Kilimanjaro Questions

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Re: Kilimanjaro Questions

Postby climbing_rob » Mon Feb 13, 2012 10:39 am

nice suggestions from all, but I would add: Sure, the glaciers are nearly gone on Kili, but that doesn't mean it won't snow. It did on our summit day, glorious fresh stuff, 8 inches or so, actually made sumit day nicer because it was gorgeous and it kept the dust down. Glaringly white, I sure am glad I had my Cat-4 glacier glasses!!! "Glacier" glasses are not just for glaciers. They also come in handy on mere snow, which when fresh, is brighter than a glacier. Sure, good chance you will not have snow. but what if you do? Take some good, dark sunglasses of some sort; I recommend 5-10% max light transmission.

Also: the Umbrella idea is a good one. sounds silly, but not uncommon on such wet mountains.

Our group went ahead and exchanged US dollars for shillings. It's kinda cool having wads of 10,000 unit notes in your pocket! Makes you feel rich (I think it was 1200 shillings / buck when we were there in 2007). But get plenty of 1000 and 5000 shilling notes if you can, because the locals have a hard time making change for 10-20K notes.

Talking to the guides, seems like a really nice gift to take along would be extra, even cheap sunglasses. Notice that there are no older guides and porters on Kili, and the young ones you see aren't wearing sunglasses for the most part? Lots of these poor folks go blind from carrying our heavy crap up big hills at high altitudes and UV levels for a couple bucks a day, because they cannot afford sunglasses. Help 'em out, and then give them some generous cash tips when done as well. 40-50 bucks is chump change to us, substantial to them.

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Re: Kilimanjaro Questions

Postby MountainHiker » Mon Feb 13, 2012 11:20 am

Think about what you can give away. Perhaps you have some older fleece that can be retired after you wear it for a last time on Kili. I gave away a fleece jacket, plastic rain poncho, a cheaper multi-tool, headlamp, batteries – good batteries are hard to get. I even had airport security politely hint to be given a few batteries when they saw them on the monitor!

Almost all of what you see the guides and porters wearing was given to them. The guides tend to have nicer stuff – you’ll find yourself getting to know then through the week. At the last camp I bought each of our guides a beer (not in front of the porters) and they were curious about climbing in Colorado. “How do we do it without guides?”

As a group you might want to coordinate if several people brought things to give away. Also, if you give something to just one of them, it’s best to do it discreetly. Others will notice and be jealous.

When we were touring afterwards we visited a school for orphans. They did not have a lot. I was able to give them a map of Tanzania for their wall. Any school related supply would have been appreciated.
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Re: Kilimanjaro Questions

Postby fleetmack » Mon Feb 13, 2012 12:07 pm

Strongly agree with mountain hiker. Give-aways are huge. In fact, let me know before you go and if you have room i'll give you some stuff to give away. I wrote to my favorite sports teams' marketing office and accumulated about 20 baseball caps to give away; my dentist donated toothpaste & toothbrushes to give away to kids; if you have old gear that you think is trash -- has holes in it or what not, trust me -- they WANT it and will USE it! and as mountainhiker said, give gear away discreetly if possible, we had a near riot break out on the last day when we started giving stuff away.
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Re: Kilimanjaro Questions

Postby LuLuLuv » Mon Feb 13, 2012 12:59 pm

The item I was asked most frequently for (mostly the children) was an ink pen. I gave all mine away and then we were able to buy some from a small road side store. It was nice to see something as small as a pen light up their faces. If I returned I would bring pens and perhaps small pads of paper (tho I know paper can get heavy).

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Re: Kilimanjaro Questions

Postby emcee smith » Wed Feb 15, 2012 7:33 pm

1) What there something that you brought on the trip that you wished you'd left behind? Was there something that you did not bring that you felt was needed?

From my TR, the following:
- Gaiters: I took some of the REI desert gaiters. They worked marginally, but I really wished I had my normal (snow) gaiters. I was hesitant because I thought it would be hot, but they would have been much better to keep my pants clean and dry, and would have been much better for keeping rocks out of my shoes on the descent.
- Umbrella/Poncho: The guide’s secret. Yes, rain pants/jacket were essential, but most of the chances of rain are down low (so it was always hot to have the rain gear on), and didn’t last very long. Either or both the umbrella/poncho would have been great to deploy quickly.
- Camp shoes: I took my low top trail runners, and some waterproof light hikers (on the list). I only wore my hikers on summit day and the last day down, to protect my toes. It would have been nice to change into a pair of Crocs or similar around camp, to give my feet a break from my trail runners. (this wasn’t horrible though, but would have been if they were wet)
- R1 Hoodie: I debated on taking this (heavier weight top). I left it out thinking that it would have only been useful summit night. It would also have been useful as evening wear, as it tended to get cool late in the afternoon. I may have risked taking this and leaving my softshell (still would have had down jacket). It certainly would have worked for our conditions
- Steripen: Was worried about failure and batteries, as well as the condition of our water (cloudy). If I had been more inquisitive about the water situation, a Steripen would have been great. I used chlorine pills, so had to be somewhat strategic about the 4hr wait time, while the pen would have been immediate.
- T.P: The porters supplied TP at the tents, so I could have left a bunch of mine at home. Hard to beat the “insurance” value though.
- Wet wipes / baby powder / deodorant: I brought a lot of this for the smell, as I had heard that some of the tents smell bad (ours didn’t). These all ended up being useful for the self care aspect, and just all around made me feel better each day.
- Drink mix. I took a lot, I only used a few. Even though the chlorine has a smell, I was fine with plain water most of the time, but having some for the electrolytes was good. Take the full on Gatorade or equivalent, not just zero calorie Crystal Light. May as well get the calories too.
- Solar Charger / Electronics: I took a Goal Zero solar charger, my ipod, camera, and blackberry. Although we didn’t have too much consistent sun, when it was out, I was able to get a great charge. My camera batteries ran out on day 4. I swapped to my spare, but was glad to be able to charge up my dead one. I also charged up my Ipod, thus was able to listen to it at nights and on summit day (really appreciated it on summit day). The charger overall made me very popular with folks, probably because I had the ipod and blackberry adapters.
- Snacks: I am a picky eater, so took a bunch, and only ended up with 3. I had cashews that I could have left at home, and replace with cookies. These were a godsend on summit day. I had 6 servings of Gu for summit day, and took it all.
- Neck gaiter/bandana: Has been mentioned repeatedly, but great for the dust.
- Medicine: I never got bit by a mosquito. I took doxycycline and was OK with it, for the stomach bug prophylactic effect, but our guide said Malaria is not much of an issue unless you go on safari or to the beach. I carried diamox, but never took it. I carried Advil (took 2 one night) and Excedrin (2x2 on summit night). I left the insect repellant behind. Rest of my kit was standard, didn’t use/abuse anything enough to mention
- Purell: Always in my pocket and heavily used.
- Goodies: One of the guys brought the schnapps and shared. One gal gave me a candy bar as a birthday gift. I would recommend taking something that you can dole out at dinner; it will make you popular.
- Money: I contributed $250 to the porters (we had 53 I think) which our guide gave out. I carried about $100 on the hike (beer on the last night and souvenirs at the Mweka gate). For town, you need new bills, the smaller the better. I wish I would have got/brought a bunch of 0.5 and 1 euro coins, as it is easy to fish those out of pockets for tips without having to flash your wad.

2) How much money did you bring? Did you keep it all in US currency throughout the entire trip or did you convert it into another currency at some point? If so. at what point did you convert and into what type of currency (was it Euros)?

I brought about $500 on the whole trip (and about 30 euros), about $100 on the hike (we tipped $250 up front to our American guide). The last night at camp beer can be bought, and I used the rest for trinkets and extra tips at the end. As noted above, for around town and general tipping euro coins would have been better for me. I think that about 1/3 of the folks I saw on the mountain were European; nobody seemed disappointend when I used euros.

3) Are glacier glasses really necessary on this hike?

As mentioned the glacier glasses are primarily suggested for dust, although it can be very bright. I would at least take some wraparounds.

4) What type of energy snacks did you bring? Did something work better than other snacks?

Goo worked well (I repackaged it into a larger tube before departing for the summit). Cookies and anything else that you can tolerate at altitude.

5) Besides the summit, what was the hardest part of the hike?

As said, the Barranco wall is pretty easy overall. My hardest day was the last. I was tired, mostly ready to be done, and it is still a long ways downhill and you walk into the heat and humidity.
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Re: Kilimanjaro Questions

Postby wasclywabbit » Wed Feb 15, 2012 9:18 pm

Bring gaiters to keep the dust/sand/rocks out of your shoes, especially on the descent from the summit.

When I was there the dollar bought about 1100 Tanzanian Schillings. Most of the time shops would simply exchange at a 1/1000 ratio. Sure that was costing us 10% but it really didn't bother me. Currently the exchange rate is just under $1 = 1600 TZS so the 1 / 1000 wouldn't work so well. There is a little exchange booth in Moshi that gave us better rates than a large bank in Arusha.

Carry lots of small bills, either USD or TZS. Breaking even a ten dollar bill can be challenging at times.

If possible take older hiking clothes and leave them behind for the porters. I also left my pocket knife with one porter who was especially helpful and gave my trekking poles to our guide.

We had a group of two on the 6 day Machame Route and definitely tipped more than what was then the recommended amount. If I remember correctly we gave our guide $150, the assistant guide $100 and the porters about $70 each. We had seven porters, the assistant guide and the guide. However we kind of got scammed with an additional "mystery" porter who had to leave to help his sister back in Moshi and who was replaced by another who brought up cooking oil. I'm pretty sure the two guys just switched camps but we left a tip for him too. Apparently this is fairly common.

I got a full range of shots including Yellow Fever even though where we were was not in the Yellow Fever zone. It is required if you are traveling to Tanzania from a country with risk of YFV transmission. The CDC generally does not recommend for travelers to Tanzania. I also did Hep A & B and took an anti-malarial while there.

Definitely take a safari, I've never seen anything like the wildlife in Africa.

Have a great time.
Ad alta per aspera: To the summit through difficulties.

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Re: Kilimanjaro Questions

Postby WarDamnPanic » Tue Feb 28, 2012 8:52 pm

Why did you choose Tusker Trails? They seem kind of pricey. My wife and I plan on climbing it in Sept or Oct but decided on Marangu Hotel. Also any Safari Recs for a few days after the climb?

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Re: Kilimanjaro Questions

Postby scalba123 » Wed Feb 29, 2012 10:04 am

WarDamnPanic wrote:Why did you choose Tusker Trails? They seem kind of pricey. My wife and I plan on climbing it in Sept or Oct but decided on Marangu Hotel. Also any Safari Recs for a few days after the climb?

I basically did plenty of internet research, read trip reports and utilized everything that I could get my hands on in order to make this decision. I just had more of this "gut" driven comfort level with Tusker than any other outfit.

Re: Kilimanjaro Questions

Postby msmith7361 » Wed Feb 29, 2012 10:51 am

-Fleetmack is right, Yellow fever is required for a visa. Also, you have to have the yellow international vaccination sheet in order to get a visa.
-Imodium is always a good idea for international travel, as is a pain-killer and/or anti-inflammatory of some sort.
-Make sure you have new U.S. bills; many places don’t accept older ones.
-This is pretty common-sense, but bring all of your valuables with you on the mountain and keep them in your personal pack. Don’t leave anything in the luggage at the hotel, and make sure you lock it.
-If you want an inexpensive and very good safari experience, PM me and I can refer you to my guide who charged us $180 per day (for two people). We chose to do a two-day safari and camp out on the Ngorongoro Crater rim with a catered dinner, but he’ll customize a trip for you. I’ve referred him to many friends.
-Last comment, just to strengthen what MountainHiker said: Use all of your old gear and donate all of it to the guides afterward. Their gear is not great, and they’ll very, very much appreciate it. Also consider bring an extra duffel bag or two along and donate some clothing and school supplies to local schools. It will cost you very little but make a huge impact on the area.

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Re: Kilimanjaro Questions

Postby SteveBonowski » Wed Feb 29, 2012 10:55 am

To wardamnpanic, feel free to PM me if you have questions about the Marangu Hotel. I've been there for all 7 of my CMC Kilimanjaro trips.

Also, you can safely leave luggage and valuables at the Marangu. Steve

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Re: Kilimanjaro Questions

Postby scalba123 » Wed Feb 29, 2012 12:38 pm

msmith7361 wrote:-Fleetmack is right, Yellow fever is required for a visa. Also, you have to have the yellow international vaccination sheet in order to get a visa.

Forgive me if I missed something, but I received my Tanzania Visa without having to get a yellow fever shot. The CDC website doesn't indicate that this needed.

I got the tetanus shot and they got a blood sample to determine whether I still have the Hep-A markers in my blood [I can't recall whether I ever got this shot, but they can check if I did.]

I asked the doctor's office if they caould give me some sort of card to list that I had these shots, but was rewarded with a blank look. Any suggestions on what I should carry? Or do I make up my own card?

Re: Kilimanjaro Questions

Postby msmith7361 » Wed Feb 29, 2012 1:31 pm

scalba123 wrote:Forgive me if I missed something, but I received my Tanzania Visa without having to get a yellow fever shot. The CDC website doesn't indicate that this needed.

On the Tanzanian Embassy website, it states this: "All individuals in transit for 12 hours or more and/or who leave the immediate airport vicinity in a yellow fever endemic area are required to get vaccinated."

It was definitely required for us when we came in, though I'm not sure that they have an incredibly standardized immigration office though. I would err on the side of caution and prevent any unnecessary hassle coming into the country.

scalba123 wrote:I asked the doctor's office if they caould give me some sort of card to list that I had these shots, but was rewarded with a blank look. Any suggestions on what I should carry? Or do I make up my own card?

Your doctor's office should know about the International Certificate of Vaccination, aka "yellow card," but you may have to go to a local travel health clinic:


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