
Most guidebooks recommend that climbers spend an extra day, especially during the Marangu route climb. This is quite a personal decision, anyway our statistics do not highlight any greater success rate amongst 6 day Marangu route climbers over 5 day climbers. More important for success is the overall approach to the climb, right from the start. That said, many people like an extra day spent on the ascent because it makes the whole climb more relaxed and gives an opportunity to go on some pleasant walks.
What should I know about altitude sickness?
There are different types of altitude sickness. The “acute mountain sickness” is very common, and it is not as frightening as its name suggests: the symptoms are headaches, nausea and vomiting, though not everyone suffers from all the symptoms. Normally, symptoms fade after a few hours, but if they do not a climber may need to turn back, especially if vomiting is leading to dehydration. Any enjoyment to be had from the climb will have disappeared by now anyway.
A much more serious type of altitude sickness is called “oedema”. This is a build-up of fluid in the body, and when the fluid collects in the lungs or the brain a serious condition develops, which requires immediate action in the form of descent to a lower altitude, where recovery is usually miraculously fast.
In most cases AMS can be avoided by following guidelines: drink lots of water, walk slowly, stay warm, eat well. We recommend that you familiarize yourself with the various effects that altitude might cause. During your pre-climb briefing, we describe altitude sickness to you in detail, and advise you how to cope with it. Most important is not to fear it, but to respect it, and to know how to deal with it. Our guides have seen every condition that the mountain causes, and they will always know how to deal with these problems.
If there is a problem on the mountain, what are the rescue procedures?
The National Park operates a rescue service, and the huts on the Marangu route are linked to each other and to the park headquarters by radio. In the vast majority of emergency cases, the problem is altitude related and the solution is immediate descent to a lower altitude. Our mountain crew are all experienced in dealing with such cases and can bring climbers down to safe altitudes very quickly and without park assistance, if it is not immediately available.
Will I need camping equipment?
It depends on which route you are taking. If you are taking the Marangu route, you will sleep in huts and you will only need your sleeping bag and personal effects. Other routes might involve camping, so you will need to bring any necessary camping equipment. Please note that tents, sleeping mats, folding camp furniture, all cooking equipment and a toilet tent (for larger groups) will be provided by us.
Is it possible to rent mountain equipment from us?
We have a large stock of equipment. This is primarily for the free use of our fully equipped climbers but we also make equipment available for hire to climbers where necessary. Anyway, we encourage climbers to bring as much of their own warm clothing as possible. In particular, climbers should avoid to hire or borrow boots.
Which medicines are recommended during the climb?
-Mosquito sprays and creams – Not very useful on the mountain itself. But when you get back down, it is useful to have some “protection” against the Anopheles mosquito. We recommend Autan, Zanzarin or Anti-Brumm.
-Malaria prevention – Please, consult your doctor about malaria prophylaxis before leaving to Tanzania.
-Headache pills – Paracetamol or Tylenol pills (or whichever ordinary, over-the-counter painkiller you normally use) will help you in case of headaches.
-Diamox – Diamox can be used to prevent Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). Please try them first to check if you don’t get too many side effects.
-Sun cream – We recommend creams with minimum SPF 30-50, as the sun near the equator is very strong. Don’t forget to have something to protect your lips as well.
-Personal medical supplies (optional) – As your tour leaders, we will carry a group medical kit.
-Personal items & toiletries – Toothpaste and toothbrush, body lotion, toilet paper, disinfectant hand wash and other personal hygiene items.
How is cooking done on the mountain?
We use modern Kerosene stoves. These are very efficient (about 90% of the efficiency of gas, which is not always available here) and reliable. You can also feel satisfied that no firewood is being used, which might damage the ecology of the mountain.
What about qualifications of the Mountain Crews?
Since 1993, the guides and assistant guides who can assist during a climb are approved by the authorities of Kilimanjaro National Park. You will be accompanied by a guide, assistant guide, cook, waiter on camping routes, and a relatively large numbers of porters.
The guides and assistant guides do not carry any luggage; they take care of you, of your climbing and of your mountain team. The cook takes care of your meals and he is assisted by a waiter. Then, some porters will take care of your luggage. All the porters carry luggage, but they are considered ‘luggage porters’ , ‘toilet porter’ (carrying the mobile camping WC) and ‘summit porter’, especially experienced also to go up to the summit. This ‘summit porter’ is also considered ‘guide assistant’, and can eventually return to the camp with one/some expedition members who fail to summit or wish to break up while others proceed to the summit.
We arrange the so called ‘semi luxurious’ climbs, with a larger range of gear than usual provided (larger tents with sitting area), extended range of food and beverage, proper gear for your mountain team, portable camping toilet plus toilet tent, etc… Furthermore, we obey official rules regarding weight limit: porter carries 20 kg for the company and 5 kg of their own gear. Considering all these elements, a large number of crew members are needed to make sure that you have a safe and convenient summit to the top.
Do you pay wages to your guides and porters?
Yes, we do pay them wages, and we pay well above the levels recommended by Kilimanjaro National Park. All our staff know that tips from climbers are discretionary. If you want to give a tip, we always ask you not to do it on the mountain but back at the hotel after the climb. There everything is relaxed and open.
What about the tipping for the crew?
After the climb, it is customary to give tips to all the members of the mountaineering crew, if you were satisfied with your climb and the services experienced. Below are guidelines based upon a group (not per person):
- Guide: 12-18 USD / day
- Assistant Guide: 8-12 USD / day
- Cook: 8-10 USD / day
- Waiter: 7-9 USD / day
- Porter: 6-7 USD / day
Tips make up a large proportion of the income of the mountaineering crew, although we pay their wages. Below, you can find an outline of a possible way of handing out tips. Ask your guide a list of all the names of the team, indicating the number of guides, porters, assistants etc. Amongst yourselves, decide how much they should receive and collect the total amount. During the leaving ceremony, read out aloud what each member of the team receives. This way, everyone knows his or her dues and no arguments can arise.
You can give the entire amount to the chief guide, who will then divide the amount accordingly. This method has been proven reliable and saves you and other team member’s long debates with the guides or porters as to how much each should receive.
Used items or equipment are also gratefully received.
Faq about Safaris
Is it safe to go to Africa?
Most areas where safaris are organized are completely safe, and free from political conflicts. Natural Earth Tours & Safaris Ltd only conducts safaris in countries which are politically stable and where it is safe to travel.
What will I see on safari?
You’ll see a great variety of animals, birds and plants. You’ll roam across the countryside in search of elephants, lions, rhinos, cape buffaloes and leopards (the so-called “Big Five”). On any given day, you will encounter blue wildebeest, zebra, and the large variety of antelope species, gazelle, giraffe, baboon and hippo. The bird life is fantastic as well – in some areas up to 400 bird species have been identified! You’ll also see majestic baobab trees and hundreds of varieties of thorn trees, the acacia-dotted landscape, endless plains, majestic mountains and the most beautiful sunsets and sunrises one could ever imagine. These can be seen in northern Tanzania’s National Parks, such as Serengeti, Tarangire, Lake Manyara, Arusha National Park and Ngorongoro Crater.
What are the Big Five?
The “Big Five” were originally the most sought after animals by hunters. They were the fiercest ones, the animals that hunted the hunters. They are rhino, elephant, lion, leopard and cape buffalo, and today these are the species that tourists want to see most when visiting Tanzania’s national parks. You can see all five of these animals during a visit to Northern Tanzania.
What is a bush walk?
A “bush walk” is a nature walk or walking safari, inside or nearby a national park. We can tailor a bush walk to your interests: if you are a bird watcher, we can arrange a bird walk; if you want to go near big game on foot, we can arrange a bush walk in a national park (these walks require an armed guard). A bush walk can be a leisurely stroll or strenuous hike, and ranges in length from thirty minutes to six hours.
Are we safe from the animals?
Our professional safari guides are well trained about wild animal behaviors and they have enough experience to lead our clients in the wilderness. Our vehicles are 4×4 Toyota Land Cruiser and Land Rover with hutched roof, to give maximum visibility during game views.
What about snakes and bugs?
This worry is quite overstated. You will rarely see a snake, and if you do, it will most likely from the safety of your safari vehicle. All tents and lodges have bug screens fitted to the windows. In most areas where bugs or mosquitoes are prevalent, rooms and tents are also equipped with mosquito nets. Just bear in mind that malaria is a threat in most wildlife areas, and it is necessary to consult your doctor for advice before embarking on your safari.
What are the most seasons like in Tanzania?
The weather is quite stable during the whole year, excluding the season of long rains – late March to late May, usually not the ideal time to plan a safari because of the hight probability of sudden downpours. After the long rains, however, it is a wonderful time to visit Tanzania’s national parks due to the abundance of wildflowers and vegetation. It is also a good time to go on safari, because the level of dust and the number of tourists is minimal.
From July to October it is dry season, and also the high season for tourism. This is the best time to view wildlife, because grass is quite short and sparse. It is usually very dusty and it can be cold at higher elevations, such as on Ngorongoro Crater. Short rains occur from late October to mid December. This is low season for tourism in Tanzania. From December to March is Tanzania’s “summer” and many tourists choose to visit during late December and January, because of optimal game viewing.
What is the best season to visit Tanzania?
- Northern Tanzania National Parks – June to March
- Southern Tanzania National Parks – June to March
- Zanzibar and the coast – June to March
- Western Tanzania – June to March
- Mt. Kilimanjaro climbing – July to September / November to February
- Mt. Meru climbing – June to September / October to February
What is the best month to go on safari?
There are two factors to consider when choosing the right time to visit Tanzania: the wildlife and the crowds. For the best wildlife safari, visit Tanzania during the dry seasons from December to February, and from July to September. To avoid the crowds, plan your visit in May, June or November.
What is the wildebeest migration?
The wildebeest migration is the annual movement of 1.2 million wildebeest and zebra between Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park and Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Park. The migration is usually in the Serengeti from late December until late August, making these months the best for wildlife viewing in the Serengeti. The best months to view the migration are generally from January to March, when the migration is in larger herds. The highlight of the migration occurs during a two week period in February, when the wildebeest give birth to 8,000 babies daily.
What is the difference between a mobile and a permanent tented camp?
Around the turn of the century (until the 30’s and 40’s), mobile tenting was the only option, and “camp as you go” was the standard practice. Over the years the luxury connected with the traditional mobile tenting safari has increased. By the same token, one can understand that the cost for having a “luxury hotel” following you around Africa is expensive. However, most of people settle for tented camps which are permanent. Because they are “permanent” they can be equipped with flush toilets and traditional bathroom fixtures and conveniences. Don’t be misled by terminology – a permanent tented camp offers the comfort of a 5-star hotel but with the romance and adventure of being surrounded by the sights and sounds of Africa.
What about language barriers?
Although more than 2000 languages and dialects are spoken throughout Africa, this is not a problem, because English is widely spoken throughout East and Southern Africa.
What shall I pack?
- Insect repellent (the best way to prevent malaria and other insect borne diseases)
- Cap or hat
- Detergent powder if you want to wash some clothes yourself
- Small flashlight
- Aspirin, diarrhea medicines
- Rain jacket, poncho or collapsible umbrella
- Plastic bags for wet clothes and swimsuit, and for keeping dust away from camera equipment
- Kleenex / toilet tissue
- A neck chain for eyeglasses, in case you take them off to use binoculars and cameras
- Any medical prescription you need to fill
- Masking tape or labels for marking exposed films cans
- Film, extra camera batteries, as well as light meter batteries
What immunizations does Natural Earth Tours & Safaris Tanzania Ltd recommend?
These are the recommended immunizations:
- Typhoid – Typhoid vaccination is good for three years. This inoculation consists of two shots given four weeks apart or four tablets taken orally, one pill every other day over the course of six days. The pills must be refrigerated.
- Hepatitis A – Should be taken just prior to departure as immunity becomes less effective with time.
- Hepatitis B – Is a viral disease transmitted mainly through blood or sexual contact. Vaccination lasts forever and is recommended by the CDC for long-term travelers to Africa who will have contact with the local population. Ideally the vaccine is administered over a six-month period.
- Meningitis – The vaccine for meningitis is called Menamune. It can cost up to $100 at clinics that don’t administer it frequently, or as a little as a third of that cost elsewhere. You may want to shop around. While this disease occurs only sporadically, it is fatal unless treated immediately.
- Yellow Fever – Proof of yellow fever vaccination is required for travelers arriving from or transiting through most African countries. Travelers arriving with KLM from Amsterdam or British Airways from London (direct flight) do not need to show proof of yellow fever vaccination.
- Malaria – The most common anti-malarial drug in the US is Mefloquine (Lariam). The prescribed dosage is one tablet (250mg) per week. It can cause side effects such as upset stomach or nightmares, and is not recommended for people suffering from and on medication for epilepsy or schizophrenia. It is not recommended for people on medication with beta-blockers, commonly prescribed for high blood pressure or heart disease. Please consult your physician before taking Lariam.
- Other drugs are available, though their effectiveness varies.
Faq about Flights
What are the best ways to get to Tanzania?
If you are coming from North America or Europe, we recommend to fly with KLM to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO). Kilimanjaro Airport is at 45 minutes drive from Arusha while Dar Es Salaam and Nairobi are a one hour flight or several hours’ bus ride from Arusha. If planning a visit Zanzibar or Pemba during your holiday in Tanzania, consider the possibility to fly to Dar Es Salaam and then to Kilimanjaro for safari and climb.
What are airlines flying to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO)?
- Qatar Airways (QR) – daily direct flights from Doha to JRO
- KLM – direct flights from Amsterdam to JRO
- Turkish Airline (TK) – daily direct flights from Istanbul to JRO
- Ethiopian Airline (ET) – daily direct flights from either Addis Ababa / Mombasa to JRO
- Kenya Airways (KQ) – joining wings with Precision Air (PW) daily from Nairobi to JROAll the above Airline to JRO allow the option of departure from either Dar Es Salaam or Zanzibar, with the exception of Turkish Airline.
Does Natural Earth Tours & Safaris Ltd help me to book flights?
Natural Earth Tours & Safaris Ltd books domestic flights, including bus shuttles. Tickets will be e-mailed to you or you will be given an e-ticket number, so you may collect your tickets at the airport.
Who will pay for airport taxes?
Airport taxes are not included in the price of internal flights in Tanzania. Be sure to bring extra US Dollars with you, to pay airport taxes which range from US $5 to US $25 per flight.
Does Natural Earth Tours & Safaris Ltd recommend flying to Nairobi?
Flying to Nairobi is often less expensive than flying to either Kilimanjaro or Dar Es Salaam. So if your trip includes Northern Tanzania only, you could save money flying to Nairobi. However, flights from Nairobi to Kilimanjaro are not so cheap and may not justify the cost savings. If your trip includes Zanzibar, consider to fly to Dar Es Salaam. Please, note that travelers transiting through Nairobi must now show proof of yellow fever vaccination when they arrive in Tanzania.