The history of climbing Kilimanjaro

Mount Kilimanjaro’s three peaks were formed after volcanic eruptions millions of years ago. One volcanic cone, Shira, is now extinct and eroded, while the other two, Mawenzi and Kibo, “melted” together after subsequent eruptions. Kibo is now the highest with its famous Uhuru Peak at 5.895m above sea level.

There is no single explanation for Kilimanjaro’s name and there are many theories as to where it comes from. Local peoples have looked at Kilimanjaro with reverence and named it “Mountain of Greatness” (Swahili) or “That which defeats the caravan” (Chagga Tribe Language) or “White Mountain” (Maasai). The Maasai have also called it the “The mountain of Water”, as it is the source of water for the entire area.

Mount Kilimanjaro - History timeline:

1000 BC

Kitchen tools such as stone bowls hinted at cultures inhabiting the slopes of the mountain a millennium before Christ.

150 AC

Ptoleny of Alexandria in Egypt mentioned “lands … where barbaric cannibals lived near a wide shallow bay and where, inland, one could find a great snow mountain”.


Arab historian and geographer, Abu’l Fida speaks of a mountain in the interior that was “white in colour”.


Portuguese explorers started arriving on the coast to discover unknown land. In 1519 Fernandes de Encisco said “West of Mombasa (Kenya) is the Ethiopian Mount Olympus, which is very high, and further off are the Mountains of the Moon in which are the sources of the Nile.”



German geology professor Hans Meyer was the first recorded person to stand on top of Kilimanjaro. He needed 3 attempts to make it to Uhuru Peak. He was quite unpopular with his crew as he was a firm believer in corporal punishment.

Yohani Kinyala Lauwo

Yohani Kinyala Lauwo


Alongside Hans Meyer there was a local climber. Yohani Kinyala Lauwo, also known as Mzee Lauwo. He was only eighteen years old when he became the first Tanzanian to ever climb Kilimanjaro. He led Hans Meyer to the highest point of Africa on October 5th, 1889 and can be considered as the first guide. was born and lived his entire life in the village of Marangu and he knew the forest like the back of his hand. He continued to guide Mt. Kilimanjaro climbs for more than seventy years and died in 1996 at the age of 125!



Gertrude Benham (22 years old) of London reached the top of Kilimanjaro, alone. She was the first woman ever to reach Uhuru Peak. Her porters, scared of melting snow thinking it was bewitched, chose to stay behind. It was thought she was “immune” to mountain sickness.


Pastor Richard Reusch found a dead leopard on the crater rim. Later a glacier was named after the pastor that became famous in Europe for his stories about the beauty of Mount Kilimanjaro.


The Kibo Hut was constructed. It was the first constant hut that was established at high altitude to reach the summit.


58 visitors were climbing Kilimajaro, becoming the first commercial visitors of Uhuru Peak.


A team of the University of Sheffield and the Tanganyika Geological Survey declared the volcano dormant and almost extinct.


Almost a thousand climbers visited the mountain annually.


Tanganyika and Zanzibar united to become Tanzania. A torch was placed on the summit to celebrate independence and unity. To celebrate the new country, the name of the peak was changed to “Uhuru” peak meaning “freedom”.


Kilimanjaro visitors have increased to more than 10.000 climbers per year.


A Tanzanian man climbed from Umbwe Gate to the summit and back in 9 hours 19 minutes. He carried all his gear and took a break to film himself at the top.


Kilimanjaro National Park Authorities recorded 40 000 people on the mountain, the most popular route being the Machame route with 15 000 visitors.



Swiss-Ecuadorian Karl Egloff has set a new speed record for climbing Kilimanjaro, completing the stretch to the summit and back in just 6 hours, 56 minutes and 24 seconds. He went up Umbwe Route and returned via Mweka Gate.

What Food and Water Will be Provided during the climb?



You will be provided with breakfast, lunch and dinner each day spent on the mountain. Every breakfast will start with hot drinks such as tea, hot milk, hot chocolate, coffee and additional water. We carry special tents where our clients will take all their meals. The food, specifically selected to help your climb, is high energy food that is easy to digest and to give you the energy that you need to climb. We mostly serve soups to give you enough water and calories for every day on the mountain. The primary carbohydrate of the meals are rice, potatoes and pasta. In additon we serve fresh fruits like mangos, bananas and avocados. Also vegetables accompany every meal. Meat is served on the mountain but not in large quantities because it is not easily digestible at high altitude. The best meals for climbing contain a high quantity of water, such as soups and porridge. We buy all our food locally on the market in Moshi. Every climbing group will have a private cook that will check the qualityof the food before every climb. All food will be prepared on the mountain with clean water.

Water is collected from mountain streams and treated with Aquatabs water purification tabs. Water is provided only at the campsites in the morning so you need to carry enough water, usually about 3 to 4 liters to stay hydrated while you are hiking. This is very important to avoid headaches and to minimize the risk of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS).

You may want to bring some supplementary snacks that contain sugar, such as chocolate bars, energy bars and powdered energy drinks. Please note that you don’t have to buy expensive energy bars. Just to name a few, Snickers, Mars or equal snacks are very enough to help to keep your calories up while you are climbing.

Kilimanjaro Mountain Meals.jpg

We can accommodate vegetarian and vegan diets. For those with special diets, please contact us in advance to discuss what we can or cannot do. Note that food selection is limited in Tanzania and especially for climbing Kilimanjaro, so although we will try to please all clients, in some cases clients will be asked to bring their specific food items to us, which our cooks will prepare.

Tipping Guidelines - How much do I tip my guides and porters?

It is common to tip your mountain crew after climbing Kilimanjaro. The decision on how much you tip your crew should be based on the quality of service that you received - not if you reached the summit or not as this cannot be guaranteed. Make your decision on how well the guides, cooks and porters served you while you were on the mountain. The standard tipping amounts PER GROUP is 20USD/day for guides, 15USD/day for cooks & waiters/toilet porters, and 10USD for standard porters. In addition to that you might also think about donating equipment that you don’t need anymore after your climb.

Each group will have one Lead Guide that is responsible for the whole crew. There is generally one assistant guide per three clients. Every group will have a cook, a waiter for all meals and toilet porter. The total number of porters depends on the selected route, the number of days and the total weight of all items needed. Generally, there are two porters per person on the Marangu & for climbing Mount Meru, and three porters per person on all other routes. However, the porters/client ratio is larger for small groups. Make an effort to know your guides and porters and their roles if possible. They will be happy to be recognized as they all have their individual roles for your successfull climb.

Below are some guidelines on how much to tip your staff on a full eight day climb, provided that their service was satisfactory. These figures are the total tips given for your total group.

Tipping guidelines per Group per day:

  • Lead Guide: 20 USD

  • Cook: 15 USD

  • Waiter (for meals): 10 USD

  • Toilet Porter: 10 USD

  • Porter: 10 USD (number of porters depend on total luggage)

Example: 8 Days / 6 climbers / 20 Crew Members (number of porters depend on total luggage)

  • 1 Lead Guide: 160 USD
    2 Assistant Guides: each 160 USD
    1 Cook: 120 USD
    1 Waiter: 80 USD
    1 Toilet Porter: 80 USD
    14 Porters: each 80 USD = 1.120
    20 Total Staff: 1.880 USD
    /6 clients: 313 USD per client

It is against company policies for guides or porters to discuss tips during your climb. Unless there were special circumstances that justify higher tips, please try to stay close to the guidelines above.

Tipping Ceremony on Kilimanjaro on the last day (after summit)



We will explain to all details of the Tipping Ceremony in briefinf before your climb. The ceremony will take place on the last night on the mountain, after the summit day and before arriving to the departure gate of Kilimanjaro National Park. The Lead Guide will assemble the entire staff to say a word of thanks. Each crew member signs a tip receipt which we review after every climb to enforce fair and proper payment. Tips can be made in US Dollars (USD) or Tanzanian Shillings (TSH). It is very important that US bills are not older than 2002, as they are not accepted in the country. It is very helpful to organize a well estimated amount of USD before arrival, as exchange rates may vary and differ a lot.

Donation of Clothing & Equipment

You might consider donating your clothing and equipment to the climb team in addition to tipping them after your climb. Remember that the staff climbs Kilimanjaro many times a year and can go through their clothes and gear rather quickly. You can be straight forward to ask if something is needed and then donate it individually. Your donation is of great assistance to these individuals, many of who are unwilling to spend their money on material goods they consider a luxury rather than a necessity. They will appreciate your generosity tremendously. Avoid giving items to your guide for distribution to porters. Donations should be given directly to individuals they are intended for, perhaps those with the greatest need or who were of particularly good service.

Tipping for Safaris, Hotels and Restaurants

The suggested tips for the safari are 20 USD to 30 USD per day for the guide (who is also the driver). So for instance, in a five day safari the guide can be tipped 100 USD to 150 USD total from the entire group (not per individual).

Small tips (1 USD / 2000 TSH) may be given to hotel staff or drivers for their service, however this is not customary. It is also not customary to leave tips at restaurants.

How do you care for your local staff?



To climb Kilimanjaro you are entering Kilimanjaro National Park. It is required to have a professional team of guides and porters for every climber for safety reasons. You will not be allowed to enter Kilimanjaro National Park by yourself. On your first climbing day we will pick you up from your accomodation in Moshi where we will weigh your Daypack & Duffelbag again and you will meet the entire crew. We will start together driving to the gate according to your itinery. At the entrance gate of Mount Kilimanjaro National Park your climbing luggage is checked again and you will register to the park authorities. Porter loads are limited to 20 kg. Try to limit your Duffel Bag to 15kg as the bag weighs about 2kg itself. You will soon find out the porters are the real heroes of Mount Kilimanjaro as they are climbing the mountain basically every week. Tanzania Horizon Safaris makes sure that our guides & porters have the right gear and equipment to handle the mountain and that their sleeping bags and tents are sufficiently warm. All our crew members have a long experience of climbing Kilimanjaro and they have been climbing Mount Kilimanjaro together for several times so each crew members knows exactly what to do and how to work together as a team. You will experience the team spirit from your first to last on the mountain.

Tanzania Horizon Safaris Climbing Kilimanjaro (17).jpg

Tanzania Horizon Safaris holds the following porter treatment standards:

KIlimanjaro 7 Days Lemosho Route
  • Porters are paid a minimum of 10USD (20.000Tsh) per day, the wage amount accepted by the porter unions in 2014.

  • Salaries will be paid within 2 days of the descent of a climb

  • A transparent Tipping Procedure and clear Tipping Guidelines so that porters receive the full tip amount intended for them

  • Loads carried by the porter don’t exceed 20kg

  • extra luggage will require an extra porter that must paid additionally

  • Porters are provided with 3 meals per day

  • Porters have proper shelter conditions and sleeping equipment

  • Porters are outfitted with proper gear

  • Sick or injured porters are properly cared for

read more about tipping for the crew…

What is Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) ?


Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)

Usually the air that is surrounding us consits of 80% carbodioxid and 20% oxygen. As these 20% of oxygen is the ideal concentration for the human body and the maximum concentration that can be found, it is also been said to be 100% oxygen concentration. This concentration is necessary for our muscles and our brain to work. The more you climb to higher altitude levels, the less oxygen concentration you will find due to the decereasing air pressure. At 1500m (5,000ft) above sea level the oxygen concentration drops to 85%. So what happens inside your body is that your blood cells can no longer carry enough oxygen to provide it to your muscles. Therefore you will start to feel tired and you have to breathe more, to compensate the lack of oxygen. This effect will become stronger the higher you ascend to the mountain.

The good news is: Our body can adapt to a lower oxygen concentration by producing more red blood cells. This process is known as acclimatization.
The bad news is: Adapting to lower oxygen concentration takes time, and every person reacts differently.

PLEASE NOTE: This is not related to your fitness level. In fact, a person with a very high fitness level can suffer very strong from the lack of oxygen.


After reaching 2.500m (8,200ft) things are getting more serious. The oxygen levels goes down to about 75%. This is where altitude sickness might start as a lower oxygen concentration is affecting your muscles, your inner organs and even your brain. It starts slowly by having a headache, losing appetite, slight insomnia but can become really serious and even lead to death at extreme altitude above 4.500m (15,000ft). That’s why we highly recommend to choose a route with sufficient days to give your body enough time to adapt to new oxygen levels. The main cause of altitude sickness is going too high (altitude) too quickly (rate of ascent). It is very important to get enough sleep, to eat well (even if you don’t feel hungry) and to drink enough water to have the energy that you need to recover and to prevent dehydration.

Mountain medicine recognizes three altitude categories:

  • High altitude: 1.500m to 3.500m (4,900ft to 11,500ft)

  • Very high altitude: 3.500m to 5.500m (11,500ft to 18,000ft)

  • Extreme altitude: 5,500m and above (18,000ft and above)
    Uhuru Peak stands at 5.985m (19,340ft)

At over 3.000m (10,000ft), more than 75% of climbers will experience at least some form of mild AMS.

Our guides will monitor your condition during the entire climb but you should communicate any kind of symptoms immediately. Therefore it is good to pay attention to first signs of Altitude Mountain Sickness (AMS).

There are 3 categories of Acute Mountain Sickness with different symptoms:

  • Mild AMS
    Headache, Nausea & Dizziness, Loss of appetite, Fatigue, Shortness of breath, Disturbed sleep

  • Moderate AMS
    Severe headache (that is not relieved by medication), Nausea and vomiting, increasing weakness and fatigue, Shortness of breath, Decreased coordination (ataxia)

  • Severe AMS
    Shortness of breath (also while resting), Inability to walk, Decreasing mental status, Fluid build-up in the lungs (High Altitude Pulmonary Edema), Swelling of the brain tissue (High Altitude Cerebral Edema)

Acclimatization Guidelines:

  • The following are recommended to achieving acclimatization:

  • Pre-acclimatize prior to your trip by hiking at high altitude if possible.

  • Ascend Slowly. Your guides will tell you, "Pole, pole" (slowly, slowly) throughout your climb. Because it takes time to acclimatize, your ascension should be slow. Taking rest days will help. Taking a day increases your chances of getting to the top by up to 30% and increases your chances of actually getting some enjoyment out of the experience by much more than that.

  • Do not overexert yourself while climbing and only according to the advice of your guides.

  • Take slow deliberate deep breaths.

  • Eat enough food and drink enough water while on your climb. It is recommended that you drink from four to five liters of fluid per day. Also, eat a high calorie diet while at altitude, even if you don’t feel hungry.

  • You can use Diamox to prevent mild symptoms of AMS. Please note that you should talk about Diamox to your doctor prior to your climb. It is rarely available in Tanzania and Tanzania Horizon Safaris is not promoting or selling Diamox.

  • Avoid tobacco, alcohol and other depressant drugs including, barbiturates, tranquillizers, sleeping pills and opiates. These further decrease the respiratory drive during sleep resulting in a worsening of altitude sickness.

  • If you begin to show symptoms of moderate altitude sickness, don't go higher until symptoms decrease. If symptoms increase, descend.

Altitude Medication


Diamox is an approved medication for the prevention and treatment of mild AMS. The medication acidifies the blood, which causes an increase in respiration, thus accelerating acclimatization.

Diamox cannot treat heavy symptoms of altitude sickness, but it can help to prevent it. If taken properly Diamox is reported to lower/prevent severe symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS).

The medicine should be continued until you are below an altitude of 2.500m. Side effects of Diamox can be tingling or numbness in your fingers, toes and face, taste alterations, excessive urination and blurring of vision. Side effects usually go away when medication is stopped. It is a personal choice of each climber whether or not to take Diamox as a preventative measure against AMS.

Tanzania Horizon Safaris neither advocates nor discourages the use of Diamox!
Ibuprofen or IbuTad can be used to relieve altitude induced headaches.

Emergency Oxygen & Mountain Rescue


We carry bottled oxygen on all of our climbs as a precaution and additional safety measure. The oxygen cannister is for use only in emergency situations. It is NOT used to assist clients who have not adequately acclimatized on their own to climb higher. The most immediate treatment for moderate and serious altitude sickness is descent. With Kilimanjaro's routes, it is always possible to descend, and descend quickly. Therefore, oxygen is used strictly to treat a stricken climber, when necessary, in conjunction with descent, to treat those with moderate and severe altitude sickness.

We are aware that some operators market the use of supplementary personal oxygen systems as a means to eliminate the symptoms of AMS. To administer oxygen in this manner and for this purpose is dangerous because it is a temporary treatment of altitude sickness. Upon the cessation of the use of oxygen, the client will be at an even higher altitude without proper acclimatization.

How many days do I need to climb Kilimanjaro?


The more days you spend on the mountain, the better your chances for successfully reaching the summit. Statistics show that each additional day you spend acclimatizing increases your probability of success. We strongly recommend that you do not book the minimum number of days only to save money. Kilimanjaro is a challenge and numbers show that 50% of all climbers are not making it to the summit. Unfortunately that happens mostly by not having enough time to acclamitize properly which is a result of not giving your body enough time to adapt to high altitude. Chances are higher that you might experience altitude sickness, may not enjoy your climb and might not you reach the top. Of course, experienced climbers can decide to push for a faster summit than others, but the more days you spend on the mountain, the higher your chances are to achieve your goal. Therefore we recommend to climb Kilimanjaro in seven or more days for not being disappointed. You will enjoy each and every day that you spend on the mountain.

Tanzania Horizon Safaris is offering a large variety of climbs, ranging from 5 Days to 9 Days on 6 different routes. For further information please read our article about “Choosing the best Route for climbing Kilimanjaro” or feel free to contact us.

We will be happy to assist you!



How much does it cost to climb Kilimanjaro?

Tanzania Horizon Safaris is an official Tour Operator in Tanzania.

We have high standards for all our clients and our staff and are constantly working to improve all our services. Climbing Kilimanjaro is not cheap - but you don’t have to spend a fortune for unnecessary things that you won’t need on the mountain. Most important is to have a safe climb at all times. All our experienced guides have climbed Mount Kilimanjaro for many years and have proven their professional work at all times. They have special trainings on safety and know how to react in difficult situations.

Therefore, we highly recommend to not select your Tour Operator only based on price! To provide great service and to pay our team well, there is a minimum rate required. At our rates we can pay all official park fees to enter Kilimanjaro National Park, to pay our professional guides and porters, high quality fresh food, climbing equipment & climbing gear.

Calculate your total costs:

  • Your Flights

  • Vaccination/Medicine

  • Your Visa

  • Climbing Gear (all gear can be rented on arrival)

  • Climbing Kilimanjaro (depends on your route/days)

  • Tipping for Guides & Porters

Our Kilimanjaro Climbs include the follwoing services:

  • Airport Transfers (before and after your climb)

  • Acommodation before and after your Climb

  • Entrance fees to Mount Kilimanjaro National Park (each day)

  • Climbing Certificate

  • Salary for Guides

  • Salary for Porters

  • Salary for your Cook

  • High quality, fresh food from the market

  • Climbing Equipment (tents, sleeping mattresses, table, chairs, First Aid Kit)

Activities after Climbing Kilimanjaro



You have made it to Uhuru Peak - the highest point in Africa!

After this big adventure and all the effort you might simply want to take a break… or you can join us for Daytrips around Mount Kilimanjaro to see the mountain and its stunning nature from a different perspective. We recommend to visit a local Coffee Plantation or a beautiful Waterfall, or you can relax and swim at the Kikuletwa Hot Springs.

  • For those of you with limited time in Tanzania, Daytrips are perfect to see more but to return to your accommodation on the same day.

  • In case that you have more time, you can add a Safari to your travel plans and visit worlds famous Serengeti National Park and witness the Big Migration, or see the famous Chimpanzees at Gombe National Park.

  • If you want to relax on the beach and see a very different part of Tanzania, you might consider an additional trip to Zanzibar.

Please find all additional activties below and contact us - we will be happy to assist you!