Mountain Food and Water

What do you eat on the mountain?

Remember to inform us if you have any special dietary requirements – because both meat and nuts form a substantial part of the food on Kilimanjaro. One of the marvels of a trek on Kilimanjaro is the skill with which the cooks are able to conjure up tasty and nutritious food despite little in the way of equipment and ingredients. They are also able obey almost any dietary restrictions, so that vegans, vegetarians, gluten and lactose intolerants and those with restrictions due to their religious beliefs are all accommodated. Just make sure you tell your company in advance of any dietary restrictions you may have.

Breakfast on Kilimanjaro

A typical Kilimanjaro breakfast will involve eggs (boiled or fried), porridge, a saveloy (possibly with some tomatoes too), a piece of fruit such as a banana or orange, some bread with jam, honey or peanut butter and a mug or two of tea, hot chocolate or coffee.
Lunch on Kilimanjaro

Lunch on Kilimanjaro is usually prepared at breakfast and carried by the trekker in his or her daypack. This packed lunch often consists of a boiled egg, some sandwiches, a banana or orange, and some tea kept warm in a flask and carried by your guide. KINAPA are trying to stop trekking operators from making cooked lunches along the trail for environmental reasons. At the end of the day’s walking, afternoon tea is served with biscuits, peanuts and, best of all, salted popcorn.

The final and biggest meal of the day, dinner usually begins with soup, followed by a main course including chicken or meat, a vegetable sauce, some cabbage, and rice or pasta; if your porters have brought up some potatoes, these will usually be eaten on the first night as they are so heavy.
Drinking on Kilimanjaro
What do you drink?

Porters will collect water from the rivers and streams along the trail. Some of this they will boil for you at the start of the day to carry in your water bottles. On the lower slopes you can collect water yourself from the many streams and purify it using a filter or tablets.Note, however, that as you climb ever higher the water becomes more scarce. On the Machame trail, for example, the last water point is at the Karanga Valley, the lunch-stop before Barafu; on Marangu, it’s just before the Saddle. For this reason it is essential that you carry enough bottles or containers for at least two litres.

In camp, coffee and tea is served and maybe hot chocolate too – all usually made with powdered milk. Remember that caffeine, present in coffee and tea, is dehydrating, which can be bad for acclimatization. Caffeine is a diuretic too (i.e you will want to urinate frequently – something you will already be doing a lot as you adapt to the higher conditions).

Machame, nicknamed the ‘Whiskey’ route, is by far the most popular route and probably the most beautiful route to start your ascent to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. Located on the southern side of the mountain in lush, fertile rainforest, you will head towards Shira Plateau and then circle along the southern circuit halfway around Kilimanjaro; from here you will have great views from all angles. Although this is considered one of the better routes for acclimatization, as you will have a steady altitude increase every day, it is also one of the more challenging choices, due to hiking steeper routes for longer distances.

It is recommended that this route is done in no less than 6 days/5 nights but for better altitude acclimatization it is often done in 7 days/6 nights. You will approach the summit from the east and make your descent along the Mweka trail. Due to hiking high and sleeping low, the Machame route has one of the highest summit success rates of all the Kilimanjaro routes.

Also known as the ‘Coca Cola’ route due to the tea huts where Coke can be bought along the way. The Marangu route is the oldest of the routes and has one of the most established trails. Considered one of the easier routes, it is still challenging with a short, beautiful but steep and demanding trek to Uhuru Peak (5895m). It is one of the most heavily used routes and in the rainy season can be very well trodden and muddy in some places. This is not the most technical route to climb and there are no tough scrambles or rocky steps to negotiate until the final summit night. The trail heading to Gillman’s Point must be followed ‘pole pole’ (slowly in Kiswahili) and in a zigzag trail due to the steep ascent to the summit. The ascent and descent are done on the same path and due to this can become very crowded and has the least scenic variety. It is the only route with sleeping huts (preferred in rainy seasons) offering dormitory accommodation. The Marangu route can get fully booked in the high season; it is therefore advisable to book this route in advance.

Approaching Kilimanjaro from the north side (the only route starting on this side of the mountain), close to the Kenyan border, Rongai offers views of Masai land where wildlife including Buffalo, Elephant and Monkeys can be spotted, along with East Africa’s stunning birdlife. The Rongai route, although becoming an increasingly popular route, is still the quietest option.

Due to the long drive taken to get to the gate on day one it‘s the least frequently used route. Considered a moderately difficult route, it has excellent success rates. This is the best choice especially during rainy seasons as the north side receives less precipitation, letting you make your ascent in drier more pleasant conditions. You will make a gentle ascent through several different climate zones and make your descent on the south side along the Marangu route, so you get the best of both sides of the mountain.

Lemosho route is one of the longest and most scenic routes of Mount Kilimanjaro. It is one of the best routes for acclimatization due to the length of the climb; it also has a high success rate of climbers making it to the Rooftop of Africa. It is our favorite route due to a great balance of low traffic and scenic views. The route approaches Mount Kilimanjaro from the west, beginning with a long drive from Moshi to Londorossi Gate. From there, the first two days are spent trekking through rainforest to Shira Ridge.

This route offers variety as it meets up with 2 of the other routes on the mountain. The first is Shira route, now a drive able road used for emergency vehicles, the Lemosho route passes this road and crosses the Shira Plateau on the way to the summit. On the forth day it meets up with the Machame route around Lava Tower, the hike goes down to Barranco valley and we ascend to the Great Barranco wall. Lemosho is considered one of the most beautiful routes Mount Kilimanjaro has to offer, there may even be opportunities to spot some wildlife in the forest zone and Shira Plateau, if you’re lucky. The descent is made via the Mweka route. It’s a good acclimatization route and offers a better chance at summiting as you take more days at a slower pace.

The Umbwe route is considered to be the most difficult route due to its relatively extreme nature. Umbwe route starts off from the east of the mountain. It goes through a very steep terrain! For that reason, there are generally less people than all the other routes – This route gains around 1,000 meter for the first two days and thus, not that friendly for altitude mountain sickness and thus, we wouldn’t recommend it for newbies. However, the trail joins the famous Machame and Lemosho route at Barranco Camp and proceed to the summit via Barafu and Stella Point.

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