Frequently Asked Kilimanjaro Trek Questions
Most companies subcontract their Kilimanjaro climbs to local operators, and give up full control on the ground of how their climbs are run, including your safety and meal planning and preparation. We at Tusker operate our own ground operation and are licensed to lead our own climbs up Kilimanjaro. So we have full control over the minute-to-minute logistics of your climb.
Here are the answers to many of the questions we have been asked about our climbs over the years.
Why Tusker Trail?
Experience – Tusker has been leading Kilimanjaro climbs since 1977, and has decades of experience on Kilimanjaro.
No Subcontracting – We DO NOT subcontract our climbs. This means we run our own climbs with our own guides, our own vehicles and our own equipment.
Medically Trained Guides – We train our guides every year. High Altitude Medical Emergencies are the main focus of this training. Tusker guides are the most skilled on Kilimanjaro.
International Climbing Standards – We do not subcontract any part of your climb, so we are able to maintain high quality and safety standards at a world-class level.
Highly Trained Cooks – Our cooks are trained by the Culinary Institute of America, so the food is superb. The Culinary Institute of America also designs and plans our menus.
Why is there such a price difference between companies?
Standards of Safety and Quality
The majority of climbing companies subcontract their climbs to the lowest bidder. They are not “on the ground’ supervising and managing the quality of the climb, such as quality of meals, maintenance of equipment and the training and hiring of guides and crew. This way they are able to price their climbs inexpensively – but with much lower standards for safety and comfort.
Very few companies, such as Tusker, maintain a locally registered/licensed company in Tanzania. By having our own company we are able to maintain international climbing standards with our expert guides, professionally-trained cooks, experienced crew and high-end equipment. Understandably, these high standards come at a cost, and so companies like Tusker charge more for their trips.
The choice of climbing companies comes down to safety and quality.
What's included on a Tusker climb?
- Your climb is NOT subcontracted, Tusker operates your climb.
- Transfers to/from Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO).
- 3 hotel nights in Moshi. 2 before the climb, 1 after.
- If you descend early, 1 ‘extra’ hotel night in Moshi free of charge.
- All meals, from snack on arrival night, through lunch on your final day.
- Transfers to/from park gates in 4×4 vehicles.
- Park fees for you and all crew. Subject to change by park authorities.
- Services of Tusker guides, cooks and porters.
- Group climbs led by multiple medically trained professional guides.
- Mountain cooks trained by Culinary Institute of America.
- Meals and menu designed by the Culinary Institute of America.
- Hot breakfast and dinner every day while on mountain.
- Hot lunch most days. Picnic lunch a few days.
- A Tusker porter to carry 30 lbs of your personal gear.
- As much purified water as you can drink while on the mountain.
What if I have to cancel or postpone my trip?
Stuff happens and we understand, so we’re flexible. We’ll offer you a raincheck on your climb for no or little charge. If you cancel your trip outright, there are cancellation fees, depending on when you cancel.
What is the typical group size?
We keep them small. On most of our routes, group size ranges from 6-16, and sometimes smaller.
How many guides will be on my climb?
More Than You Think
Tusker sends 2-6 professionally trained guides on your climb. The number of guides depends on your group size.
Most companies only use 1 guide per group, regardless of the group size. If everything goes well, and no one has to make an early descent, then that’s fine. But if 1 member of a group gets altitude sickness and has to descend early, then 1 guide is not enough, as the guide must be in 2 places at once; with the group – and descending with the sick or injured climber.
That’s why we have multiple guides for groups of 2 or more client-climbers.
How many porters will be on my climb?
About 4-5 per Climber
Every company uses porters to carry climbers’ bags and the equipment that makes up the camp. Tusker hires more porters than other companies, in order to carry extra safety and camp equipment. As an example, for a group of 12 climbers, we will typically hire 45-50 porters, depending on the length of your trip. So on the average, there are usually about 4-5 porters per climber. Smaller groups will have 6-9 porters per climber.
Are kids allowed to climb Kilimanjaro?
Kids are not affected any differently by the altitude than adults. The main challenge for kids is the mental focus and toughness required as the climb gets harder.
The National Park authorities have set a minimum age of 12 and they are fairly strict. However, we have received permission in the past for a 7-year old to climb. If you plan to climb with a kid of 12 years or younger, book well in advance, as we need extra time to obtain permission from the park authorities. The authorities do not always grant permission.
Are airport transfers included?
All transfers to and from Kilimanjaro Int’l Airport (JRO) and our base in Moshi, are included in the price. For Arusha transfers there is an extra cost. We are happy to handle these arrangements for you.
What's the hotel accommodation like?
You stay at one of our two delightful family run hotels in Moshi. The hotels are located in Moshi, where it is easy to get to the Moshi market, great shopping and good restaurants. The hospitality at the hotels is excellent.
Can Tusker organize a safari for me after my climb?
From Kilimanjaro you are within a few hours from some of the finest wildlife reserves on the planet – Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Tarangire, Lake Manyara.
You should spend 3-5 days to allow yourself enough time to to appreciate the areas and the wildlife, and get the true experience of a Lifetime.
Does Tusker Trail do any community and environmental work?
Yes. Since our first charity fundraising climb in 2001, over $12,000,000 has been raised on our climbs. To name just a few foundation, we run fundraising climbs for the Make-a-Wish Foundation; CARE International; Breast Cancer Foundation.
If you’d like to join a charity climb, and do some good while climbing
Is Victoria Falls near Lake Victoria in Tanzania?
No, it’s not.
It’s 1,200 miles away, on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, to the south.
Do I have to pay for the extra hotel nights if I descend early from my Kilimanjaro climb?
Tusker covers the cost of one extra night of accommodation at our regular hotel. If you require more than one additional hotel night, you are responsible for the extra cost. Tusker will also transport you from the Kilimanjaro National Park gate to the hotel at no extra cost.
What inoculations or vaccinations will I need?
Unless you arrive in Tanzania from a country with a risk of Yellow Fever, Tanzania does not require you to have any vaccinations. If you arrive from a high-risk Yellow Fever country, Tanzanian officials will require you to show proof of a Yellow Fever vaccination upon arrival.
You can get detailed recommendations on vaccinations and medication from the Centers for Disease Control
Will I need a Visa to enter Tanzania?
Most nationalities require a visa, including USA, Canada, UK, Australia & New Zealand. You can find the complete list
Is it possible to climb Kilimanjaro throughout the year?
Even though the rains usually occur in March/April and November, it is mostly dry on Kilimanjaro. This means you can climb year-round. The numbers of climbers on Kilimanjaro fluctuates according to the tourist and weather seasons. Kilimanjaro’s weather can be unpredictable, and can change at any time.
What's the weather like on Kilimanjaro?
Cool and dry, to cold and wet.
Temperatures at night can drop to freezing at any place on the mountain. As a rule, it gets colder the higher you get.
On your climb you will experience humid and hot weather at the base in the rain forest, with daytime temperatures ranging from 60-90 F/15-32 C Days 2-3 can be dry and warm, with daytime temps around 60-70 F/15-21. At night be prepared for freezing and snow. The top is considered Arctic weather, where you will find permanent glaciers Temperatures at the summit can get as low as 0 to -15 F/-18 to -26 C, depending on the wind-chill and the weather. When it’s snowing, it usually occurs above 14,000-ft./4,267-m.
Which routes does Tusker climb?
Marangu Route – 9 Days in Tanzania
The Marangu route was the original route climbed by the first Europeans over 120 years ago; and the only route that Eddie Frank climbed during the first ten years of his Kilimanjaro career. Anchored in history, Tusker climbs this route for those who want to trek the traditional direct route.
Machame Route – 9 Days in Tanzania
The Machame Route is a shorter, more popular route on Kilimanjaro. Your initial approach is from the south. You start your summit ascent at sunrise, enjoying the climb in full daylight – not at night , taking advantage of the warmth and the spectacular views.
Lemosho Route – 11 Days in Tanzania
On the Lemosho Route you approach from the West. You have ample time acclimatize to the high altitude – the key to your summit success. Lemosho is one of the more spectacular routes up Kilimanjaro. You also make your summit ascent in daylight hours, not at night.
CRATER CAMP – Add one more day to your Lemosho climb and camp in Kilimanjaro’s remarkable crater after the summit.
Kili 360 (Northern Circuit) – 12 Days in Tanzania
On the Kili-360 Northern Circuit route you traverse the untouched northern slopes. On this trail the views are nothing short of spectacular and rarely trekked. It is true wilderness. Because of the longer duration you acclimatize well, making your summit easier, more fun and a total success. The final ascent is made during daylight hours.
Spiral Route – 13 Days in Tanzania
Tusker has pioneered a BRAND NEW ROUTE on Kilimanjaro. From the north you circumnavigate the entire peak. The isolated landscape of Kilimanjaro’s rarely seen northern and western slopes will leave you spellbound. The extended length of your climb allows you acclimatize extremely well, transforming it into a once in a lifetime experience.
Do I need any mountain climbing experience?
You don’t need any climbing experience. Any person in good health and very good physical condition, with a positive mental attitude can make the climb.
Can I pay by credit card?
We take all major credit cards. You can also pay by check, bank wire, or good old cash.
When I sign up, what happens next?
Your trekking coordinator at Tusker HQ will contact you to go over the details of your trip. You will then receive our highly informative pre-departure Kilimanjaro manual. This Kilimanjaro manual tells you ALL you will need to know to prepare for your climb, including a gear list, recommended inoculations, a work-out program, info on life in Tanzania and much more. Your trek coordinator will be your main point of contact once you’re booked, and will help you with any questions or other plans, such as a wildlife safari extension to the climb.
How qualified are Tusker's mountain guides?
It is very important that you climb Kilimanjaro with a guide who is not only experienced on Kilimanjaro, but who has proper leadership and high altitude training. Most guides do not. Each year between 5-15 climbers die on Kilimanjaro due to the lack of expertise and knowledge about high altitude problems which can occur.
Tusker Trail was the first company to establish a comprehensive medical training course for its guides. This course was designed by Tusker founder and high altitude expert, Eddie Frank. Eddie teaches this course to Tusker guides every year. The course is recognized by high altitude doctors worldwide.
Tusker’s guides are the most respected and most highly qualified guides on Kilimanjaro.
What guide training is required by the Tanzanian Authorities?
The National Park gives a bare minimum of first aid instruction to prospective guides. Beyond this, no formal medical or leadership training is given, nor are English language skills required.
Tusker Trail has endeavored to pioneer training that has set the standard other operators now follow. For 44 years Tusker has continued to improve these standards, providing the highest possible safety and security you will find.
What is the Guide-to-Climber ratio?
Very High (Good)
The number of guides will range from 2-6 depending on your group size. We use this many guides in case of an evacuation. Since all Tusker evacuations are directed and accompanied by one of our medically trained guides, we will always have enough guides on the climb to lead the rest of the group to the summit. Most other companies use only one guide, and send untrained porters for evacuations, a dangerous health risk that Tusker would never take.
What gear will I need to bring?
Once you book your climb, we’ll send you a detailed gear and clothing list. In general, you’ll need:
- Wet weather clothing (rentable from Tusker)
- Layered cold weather clothing (rentable from Tusker)
- Waterproof hiking boots
- Sleeping bag (rentable from Tusker)
- Hiking poles and gaiters (rentable from Tusker)
- Medium sized daypack
You will get a detailed list in the pre-departure manual which is sent to you when you book your climb with Tusker.
What's the food like?
For lack of a better term: Excellent!
In a mountain first, Tusker Trail has engaged the Culinary Institute of America to train our Kilimanjaro chefs on a regular basis. Tusker food is superb. The “Institute” also designs our nutritious menus.
We sit down to our meals in roomy all-weather dining tents, equipped with tables, folding chairs, and gas lamps for warmth and lighting. If you have any special requirements, just let us know. We’ll arrange it with our chefs.
Is there a weight limit for my gear on the climb?
When you arrive in Moshi we issue you with a heavy duty waterproof Tusker bag for the climb. It’s big enough to hold all your gear, and then some. As we limit the weight each porter carries, we ask that you limit your bag weight to 30 pounds.
What tents do you use?
Our tents are custom manufactured based on the design of the Eureka “K2 XT” tent, with some significant improvements. These rugged 4-season mountain tents are sized for 3-4 people, however we sleep only 2 to a te