The majority of people trekking Mount Kilimanjaro fall into 2 categories. Those that just want to climb Kilimanjaro and then fly home and those who use it as part of a larger reason to get to Africa and do other things that have perhaps been bucket list travel fantasies. Either way there are some basic things to think of and wrap your head around.
Arriving early in Africa for your trek will significantly increase your chances of summiting. This apparently small issue is one which is overlooked by most trekkers as it may not be so obvious as to why it is so important.
Recovery from home and work life and international flights: Most people live a hectic lifestyle back home and are forced to work right up to the moment that they get on the plane to fly to Africa. This is not conducive to a successful mountain attempt. Add to this the hassle and sleeplessness of the flights, along with delays, panics about weather delays in their home country and the stress of lost luggage and it is quite easy for most people to collapse on arrival and need days to get the adrenaline out of their system, catch up on sleep and get themselves ready for a physical undertaking which will probably be as tough as anything they have ever taken on before.
On top of all this, when arriving in Africa, you need time to physically adjust to the new environment. Our bodies are good at concealing this from our conscious minds in order that we can just get on, but you should still be aware that you are asking the demands of your physical system. Not least amongst these are the modifications that your dietary system has to make on arrival in a new location, with there being different balances of bacteria in the water and food which your system needs to cater for.
Low-level altitude and exercise: Recovery and acclimatisation from all of the above should be done at the relatively low altitudes of Arusha, Moshi or Marangu. Here you should stay in the most comfortable surroundings that you can afford, minimising the risks and maximising the effects. Some of the lodges in Arusha are like modern spa hotels, relaxing and beautiful. Here you can spend days alternating between relaxation and exercise. There is excellent hiking around the villages in the foothills of Meru and Kilimanjaro, which are both scenic and fascinating. This is where you will see rural Africa, meet the people and learn a bit about the place. It is all good for the body and soul before the main event of the trek.
PLANNING EXTRA ACTIVITIES EITHER BEFORE OR AFTER YOUR KILIMANJARO CLIMB
Tanzania Safari: The famous safari areas of the Tanzania North region lie only a few hours to the west of Mount Kilimanjaro, including Serengeti safari, Ngorongoro safari, Tarangire safari and Lake Manyara safari. Although a safari in this region is usually best done over 5-10 nights, many trekkers tend to be a little short on time and budget and instead look for more of a taster experience. If you want to add a short safari to go with your trek, we can tailor-make this for you, with a duration of anything from 1 night upwards. At one night you can get a taste of either Tarangire or the Ngorongoro Crater. At two nights you can just about combine the Ngorongoro Crater with the Serengeti. At three and four nights we are starting to talk about a proper safari where there is more chance to get off the beaten track. Despite the fact that these safaris are very short, we would still try to maintain an unusually high level of quality and authenticity by using camps that have excellent locations and great guiding. The cornerstones of a Tailormade Africa safari.
Although we can include any accommodation you choose, we can tailor these safaris to suit. Some visitors also combine with options further a field including Ruaha National Park and the Selous Game Reserveto the south of the country. Katavi National Park further west and the Mahale Mountains for the most authentic chimpanzee safari experience in Africa. The Maasai Mara is just over the border in Kenya and easy to get too.
Zanzibar and other Tanzania coastal Islands
The tropical beaches of Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia Islands are a short hopper flight away from Mount Kilimanjaro, so are often added at the end of a trip, especially by those wanting to take advantage of the excellent diving and snorkelling. There is a wide range of accommodation with decent lodges starting from around USD 140 per person per night, plus the connecting flights at around USD 300 per person.
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda or Uganda
Perhaps the ultimate trip combination also includes a visit to Rwanda or Uganda to trek into the tropical forests in search of mountain gorillas. This kind of extension usually takes around 3/4/5 nights, but is very expensive, largely due to the cost of getting there and the price of the gorilla permits. You can reckon on it adding around USD 3000 per person.
We are commonly asked to combine Mount Kilimanjaro with Victoria Falls. This is possible, albeit with a night in Nairobi across the way in neighbouring Kenya.