Mount Kilimanjaro - Tanzania
Adventure Alternative has been running treks on Kilimanjaro since 1996, and with our own company in Tanzania we have a reputation for integrity and safe successful trips. We run trips 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 Machame Route; whatever route you take, the itinerary is never less than 7 days, which gives you the chance to acclimatise properly to changing conditions.
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 10 (up to a maximum of 25) using quality North Face 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 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.
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!
From the moment we were greeted at the airport, we knew that we were in safe hands. The in-country staff are every bit as helpful as the staff in Northern Ireland with any and all queries. We met our hiking group in Moshi and were very lucky in that respect also, as they are all lovely people. Our climb was all very pleasant until people started to feel the effects of altitude sickness (Nine out of ten of our group experienced some sort of altitude sickness). However, as unpleasant as this was, the help given by our Adventure Alternative guides showed how dedicated, caring and supportive they really were. We all summited and, on reflection afterwards, all ten of us agreed that we owe that solely to the dedication of the Adventure Alternative staff, both on the ground and on the mountain. Also, our guides and porters were all treated well and had the appropriate clothing and footwear (which you realise the importance of when you see some porters from other companies wearing sandals or runners/trainers with the soles falling off). Reaching the summit of Kili was, without a doubt, the highlight of our honeymoon, despite the several amazing experiences that followed, and we will always think of the fantastic staff at Adventure Alternative whenever we think of our climb.
The guides were unbelievable. They checked in regularly each day to see how we were doing. They sang, they laughed, they helped take photos, they made us feel very supported. They did a great job on summit night and made sure everyone was well supported. It was obvious that they had a plan and that they were in constant communication to figure out who needed what type of help. The waiters were also incredibly friendly and warm.
The expected headache and nausea did not materialise (praise God) and so eventually we reached the crater rim of the volcano, Stella Point, just as the tropical sun was rising over Mawenzi Peak, wow!!!!!. The temperature was minus 15 centigrade.... the whole crater to my right, extending for miles, was deep in snow; truly spectacular! To my left were the renowned Kilimanjaro glaciers, hundreds of feet deep, with stunning vertical edges, unlike any glaciers I had ever seen....I was as warm as toast in my down jacket, so was able to savour the whole kaleidoscope of surreal beauty sitting astride the top of Africa in relative comfort!....Over the next 24 hours we descended to Mweka Gate at 5000 feet, having gone from polar to tropical weather in that incredibly short time period! ....The prelude to all this was a five day trek from Machame Gate, at the beginning of the Machame route. This route is the most beautiful of the various routes to the summit....with two days climbing high and sleeping low, to aid acclimatisation....We spent the next two days relaxing at our hotel in the beautiful tropical gardens and swimming pool, almost heaven! ....The ascent is dramatic and takes you through five climatic zones, from equatorial jungle to alpine polar, where nothing grows because of the intense cold. ....we employed Adventure Alternative, a British company, to organise our trip. This involved four guides, a cook and porters....They were brilliant and we developed good relations with them....This climb was a major challenge, psychologically, physically, emotionally and mentally. We were certainly stretched, (but not to breaking point).
....The staff were great and the organisation superb, so hats off to Adventure Alternative, our trip organisers. The guides and porters gave us a great musical send off at the Mweka Gate, which was a brilliant finale to our mountain adventure.
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, 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 Our preferred route is the Machame however we run climbs on all routes. The dates below all refer to the Machame route EXCEPT for the following:
2013 - Routes other than Machame:
Lemosho Route: 18th Feb, 9th June, 18th Aug, 17th Nov
Rongai Route: 5th May
Marangu Route: 24th March
Full Moon: 18/2, 16/6, 14/7, 11/9, 8/12
Other Notable Dates 2013:
Valentines Day Summit: 7th Feb Team 2013 (Machame 7 day) and 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
2014 - Routes other than Machame:
Lemosho Route: 6th Feb, 21st June, 23rd Aug, 15th Nov
Rongai Route: 3rd May
Marangu Route: 22nd March
Full Moon: 11/1, 6/2, 12/4, 7/6, 5/7, 6/9, 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
|2nd June - 11th June||11th January - 20th January|
|9th June - 19th June||6th February - 16th February|
|7th July - 16th July||15th February - 24th February|
|14th July - 23rd July||1st March - 10th March|
|28th July - 6th August||22nd March - 31st March|
|11th August - 20th August||12th April - 21st April|
|18th August - 28th August||3rd May - 12th May|
|8th September - 17th September||7th June - 16th June|
|22nd September - 1st October||21st June - 1st July|
|6th October - 15th October||5th July - 14th July|
|17th November - 27th November||12th July - 21st July|
|8th December - 17th December||26th July - 4th August|
|25th December - 3rd January||9th August - 18th August|
|23rd August - 2nd September|
|6th September - 15th September|
|22nd September - 1st October|
|4th October - 13th October|
|15th November - 25th November|
|29th November - 8th December|
|25th December - 3rd January|
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.
|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||Briefing day in Moshi Town, meet the AA Tanzania staff and have time for hiring equipment or relaxing in the hotel.|
|3||1490m - 2580m||5 hours, 16 kms||Transport to Machame Gate (1 hour). Registration. Trek to Machame Camp through beautiful montane forest on good path. Camp overnight at the edge of the forest.|
|4||2980m - 3840m||5 hours, 9 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||7 hours, 15 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||5 hours, 6 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 hours, 7 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, 4 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 - 1200m||4-6 hours, 13 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.|
Mount Kilimanjaro cost: £1,195.00
- 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 (Castro Capelo)
- Meals on the mountain - fresh food, 3 meals per day
- UK administration and organisation of your trip
- 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.
Lemosho route: £150.00
This is an eight day camping trip which requires a longer drive to the gate at the start. It joins up with the Machame Route on the Shira Plateau after which the way to the top is the same. The price shown is in addition to the standard price of £1195, so the total for the Lemosho route is £1345 per person. In the date section Lemosho climb dates are stated.
Marangu route: £1,145.00
This is a seven day ascent using huts on the mountain. Please see the Route Description page for full information. The price shown is in minus to the standard price of £1195, so the total for the Marangu route is £1145 per person. In the date section Marangu dates are stated.
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: £595.00
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$110 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.
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 provider for this trip is Adventure Alternative Tanzania, managed by Castro Kapela. We provide full employment for our subsidiary company.
Type of Terrain
The terrain on Kilimanjaro varies throughout; in a period of seven days, traversing the mountain over 24 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.
The entire climb and descent covers just over 100km 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.
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
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.
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.
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".
- 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.
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
- 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.