When you arrive in Tanzania, you should be as healthy as possible. No one with a sore throat, cold, or with breathing problems should go above 10,000 feet. Your state of mind is also important. It is important to realize that climbing Kilimanjaro is not a competition and no one should force his or her body beyond its capabilities.
All trekkers should be aware of what food, water and hygienic precautions can be taken to minimize the chance of gastrointestinal problems. While trekking we will purify all your drinking water using the PUR packet. Please visit the following website which describes (and demonstrates) the product we are providing for purification of all drinking water for all our Kilimanjaro clients: http://www.csdw.com/csdw/pur_packet.shtml
While eating at a hotel or restaurant we recommend that you only drink and brush your teeth using only purified water, and follow your doctor’s guidelines, and/or contact a traveler’s clinic or other medical authority.
Staying hydrated at high altitude is one of the most important factors which determine how you will fare over the course of the trek. Dehydration is one of the more subtle and dangerous afflictions of being at high altitude. Once you are dehydrated, it is already too late to “catch up” (This is particularly important on the first few days of the climb, while your body is adjusting to the altitude and other changes). You should consider drinking at least 4-5 litres of water per day in order to keep yourself hydrated. This figure can be attained by the sum of your total food and drink throughout the day. The air will be extremely dry above 12,000 ft. (3,650 M), and to retain water you must avoid panting by breathing through your nose as much as possible, and minimize sweating by removing layers of clothing. You’ll need to sip fluids frequently, and monitor your urine, which should be fairly copious and mostly clear in color.
Since it’s impossible to determine ahead of time (without expensive testing) whether your water supply is safe to drink (no matter how pristine it appears), we purify all your drinking water on the trek. Our crew on the mountain have been trained to use the PUR packet to purify your drinking water.
Water is collected by our porters from mountain streams and pools, and once back in camp decanted into special buckets used solely for the purification process. Once the water has been treated, the purified water will be filtered and poured into other special buckets solely used for serving our climbers their purified water.
Your waiter will deliver your purified water into your dining tent in the evening (and in the morning, if necessary). You will need to take water from this bucket for your daily water consumption.
We will also boil water for hot drinks at mealtimes, and also for your water bottle at night (Note that we can provide each trekker with approximately one litre of boiling water for hot water bottles at night. Any more will be at a special request)
Throughout the trek, you may need to take precautions so that your water does not freeze.
Appetites are generally healthy until you reach 12,000 ft. (3,650 M), after which you may have to force yourself to eat. On the climb, every precaution is taken to ensure your food is safe to eat. You can expect to be served lots of fruit, complex carbohydrates, and meat (vegetarians see below). The menu is designed to be calorific in order to give your body the fuel it needs. Any attempts to adhere to a low-calorie diet should be discarded while you are on the mountain. You can bring snacks from home to supplement the food served, but we will provide you plenty of tasty and nutritious food. For supplemental snacks, our suggestions include chocolate & nuts, energy bars, decaffeinated coffee, and herbal tea bags. You may also want to bring powdered fruit drink to flavor your purified water (adding the flavoring after the water is fully treated). Please limit your supplemental snacks to one energy bar (bag of dried fruit, etc…) per day.
While you are trekking, you will need to increase your daily caloric intake. This sounds easy, but appetite tends to diminish as you reach higher altitudes. This is a function of decreased oxygen, and the body’s overall resistance to undertake the task of digestion. It will take a strong will to eat, and this is why it is important to bring along a small supply of supplemental food which will not only be easily digestible, but enticing enough to want to eat.
The meals are meat-based. If you are vegetarian, we encourage you to bring along a supply of protein rich foods to supplement the fruit, vegetables, and starches that are served. Please do let us know if you are vegetarian or have food allergies. We will do our best to accommodate you.
Sleeping at high altitude can be difficult for some people. If your trek does not include a night at the crater camp, then your highest camp is slightly over 15,000 feet (4,600 M). On that last short evening of sleep you will be awoken at midnight to ascend over 4,000 feet up steep terrain. The factors of excitement, clock-watching, altitude, and cold temperatures will be conspiring to keep you awake. If you cannot sleep, resting will still help you when it comes to the summit bid. If you’re climbing the Western Breach Route and sleeping in the crater camp, all trekking takes place by daylight. However, with high camps of 16,100 ft. (4,910 M) at Arrow Camp and 18,750 ft. (5,715 M) at the Crater Camp, sleeping can also be difficult. Regardless of the route you climb, you’ll find that one of the biggest disturbances of your sleep will be nature’s calling. With all the water consumption, you’ll most likely get up at least once but more likely two or three times during the night. Some past trekkers have suggested purchasing or devising a personal urinal system that can be used in your tent. It will be easier for you to stay warm, and get back to sleep more quickly.
Diamox will help you sleep (please the section about “Mountain Sickness” for more information about diamox). Also, it’s best to make a concerted effort to hydrate during the beginning of each trekking day. Stay hydrated in the morning and early afternoon, so that you are not “catching up” when you reach camp, which will increase your urine output as you go to bed, which is not ideal.
Staying healthy on the mountain is partly a function of staying clean. Good personal hygiene protects you from sickness and infection, not to mention keeping you more popular with your trekking mates!
Every day in camp, you will be provided with a small washbasin filled with warm water for washing. Please note that soaps can damage fresh water supplies, so keep your soap use to a minimum. Whether you’re washing yourself or washing your clothes, please adhere to the following rules:
Try to wash at least 200 feet away from all fresh water supplies. This will limit the amount of soap (and other debris) that reaches the water. Pour out soapy wastewater where you wash, to allow the ground to act as a filter before returning to the water supply.
Alternatives – use baby wipes (unscented ones may be preferable). They are lightweight, compact, and easy to pack out with other garbage. The use of water alone may also work in some situations. If water is of short supply, then another alternative is to use a liquid disinfectant, which can be used without the use of water.
The main idea is to keep your hands, face and feet clean, to keep you comfortable and healthy.
Hands – Dirty hands can transfer germs to your food and to your mouth. A quick wash before every meal will lower the risks considerably. Our staff will provide soap and hot water for your washing hands before each meal.
Feet – Keeping your feet clean reduces the risk of blisters and bacterial and fungal growth (which occurs quickly inside warm, moist boots). Make sure your feet (and your socks!) are clean each morning before you put your boots on, and each night before you go to bed. If you prefer sleeping in socks, pack a clean pair just for sleeping.
You won’t be able to wash any clothes, except possibly small items that can dry quickly. With the cold temperatures, your clothes are unlikely to dry. If you do choose to wash any clothing, stay well away from water sources and use as little soap as possible.
If applicable to your climb, the latrine facilities we provide are a portable flush toilet, much like the kind found on nautical crafts. These sit on stands for stability, and are placed inside a covered tent. Use these toilet tents at campsites, or use the established latrines erected by the National Park. When you are on the trail and this isn’t possible, dig a small “cat hole” – about 6 inches deep – with a small trowel or “cat-hole” digger (on the equipment information list). You should take care to be as far away (or at least 100 feet away) from all water sources, campsites and trails. Be sure to cover the hole up completely and pack it down tightly. Please pack out your toilet paper in sealed plastic baggies for disposal later at camp. There is a growing health, aesthetic, and environmental problem associated with the disposal of human waste on climbing routes on Kilimanjaro. Don’t be a part of it!
We aspire to take only photographs and leave only footprints. Please be responsible and ensure that no trash is left in the campsites and on trails. Bring variety of small sealable baggies, larger baggies, or small trash bags to aid you in this process. Our staff will collect your trash each day and bring it to the base for proper disposal.
Please be ultra-conscious of your actions while trekking. The mountain wilderness is a fragile eco-system, especially above tree line. A carelessly discarded piece of trash or toilet paper above 12,000 feet (3,700 M) will be there for many years.
You will have a comprehensive climb briefing when you arrive in Tanzania, done by your head guide and one of our operations staff. This will give you a chance to meet your guide, get an overall picture of the schedule of each trekking day, receive the gear you have rented from us (if any), and ask any last minute questions. If you have forgotten any gear and you need to rent some from us, this is the last opportunity you have to get the gear you need (though we still may not be able to provide top quality gear for you at this time). You will NOT be able to rent or buy gear at the park gate on your first trekking day. Please see the section on the rental gear.
Your road transfers to and from the mountain are done as a group. On the final descent day, there may be some trekkers who reach the exit gate before the others. We will NOT provide separate transfers to Arusha hotels for those arriving at the gate before the others, unless pre-arranged.