Peter's Post: Climbing Kilimanjaro
Our travel expert answers your questions
I'd like to climb Kilimanjaro but have no idea where to begin. Are there groups going regularly or clubs that do this sort of thing? — Estelle Bresendale
For those wishing to climb Africa’s highest peak, the most important thing to do is find a good tour operator, as you can only go up the mountain with an organised trek and along established routes. To find out about group trips from SA or to meet like-minded local climbers, join the Mountain Club of South Africa. It has 14 regional branches and more than 4000 members (www.cen.mcsa.org.za; phone 021 465 3412). Ultimately, though, you can choose one of the many operators offering trips from SA. These include Wild Frontiers (072 927 7529), Dream World Adventures (012 331 6730) and Climbing Kilimanjaro (012 333 7114). The best time to go is January-March and June-October, when the weather is best for climbing. You do not need technical climbing skills but you do need to be fit. The major problem you are likely to face is altitude sickness, but a good operator will ensure you have time to acclimatise as you make your way up. You will need good travel insurance and should have a medical check-up before you leave. The trip should take 5-10 days.
There are a number of routes up the mountain, which vary in degree of difficulty and length. The Marangu is one of the better-known routes and gives the novice hiker a good chance to reach the summit. Other "easy" routes are Machame, Limosho and Shira. Prices vary enormously. Expect to pay R16000-R24000 for an all-inclusive package. You will need a visa for Tanzania, which costs $50 and yellow fever injections are compulsory. Protection against meningitis and hepatitis is recommended. For more details, see www.climb-kilimanjaro.co.za