WHAT IS KILIMANJARO? WHAT MAKES IT SO SPECIAL?
Kilimanjaro is the tallest free-standing mountain in the world! It has the highest peak in Africa, Uhuru Peak (5,895 m), making it one of the seven summits. While classified as a mountain, Kilimanjaro is actually made up of three volcanic cones that were formed by the Great Rift Valley. They are Shira (3,962 m), Mawenzi (5,159 m), and Kibo (5,895 m). The other two volcanic formations are extinct, but some believe Kibo could erupt again one day. The last major eruption was around 360,000 years ago, but some volcanic activity was recorded just 200 years ago. Despite the strong equatorial sun, there is a glacier at the top of Kilimanjaro. It’s brilliant white color is what allows it to survive as it reflects most of the sun’s heat. The icecap has shrunk in size by more than 80 percent since 1912, and it’s predicted that it will be gone in 15 years, perhaps sooner.
WHAT’S A NORMAL DAY ON THE MOUNTAIN LIKE?
Everyday is a completely different and exciting adventure, but there are definitely variables that remain constant. Every morning you and your tent buddy will be woken up bright and early and served hot coffee or tea in your tent. Then, you’ll pack up your things, eat breakfast and we’ll head out for a full day of hiking! We’ll be walking at a pace that is probably slower that you are used to - this is to help your body properly acclimatize. Breaks for pictures and resting are common and we always stop for lunch and snacks. When we get to our camps in the evening, we encourage you to enjoy the spectacular views and unwind a bit before dinner (which is delicious)! Dinners are always well-balanced and usually consist of soup, rice or pasta, sauce, a protein and fruit for dessert. Our crew will carry all the gear and your large duffel from camp to camp for you (and they’ll usually have it set up by the time you reach the camp in late afternoon). Did we mention how amazing these guys are!? You’ll always have a certified local mountain guide with you when you’re trekking (there’s a 1:4 guide/climber ratio). The importance of having competent, high quality guides and porters cannot be overstated when it comes to climbing Kilimanjaro...they love the mountain and know it best! All of our guides have received extensive training in first aid, mountain rescue, wildlife and are registered with the Kilimanjaro National Park (KINAPA).
How do I train FOR Kilimanjaro?
It’s a physical and mental undertaking, so being in good shape is definitely important! Having strong, conditioned legs makes it easier to walk up and downhill all day. General aerobic fitness will allow the body to function efficiently with less oxygen and withstand the stress of consecutive days of hiking and camping. The best exercise you can do is walk, after all, that’s what you will be doing on the mountain! Ideally, try to train a few days a week walking and/or jogging on inclines to simulate the ascension on Kilimanjaro. (If you don’t have trails accessible a treadmill or stair climber will do just fine.) On Kilimanjaro, you’ll walk slowly for prolonged periods of time and be carrying less than 12 lbs on your back. So, in your training, it’s best to increase the time and distance while keeping a slow pace. If you can walk for 4 to 6 hours, with moderate elevation changes while carrying some weight, then you’re probably in good shape for the real deal. As with all training, for the last 2 weeks leading up to the big event, you should taper off and rest so your body has time to recover. While you’re training, don’t forget to break in your boots to prevent blisters! Also, try to wear the day pack you intend to carry so your shoulders/back/hips get used to the points of contact and weight.
If you have an unhealthy lifestyle, use the climb as your motivation to change! Eat healthier. Drink less. Don’t smoke. Get more sleep. Don’t worry. Be happy! And remember, physical training is just one part of getting in shape. Having a positive attitude and a bigger reason will work wonders for you when you get tired and need that extra boost!
WHAT DOES THE GIVING BACK COMPONENT ENTAIL?
Empowering and connecting women through adventure is at the heart of everything we do at WHOA, and we hold a strong commitment to social responsibility with every adventure we take. Our special style of giving back is about sharing experiences with local women - it’s something that makes our adventures even richer for everyone. For Kilimanjaro, we provide the opportunity for local women in the region to experience and conquer the mountain that they’ve lived under their whole lives, but never afforded the opportunity to do themselves. On previous climbs, we’ve been so honored to have former students of Tembea Girls School, our partner NGO located just across the border from Kilimanjaro in Kajiado, Kenya, apart of our group. Sharing stories and experiences with each other over seven days is a great way to develop meaningful connections with these inspiring women!
In addition, before and after the hike we stay at the Stella Maris Lodge in Moshi. It’s a nonprofit hotel dedicated to funding the Stella Maris school through the Mailisita Foundation – a US-based orphan and vulnerable child relief organization. The school is located on the same property as the hotel, and during the week, you can hear the children singing in the morning.
It’s extremely important to us that the work we do supports other women, is sustainable and fills a need and is of value to our partners. For that reason, the projects can and do change depending on the needs of our nonprofit partners and the abilities and desires of our group. In each case, we do due diligence to seek out local nonprofit partners that are doing great, sustainable work, and we work closely with them to understand their needs and create an experience that will truly be of value to them and you.
How do you CHOOSE your LOCAL operators?
At WHOA, we hold a big commitment to operating ethically and legally everywhere we adventure. We have a team dedicated to research and vetting partners, before customers ever step foot on a WHOA adventure. On Kilimanjaro specifically, we work with local ground operators who hold annual TALA licenses (mandatory to enter the mountain and obtain Kilimanjaro Hiking Permits). WHOA also works with partners who comply with KPAP (Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project). KPAP is best understood as a quality assurance organization, that ensures the fair and ethical treatment of all guides and porters through proper wages, meals, gear, and the transport of proper weight limits. As you will quickly find out, the guides and porters are the machines behind Kilimanjaro, and their fair and ethical treatment is extremely imperative to our operation.
What’s included IN THE PRICE? What’s not included?
Included: 7-day hike of Kilimanjaro, 2-days/nights in Moshi (1 before and 1 after hike), accommodation and all meals during hike, welcome dinner, breakfast at hotel, world-class/certified guides, porters, park permits, guide and mountain crew tips, transfer to and from JRO*, transfer and return transfer to Kilimanjaro entrance gate, celebratory dinner, the unique project and opportunity to connect with local women... plus all the extra WHOA TLC you need!
Not Included: Flights, gear, WHOA Add-Ons, travel insurance, visas, additional food/tips
*Transfers to/from JRO are included at designated times on the official adventure start/end dates. If you arrive outside of these dates or times, there is an additional $50 charge for the transfer.
WHAT CAN I DO TO MAKE SURE I GET THE MOST OUT OF THIS EXPERIENCE?
This truly is a once in a life time experience that will stay with you long after it’s over! Make sure you include your family and friends that can’t come along. Bring a family heirloom or special photo to the top and have them join you in the training. Also, embrace your new mountain family of fellow trekkers, guides and porters. You’re all in this together and are going to experience extreme highs and lows. Lift others up when they are down and they will do the same when you need it! Take in the views and share lots of laughter (and dances) with one another and the days will fly by.
What IS high altitude sickness?
It’s common for hikers to feel symptoms of the altitude on the mountain. We take safety VERY SERIOUSLY and our guides are experts at gauging symptoms. They will accompany you down if you are showing signs of acute mountain sickness (AMS) that could be serious. We have a packet on HIGH ALTITUDE TRAVEL NOTES & SAFETY INFORMATION in the DOWNLOAD CENTER on our website. We highly recommend reading this thoroughly and understanding the various types of altitude sickness before you start the Kilimanjaro trek. Be educated, but don’t over think it - drink lots of water and know that your guides will be watching and taking great care of you. It is normal to experience: headaches, mild nausea and/or loss of appetite, but you’ll be so distracted by how amazing the views are that you won’t notice!
What airport do I fly into? DO I NEED A VISA?
Plan on flying into Kilimanjaro (JRO) as there are several flights that fly in and out every day. Flights to Africa from the United States are almost always overnight flights, so whatever day you plan to arrive you will want to leave a day earlier to ensure you arrive at your desired time. We recommend booking your air travel 3-6 months before your adventure start date.
For travel to Tanzania you need an up to date passport (valid 6 months after your adventure dates) and tourist Visa (approximately $100). You may purchase your Tanzanian Visa when you get to JRO, but we highly recommend getting it beforehand to avoid lines and complications at the airport. You can find out more info about visas by visiting the Tanzanian Embassy website for your country. If you’re a US citizen, click here to go to the US Tanzanian Embassy website.
What SHOTS & vaccinations do I need?
It’s mandatory you see your doctor and have our medical forms signed by your physician before hiking Kilimanjaro with us. You can get our medical forms anytime on our site in the DOWNLOAD CENTER. Please review the Tanzanian Traveler’s Health section on the CDC website for the most current vaccination listings, as they change and are updated often. Make sure you get and/or bring with you a signed International Certificate of Vaccination (it’s a small yellow card) as proof of your yellow fever vaccination if you are traveling from an at risk country. It’s worth noting that even though you have to visit a doctor, you can usually obtain shots through your local health department at a lower cost than through a physician.
WHAT IF I DON’T HAVE ALL THIS GEAR? CAN I RENT IT?
Yes! You can save yourself some packing space and money by renting some gear in Tanzania from our local outfitter. We’ll be sending out a separate rental form before your adventure so that you to indicate what you plan on renting and we'll have it ready for you to pick up before you leave for the mountain. Here's a list of the rental gear offered and prices: sleeping bag - sleeping mats are already included/provided for all our adventurers ($20), outer layer warm jacket ($20), outer layer warm trouser ($20), hiking poles ($15), warm summit gloves ($10), gaiters ($10), duffle ($20).