Kilimanjaro daily routine
How much will you carry?
We use porters to carry the bags and the gear and the food, to you can concentrate on your climb of Kilimanjaro but you will be expected to carry a day sack with some of your own personal equipment which you need for the day such as water, spare clothes, camera and waterproofs. This is normally about 5 or 6 kilogrammes. Every person will have their own porter carrying their bag so nothing ever gets lost.
The porters are not allowed to carry more than 20kgs so please do not overfill your bags. They also carry bags on their heads, even rucksacks, so it is probably more convenient to bring a duffle bag for your gear. We will also put your bags into waterproof sacks in case of rain.
Keeping in touch with home
Your mobile phone should work all the way up the mountain (slightly dependant on which network you are using) as long as you have roaming access. Please note you cannot charge batteries anywhere on the mountain. You may need to walk a little distance to find a spot with a signal. Also, do not expect to get 3G connection, mostly you will find it is voice only.
Keeping dry and warm
There is little doubt that you will have some rain, and it is likely to be in the lower regions around the montane or forest level. Waterproofs are necessary; remember that on the equator the rainy season is traditionally April and September/October.
Expect short term extreme conditions, i.e. sharp showers of rain, hot sun, gusts of wind, snow and low night temperatures. Clear nights will be colder but more beautiful, and generally the cloud builds up mid morning, only to dissipate again with the setting sun.
Above Shira Camp (day 2) you may get snow, sleet and even hail. The ground is more open and exposed so it will be important to have some dry bags for your day sack (or a cover) and all the appropriate clothing for protection against the elements. Up higher at Barafu Camp it will be colder and windier so the shell jacket is really vital; temperatures can drop dramatically, and there may be snow. Summit morning can be icy underfoot, and very cold (minus 10°C) so good boots with hats and gloves are important.
Work on a ‘wet and dry’ system so that if your T-shirt gets wet during the day, you always have a dry T-shirt and warm top to change into the moment you get to camp. This is really important for morale if nothing else. Don't let people keep wet clothes on. It's such an obvious point but commonly ignored.
During your climb of Kilimanjaro generally breakfast is between 7.30am and 8.00am, and departure from camp is at 9.00am. There is a lunch at midday, tea and biscuits around 4pm and dinner at 7pm. Summit morning is different; tea and biscuits at 11.30pm and start hiking at midnight or sometimes 1am.
Most daily hikes take from 4 – 7 hours. The pace is slow and not forced at all. There is a rest at least once every hour and plenty of time to take photos, enjoy the view and chat. When you arrive at the campsite you will find the tents erected and your bags ready to collect. In the morning please have your bags packed before breakfast.
Expect a long day starting at midnight and getting all the way back down to Millennium Camp by about 3pm in the afternoon. The route up will be in the darkness and it will be cold and often windy. Do prepare with good warm clothing and protect your extremities and face. From Barafu to the crater rim will take about 6 hours, and you will arrive with the dawn which is very special. From the rim (Stella Point) it is a further hour to the top, so expect summit time be anything between 7am and 9am. With an hour on top for photos and enjoying the exceptional view, and feeling absolutely elated, the route down is dusty, loose and quite a strain on the knees. Take it easy and stay with one of the guides; they will split up to cover all the mini groups that naturally form for the descent.
When you get back to Barafu pack your bags for the porters to take down (you should prepare this the night before), take a rest and lunch and then drop down to Millennium Camp which is a further two hours to the edge of the forest. Some people question this, but it is necessary to get lower because Barafu is still at 4600 metres and your body will thank you for losing altitude.It may be the last thing you want to do after having summited Kilimanjaro, but it is necessary!
Adventure Alternative is proud to pay excellent salaries, in fact the highest rate recommended by the National Park. We are members of the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project, the Ethical Tour Operators Group and the AITO Sustainable Tourism Committee.
Tips have become mandatory in Tanzania because of exploitation by less ethical companies who rely on them to replace a salary. We are in the position of wanting to encourage a bonus to the staff who do an amazing job, but at the same time wanting the tip to be given for a good job done, not because it is expected (or worse, demanded). The normal amount is £40 per Westerner and we would ask that you follow our advice on tips please.
* Please prepare your tips before going on the mountain by changing any money into local currency and into small denominational notes like 5000 or 10,000 Tanzanian shillings.
* Please give your tips as a group only to Castro when you meet him on the last day at the gate. Do not give the tip to the guides or the porters directly.
* Please do not give an individual tip to a specific porter or guide during the climb of Kilimanjaro. This breeds suspicion and encourages them to pester tourists for more money. We try to maintain consistency and fairness at all times. If there is someone who the group feels deserves special mention then tell Castro and by all means add a small amount extra, but make sure that it is given in front of everybody and recognised as a reward for service beyond the usual call of duty. Please also remember that money is not the only way of showing your gratitude, a genuine thank you in front of all the other staff goes a long way to making someone happy.