preparation to climb kilimanjaro is key to a successful hike

Preparation to climb Kilimanjaro

Preparation to climb Kilimanjaro is key for a successful summit. Your journey starts with the right partner. Kilimanjaro Hiking Tours boasts over 12 years of expertise in guiding hikers to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. Our expert guides have successfully guided many hikers to the summit of the mountain. Choosing the right partner is key and can make the difference between a successful summit or not.

Our main goal is to ensure that hikers get the best preparation to climb Kilimanjaro. We provide hikers with valuable info to ensure they are ready for the adventure. A well-prepared hiker is more likely to achieve a successful summit. Years of hands-on experience and feedback from our past clients have contributed to the wealth of info we possess.

We have carefully compiled this preparation to climb Kilimanjaro guide to provide you with the most important info. Info outlined in this page is key for a successful summit. Choose Kilimanjaro Hiking Tours and let us guide you to the summit of a lifetime.

Preparation to climb KilimanjaroBefore the hike

Be properly equipped

Making sure that you have the right gear for the hike is key to your preparation to climb Kilimanjaro. Print our final gear list and mark it off, to ensure that you are.

Be physically prepared

It is key to adequately train your body for the challenges of the mountain. We have developed a dedicated fitness program which will assist you in getting your body in shape for the hike up the mountain. We will send you a copy of our Fitness Program once you have completed your booking with us.

Mental preparation

It is possible to summit the mountain successfully. Many before you have succeeded. This should be at the topmost in your mind when preparing for the hike. You should always remain in a positive state of mind, but not overly arrogant. Try to anticipate various different scenarios, which you may encounter on the mountain. Try to work out the most suitable course of action, mentally by yourself or even as a group. Your mental stamina will, without a doubt, make the really difficult sections easier to complete. The knowledge gained from this guide will provide the mental confidence needed for the physical challenges of mountain.

Complete travel insurance

Make sure that you have sufficient travel and medical insurance, which will also provide you with cover for hiking Kilimanjaro. Some insurance companies see hike as an adventure activity and their normal policies won’t provide cover hiking the mountain. Please make sure that the insurance you choose will cover you for the hike. If you can’t find suitable insurance, we recommend Redpoint’s ‘Ripcord’ option. This option will cover almost anyone for the hike, regardless of your country of origin.

Private or group hike?

A private hike means you are flexible to choose your own dates and have private services for your group. This include private dining tents, mountain transfers and your own dedicated team of guides, porters, cook and waiter. There will be other hikers using the trails, campsites and using the public facilities. This option is perfect for groups of 3 or more or couples wanting privacy or special requirements.

Scheduled group hike normally has fixed dates that cannot be changed. You will share services with those in your group including dining tents, mountain transfers and the support team. It is possible to reserve your own sleeping tent, hotel room and even a private guide. Scheduled group hikes are a great way of saving on the package price. It also allow you to meet other like-minded hikers from around the world. A scheduled group trek is ideal for single hikers or couples wanting to join a group. Group treks have a limit of 12 persons, but the average group size is 3 to 5 hikers.

When to hike

preparation to climb kilimanjaro photo of the rain forest

The best time to hike the mountain is during the dry season from middle June to early October. Weather conditions tend to be best during this period with the least chance of rain. It is also possible to hike from December to March, but weather conditions are less predictable. We recommend to avoid climbing during the rainy seasons. The long rainy period from April to May, and the short rainy period, during November. Please note that due to Kilimanjaro’s high altitude its weather patterns are not always seasonally predictable. This make sunshine, snow and rain possible anytime of the year!

It is possible to hike up mountain in April, May and November. However chances to encounter rain and snow during the hike, is much higher. Wet weather will make trails more difficult to hike on and muddy.

On The Mountain

Go slowly

Go slowly – “Pole Pole” as they say in Swahili! It is very important that you hike slow from starting on the first day of hiking. Even if you feel good, hike slow and enjoy the scenery. The biggest cause of altitude sickness is ascending too high too fast! The slower you hike the more time you give your body to adjust to the higher altitude.

Drink enough water

Make sure that you drink at least 3 litres of water a day. On your first day, we recommend filling your water bottles with mineral water. This can be purchased from the hotel in Moshi before your hike. Please note that plastic bottles are not allowed on the mountain.

From day 2 onwards, porters will collect water from streams on the mountain. The water will then be boiled and you will be able to refill your water bottles. As extra precaution you may also bring water purification tablets and add to their drinking water. However as per WHO boiling water is a sufficient way to make water safe for drinking.

REMEMBER! A functioning “body water balance” is one of the keys to a successful climb!

Climb light

Please limit the weight in your daypack as lightly as possible; this becomes even more important on your summit night. Extra weight will slow you down and will also make breathing more difficult.


Remember that you will be on the mountain for at least 6 or 7 days. You will need to take enough clothing, especially socks to last for this period. Due to frequent rainfall as well as numerous streams on the routes, it is advisable to pack items individually in your bag. Please take note that Tanzania has a plastic ban, we recommend a big liner bag inside your duffel bag. You are allowed to bring zip-lock type plastic bags. You are not allowed to dispose of them in Tanzania, you need to take them home with you. It is critical that all items in your duffel bag stay dry, during rain or accidental water from a stream.


You will be required to buy or rent the correct gear and clothing. This will include thermal underwear & hiking socks, gloves, warm head protection to name a few. Comfortable hiking or running shoes are ideal for the first part of the hike. Proper hiking boots are better because they provide good ankle support and better insulation. Hiking boots are ideal for the final sections where scree and rocks are encountered. And, most importantly, a walking stick/ski-pole. 

One of the most important items of clothing is an outer jacket. You want it to perform the functions of keeping you warm and keep the wind out and yet still “breath”. It should be able to protect you at temperatures of as low as -25 degrees Celsius. Try to avoid tight fitting clothing or underwear. This will hamper circulation, causing either cold or discomfort on the mountain. A balaclava is a must, as it will protect your face against cold, wind, sun and snow. We strongly recommend other clothing such as shorts, sweaters, and T-shirts, when hiking on the lower slopes. The day temperatures on the lower slopes normally remain high.

Clothing layers

To ensure proper warmth, follow the principle of wearing the correct clothing layers, starting from against the body. A common mistake made by climbers is to wear almost everything they have with cotton against the skin. Cotton absorbs moisture, the moisture trapped against the skin will result in a definite lowering of the body temperature. This could lead to hypothermia. It is therefore very important to use proper thermal underwear with “wicking” properties. Wicking fabric has the ability to draw moisture away from the body, enabling moisture to evaporate to the outside.

The middle layer should provide the insulation and a product like polar fleece will be adequate in this regard. The outer layer should be windproof, waterproof and breathable. Products like Ventex, Goretex or Jeantex offer these properties. Short of altitude and physical exertion, cold is one of the most serious obstacles when attempting to summit Kilimanjaro. After securing your booking with us, you’ll receive a comprehensive document guiding you through the steps of purchasing the correct gear.

Take a hiking pole / ski pole

A ski pole is essential. The use of ski poles reduces external and internal loads on the knee joint by up to 20%.
Using one ski pole is a must, but it is recommended to use two poles. Buy one or hire one but take one – view our Gear Rental options.

New batteries

Replace your head lamp and camera batteries with new ones on your summit night.

Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)

High-altitude sickness commonly affects individuals who are not accustomed to high-altitude conditions. AMS can become lethal if not treated immediately or if its symptoms are ignored. Probably 70% of all people climbing Kilimanjaro will suffer to some extent from AMS. You should familiarise yourself with this condition and take preventative care.


Malaria occurs below 1800 meters and you should use the recommended prophylactics. Please consult your doctor about these. Currently, various preventative medication products are available that will be effective against the malaria strains found in Tanzania. Women using oral contraceptives should consult their physicians before using prophylactics.

Preparation to climb KilimanjaroOther useful tips

Wet wipes

There is no washing water at Barafu, Kibo and Arrow Glacier camps. Wet Wipes are very useful


Take enough snacks like energy bars etc. Avoid the toffee like energy bars as they get very hard and difficult to eat in low temperatures. We recommend that you bring cereal type energy bars instead.

Adequate sun protection

Wear a good quality pair of sunglasses with UV protection. Use adequate sun protection cream with a protection factor of at least 20+.

Thermal flask

Use a thermal flask for your water on the summit night, other water bottles might freeze solid.


Taking pictures with a fully automatic camera at the summit of Kilimanjaro is possible, and most people do this. The secret is to always have a new battery in your camera when going into cold areas at high altitude. A mechanical camera works just as well, provided you have the knowledge to operate it successfully. Cameras exposed to cold rarely cease to function. However remember that if you keep your camera inside your jacket and the lens becomes warm. A warm lens is likely to cause condensation to form when the camera suddenly experiences extreme cold. This condensation will freeze under conditions at the summit. Therefore, keep your camera dry at all times. Moisture will freeze at the summit which WILL cause your camera to stop functioning.

Other useful tips:

  • Travel with your most important gear as hand luggage. For example wear your hiking boots in the plane – missing luggage is a common problem. It is possible to rent most of the items, but it better to avoid renting hiking boots, thermal underwear etc.
  • Bring some blister plasters, Vaseline and liner socks. If you start to get blisters it will help a lot.
  • There is mobile reception on most of the mountain (except the first days on the Lemosho and Rongai route). If you bring your mobile, make sure you activate international roaming or get a local sim card. Because you cannot recharge the battery, we strongly recommend you bring a lightweight power bank to recharge your phone.