Travel Guide

Prepare yourself for #Kilithon anventure


facing weather variability


Medical / Health

vaccinations, altitude sickness


Entry Requirements

for Tanzania



for Marathon and Safari (optional)



Well suited equipment is the part of your success according to significant temperature differences on Mount Kilimanjaro. Prepare yourself for all climate zones during the trekking and marathon run down the Kilimanjaro National Park. Take a look at the list of compulsory equipment recommended by professional Kilimanjaro trekking guides for trekking stage and (optional) Safari days.

Kilithon Mandatory Equipment

  • Supply of water of 1 litre minimum
  • 2 torches in good working order with spare cells/batteries for each torch
  • Survival blanket (NRC)
  • Whistle
  • Food reserve (aprox. 800-1000 kcal)
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Cap or bandana or Buff®
  • Gloves
  • Trekking poles


  • 2 backpacks: big (carried by porter), small (aprox. 30l) for you
  • camelbag / bidon (carring PET bottles is not allowed in Park)
  • light trekking shoes
  • warm trekking boots
  • trekking shorts

  • light trekking trousers
  • waterproof / windstopper trekking pants
  • termoactive underwear
  • softshell / polar jacket
  • hardshell jacket (GORE-TEX®)
  • dawn or primaloft jacket

  • light / softshell gloves
  • warm / waterproof gloves
  • beanie
  • cap
  • warm trekking socks
  • sleeping bag (max. comfort temp. -15°C)

  • sleeping bag (comfort temp. -15°C)
  • self-inflating mat
  • trekking poles
  • UV50 protection blocker
  • sunglasses
  • headlamp (+ more batteries)
  • MUGGA™

Safari (optional)

  • t-shirt (moisture-wicking properties)
  • light trekking trousers
  • softshell / polar jacket
  • light sleeping bag

  • sunglasses
  •  sun protecting cap
  • light trekking shoes
  • UV protection blocker + MUGGA™

Basic equipment

  • civil clothes
  • underwear (avoid cotton, use technical fabrics)
  • deposit bags (waterproof)
  • anti malarial medications
  • basic painkiller medications
  • binoculars (safari)
  • toiletries

  • Prescriptions
  • Lip Balm 
  • First Aid Kit
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Toilet Paper 
  • Wet Wipes (recommended)
  • Snacks, light-weight, high calorie, high energy (optional)
  • Electrolytes, powder or tablets (optional)

Medical / Health


The list of recommended vaccinations for East African travel is updated regularly by the WHO. Your local healthcare practice will usually have an up to date list. Please consult them.

As from June 2008 an International Certificate of Vaccination for Yellow Fever is now an administrative requirement for entry to Tanzania. Immigration officials are currently being trained to insist on proof of this vaccination.

  • Yellow fever  (10 days before travel)
  • Typhoid  (10 days before travel)
  • Hepatitis A  (2 weeks before travel)
  • Diphtheria  (3 months before travel)

Altitude Sickness

There is a strong correlation between the amount of time spent on the mountain and the summit success rate. Because human body adapts to high altitude slowly, the more time it has, the better the chances of acclimatization. A successful summit attack is usually a question of how well a climber can acclimatize to the high altitude, rather than the climber’s ability to ascend. By trekking standards, most of the day hikes on Kilimanjaro are not very strenuous. The big exception to this is the summit attempt, which requires a tremendous effort and is hard for nearly everyone.

Everyone climbing Mount Kilimanjaro should be familiar with the symptoms of altitude sickness. The percentage of oxygen in the atmosphere at sea level is about 21%. As altitude increases, the percentage remains the same but the number of oxygen molecules per breath is reduced. At 12,000 feet (3,600 m) there are roughly 40% fewer oxygen molecules per breath so the body must adjust to having less oxygen. Altitude sickness, known as AMS, is caused by the failure of the body to adapt quickly enough to the reduced oxygen at increased altitudes. Altitude sickness can occur in some people as low as 8,000 feet, but serious symptoms do not usually occur until over 12,000 feet.

Mountain medicine recognizes three altitude categories:

  • High altitude: 4,900 to 11,500 ft (1,500 to 3,500 m)
  • Very high altitude: 11,500 to 18,000 ft (3,500 to 5,500 m)
  • Extreme altitude: 18,000 ft and above (5,500 m and above)

In the first category, high altitude, AMS and decreased performance is common. In the second category, very high altitude, AMS and decreased performance are expected. And in extreme altitude, humans can function only for short periods of time, with acclimatization. Mount Kilimanjaro’s summit stands at 19,340 feet – in extreme altitude.

At over 10,000 feet (3,000 m), more than 75% of climbers will experience at least some form of mild AMS.

There are four factors related to AMS:

  • High Altitude
  • Fast Rate of Ascent
  • High Degree of Extertion
  • Dehydration

Mild AMS

The main cause of altitude sickness is going too high (altitude) too quickly (rate of ascent). Given enough time, your body will adapt to the decrease in oxygen at a specific altitude. This process is known as acclimatization and generally takes one to three days at any given altitude. Several changes take place in the body which enable it to cope with decreased oxygen:

  • The depth of respiration increases
  • The body produces more red blood cells to carry oxygen
  • Pressure in pulmonary capillaries is increased, “forcing” blood into parts of the lung which are not normally used when breathing at sea level
  • The body produces more of a particular enzyme that causes the release of oxygen from hemoglobin to the body tissues

Again, AMS is very common at high altitude. It is difficult to determine who may be affected by altitude sickness since there are no specific factors such as age, sex, or physical condition that correlate with susceptibility. Many people will experience mild AMS during the acclimatization process. The symptoms usually start 12 to 24 hours after arrival at altitude and will normally disappear within 48 hours. The symptoms of Mild AMS include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea & Dizziness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Disturbed sleep
  • General feeling of malaise

Moderate AMS

Symptoms tend to be worse at night and when respiratory drive is decreased. Mild AMS does not interfere with normal activity and symptoms generally subside as the body acclimatizes. As long as symptoms are mild, and only a nuisance, ascent can be continued at a moderate rate.

While hiking, it is essential that you communicate any symptoms of illness immediately to others on your trip.

The signs and symptoms of Moderate AMS include:

  • Severe headache that is not relieved by medication
  • Nausea and vomiting, increasing weakness and fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Decreased coordination (ataxia)

Normal activity is difficult, although the person may still be able to walk on her/his own. At this stage, only advanced medications or descent can reverse the problem. It is important to get the person to descend before the ataxia reaches the point where she/he cannot walk on hes/his own (which would necessitate a stretcher evacuation). Descending only 1,000 feet (300 m) will result in some improvement, and 24 hours at the lower altitude will result in a significant improvement. The person should remain at lower altitude until all the symptoms have subsided. At this point, the person has become acclimatized to that altitude and can begin ascending again.

Severe AMS

Severe AMS results in an increase in the severity of the aforementioned symptoms including:

  • Shortness of breath at rest
  • Inability to walk
  • Decreasing mental status
  • Fluid build-up in the lungs

Severe AMS requires immediate descent of around 2,000 feet (600 m) to a lower altitude. There are two serious conditions associated with severe altitude sickness; High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) and High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE). Both of these happen less frequently, especially to those who are properly acclimatized. But, when they do occur, it is usually in people going too high too fast or going very high and staying there. In both cases the lack of oxygen results in leakage of fluid through the capillary walls into either the lungs or the brain.

High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE)

HAPE results from fluid build up in the lungs. This fluid prevents effective oxygen exchange. As the condition becomes more severe, the level of oxygen in the bloodstream decreases, which leads to cyanosis, impaired cerebral function, and death. Symptoms of HAPE include:

  • Shortness of breath at rest
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Persistent cough bringing up white, watery, or frothy fluid
  • Marked fatigue and weakness
  • A feeling of impending suffocation at night
  • Confusion, and irrational behavior

Confusion, and irrational behavior are signs that insufficient oxygen is reaching the brain. In cases of HAPE, immediate descent of around 2,000 feet (600 m) is a necessary life-saving measure. Anyone suffering from HAPE must be evacuated to a medical facility for proper follow-up treatment.

High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE)

HACE is the result of the swelling of brain tissue from fluid leakage. Symptoms of HACE include:

  • Headache
  • Weakness
  • Disorientation
  • Loss of co-ordination
  • Decreasing levels of consciousness
  • Loss of memory
  • Hallucinations & Psychotic behavior
  • Coma

This condition is rapidly fatal unless the afflicted person experiences immediate descent. Anyone suffering from HACE must be evacuated to a medical facility for follow-up treatment.

Entry Requirements

Foreigners seeking to enter the United Republic of Tanzania should be in possession of a valid passport, at least six months prior to expiration. The passport is to be presented to the Immigration Control Officer at any entry point: border station, airport, harbor. The passport must be presented along with one of the following:

  • A valid visa (available at JRO)
  • Resident permit
  • Passport
  • Immunization Papers
  • Insurance Documents

A visitor must also present an onward or return ticket together with proof that the visitor has sufficient funds to support himself or herself while in Tanzania.