- How much climbing experience do I need to climb Kilimanjaro?
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is not a technical climb as any average fit person can scale it without a problem. However, climbing Kilimanjaro must be taken seriously because of its extreme elevation of 19,340 feet. We lead trips carefully to help acclimate climbers to the altitude. A small amount of snow can be found below the summit but it does not require crampons or an ice axe. You may encounter some easy sections of rock scrambling that may require use of your hands. The trek is challenging and requires that you be in good physical condition. With some advance conditioning and the proper gear, any motivated person can make it to the summit.
- When is the best time of year to climb Kilimanjaro?
One can climb Kilimanjaro any time of year. Although the climate varies considerably at different altitudes, there are some general observed patterns to consider. The commonly recommended months for climbing are January through early March and the end of June through October, the periods with less precipitation and with the sky usually free of clouds each morning and evening.
Research indicates that July through September are consistently dry, as is February. Average temperatures on the summit vary little throughout the year, though April and May are measured as the warmest months. This is also the main rainy season in Tanzania, so while temperatures will be higher, massive clouds can reduce visibility and drop snow on the summit and rain on the lower slopes.
The long dry season starts in June with the southern hemisphere winter, so cooler temperatures prevail while clear skies provide breathtaking views all around. It grows slightly warmer again from October and the days are clear, though a belt of mist may girdle the mountain in the moorland zone.
In November and December, Tanzania’s short rainy season, it can be wet in the rainforest with snow toward the top of the mountain. However, clouds often disperse in the evening, allowing for excellent visibility in the night and morning. Climbers sometimes encounter violent storms with thunder and lightning in December, especially on the Northern and Western slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro.
We thank Dr. Douglas Hardy, a climatologist at the University of Massachusetts studying the ice and snowfall on Kilimanjaro, for climate information.
- What is the weather like on Kilimanjaro?
In the forest at lower elevations you will experience hot and humid weather with temperatures around 15 to 25°C / 60 to 75°F. As you ascend on days 2 and 3, it can be dry and warm with temperatures around 10 to 18°C / 50 to 65°F. As you climb higher, temperatures will fall; expect freezing temperatures at night. At the summit average daytime highs are about -4°C / 25°F with overnight lows around -10°C / 15°F , though it always feels much warmer in the sun and much colder at night. Wind chill temperatures can be as low as -18 to -12°C / 0 to 10°F.
- Which route up Kilimanjaro does SENE recommend?
All routes used by SENE are excellent. The best route depends on the type of climb you desire. A personal favorite of owner Simon Mtuy is the Lemosho Crater route. He notes that:
- It is the most scenic route.
- It is less traveled, thus has fewer climbers on the trails.
- The additional days on the mountain allow climbers more time to acclimatize, thus lowering the chance of experiencing the effects of altitude.
- Hiking hours per day are a bit shorter and the ascents are more gentle than for other routes.
Because of 3 and 4 (and perhaps 1 and 2 as well!) the Lemosho Crater route produces the highest success rates in comparison with other routes. More than 95% of our climbers using this route reach the summit while about 91% who choose the Machame route reach the summit or the crater rim. See detailed data on climb success rates here.
- What is the difference between the Lemosho and Lemosho Crater routes?
The Lemosho route is an 8 day climb and the Lemosho Crater route is a 9 day climb. They use the same trail, with the difference being that the 8-day Lemosho has the standard 5-6 hour night-time ascent to reach the summit at daybreak, whereas the 9-day Lemosho Crater route has the extra night camping in the Crater, and thus needing only 45 minutes to an hour to reach the summit (allowing you to sleep in on summit day!). Both routes requires some rock scrambling, but our guides expertly talk nervous climbers through that.
SENE & Other Companies
- What should I look for in a Kilimanjaro climb operator?
There are several dozen outfitters who provide climbing services in Tanzania. It can be challenging to determine which one to use. Here are some important things you should look for:
They care about your mountain experience (many outfitters are just looking to make money).
They have their own operation in Tanzania.
They use the best routes.
They provide sufficient time to acclimatize. The more time you spend on the mountain the greater your chances of reaching the summit.
They have high quality tents and equipment.
They provide experienced mountain guides.
They have communication via cell phone and radio.
They have a good variety of nutritious food and purified water.
They carry high quality safety equipment on the mountain (and know how to use it) and have backup plans for taking people down the mountain if they get sick.
They care about their porters by supplying them with tents, sleeping bags, good food, proper clothes, and a fair living wage.
They respect the environment and keep the mountain free of trash and waste.
- Does SENE have an environmental policy?
SENE is an international partner of Leave No Trace® and takes pride in following its seven principles of outdoor ethics. We carry port-a-potties and use Wag Bags from Cleanwaste® for human waste. SENE is currently working with the Kilimanjaro National Park Authority to introduce an environmentally conscious system of waste removal on the mountain.
- I have read information about many Kilimanjaro climbing companies and many guides say they are the best. Why should I choose SENE and Simon Mtuy?
There is more to leadership than knowing the mountain. There is more to leadership than getting people to the summit. Simon is a born leader and even a leader within his community as an outspoken advocate of sustainable living and conservation. He is highly respected within his community and sought after for his help and advice. His leadership skills translate naturally to his expeditions. As a licensed Kilimanjaro guide, he has made more than 300 ascents of the mountain. Simon is dedicated to the safety and well–being of his clients, and is a certified Wilderness First Responder who has also successfully completed a course in CPR Emergency Cardiac Care. He is an expert mountaineer, including technical rock and ice climbing, and has participated in a National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) course in North America. Additionally, Simon holds a certificate from the International Labor Office as an expedition leader for the Tanzanian ranges. As a leader, Simon accommodates each group’s needs, and he maintains high group morale. He looks forward to getting to know everyone individually, and to sharing with each his broad knowledge of natural and cultural history. Above all, Simon recognizes that a successful ascent is a happy one. That’s why his trips are comfortable, fun and carefully paced. He knows that, as a leader, he is responsible for the success of the expedition. And for 300 ascents he’s owned up to that responsibility.
- May I contact people from your previous trips for referrals?
Yes, please contact us and we will happily forward contact information of former clients.
Food & Camping
- What are meals like on a climb?
Meals on the climb are delicious and provide the nourishment needed for each day’s challenge. Menus are always changing as we introduce new dishes regularly. We can cater to most special dietary needs such as vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, etc. We have trained chefs who prepare all meals on the climb.
A typical breakfast might include oatmeal, scrambled eggs, French toast, bacon, toast, a variety of fresh local fruits (pineapple, oranges, bananas, mango, papaya, apples, watermelon, etc.), brewed coffee from owner Simon Mtuy’s farm, tea (including herbal), and cocoa. Lunches feature bread, sliced meats, tuna, cheese, homemade soup, peanut butter and jam, avocado, cucumber, tomato, fresh local fruits, hot drinks and powdered energy drinks. We provide an afternoon tea of hot drinks, warm cashews and peanuts, popcorn, and cookies at the end of each day’s climb. Dinners always include a homemade soup made with organic vegetables from Simon’s garden (such as pumpkin, pea, butternut squash, lentil, and mixed vegetables), and may feature chicken, beef or lamb stew, fish, brown rice, couscous, coconut rice, pasta, sweet potatoes, salad, a wide variety of fresh steamed vegetables (carrots, cauliflower, kale, broccoli, squash, Swiss chard, etc.), with fresh fruit and homemade cookies for desert. Fresh food is re-supplied every three days and all meat and produce are maintained fresh in cooler boxes.
- What snacks should I bring?
If you have a particular favorite energy snack (Clif, Luna, or Power Bars, GU, your secret recipe trail mix, chocolate brand, etc.) that you prefer or special dietary needs, bring it along. You may also want to bring a powdered sports drink/electrolyte replacement such as Gatorade, Cytomax, or GU20 to add to your water. But don’t get carried away! We find many people bring far too much “emergency” or snack food that just weighs them down. We provide plenty of freshly prepared nutritious food at meals.
- What equipment will I need for the climb?
Please refer to our Climb Packing List. It is important to follow this list carefully. SENE provides all the cooking and camping equipment except for your sleeping bag and pad. Your guides will do an equipment check prior to the climb and if you are missing any items from the list, you will be required to rent them for a small fee.
- What kind of tents are used?
Mountain Hardware Trango 3.1 are used for clients. We use a large Cabela’s Outback Lodge (floor size, 12’ x 12’) for dining. For a larger group (above 10 clients), we carry personally designed mess tents made with lightweight, waterproof canvas.
Health & Safety
- Is oxygen available on the climb?
SENE carries tanks with supplemental oxygen in the case of climbers experiencing severe AMS (acute mountain sickness). This oxygen is used only to support a climber who must descend because of health danger. Oxygen is not used to aid a climber in their ascent, which is not necessary for a well-acclimated climber to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro.
- What health and safety precautions does SENE take?
Twice daily our guides, trained in wilderness and high altitude first aid, check each climbers’ health and acclimatization by measuring their heart rate and oxygen saturation using a pulse oximeter, and assess their fluid input and output. On all our expeditions we carry a portable hyperbaric (“Gamow”) bag at high altitude for rescue of climbers experiencing severe symptoms of acute mountain sickness.
- How do you make sure drinking water is safe?
Drinking water on the climb is provided by using a Swiss made purification pump, Katadyn® Expedition KFT purification filter. We also carry iodine tablets for emergencies.
- Are showers available on the climb?
Hot showers are available before and after the climb. During the climb, hot water is available each morning and evening for sponge baths.
- What precautions are being taken since rock slides that occurred on the Western Breach in 2006 and 2015?
After the slide in 2006 that killed 3 climbers, the Western Breach route was closed until early 2008, at which time the Kilimanjaro National Park Authority re-opened it with strict procedural conditions to ensure all climbers’ safety (early morning ascents before the afternoon ice melt loosens rocks; a route that avoids areas of greatest danger; use of helmets by all clients). From 2008 SENE again used the Western Breach ascent on Lemosho Crater climbs, strictly following all KINAPA regulations.
In September 2015 there was another rock slide killing 1 climber. Based on the timing and nature of this recent slide, it appears to have been a geologic event not attributable to the ice melt that is the more common cause for slides on the Breach. Nonetheless, at this time, SENE has suspended all climbs via the Breach because of the extreme danger it poses to our climbers and crew due to the unpredictable timing of the slides. All our Lemosho Crater routes now ascend via Barafu to Stella Point and into the Crater. This allows Crater route climbers the opportunity for a “double summit” if they wish.