Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest peak of Africa’s Continent at 5,895 meters, its the largest free-standing mountain rise in the world, meaning it is not part of a mountain range. Kilimanjaro is located near the town of Moshi and is a protected area, carefully regulated for climbers to enjoy without leaving a trace of their presence. The mountain’s ecosystems are as strikingly beautiful as they are varied and diverse.
On the lowland slopes, much of the mountain is farmland, with coffee, banana, cassava, and maize crops grown for subsistence and cash sale. A few larger coffee farms still exist on the lower slopes, but much of the area outside the national park has been subdivided into small plots. Once inside the park, thick lowland forest covers the lower altitudes and breaks into alpine meadows once the air begins to thin. Near the peak, the landscape is harsh and barren, with rocks and ice the predominant features above a breath-taking African view.
Kilimanjaro is one of the world’s most accessible high summits, a beacon for visitors from around the world. Most climbers reach the crater rim with little more than a walking stick, proper clothing, and determination. And those who reach Uhuru Point, the actual summit, or Gillman’s Point on the lip of the crater, will have earned their climbing certificates
Remember, do not wear cotton! It does not dry at high altitudes and can chafe. Wear fabric this is breathable, synthetic, and moisture-wicking.
- Moisture-wicking long-sleeve tee-shirts (2), Moisture-wicking tee-shirts (2)
- Moisture-wicking sports bra tank – two-in-one is a space saver! (1), Moisture-wicking sports bra (1)
- Long underwear pants (1)
- Underwear (3 total, 2 that are moisture-wicking)
- Hiking boots: leather with sturdy mid-sole and a Vibram sole. Boots should be warm and fit well over light and heavy sock combination. Break them in well.
- Gaiters: short, simple gaiters are the best for mud in the forest and scree on the summit.
- Trekking sandals/ sport sandals: that you can slip on in camp during evenings.
- Lightweight socks: 3 pairs synthetic/wool blend
- Heavy socks: 3 pairs synthetic/wool blend
Sleeping & Carrying Equipment
- Medium-sized daypack (25-30 liters): used to carry essentials needed during the day like clothes, water, raincoat, warm clothing, camera, and food
- Daypack rain shield cover: some daypacks already come with one
- Sleeping bag liner (brought but never used)
- Dry sacks: I had a 4L, 8l, 16L, and 32L Sea to Summit bags to stay organized, or you can also use plastic bags to protect equipment from rain
Personals & Toiletries
- Basic toiletries: soap, deodorant, toothbrush, cotton Q-tips, floss, hairbrush, toothpaste, etc…
- Bug spray: Deet 25-50%
- Toilet paper: you can buy travel packs from Target or take the cardboard out of a roll and store it in a plastic zip-lock bag
- Feminine hygiene cleansing wipes
- Wet wipes: used for “showering” and cleaning hands and face—bring more than you think you need, and then some (inexpensive drugstore ones work fine)
- Anti-itch cream for bug bites: the mosquitoes are only in the rain forest and are enormous
- Face cleanser: I found it easiest to use Neutragena face wipes
- Sunscreen and lip protection, SPF 30+
- Contact solution & case
- Dry shampoo (optional)
- Nalgene bottle to pee in the last thing I wanted to do was leave the warmness of the tent in the frigid night air to go to the toilet tent
- Go Girl or a pee funnel: for use with the Nalgene pee bottle (didn’t wind up needing either, but glad I had it)
- You are climbing a mountain, not entering a beauty contest. No need to bring makeup.
- Pantyliners to keep underwear fresher longer
First Aid Items
- Advil: this helps with Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), I took two every morning and never ached or got sick
- A mini first-aid kit that includes ace-bandages, blister kit (tape, Neosporin, and band-aids), antibacterial cream, antibiotics for travelers’ diarrhea, antihistamines, cold and flu medications, throat lozenges, and altitude medications. (I wrapped the ace bandage over the Bandaids; this was a savior)
- Back-up emergency meds: Ciprofloxacin (travelers diarrhea & bladder infection) and Azithromycin (aka z-pack), Immodium for anti-diarrhea, Pepto-Bismol
- Malaria tablets: I took generic Malarone
- Diamox (Acetazolamide): This prevents and combats altitude sickness, I took the generic brand and showed no symptoms of AMS. The only person in my group who got sick summit night was the one who did not take Diamox. Note: It is a diuretic—To avoid needing to pee during the bitterly cold night, I hydrated enough during the day so I could cut myself off from drinking water at 6 pm. *hydration is crucial so do not limit water intake if you have not drunk enough yet.
March to May is the long rainy season and this continues through early June, We do not recommend climbing Kilimanjaro during this time, as the trails can be very wet, muddy, and snowy. The rest of the year is good to catching your summit on a clear day to get an amazing view from the highest point in Africa.
It takes at least five days to climb Mount Kilimanjaro or take 6-8 nights depending on the route. The more the number of days on the mountain, the better your probabilities of reaching the top. A successful climb is to take the longest routes possible.