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Mount Kilimanjaro Trekking FAQ

Mount Kilimanjaro Trekking FAQ

What are the main differences between the Rongai, Machame, Shira, Lemosho, and Marangu routes?

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The Rongai, Shira, Lemosho, and Machame routes are camping routes that take longer and are considered more scenic than the Marangu. On the Marangu route you will be staying in huts as opposed to camping, and you hike up and down the same path.

The Rongai route takes you up the north side of the mountain and you descend down the Marangu route. The Lemosho and the Machame routes traverse the mountain and descends down the Mweka route.

The Shira route takes you on the far west side, and is essentially the same as the Machame route, though you start at a higher altitude, which gives a good amount of time for acclimatisation.

How many days are the Rongai, Machame, Shira, Lemosho, and Marangu routes?

The Rongai and Shira routes both entail 6 days on the mountain while the Machame route has two options, a 6-day hike and a 7-day hike.

For those that need extra time to adjust to the altitude, the Lemosho route is best, with 8 days total on the mountain.

The Marangu route is the shortest route at a total of 5 days on the mountain. If you are concerned about altitude sickness, it is best to go with a minimum 6-day hike, give yourself enough time to acclimatize.

Do I have to be extremely fit to take part in this trek?

Yes. If you attempt to climb Kilimanjaro without the proper training you may not enjoy the trek as much as you would have with adequate training.  The best way to train for Kilimanjaro is to strap a pack on your back and go hiking as much as possible. By doing so your feet and joints will become accustomed to the constant walking you will face on the trek. Also be sure to hit the gym!

What is the success rate for the Rongai, Machame, Shira, Lemosho, and Marangu routes?

The success rate for the Rongai, Machame, and Lemosho routes are approximately 95%.

For the Shira route, it is approximately 86%, while the Marangu route is around 80%.

What are the accommodations along the trail?

On the Marangu route, trekkers stay in huts. Each hut has a dining room for eating as well as separate bathroom facilities (can be flush toilets or pit latrines). There is no electricity in the huts.

On the Rongai, Machame, Shira, and Lemosho routes, trekkers camp all the way up! For these routes travellers receive a private mess tent and they are shared pit latrines.

Trekkers on all routes are given a hot water bowl to wash their hands and faces.

Is drinking water provided during the trek?

On the first day we provide bottled water, but beyond that, water is provided on all routes. Water is taken from the mountain streams, boiled and treated to make safe to drink.

Do we carry our own luggage on the trip? If not, what is the weight the porters carry?

You will not be responsible to carry your luggage up Kilimanjaro. The porters can carry approximately 30lbs (15kg) of your luggage; the rest can be stored safely at the hotel.  You will only be responsible to carry your day pack with the essential and personal items you need to have with you at all times.

What qualifications do the guides have?

The mountain guides have to attend certified courses that are offered by Tanzania National Parks before they get their Mountain Guide Licenses.  A Porters Association also selects the porters; they will carry an identification card allowing them to carry your belongings, and assist you up the mountain.

Can we hire a sleeping bag with the thermal quality required for the trip? What about hiking gear?

We have rentals including clothes, hiking poles, shoes, as well as sleeping bags. There are shops and locals offering these services to you as well. It is best to come outfitted but if necessary here are the prices (USD):

  • Sleeping Bag (Normal) = $10.00
  • Hiking Poles (2) = $5.00
  • Hiking Boots = $10.00

**These rates are subject to change and are only a guideline.**

If the trek becomes too difficult for me can I turn around?

Yes you can. If you are in any physical danger or suffer from altitude sickness the porters will be able to assist you down the mountain.

How long is the trek and how many hours do we hike each day?

These times are based on physical ability of the group as well as the altitude (the higher you go, the slower you move).

Rongai route – 8 day tour:

Day 1:  Arrive Moshi

Day 2:  To Simba Camp 4 – 6 hours

Day 3:  To Kikelewa Camp 7 – 9 hours

Day 4:  To Mawenzi Tarn 4 – 6 hours

Day 5:  To Kibo Camp 5 – 7 hours

Day 6:  To Summit and Horombo Hut 11 – 13 hours

Day 7:  To Moshi 2 – 4 hours

Day 8:  Depart Moshi

 

Machame route – 8 day tour:

Day 1:  Arrive Moshi

Day 2:  To Machame Camp 4 – 6 hours

Day 3:  To Shira Camp 4 – 5 hours

Day 4:  To Barranco Camp via Lava Tower 4 – 6 hours

Day 5:  To Barafu Camp via Karanga Valley 7 – 8 hours

Day 6:  To Summit and Mweka Camp 11 – 14 hours

Day 7:  To Moshi 3 – 4 hours

Day 8:  Depart Moshi

Machame route – 9 day tour:

Day 1:  Arrive Moshi

Day 2:  To Machame Camp 4 – 6 hours

Day 3:  To Shira Camp 4 – 5 hours

Day 4:  To Barranco Camp via Lava Tower 4 – 6 hours

Day 5:  To Karanga Valley Camp 3 – 4 hours (extra acclimitization day)

Day 6:  To Barafu Camp 3-4 hours

Day 7:  To Summit and Mweka Camp 11 – 14 hours

Day 8:  To Moshi 3 – 4 hours

Day 9:  Depart Moshi

 

Lemosho route – 10 day tour:

Day 1:  Arrive Moshi

Day 2:  To Mkubwa Camp 2 – 4 hours

Day 2:  To Shira 1 Camp 4 – 6 hours

Day 2:  To Shira 2 Camp 1 – 3 hours

Day 3:  To Barranco Camp 5 – 7 hours

Day 4:  To Karanga Camp 3 – 4 hours

Day 5:  To Barafu Camp 7 – 9 hours

Day 6:  Summit Day and Mweka Camp 11 – 14 hours

Day 7:  Descend to Gate 3 – 5 hours

Day 8:  Depart Moshi

 

 

Shira route – 8 day tour:

Day 1:  Arrive Moshi

Day 2:  To Shira 2 Camp 2 – 4 hours

Day 3:  To Barranco Camp 5 – 7 hours

Day 4:  To Karanga Camp 3 – 4 hours

Day 5:  To Barafu Camp 7 – 9 hours

Day 6:  Summit Day and Mweka Camp 11 – 14 hours

Day 7:  Descend to Gate 3 – 5 hours

Day 8:  Depart Moshi

Marangu route – 7 day tour:

Day 1:  Arrive Moshi

Day 2:  To Mandara Hut 4 – 6 hours

Day 3:  To Horombo Hut 6 – 8 hours

Day 4:  To Kibo Hut 7 – 9 hours

Day 5:  Summit Day 7 – 9 hours

Day 6:  From Horombo Hut to the Marangu gate 1 – 3 hours

Day 7:  Depart Moshi

 

What is the coldest it is expected to be at the summit of Kilimanjaro?

Temperatures vary considerably with altitude and time of day.  On the plains surrounding Kilimanjaro the average temperature is about 30°C.  At 3000m frosts can be encountered at night while daytime temperatures range from 5 to 15°C.  Nighttime temperatures on the summit can be well below freezing especially with the strong winds at times.

What is hypothermia?

Hypothermia is a condition where the body becomes dangerously cold. It can be caused by brief exposure to extreme cold, or by prolonged exposure to mild cold.

Hypothermia occurs when a person’s deep-core body temperature drops below 35 degrees celsius (95 degrees farenheit). It is the lowered temperature of the organs inside the body that is important – an ordinary thermometer cannot measure this.

The person may not actually feel cold but if they stay in a cold environment and do little or nothing to keep warm, then they may run the risk of becoming hypothermic or becoming ill with bronchitis or pneumonia. Both are cold-related illnesses.

Danger signs to watch out for:

  • Drowsiness
  • Very cold skin on parts of the body normally covered, for example, stomach or armpits
  • Slurred or incoherent speech
  • Absence of complaint about feeling cold, even in a bitterly cold environment.

What is the highest altitude we will hit on this trek?

The highest altitude reaches 5895m.

What is altitude sickness and what are the symptoms?

During the trek it is likely that all climbers will experience at least some form of mild altitude sickness.  It is caused by the failure of the body to adapt quickly enough to the reduced level of oxygen in the air at an increased altitude.  There are many different symptoms but the most common are headaches, light-headedness, nausea, loss of appetite, tingling in the toes and fingers, and a mild swell of ankles and fingers.  These mild forms are not serious and will normally disappear within 48 hours.  Please visit your physician for any preventative medications.

How can I prevent altitude sickness?

1. Stay hydrated. Try to drink at least 4-6 liters per day.

2. Avoid tobacco, alcohol, and other depressant drugs including barbiturates, tranquilizers, and sleeping pills.

3. “Don’t go up until symptoms go down”. People acclimatize at different rates, so make sure that you properly acclimatized before going higher.

4. Before your trip, maintain a good work/rest cycle, avoid excessive work hours, and last minute packing.

5. Listen to your body. Do not over-do things the first day or two. Avoid heavy exercise.

6. Take your time. Pace is a critical factor on all routes. “Pole pole” (go slowly) is the phrase of the day.

7. Walk high sleep low: If you have enough energy, take an afternoon stroll further up the mountain before descending to sleep. (not if you have any symptoms of altitude sickness!)

Six factors that affect the incidence and severity of altitude illness:

1. Rate of ascent

2. Altitude attained

3. Length of exposure

4. Level of exertion

5. Hydration and diet

6. Inherent physiological susceptibility

Will the effects of the sun be stronger on the mountain?

Absolutely, so precautions are required. About 55% of the earth’s protective atmosphere is below an altitude of 5000m. Far less ultraviolet light is being filtered out, making the sun’s rays much more powerful, which could result in severe sun burning of the skin. It is strongly recommended to use a 20+ sun protection cream at lower altitudes, and a total block cream above an altitude of 3000m. It is also important to wear dark sun glasses preferably with side panels above 4000m in daytime and essential when walking through snow or ice. Snow blindness can be very painful, and will require your eyes to be bandaged for at least 24 hours.

How much do you recommend we tip the porters and/or local guides?

Tipping is an expected and highly appreciated component of your Mt. Kilimanjaro hike. It should be an expression of satisfaction with those who have assisted you throughout the expedition.  Tipping is one of the most direct ways that you can have a positive economic impact within the East African community. Although it may not be customary for you, it is of considerable significance to your guides, assistants, cooks, and porters, as an important source of, and supplement to, their income.

Giving a tip should be a seen as a formal ‘thank you’, and the action should in no way be awkward. The best method of tipping your crew is to plan in advance, and to pass over a tip for the entire crew to your guide upon completion of the hike on arrival to your hotel.

We recommend that you gather with your fellow hikers to discuss and compile this tip. What has been found to work well is for each group member to contribute anonymously by putting his or her tip into an envelope. An average amount of what previous Nature Bound Africa hikers have felt to be an appropriate amount of tip ranges between US$100-150 per hiker.

5 days on Mountain, common tip amount = $100-150

6 days on Mountain, common tip amount = $100-150

7 days on Mountain, common tip amount = $100-150

***Please note that these are only guidelines and tips can be based on personal opinion***

Mahale Mountains National Park

Mahale Mountains National Park

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Mahale National Park

Mahale national park was the research base for a team of Japanese anthropologists for several decades. Despite the gorgeous clear waters of Lake Tanganyika and the obvious draw of the chimps themselves, Mahale was not an established tourist destination until about decade ago. It’s still remote, but absolutely worth the trip. Mahale is located in the Western Tanzania to the South of Kigoma town, it is bordering Lake Tanganyika-the World’s longest, second deepest and least polluted freshwater lake-harboring

Rwanda Uganda Gorilla Tracking Tours Gorilla Watching Congo Mahale Mountains National Park

 

US lifts travel warning on Kenyan coast

US lifts travel warning on Kenyan coast

Beach Holidays US lifts travel warning on Kenyan coast

The United States government has lifted travel restrictions it issued to its citizens on visits to most parts of Kenya’s coastal region.

The US Embassy stated travel restrictions to Malindi through Mombasa and Kwale counties to the Tanzanian border had been lifted.

“There are no longer general restrictions on travel to Malindi city in Kilifi County through Mombasa and Kwale counties to the Tanzanian border,” an email sent to its citizens and staff stated.

The US, however, restricted its staff from traveling to towns near the border with Somalia and cautioned them against using the Likoni ferry in Mombasa.

The US also cautioned those visiting Old Town in Mombasa, saying they should do so during the day.

The Barack Obama administration asked its citizens in Kenya to be vigilant and be aware of their own personal security.

The US issued a travel advisory in May this year and restricted its personnel from visiting Eastleigh in Nairobi and the coastal counties of Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi and Lamu.

The travel restrictions also covered Tana River County, north of Pate Island, Kiwavu and Kiunga on the Kenya-Somalia border, and northeastern Kenya towns, including El Wak, Wajir, Garissa, Mandera and Liboi.

Any travel to the restricted areas by any US Embassy personnel had to be pre-approved by appropriate embassy offices.

Malindi Kenya Little Italy

Malindi Kenya Little Italy

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Malindi Kenya Little Italy

Malindi is a small town located in coastal Kenya. It acquired the name ‘Little Italy’ because of the growing Italian population in the area, which is more than 3,000 at present. It is also estimated that Italians own more than 2,500 properties there.

Three decades ago, the scene was not the same. The first batch of Italian tourists flew into the scenic coastal town in 1978 to enjoy the beautiful white sand beaches. The number of flights has been increasing ever since.

Smooth cultural integration between the locals and tourists has been a major factor facilitating the transaction. Locals in Malindi have grown fond of the Italians to an extent that their relationship crosses commercial boundaries.

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Malindi Kenya

You’ll definitely be forgiven for mistaking that you’re in Rome when in Malindi. The billboards are filled with Italian advertisements. Interestingly, locals from all walks of life in the quiet town are eloquent in the language as well.

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Malindi. The billboards

Archaeological Sites in Kenya

Archaeological Sites in Kenya

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Kenya is a magical land with rich history that dates back to several million years ago. This is evident through the numerous archaeological sites located in different parts of the country.

Most of these sites provide historians with the opportunity of studying the behavioral pattern of early man. Light is also shed on some of the ancient civilizations to inhabit this part of the earth.

The Leakey’s family is largely credited to the success of discovery and excavation of many of these significant sites. Mary and Louis plus their son Richard have unearthed plenty of fossils and artifacts.

Here are some of the top archeological sites in Kenya that act as attractions to historians and tourists alike.

Lake Turkana, Rift Valley

Lake Turkana is the largest alkaline lake and permanent lake located in a desert in the entire world. Located along the Rift Valley, this lake is the outlet for three other lakes namely: Kerio, Turkwel and Omo. Since it lacks an outlet, evaporation is the only method of water loss.

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Lake Turkana is home to Nile crocodiles, carpet vipers, scorpions, hundreds of bird species and more than 50 species of fish. The banks are grazed by mammals such as zebras, gazelles, rhinoceroses and elephants. Predators such as cheetahs and lions are also present. Hominids inhabited the area three million years ago when it was more fertile.

Hyrax Hill, Nakuru

In 1926, Louis and Mary Leakey discovered the Hyrax Hill. Excavations started a decade later which led to the conclusion that Neolithic presence there dates back to 1500 B.C. There is a fortress and several tombs.

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Of all the findings, six Indians coins must’ve been the most amazing. These coins date back to 500 years ago with no logical explanation of how they ended up there.

According to oral history, women were more politically powerful than men in that society. This is why they were buried with grave items such as mortars, pestles and dishes.

 Koobi Fora, Koobi Fora Ridge

Koobi Fora is an important site with vital info on the hominid species that dates back to 4.2 million years ago.

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Numerous terrestrial mammals and stone tools have also been discovered in the area. Two species of the Australopithecus and three species of the Homo co-existed in the area. While the Australopithecus species vanished, the Homo species continued to evolve thereby bringing forth new species of man.

The excavation process was quite challenging so Richard Leakey mobilized locals and trained them. The team was known as ‘The Hominid Gang’.

Pate Island, North Coast

Human activity on Pate Island dates back to the 7th century. The area was largely inhabited by the Arabs and served as an important port in the 14th century. The town prospered in fine art producing amazing goldsmiths, weavers, carpenters and musicians.

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Chinese porcelain artifacts discovered in Pate proved that Chinese explorers traded with the locals there centuries ago. Some even intermarried which is why some of the people there have Asian features. History also reveals that the Chinese explorers from the Zheng He’s voyage were shipwrecked at Pate. Tombs from the Ming Dynasty have been discovered there.

Kariandusi, Nakuru – Elementaita Basin

It was discovered in 1928 but its history dates back to 1 million years ago. Geological evidence proves that much larger lakes existed in the basin.

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The area is currently covered by the Elementaita and Lake Nakuru. Plenty of tools and weapons have been discovered in the riverbed. This led archeologists to believe that rising levels of the previous lakes might have been a contributing factor to migration.

The popular tool of choice in this Lower Paleolithic site was the hand axe. The tool was also discovered in other parts of the world like South Africa, France and England from the Acheulian period.

Olorgesailie, Eastern Rift Valley

Olorgesailie is not only a significant site for archeology but also for geology and paleontology too. Excavation on the site began in 1943, several decades after it was discovered.

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The hand axes were in abundance which suggested the Acheulian period. Some of the animal fossils found include those of giraffes, gazelles, zebras and hippos.

The findings also included fossils of some animals’ species that are now extinct. The first human fossil unearthed from Olorgesailie in 2003 was the skull of a Homo erectus. Volcano ash helped in preserving the fossils.

Lamu, Lamu Archipelago

Lamu town was established in 1370. It is the oldest town in Kenya to be continually inhabited. An invasion by the Portuguese in 1505 forced Lamu’s King to pay them royalties.

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A century later, the Oman helped locals from the town in successfully resisting the Portuguese. This consequently led to the ‘Golden Age’ of Lamu which was under the Omani protectorate. In the 17th century, the town prospered in trade, crafts, politics and poetry.

Notable landmarks in the area include: Lamu Fort, Riyadha Mosque and the Donkey Sanctuary. Swahili architecture is on brilliant display there.

Gedi Ruins, Malindi

Excavation expedition in Gedi began in 1948 and lasted for a period of 11 years. Artifacts from Spain, China, India and Venice suggested a cosmopolitan population which was approximated at 2,500.

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The architectural designs of houses in Gedi were quite complex. This is especially when taking into consideration that the town existed from 13th century to 17th century. The houses had flush toilets and modern drainage systems. There was also a palace and a mosque.

The Oromo from Somalia invaded the town in the 16th century driving out the original inhabitants.

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