The Responsible
Adventure Travel Company

Overview

Adventure Alternative has been running treks / climbs of Kilimanjaro for over two decades, and with our own company in Tanzania, we have a reputation for integrity and safe, successful trips. We run climbs of Kilimanjaro every month and our summit success rate is 95%.

We offer four different routes to the top of Kilimanjaro but the most common is the 7 day climb on the Machame Route (which this page covers) or the 8 day Lemosho route; whatever route you take, the itinerary is never less than 7 days / 6 nights on the mountain, which gives you the best ability to acclimatise properly to the altitude and will give you the best chances of reaching the summit.

Our staff are professional, qualified and experienced. We look after them excellently and in turn they look after you excellently! Our prices are land based and all inclusive including all park fees - there are no hidden kitties or fees. We do not charge additional fees by season and the price you see is the price you pay. We are a professional and ethical mountaineering company and can ensure you a wonderful and enjoyable climb of Mt Kilimanjaro.

The Machame route is seven days and camping only, this route is regarded as a challenging wilderness route but allows for excellent acclimatisation and stunning scenery. It takes five days ascending through the forest from Machame Gate on the southwest side of the mountain, circling the massif, and summiting from Barafu Camp on day 6. Exit through Mweka Gate on day 7. Great opportunity to see diverse vegetation and wide-eyed views, this route accounts for 30% of visitors on the mountain.

More Information

Dominating the landscape like no other mountain, both iconic and instantly recognisable, Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is the highest peak in Africa and the highest free-standing mountain in the world. At 5895 metres, to climb Kilimanjaro is a great challenge, not to be underestimated, but entirely feasible for the hill walker looking to combine a high mountain adventure with going to Africa.

Kilimanjaro translates to “mountain of the springs” and its unique position just below the equator offers an opportunity to experience five different habitats from bottom to top, which makes an ascent of the mountain undeniably special. In a matter of days you’ll climb Kilimanjaro from the equator to what feels like the Arctic, moving through grasslands, tropical rainforest, alpine meadows, moorlands and desert uplands to snow and ice.

The Machame Route is a camping trip for an average group size of 8 (we can take up to a maximum of 25 people but this is usually only for organised private groups; most team sizes are 6 - 8 people) using quality mountain tents, and qualified local guides who work with us full time, porters who carry the bags and equipment, and cooks who provide fresh, tasty food every day. The ratio of guide:climber is 1:4.

From the start you will have experienced people to talk to in the office, who have all climbed Kilimanjaro before and can give an honest appraisal of the climb. This personal service extends to Tanzania where our manager Castro Kapela will give a team briefing and be on hand all the time. He will introduce you to the guides who all speak good English and understand that this is more than a holiday, it is a personal dream to summit the roof of Africa.

We offer private climbs at no extra cost (min 4 people but we can organise for smaller groups for a supplemental charge) and will work with groups or individuals to create the perfect tailormade holiday.

We are passionate about responsible tourism and every aspect of your trip, from transport and accommodation to staff policies,  and how we behave on the climb will reflect this. Adventure Alternative was winner of the Responsible Tourism Award in 2009 in the Best Personal Contribution category.

Staff

We run our own company in Tanzania which is based in Moshi at the foot of Kilimanjaro called Adventure Alternative Tanzania and our dedicated team provide an excellent service.

All of the guides have been employed for over ten years with us, and they have been trained to our high standards personally by Director and high altitude climber Gavin Bate, who has climbed Kilimanjaro over forty times and is a guide on Everest. They know how to deal with medical emergencies and speak good English. They are very attentive and after so many years have a good understanding of western needs. They all have the necessary KINAPA cards (Kilimanjaro National Park qualification).

We give our staff in excess of the recommended wage and we are a Responsible Partner for the International Mountain Explorers Connection (Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project). We provide clothing, food and tents for all of our staff and have proven policies for payment and tipping. This means that you are not hassled by people looking for handouts at the end of the trip, and the staff themselves are happier. We also provide a development programme for the guides and cooks, including first aid training and regular visits from International Mountain Leaders to help improve service and mountain management. If you want to climb Kilimanjaro then you can be assured that you are with a great, proven and experienced team!

Adventure Alternative proudly supports

Testimonials

I would recommend anyone who believes in small and personal and not answerable to wealthy shareholders to travel with Alternative Adventure you will not be disappointed. Thank You, Gary, UK

Gary H

Aug 2013

I’d like to thank you very much for all you and your team have done for me. Again, this was a really tough experience, but you and your team looked very well after me. The team was great from the guides to the cook and porter. Castro also picked me up and dropped me to the airport, as arranged and gave us the briefing for the 7 days. I couldn’t be happier. I would be more than happy to recommend you to anyone who is thinking to climb Kilimanjaro. It is not an easy task, far from it, but your team helped making it easier.

Didier C

Dec 2013

We had an outstanding experience with Adventure Alternative! As two young women traveling alone, we felt completely safe and comfortable throughout our trip. We were even the only two people on our eight day trek. Everyone we met was genuinely kind.

Catherine M

Jun 2013

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Dates and Itinerary

When to Climb – Peak seasons are traditionally January to March and June to October, and these are popular times to climb with temperatures in Moshi averaging 22 degrees C and summit temperatures around - 7 degrees C. The rains are in April, May and November but nowadays climate change has changed this pattern greatly. December is getting warmer again with clear skies. Do check the information on weather and also full moons to decide on your preferred time to visit.

Full Moon - Many people prefer to climb during the full moon with a summit a day before or up to 2 days after. The reason being is purely down to the experience of summiting under the light of the moon (if it's not cloudy). There is no doubt that summiting with the path lit by moonlight and the white of the glaciers shining at you is great, however the downside of this experience is that is a very busy time on the mountain and at the camps. We have a number of full moon dates on our schedule and details can be found below. We also have a number of trips which avoid this busy time.

Scheduled dates are shown below but you can create your own private trip very easily (min 4 people but smaller groups can be accommodated at a supplemental charge), and personalise it in your Booking Page with an add-on trip, for example one of our popular safaris to the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti. The Booking Page also allows you to add your flights and personal arrangements, such as hiring equipment or ordering a car to pick you up.

Routes We run climbs mostly on the Machame (7 days), Rongai (7 days) and Lemosho (8 days). The dates below all refer to the Machame route.

2014 - Routes other than Machame:
Lemosho Route: 6th Feb, 22nd March, 21st June, 23rd Aug, 15th Nov click here for Lemosho Route
Rongai Route: 3rd May and 29th Nov click here for Rongai route

Full Moon: 11/1, 6/2, 12/4, 7/6, 5/7, 4/10, 29/11,

Other Notable Dates 2014:
Valentines Day Summit: 6th Feb 2014 (Lemosho 8 day)
New Years Eve / Day Summit: 25th Dec
Moving Mountains Trust Charity Kilimanjaro Climb 22nd Sept. Click here for Details

2015- Routes other than Machame:
Lemosho Route: 6th Feb, 10th April, 19th June, 21st Aug, 16th Oct click here for Lemosho Route
Rongai Route: 1st May and 27th Nov click here for Rongai route

Full Moon: 24th July climb Machame and 21st Aug on the Lemosho route

Other Notable Dates 2015:
Valentines Day Summit: 6th Feb 2014 (Lemosho 8 day)
New Years Eve / Day Summit: 25th Dec
Moving Mountains Trust Charity Kilimanjaro Climb 25th Sept. Click here for Details

2014 2015
26th July - 4th August 9th January - 18th January
28th July - 6th August 23rd January - 1st February
9th August - 18th August 20th February - 27th March
6th September - 15th September 6th March - 13th March
21st September - 30th September 20th March - 27th March
4th October - 13th October 5th June - 12th June
27th December - 5th January 3rd July - 10th July
10th July - 17th July
24th July - 31st August
7th August - 14th August
4th September - 11th September
25th September - 2nd October
9th October - 16th October
25th December - 1st January
Tailormade Option

We can facilitate private climbs for small or large groups. If there is four or more people then there is no additional charge, if your group is smaller than four people then there is a £100 supplement per person.

Groups, such as charities or clubs, can easily create their own trip in the Booking Section and personalise any details according to their preference. The Booking Page becomes a live trip summary for any number of people in a group, and it allows our staff in Tanzania to monitor the arrangements. We also offer group discounts and charity offers so do contact us for details.

Detailed Itinerary
Day Elevation Travel Time Info
1 This is our advertised date for the start of the trip and is the day which you should arrive into Tanzania. Most people fly into Kilimanjaro airport either directly or via Kenya. Others travel overland from Kenya. The advertised date is the date you should arrive and we can collect you from Kilimanjaro airport or assist you to travel from Kenya. Overnight in Keys Annexe Hotel in Moshi Town.
2 900m Briefing day in Moshi Town, meet the AA Tanzania staff and have time for hiring equipment or relaxing in the hotel.
3 900m - 1790m - 2580m 5-7 hours, 10 kms Transport to Machame Gate (1 hour 1790m). Registration. Trek to Machame Camp through beautiful montane forest on good path. Camp overnight at the edge of the forest.
4 2980m - 3840m 5-7 hours, 7 kms Machame Camp to Shira Plateau uphill through thinning forest and onto a huge volcanic plateau. Camping is more exposed here with great views of the summit massif.
5 3840m - 3950m 5-7 hours, 10 kms Shira Camp to Barranco Camp traversing the mountain over two valleys and skirting the base of the summit massif. High desert environment with amazing rock formations, quite exposed to the weather, dropping into the Barranco Valley right beneath the Western Breach. This day ascends a maximum of 700 metres but the net gain is only about 100 metres.
6 3950m - 3950m 4-5 hours, 4 kms Barranco Camp to Karanga Valley, starting with a scramble over the Barranco Wall and over a further two valleys to get to this open campsite with great views of the Heim Glacier. Another up and down day but no net gain in height, which is all good for acclimatisation.
7 3950m - 4550m 4-5 hours, 4 kms Karanga Valley to Barafu Camp, now heading more directly upwards towards the open rock and colder temperatures. This is the average freezing level on the mountain and Barafu means 'ice'. Camping in amongst the rocks and an early night.
8 4550m - 5895m - 2800m 7 hours up, 6 hours down, 18 kms Night-time ascent on rock and scree, occasional snow, to the crater rim and the summit. Cold temperatures with windchill. Final slope to the crater rim is steeper and has loose scree. Descend in sunlight to Barafu for early lunch, and then walk to Millennium Camp, normally arriving mid-afternoon.
9 2800m - 900m 4-6 hours, 11 kms Descending through the lush forest to Mweka Gate where you sign out and pick up the summit certificate. Legs will be tired! Meet Castro at the gate for transport back to the hotel, arriving normally at about 2pm. The gate is where tips are handed out and you say goodbye to the mountain staff. A hot shower and an afternoon relaxing before an overnight in the hotel
10 Either start your safari or depart home.

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Cost

Mount Kilimanjaro - Machame Route cost: £1,245.00

Includes
  • Full ground price for the Machame Route
  • Accommodation in Moshi for 3 nights in the Keys Annexe Hotel (twin, B&B)
  • Jeep or coach transport to the mountain gate from and to Moshi
  • Park fees, camping fees and park rescue fees
  • Park certified guides (ratio of 1:4) and assistant guides/company reps
  • Porters and cooks, plus equipment and tents for them
  • All camping equipment including sleeping tents with mattresses
  • Expedition administrator, translator and Manager
  • Meals on the mountain - fresh food, 3 meals per day
  • UK administration and organisation of your trip
Excludes
  • International airfare to Kilimanjaro Airport
  • Airport transfers - £10/€15 per person one way
  • Tanzanian Visa - $50 for UK, $100 for Irish citizens, purchased on arrival
  • Vaccinations and malaria tablets
  • Personal expenses
  • Travel insurance
  • Lunch and dinners in Moshi
  • Tips ~ £60 paid in local currency only to Castro Capelo for distribution at exit gate
Cost of Add-Ons and Some Optional Extras
  • Ngorongoro/Lakes safari (camping): £495.00
    4d/3n camping safari staying at the Twiga Resort and visiting Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara and Lake Tarangire.
  • Ngorongoro/Lakes safari (3* lodge): £595.00
    4d/3n safari with twin room accommodation at the 3* Twiga Lodge in Mto wa Mbu (next to Lake Manyara).
  • Ngorongoro/Lakes safari (4* lodge): £745.00
    4d/3n safari with accommodation in the 4* Lake Manyara Lodge.
  • Rongai route: £50.00
    This is a seven day camping trip which requires a longer drive to the gate. Please see the Description of Routes for an itinerary of this beautiful wild route on Kilimanjaro. The price shown is in addition to the standard price of £1195, so the total for the Rongai route is £1245 per person. In the date section Rongai dates are stated.
  • Mt Meru: £795.00
    Mount Meru is an active volcano located 70 kilometres west of Mount Kilimanjaro. It reaches 4,566 metres (14,980 feet) and is an excellent pre Kilimanjaro acclimatiser if you have additional time in Tanzania.
Not all about money

Our prices are competitive and good value, and we offer quality, service, security and a strong stance on tourism in a developing country. We don’t want to be so expensive to run fewer trips and have our staff idle, but on the other hand we believe that running cheap trips that promote the practise of skimming budgets would result in the porters getting next to nothing, which is something we cannot consider.

Additionally we will only run 7 day trips, since any less is dangerous for a peak just short of 6000 metres (equivalent to Camp 1 on Mount Everest). Current National Park and camping fees are USD$123 per person per day, which makes Kilimanjaro an expensive peak to visit. Reducing the number of days may make the price cheaper but the chances of summiting reduce to around 50% and it is potentially dangerous.

We include three support staff to each member plus one guide for every four members which is the Park requirement. We do not operate kitties and we use a very good hotel in town with which we have built up a strong relationship for the past ten years.

We have our own license to operate tours on Mount Kilimanjaro and are a member of the local Tanzanian Association of Tour Operators.

Insurance

We advise you to take out your insurance as soon as possible to cover potential events that might cause you to cancel your trip.

You need to ensure that you have a policy which covers trekking to 5985m, but it does not need to cover technical climbing. You should bring with you a copy of your policy and ensure your tent mate knows where you keep it. It is also worth bringing a photocopy of your passport and to keep it separate to your own documents just in case you lose your passport. 

Local Providers

Local provider for this trip is Adventure Alternative Tanzania, managed by Castro Kapela. We provide full employment for our subsidiary company.

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Fitness

Type of Terrain

The terrain on Kilimanjaro varies throughout; in a period of seven days, traversing the mountain over 38 miles, ascending from 2000m to 5895m and back down, you will pass through cultivated farmland, equatorial forest and alpine heath, across a lunar-like volcanic desert and up to a glaciated summit. Climbing Kilimanjaro is not a technical climb and there are no precipitous drops along the way, no rock climbing or specialist equipment needed.

The paths are in good condition and well trodden; some are steeper than others (in particular the Great Barranco Wall is an exciting scramble) and you will most likely meet people all along the way. On summit day the path is mostly screed, which can be loose and unrelenting, especially on the descent when your knees will probably suffer.

Distance Covered

The entire climb and descent covers just over 38 - 50 miles depending on which route you choose and the routes traverse the mountain, except for the Marangu which requires ascent and descent on the same path. Generally speaking each day will take about 5 hours of walking, and the distance reduces as you go higher.

To put the summit day into context, it is pretty much the same as climbing Ben Nevis in one day from a starting altitude of 4200 metres.

Height Gained

Day           Start Level    Daily High Point    Sleep Level
Day One      1830m          3000m                3000m
Day Two       3000m          3850m                3850m
Day Three    3850m          4560m                3950m
Day Four      3950m          4600m                3950m
Day Five      3950m          4600m                4600m
Day Six       4600m          5985m                3800m
Day Seven   3800m         3800m                1830m

Camps Used

Machame and Millennium Camp are on the tree line and have a number of campsites set in small clearings in the forest. You will see a central ranger station and a number of drop-hole latrines. Mobile coverage here and it is quite easy to descend back to the gate if necessary.

Shira Camp is situated on the vast Shira plateau which is a volcanic spill-off from the last explosion some 100,000 years ago. Open and exposed and often dusty with smaller, more fragile plants amongst the rocks. Latrines and Ranger huts are around and the area is so huge it is easy to have some privacy. Meanwhile the Horombo Huts are busy with people and Mawenzi Tarn is very quiet and remote.

Barranco Camp is in a big clearing at the head of the steep valley which drops down into the Umbwe route, with dramatic cliffs around and right below the ice fields of Kibo, a stunning location for a camp.

Karanga Camp is a very open camp on the side of a hillside with great views of the summit massif and the expanse of land beyond the mountain. Many people go direct from Barranco to Barafu, so Karanga is traditionally a bit of half-way stop, but there are still latrines and a Ranger hut here.

Barafu, meaning ‘ice’, is now no longer covered in permanent snow but it is cold and rocky and exposed. People definitely feel the altitude here and you can expect snow and sometimes high wind. The camp sites are dotted amongst nooks and crannies in the rocks, perched on a sort of ridge.

Experience Needed

Climbing Kilimanjaro is a non-technical trek but it does offer a full mountaineering experience. Experience in hill walking is a benefit but not absolutely necessary, since this is a supported climb. You will have however be outdoors constantly and living in tents so any sort of experience with camping will be useful.

It is not necessary to have any experience of high altitude to climb Kilimanjaro, and there is nowhere in the United Kingdom or Ireland to possibly train for it. The important factor will be to go slowly and allow your metabolism to adapt to the lower air pressure and the thinner air.

Adventure Alternative Support

The staff will carry your main bag up to a maximum weight of 15 kgs plus all the tents, kitchen equipment, food, fuel, tables and chairs. They will cater for all the group needs, providing excellent meals and putting up the tents. The guides will also brief you daily on the climb.

Castro Capelo is our operations manager in Moshi and Director of Adventure Alternative Tanzania. He organises all the staff, equipment, permits and hotel arrangements. You will have his telephone number, or the staff at the hotel desk can call him for you. He is organiser, translator, problem-solver, advisor and the main link between you and the UK office. He talks to the guides every day on the mountain and can make arrangements while you are up high.

You also have continued support from the main office in Northern Ireland. Should a problem arise of significant proportion then you only need to call us.

Training

There are now commercial facilities available where it is now possible to engage in programmes of simulated altitude exposure. These can make some assessment of your own body's susceptibility and response to altitude effects and to provide a programme giving some degree of pre-acclimitisation and "altitude training".

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Gear

Kit List
  • Strong, waterproof duffle bag or rucksack for your main gear
  • Waterproof day sack of about 30 -40 litres for carrying your daily needs
  • Sleeping bag rated down to -10° Celsius or more if you get cold easily
  • Sturdy hiking boots with ankle support, and a sole that does not bend too easily. Gore-Tex lined fabric boots are fine but not quite as warm as leather. Gaiters are advised also.
  • Waterproof windbreaker and trousers, preferably breathable, with a hood and big enough to accommodate several layers beneath
  • Down jacket or a heavy duty fleece for warmth especially on summit night
  • Thermal underwear or long johns for summit night
  • Balaclava or insulated warm hat, insulated gloves or mittens and thermal inner gloves
  • Sun hat, sun lotion, SPF lip screen and sunglasses
  • Trekking clothes - trousers and shorts, shirts and T-shirts, jumper or midlayer fleece, underwear and several pairs of hiking socks, trainers or sandals
  • Water bottle and/or camelback (take a protective cover for the mouthpiece) and water purification tablets (optional, iodine-based is fine)
  • Head torch with spare batteries
  • Trekking poles (especially useful for coming down from the summit)
  • Personal wash kit – include a nail brush, moisturising cream, a small towel, tweezers, soap, nail clippers and wet wipes
  • Variety of waterproof bags - for dirty clothes, sleeping bag and things to keep dry
  • Personal first aid – include aspirin, Nurofen, plasters, Germolene, Immodium, strepsils and prescription medicines for possible gastric problems
  • Passport, insurance papers, spending money, air tickets, 2 pin (round) plug adaptor, spare batteries for digital cameras, reading books, diary, pen
Additional Kit Info

Comfortable mattresses will be provided by Adventure Alternative Tanzania, there is no need to bring a Therm-A-Rest or camp mat for the mountain.

Rental Items

You can rent equipment in Moshi directly from Castro and our guides. We do have some equipment in our store, but there are also many rental shops in the town. Prices vary, and you can bargain.

Links to Retailers

 

At Expedition Kit Hire our aim is to provide a seamless, first class customer service for our clients, offering top quality clothing and equipment to fit the demands of any expedition from Polar, high altitude, desert or tropical treks across the globe. If we don't stock a product, we probably can so please get in touch.

You can buy a climbing map of Kilmanjaro at climbing-map.com

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Why Us

  • We are a Mountain company run by mountaineers!
  • We are an award winning company.
  • We offer small scale, authentic adventures, which you can tailor at no extra cost.
  • We have a 95% success rate to the summit.
  • All our guides are personally trained by Gavin Bate, Company Director, Mountaineer and Everest Guide
  • We do not outsource our trips to the cheapest local operator. Instead we run our own company in Tanzania and invest in our staff directly.
  • We employ full time staff, offering job security and good benefits, and we are continually improving our quality service year on year.
  • All the staff in our UK office have climbed Kilimanjaro so you can chat to people who understand what it’s like to go up for the first time, before you go.
  • We are passionate about responsible tourism and our company supports sustainable development in Tanzania and Kenya in a real way.
  • Adventure Alternative underwrites the charity Moving Mountains.
  • Financial security guaranteed as we are bonded and also members of AITO.
  • We are members of Interhealth which gives you access to pre-trip health information and on-site assistance by phone in the event of an emergency.
  • Our staff only work for Adventure Alternative.

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