[Note: The Kilimanjaro Climb is now Complete. Please Click Here to read the extensive trip report about both the climb and our wonderful travels in East Africa. I am leaving this preparations page up for reference purposes ]
Kilimanjaro Preparation
Final Update - December 24, 2004
Well, it's now December, and the Kilimanjaro trip is drawing near. Here, on this page, you'll find a summary of our activities and accomplishments in preparation for this exciting trip! Less than a month to go!

This page also serves pretty well as a guide for anyone (and Canadian, in particular) that wants to know what has to be done to get ready for and climb Kilimanjaro.

After many months of back and forth, ins and outs, meetings and discussions, we have the following team:
  • Andrew
  • Caroline
  • Markus
  • Pu
  • Peter K
  • Yi
Unfortunately Brian was unable to make it this year, as were several others. Who knows, if this is fun enough, maybe we can go again with a different group some other year!
Peter was good enough to do some of the legwork required for getting our VISAs. We needed two VISAs, one for Kenya, and one for Tanzania. Since we were staying in Kenya for more than a 24 hour period, we needed the regular 'single' Kenyan Visa, rather than the cheaper 'transit' Visa.

The cost for the Kenyan visa was $72 CDN (for Canadian Citizens). The cost for the Tanzanian visa was $75 CDN (for Canadian Citizens).
Country Canadian Web Site Direct Link to Visa Form
Kenya Kenyan High Commission Visa Application Form (.PDF File)
Tanzania Tanzanian High Commission Visa Application form (.PDF File)
Also of note, in case anyone is getting ready themselves for a trip like this, is that your passport needs to be valid for at least six months after your trip in order for you to be able to get these Visas. Also, you need to provide a standard (Canadian standard, anyway) passport photograph with each of these visa applications.

If you are a canadian citizen filling out visa applications and you need to fill in the "issued by" field, use "Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Canada".
courtesy Markus_PreTrip
courtesy Markus_PreTrip
courtesy Markus_PreTrip
Tanzanian High Commission.
Kenya High Commission
Tanzanian High Commission.
courtesy Markus_PreTrip
Andrew at Kenya High Commission
Finally, a tanzanian Visa
Side Note: Getting the Tanzanian visa was not very smooth. It seems as if the Tanzanian High Commission in Ottawa could use some improvement in their customer service: Peter went in and submitted all our applications with a request to get them done within the space of a week, so that we could all have our passports back so we could travel to the states on the weekend to do training hikes. We were told our applications were marked "rush" and that they would be back 4 days later. Wrong! Four days later came and went and we were told that "the person who does the visa approvals was ill". Ok, fine... we can swallow that I guess.

The next week we go back and we are told they aren't done yet and will be ready by the end of the week. Pretty poor for "rush" service. Peter then calls the commission towards the end of the week to see how things are going - no answer! hmm... so he drives down to the commission and finds a crude sign on the door saying "closed until next week" - no explanation, nothing.

The *next* week he calls and manages to talk to someone, who explains that "the commission was closed for a holiday"... yeah, good job on your promised commitments too, eh?

Well finally two weeks and a bit after we started, we got the visas. Not very professional. A word of advice - get this done well in advance in case you encounter some of this poor service.
Vaccination, Immunization and other Medications

We needed to get immunized before heading off to Kenya and Tanzania. The immunizations we got were:
Item Canadian Drug Insurance Number (DIN) Cost (*) Notes
Yellow Fever 00428833 $80.00 CDN absolutely required or you can't get a visa into Kenya / Tanzania.
Hepatitis A 02229702 $62.00 CDN Recommended
Hepatitis B 00749486 ? Optional (requires three separate injections).
Typhoid Fever 02130955 $34.00 CDN Recommended
Tetanus   Free. covered by most provincial health plans (e.g. OHIP) Recommended
Diptheria   Free. covered by most provincial health plans (e.g. OHIP) Recommended
Polio   Free. covered by most provincial health plans (e.g. OHIP) Recommended
(*) - prices as charged by Riverside Travel Clinic, Ottawa, Canada, Fall 2004.
It is also a good idea to bring along a course of Malaria medication, and so we obtained prescriptions for that. There were two types of Malaria medication suggested to us : Doxycyclene, and Malarone. Malarone was more expensive, but had fewer side effects and was required for less time.
Riverside Travel Clinic
Andrew receiving immunization
Markus receiving immunization
The Group Treats the tents
Pu ambushing
We also obtained a general antibiotic, useful for situations if some fell seriously ill with a stomach ailment or some such thing. For altitude sickness, we obtained a prescription for Diamox (DIN 02238073). We intend to take neither unless necessary, as these are not drugs which are taken preventatively.

Most of us received our immunizations at the Riverside Travel Clinic in Ottawa. Dr. Peter Teitelbaum was our doctor, and he was quite pleasant and helpful about the whole thing.

Riverside Travel Medicine Clinic
1919 Riverside Drive
Suite 411
Ottawa, ON
K1H 1A2
(613) 733-5553
(613) 733-2689 (fax)
Dr. Peter Teitelbaum

Also, you may want to browse the Federal Government's Immunization Page.
Plane Tickets

We ended up booking rather late (late October) due to the length of time it took to get the final committed group of participants. Yi did an excellent job of rooting around and finding a reasonable deal even with the late booking date, although in order to get it we need to fly out of Montreal (no big deal). We booked with Algonquin Travel in Ottawa, and, for $1740 CDN, taxes in, we now have the following flight itinerary:
Date Depart Arrive Flight
Thurs, Dec 30 Montreal, 19:40 London, 07:10 (+1 day) British Airways 94 (Boeing 777-200)
Fri, Dec 31 London, 10:10 Nairobi, 21:20 British Airways 65 (Boeing 747-400)
Date Depart Arrive Flight
Mon, Jan 17 Nairobi, 23:20 London, 05:05 British Airways 64 (Boeing 747-400)
Tues, Jan 18 London, 15:30 Montreal, 17:45 British Airways 95 (Boeing 777-200)
Travelling to and from the mountain
Nairobi to Kili Travel Route
We are arriving at the airport on New Year's Eve 2004. We'll be hiring a local shuttle bus company to take all of us and our luggage to our hotel, for a group rate of $25 USD.

From our hotel, we'll be taking the Davanu Shuttle, which will pick us up at the hotel. The Shuttle will run from Nairobi south to the border crossing into Tanzania at Namanga. From there, we continue south to Arusha, where we will transfer to another shuttle bus to take us to Moshi. Total cost of this bus, one way, will be $30 USD (per person). The Bus leaves Nairobi at 08:15 (07:30 for us at the hotel), and arrives in Moshi sometime around 17:00. A long ride, but probably interesting!

We are staying at the six-eighty hotel in Nairobi. The cost will be $65 CDN per night, double occupancy. So, $37.50 CDN per person. (we are staying two nights there, Fri, Dec 31, and Sat, Jan 1, 2005).

On the way back, we'll take the same Davanu Shuttle on January 17. (our flight leaves at 23:20 at the JKIA airport in Nairobi on the 17th).
Ground Transport after Landing
Date Depart Arrive Shuttle
Fri, Dec 31, 2004 JKIA Airport, 21:20+ Six-eighty hotel, Nairobi CASafaris Shuttle service
Sun, Jan 2, 2005 Six-eight hotel, Nairobi 07:30 Springlands Hotel, Moshi, Tanzania ~17:30 Davanu Shuttle service
Mon, Jan 17, 2005 Springlands Hotel, Moshi, Tanzania 10:30 JKIA Airport, ~19:00 Davanu Shuttle Service
Map of Nairobi City center and location of our hotel

Our Climb

The way I look at Kilimanjaro's routes is to divide the climb into two phases. There is essentially a 'lower route' and an 'upper route'. The lower climb takes you from a trailhead up to a set of common locations midway up the mountain. The 'upper climb' is the final part that is climbed on summit day. There are many different lower and upper climbs, and they can be mixed and matched in many different ways.

We have chosen the Umbwe route as our lower route, and the Western Breach route as our upper route. Normally this route takes six days. However, we want to increase our enjoyment of the climb and our changes of success, so we have added two extra acclimatization days, for a total of eight days on the mountain.

After some research, we decided to book our climb with Zara Travel (http://www.zara.co.tz/). We chose them based on feedback, on my interactions with them, and the fact that they had reasonable prices.

Our total price for the climb was $1130 USD each. (approximately $1380 CDN at the day's exchange rates). This amount includes:
  • Two overnight stays at the Springlands Hotel in Moshi (one before and one after the climb)
  • Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner for each day of the climb
  • All Park Fees
  • Tents (although we are bringing our own)
  • All Guide and Porter fees (19 guides/porters will be with us on our climb)
  • Transport from Moshi to / from trailheads
The price does not include tips, nor are "while-hiking" snacks included. For our eight-day trip, we estimate the tip will come to about $150 USD per person.
Here, then, is our itinerary for the climb:
Date (2005) From To Starting Altitude Ending Altitude Altitude Gain Notes
Mon, Jan 3 Springlands Hotel, Moshi Umbwe Gate 2919'
(890 m)
(1800 m)
(+910 m)
Drive from hotel to trailhead
Mon, Jan 3 Umbwe Gate Umbwe Cave 5900'
(1800 m)
(2900 m)
(+1100 m)
Tue, Jan 4 Umbwe Cave Barranco Hut 9600'
(2900 m)
(3900 m)
(+1000 m)
Wed, Jan 5 Barranco encampment   12,800'
(3900 m)
  0 Acclimatization day (may do day hike)
Thu, Jan 6 Barranco encampment Lava Tower 12,800'
(3900 m)
(4600 m)
(+700 m)
Fri, Jan 7 Lava Tower   15,000'
(4600 m)
  0 Acclimatization day (may do day hike)
Sat, Jan 8 Lava Tower [foot of] Arrow Glacier 15,000'
(4600 m)
(4850 m)
(+250 m)
Sun, Jan 9 Arrow Glacier Summit 15,900'
(4850 m)
(5895 m)
(+1045 m)
(via Western Breach route)
Sun, Jan 9 Summit Mweka Hut 19,340'
(5895 m)
(3100 m)
(-2795 m)
(via Mweka Route)
Mon, Jan 10 Mweka encampment Mweka Gate 10,200'
(3100 m)
(-1270 m)
Mon, Jan 10 Mweka Gate Springlands Hotel, Moshi 6000'
(890 m)
(-940 m)
Drive from trailhead to hotel.
Planned Climbing Route
Post-Climb Safari

Immediately after our climb we will be staying with Zara Travel and taking a 4-day Safari. Here are the details:
Date Destination  
Tues, Jan 11 Lake Manyara overnight Twiga Camp
Wed, Jan 12 Serengeti overnight Seronera Camp
Thu, Jan 13 Ngorongo Crater overnight Simba Camp
Fri, Jan 14 Ngorongo Crater end of Safari. Drop-off TBD
Gear required

The route we are going up requires tents and your own sleeping gear. Porters _will_ carry this gear along with food and cooking gear. Other than that, proper hiking-wear for a winter outing of around -5 to -15C is required:
  • Backpacking boots
  • Heavy-duty socks (+ liners)
  • Gaiters
  • Windproof shell
  • Windproof shell pants
  • Long underwear, top and bottom
  • Two fleece layers, top
  • fleece layer, bottom
  • synthetic t-shirt(s)
  • fleece or other warm hat
  • balaclava
  • gloves and outer mitts
  • Sunglasses
  • Headlamp
  • Pack (specifically, a good-sized daypack)
  • Bag or Sack for Porters. This will likely be one of your duffel bags that you have along on the trip already. The porters will use this to carry any gear of yours that you don't carry in your daypack. Bring along a waterproof plastic bag to line the interior.
  • Tent
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Overbag (optional - but you should ensure that you have enough warmth!)
  • Sleeping Pad(s) - (Note: Zara provides one foam pad)
  • Matches/firestarter
  • Water bottles (3 recommended)
  • Water purification of some sort (mechanical or chemical)
  • Toiletries
  • Toilet Paper
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Sunblock
  • Bug repellant containing DEET
  • Lip balm w/sunblock
  • Pocketknife
  • Camera
  • Ziplock bags
  • some extra food for snacking while hiking (meal food provided by porters/guides)
  • Ice Ax
  • Crampons
  • Bed Nets to block mosquitos while sleeping in low altitude areas.
  • Money Belt
For an additional view, look at my gear page and select 'mountaineering expedtion' (not all items shown there will be required).

Here's a link to Zara's gear page: Zara's Kilimanjaro Packing List .
Cost Summary

Our breakdown of costs is pretty clear at this point. Here's the summary:
Item Cost, Per Person Notes
Plane Tickets $1740 CDN (taxes incl). Booking earlier would have meant cheaper fares, and from Ottawa, too. Still, a pretty good price.
Transport from Ottawa to Montreal $40 CDN Specifics TBD
Hotel in Nairobi $65 CDN two nights at $37.50 CDN each, double occupancy.
Climb Costs $1380 CDN Includes eight-day Kili climb via Umbwe/Western Breach, all fees, food, accommodations included; Tips not included.
Guide & Porter Tips $150 USD ($183 CDN) Based on $5/day per porter + $10/day per climbing guide. (8 days total, 16 porters and 3 guides).
Safari Costs $485 CDN 4-day safari (tenting), including all fees and food.
Airport Shuttle Bus Nairobi $4 USD ($5 CDN) Only needed upon arrival in Nairobi, not upon departure.
Shuttle Nairobi to Moshi $30 USD ($36 CDN)  
Shuttle Moshi to Nairobi $30 USD ($36 CDN)  
Immunizations Variable, but for the basics, about $200 CDN may be covered by company health plan
Anti-Malarial Drugs roughly $40 to $150, depending on type of anti-malarial. Malarone most expensive. may be covered by company health plan
Kenyan 'Single' Visa $72 CDN only $25 if staying in Kenya for less than 24 hours total. Visa is good for 6 months.
Tanzanian 'Single' Visa $75 CDN Markus gets discount for being German citizen.
Bed Nets $50 CDN with small enough mesh to prevent even the smallest of pests from getting through.
Anti-Malarial Solution for applying to bed nets and tents $1 CDN  
Travel Insurance TBD  
TOTAL $4100 to $4500 varies depending on amount of immunizations and drugs covered by your health plan (for most of us, almost all of this is covered).
TOTAL (without safari) $3615 to $4015  
TOTAL (without safari and with cheapest possible climbing route / schedule; i.e. 5-day marangu route climb) $2950 to $3350  
  • Zara offers locker at Springlands Hotel to store stuff during climb and safari. Our common "base of operations" will be the Springlands Hotel, Moshi.
  • It is ok to take 100,000 Kenyan Shillings (about $1692 CDN) into and out of Kenya.
  • Tanzanian Shillings are "forbidden to visitors". In Tanzania we must use US dollars.
Get Ready to Go!

I feel the chances of success for us in our climb is high, especially given our extra acclimatization days and our training hikes in the local mountains. However, of course, there is no guarantee that all will go well and everyone will make it to the top. But I'm confident.

In any case, I think this will be a fabulous adventure to a interesting corner of the globe, a climb of a neat and interesting mountain, and will in general be a life-enriching experience.

Feel free to use the 'forum' to discuss your issues, wants, concerns, thoughts, dates, etc. Or, send me a message pesonally using the 'feedback' link.
Final Prep Meeting
Yi and Peter Order
The group gets ready to go!
Electronic Note Taker
Training / Preparatory Hikes

Here's the links to each of our "Kilimanjaro Training hikes". Lots of pictures of all of us getting ready for our trip!

November 13- Mount Moriah Hike Image Gallery

November 20 - Pitchoff Mountain Hike Image Gallery

November 27- Ampersand Mountain Hike Image Gallery

December 13 - Wright Peak Hike Image Gallery

Related Links

Article about glacier reduction on Kilimanjaro (we better go before they are all gone!)

[Note: The Kilimanjaro Climb is now Complete. Please Click Here to read the extensive trip report about both the climb and our wonderful travels in East Africa. I am leaving this preparations page up for reference purposes ]

[ Kilimanjaro trip home page | The main trip report | Real-time Trip Updates | Chombo & his men | Wildlife Extravaganza | Spotlight on the Maasai | Exotic Spice Islands of Zanzibar | Route Descriptions | Maps, Graphs & GPS Data | Audio & Video Repository | A Contrasting Tragedy | Markus' Report | Trip Preparations ]

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