Kilimanjaro Trek FAQs
After booking your trek, you’ll receive a pre-departure packet in the mail, which includes trip details and tips. Until then, here are some common questions from our travelers.
No special mountaineering equipment is needed, and most active guests find they already have most of the items—hiking boots, multiple layers, warm hats and gloves, down jacket, etc. Once you’ve joined your trek, you’ll receive a detailed packing list and rental gear list to help you prepare.
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You don’t need to be an athlete or have experience with technical mountaineering, but you do need to be active, committed to training prior to the climb, and ready to persevere on the mountain. The trails are completely nontechnical—very steep in some areas and easy in others. Before your trek, we recommend strength training exercises and regular hikes to familiarize your body with the rigors and nuances of the trails. Give us a call for specific recommendations.
Kilimanjaro Training Tip: Sideward Bound-Pause Exercise
Temperatures on the mountain vary greatly—from 70-90 °F in the rainforest to -10 °F near the summit. Above the tree line, most days are 30-50 °F. Kilimanjaro creates its own weather patterns, and the weather can change dramatically and without warning. Your guides will help you be prepared for sun, rain, snow, and wind. We recommend layering your clothing and carrying your waterproof shell at all times.
While we can run treks on any route, we strongly recommend the least traveled, most scenic, and nontechnical options. All of our routes offer acclimatization time, stunning views, and more intimate experiences on the mountain. The [Western Approach Route] is our 9-day acclimatization trek. The [Grand Traverse Route] is our 10-day, least traveled climb with maximum acclimatization and upgrades. The [Umbwe Route] is our most efficient and challenging (yet do-able) route to the summit.
To see even more of Kilimanjaro, you’ll descend the Mweka Route on the southeastern slopes of the mountain. The final day’s descent is through lush forests on a well-maintained trail to the gate. Here you’ll be awarded your climbing certificate and savor a hearty meal before bidding farewell to your guides and porters.
Don’t worry! There’s a guide for every three trekkers so you can move at your own pace. Our guides will remind you to move pole, pole (slowly, slowly). Hiking at a slow and steady pace gives your body a chance to acclimatize to the altitude.
If you need to descend early, one of our medically-trained Mountain Guides will assist you down the mountain. They know a network of shortcuts to escort you to our next campsite efficiently and safely.
Porters carry all of your gear except for your day pack, which holds your water, raingear, sunscreen, and camera. The pack typically weighs 10-12 lbs. On our [Grand Traverse Route], personal porters will carry your day pack. You can employ a personal porter on the other routes if you wish.
Thomson Mountain Guides are internationally certified Wilderness First Responders. Tanzanian- born, they are all seasoned Kilimanjaro experts with 100-200+ personal summits. They speak English and Swahili, have extensive experience leading treks with western group dynamics, and carry an arsenal of emergency equipment that they are trained to use. Trekking with them is the safest way to summit.
Chefs with professional hygienic food preparation training make three hot, nutritious meals, trail snacks, and afternoon tea each day. You’ll eat all three meals in a solar-lit dining tent with your fellow trekkers and head Mountain Guide. We also provide delicious vegetarian, vegan, gluten- free, and other specialty meals (upon advanced request). We’re happy to send you a sample menu—just ask!
Our mountain camps are set up and broken down each day by your expert porters. They include double occupancy, all-weather tents with full-ground pads to keep you and your gear dry. Private toilet tents, solar-lit dining tents with tables and large chairs, and basins of hot water for washing are all provided.
Our trek sizes are small, offering you a more intimate experience on the mountain. There’s no minimum size, so all departures are guaranteed. We take a maximum of 12 climbers on the Western Approach and Umbwe routes and eight climbers on the Grand Traverse Route.
June through October is best for cooler, drier weather. December through March is warm and a tad wetter with lush, green landscapes prevailing. The only months you don’t want to climb are April, May, and November because of heavy rains.
98% of Thomson trekkers reach Uhuru Peak, Mt. Kilimanjaro’s summit.
You’ll trek 4-7 hours most days. On the longest days, you’ll trek 10-15 hours.
The [Western Approach Route] covers 55-60 miles, the [Grand Traverse Route] about 85 miles, and the [Umbwe Route] about 45 miles.
Prior to the climb, you’ll enjoy an acclimatization day with wildlife viewing and nature walks. Trekking through the rainforest you may see black and white Colobus monkeys, tropical birds, and more.