Welcome to Tanzania! You will arrive to Arusha to begin your journey.
Adventure to the roof of Africa on this six-day trek to the continent’s highest peak. Start with a short introduction to the unique culture of the region as you engage in a community service project, immerse in the tribal history of the Chagga people, and acclimate to prepare for your climb. Considered a non-technical climb, the route up Mount Kilimanjaro is highly challenging but can be conquered by anyone with good physical and mental fitness. You’ll hike along scenic trails each day and spend your nights sleeping in tents under the stars. After several days of climbing, wake up before dawn for your final ascent to the summit where you’ll stand above the clouds and look down on some of the finest views in Africa. The program comes to an end in Arusha where you’ll explore the local markets and enjoy a farewell feast with your hiking companions.
Your adventure in Africa begins as soon as you board the flight to Tanzania. All of Rustic Pathways’ scheduled group flights to Tanzania depart from New York and are escorted by a flight leader. After boarding the flight in the evening, you’ll have plenty of time to relax, get to know your fellow travelers, and sleep in preparation for your arrival to Africa. Team Tanzania will be ready and waiting to take you on the adventure of a lifetime when you arrive at the airport.
Welcome to Tanzania! You will arrive into Kilimanjaro in the evening and transfer to your guesthouse in Moshi, the small but bustling staging town for Kili excursions. This first night in Africa will offer the chance to get to know the other students on your program, your staff members, and your new host country. Your guides will give you a quick orientation that will introduce you to the local culture and prepare you for the adventurous two weeks ahead.
Work out that flight tiredness and immediately strike off on an adventurous hike in the foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro! Drive to Marangu village, one of the main starting points for those attempting to summit the mighty mountain. Take a short hike to viewpoint and religious pilgrimage site, where the Moshi valley opens up on one side and if you are very lucky, the Kili summit dominates the other . . . though it is usually shrouded in mist. On the way down, stop by a historic Chagga tribal cave refuge, a place this innovative tribe built into the sandstone to hide from their enemies. Wrap the day with a local coffee-making demonstration before heading back for a good night’s rest.
While it is known for being a world-famous climbing destination, Mt. Kilimanjaro is also a protected national park and an important ecological center for the region. Wake up early and head to a rural village on the slopes, where you will learn about the culture of the local community and partner with them on a development or reforestation initiative. Possible projects you might participate in include building fuel-efficient stoves, building trashcans, planting trees, or cleaning the litter scattered throughout the area. Participate in traditional cooking and harvesting, and end with a rousing song-and-dance routine!: Hut
You’ve participated in community projects, ecotourism, and chimp conservation – now add sustainable agriculture to the mix. You will spend the morning taking a tour of a local coffee plantation where you will be able to see all of the steps that result in the delicious drink you know and quite possibly love, and end the tour treat yourself a sampling session of fresh brews. In the afternoon, visit the pioneer institution of wildlife studies and ecotourism, Mweka. You may even be lucky enough to drop in on a lecture and listen to one of Mweka’s notable professors, who are reputed beacons of knowledge in this growing field in east Africa.
Spend your last day before the mountain visiting a local social entrepreneur, who has started a community-based organization to provide high-quality, low-cost education in a sustainable way to communities in the shadow of Kilimanjaro. Learn how strong local leaders are reshaping their own futures, play a game of soccer with the students at their school, and remember that as you climb one mountain, others climb a different sort of mountain. Head back early to your guesthouse for a thorough briefing and gear check, and prepare for the adventure ahead!
Today, you embark on one of your biggest challenges ever. The trip to the summit moves through five unique climate zones, beginning with the rainforest portion of the trek. After breakfast, you will drive from Njoro Village to Machame gate – the starting point of your Kilimanjaro adventure. From the gate (1,640 meters elevation), the group will trek a distance of about eleven kilometers (estimated hike time: 5-6 hours) to the first base camp of Machame (2,850 meters). Each morning and evening, trip leaders and mountain guides will monitor your health and encourage you to hydrate and fuel up for the days to come. You will camp in tents along the way.
Practice your Swahili hiking songs as you trek out of the rainforest and into the open, rolling moorlands. Covering eleven kilometers (estimated hike time: 4-6 hours), todays hike will traverse nearly a thousand vertical meters before arriving at Shira 2 Camp (3,810 meters).
After a big dinner to rehydrate and refuel, you will enjoy hot chocolate as you take part in group discussions, journaling and card games with your local guides. Heading back to your tents before bed, don’t forget to take a moment and gaze up at the remarkable night’s sky.
In preparation for the remaining climb, your group will spend today acclimatizing to the elevation. Hike from Shira Plateau up to Lava Tower (4,630 meters), and past the Arrow Glacier (4,877 meters) before descending to Barranco Camp (3,976 meters). By following the “climb high, sleep low” wisdom, your body will thank you as you near the summit. Today’s trek covers about ten kilometers and 6-8 hours.
Today is a short day and will allow your body to continue to adjust to the altitude. Depart Barranco Camp for Karanga Camp (3,995 meters) over about 4-5 hours of trekking through alpine desert.
On the penultimate day of your ascent, continue through alpine desert up to Barafu Camp (4,673 meters). At this point, you have completed the South Circuit, which offers views of the summit from many different angles. At Barafu you will rest, enjoy dinner, and prepare for the summit day!
Your summit approach starts at midnight. After a quick snack and a big group pep talk, you will chant their new Swahili songs as you proceed to the summit between the Rebmann and Ratzel glaciers. Ascend through the most challenging portion of the trek toward Stella Point (5,685 meters) on the crater rim. This portion of the trek usually lasts six to seven hours and allows for a breathtaking view of the sunrise on arrival for the faster hikers.
Continuing from Stella Point, it’s another one or two hours of hiking through the arctic zone before arriving at Uhuru Peak (5,895 meters) for your big group picture and well-deserved celebration on the Rooftop of Africa!
Afterwards, you will turn tail and get out of dodge! Retracing your steps back to Barafu, you will rest for a short lunch before continuing your descent to Mweka Camp (3,068 meters). From the summit, you have the next 12 kilometers (estimated hike-time: 4-6 hours) to reflect on the incredible feat you just accomplished.
Today is, as they say, all downhill. Starting at Mweka, you will cover 10 kilometers (estimated hike time: 3-4 hours) on your way back to Mweka Gate.
After thanking your porters, receiving your certificates of accomplishment and taking one last group photo, you’ll pile onto the bus and head back to Moshi for some well-deserved rest and relaxation.
This evening, you will be asked to reflect on your experience, the challenge you faced and what you have learned about your true potential.
Recover from your climb with a casual morning resting and exploring the markets of Moshi. In the afternoon, take a drive down gravel roads to the Moshi hot springs, locally popular but largely off the beaten path for tourists. Take a dip in the beautiful waters and enjoy a picnic lunch surrounded by sprawling fig trees. In the early evening transfer to a cozy guesthouse in the Arusha suburb of Usa River. End your day with a reflection on the adventure you have just completed, and a closing ceremony to remember.
After a full night’s sleep, spend your final morning saying goodbye to your friends. Enjoy a Swahili meal in town for your last taste of local cuisine, and then hit the markets and barter prudently as you browse the stalls for popular souvenirs like paintings, Tanzania soccer jerseys, wood-carved masks, the Masai tribal blanket called the shuka, and more! Options abound. Compare your purchases with your friends as you prepare for your journey home in the evening.
Return home to the sights, sounds, and smells you grew up with, and the loved ones who will greet you at the airport as you say goodbye to your newfound friends. Take a moment to pause and reflect on what you and your group accomplished. What challenged you? How did you engage with the place and the people that you visited? And more importantly, how will you amplify their stories as you tell others about the growth-filled experience you’ve just had?
We trust you’ve had an incredible time and look forward to seeing you again soon.
Kwaheri na safari njema! Goodbye and safe travels!
Rustic Pathways reserves the right to change, alter, or amend the daily itinerary for this trip at any time. Changes can be made for various reasons including changes in flight or program schedules, changes in the schedules of various external tours incorporated in our trips, the addition of new activities into a trip, or the substitution of an old activity for a new activity.
The itinerary shown here provides a good outline of the anticipated daily schedule for this program. As with any travel program, some changes may occur.
“Optional Activities” are fully included in the cost of your program, but you can choose to not do these activities.
“Add-On Activities” are not included in the cost of your program and must be paid for separately. Add-on activities are rare, but include things like skydiving, bungee jumping, or weekend side-trips. Not every program has add-on activities.
For more information, email email@example.com
All programs in Tanzania connect well with other programs in Tanzania. Any programs that run consecutive weeks can be combined. (Remember: start and end dates are inclusive of travel times from the United States, so the listed start and end dates of consecutive programs will overlap by two days.)
Tanzania’s geographical location makes it difficult to connect seamlessly with the other countries we operate in. We suggest any student interested in connecting programs should first return home and wait for the following week until the next program begins. This will allow enough time to smoothly integrate into the upcoming trip.
In previous years most students visiting Tanzania have been able to purchase and receive their visa upon arrival into Arusha. However due to recent changes we have been advised to require travelers to apply for their visas in advance of travel.
Students attending a service oriented program in Tanzania (Faces of East Africa, Culture and the Crater, or African Wildlife Conservation) must obtain a travel visa for “Other Business” for their entry.
For travelers on adventure programs (Climbing Kili or Safari and a Splash of Paradise) a travel visa for “Leisure, Holiday” will suffice.
Once again, we have partnered with G3 Global Services to assist in the visa application process. You can review the updated visa requirements on their site at www.g3visas.com/rusticpathways.html. Since requirements for visas vary by nationality, G3 is only able to process applications for US citizens. However, they have provided additional information to assist families residing outside of the United States.
Should you choose to apply for your visa directly through the embassy or via another visa service agency please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you require additional assistance.
A Flight Leader will meet all the students originating from the United States at JFK airport, and will be with them until their arrival into Tanzania. A Flight Leader will also be present on the return flight home.
This flight includes about 21 hours of travel, starting from your take-off in New York.
The advertised trip does include international travel time. To get a sense of the true in-country time, note that our programs start and end on Wednesday evenings.
Arusha and Kilimanjaro
Each program in Rustic Pathways will have leaders who are certified in First Aid and CPR. On Climbing Kili, we insist that our instructors are minimum Wilderness First Responder certified. The local mountain guides also have first aid training.
Rustic Pathways maintains a minimum of 1 Program Leader for every 7 students. Additionally, each program maintains at least 2 primary program leaders, one male and one female.
Rustic Pathways uses sterilization techniques or purchases bottled water to ensure that all drinking water for students is potable and safe to drink. We ask students to bring reusable water bottles in order to reduce plastic usage.
Students are allowed to bring phones on their Rustic Pathways program, but must abide by our cell phone policy. Students will not be allowed to use their phones during group activities, (whether as a camera or as a means of communication) nor at any other time where it is disruptive to the group dynamic. If students are unable to abide by this policy, disciplinary action may be taken.
Tanzania uses United Kingdom-style plugs at 220-250 V / 50 Hz (the USA is 120 V / 60 Hz).
We are in Tanzania in their winter, so in the villages and cities, the weather will usually be sunny and warm during the day (high 70s F), and cool at night (50s F). It is the dry season, so thankfully we do not expect heavy rain.
On the mountain, the weather will be quite varied. You will traverse four different climate zones, from jungle to arctic, and you will need and want high-quality, cold-weather gear for the top of your ascent. Indeed, our instructors and Kili guides will conduct a thorough gear check on arrival; to protect your own safety, you will not be allowed to climb without the appropriate gear. Please refer to the Packing List for more information.
On the first and last nights of the trip,you will stay at a charming and comfortable guesthouse in Arusha. During your trek up Kilimanjaro, you will stay in permanent huts that have been constructed by the National Park service at certain points along the route. There is a minimum of four people to a hut, with mattresses in each one.
Fuel for your body is extremely important for such a hardy climb and at high altitudes! You will be hiking with cooks and porters that transport all of the goods up the mountain for each meal. They provide a number of different westernized meals to make you feel comfortable and nourished while hiking each day. Food will include meat, fish, fresh veggies, rice and pastas. Vegetarians can be accommodated. Gluten-free and vegan students are difficult to accommodate on the mountain, and may want to consider alternative programs.
It is important to keep your strength on this trip and the cooks do an amazing job of supplying the right kind of food to help you along the way.
Western-style toilets and showers will be available at Ilboru Lodge. In the huts on the mountain, bathrooms are strictly outhouse-style, and there are no showers. Wet wipes are strongly recommended, and hand sanitizer is required.
You will not have access to internet or phone during this trip. On your last day, during brunch with the rest of the students on programs in Tanzania, you will have the option of visiting an internet café if you so choose.
After the group summits, the instructors will radio to the Country Director which students have summited and how each student is doing, and the Director will email each family to let them know the result and how their student is faring. Typically, Rustic Pathways students have about an 80% success rate to the peak, as compared to roughly a 50% success rate for the average trekker. This is largely due to our choice of a 6-day climb, which includes an acclimatization day, as opposed to the standard 5-day climb.
Remember, the value in Climbing Kili is not in summiting; the value is climbing Kilimanjaro!
There will not be an opportunity to do laundry on this trip. If you are connecting to another program, you will be provided an opportunity to do laundry early in that second program. Most of your Kili gear you will simply store with the Country Director as you will not need much of it for other programs.
Generally speaking, our company usually has a few more girls than boys, but it is difficult to say with each session being different and Kilimanjaro actually tends to attract a pretty even mix of boys and girls.
Students are always surprised at the effects of altitude. Kili is a non-technical climb and it’s not a very steep one – the challenge comes almost entirely from the lack of oxygen at heights above 14,000 feet. Altitude also affects people in surprising ways: peak athletes sometimes struggle more than casual exercisers. Generally speaking, you want to be in decent shape, do some day-hikes or overnight hikes if possible beforehand, break in your boots thoroughly, and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate during the climb.
As mentioned, any activity at altitude does create risk. Our instructors and our professional local Kili guides will not allow a student to attempt to summit if they feel the student is not responding well to the altitude; we will push you to challenge yourself mentally, but we will always be conservative as we note physical changes. Should an evacuation off the mountain be necessary, the speed and timing will vary based on location on the mountain. Air support is available at certain points, but near the top, an evac could still take a number of hours to reach a landing zone. There is a modern hospital in Moshi, a town at the base of the mountain, that is well-equipped. Should an air evac be necessary, and depending on severity, a student may be flown to nearby Nairobi as it is considered to have some of the best healthcare in East Africa.
On a country level, Tanzania is considered the most stable country in East Africa and now sees over a million tourists every year! Safety tips for traveling here are much like traveling anywhere – be conscious of your belongings, keep money hidden, travel in groups, and do your research beforehand. All of which we do and teach you to do as a young traveler.
There are a couple of health issues to note specific to Tanzania. The country is considered endemic for malaria and dengue fever. Both are vector-borne illnesses spread by mosquitos; malaria has both prophylactics and antibiotics available for prevention and treatment, but there is no cure or vaccine for dengue. Those most at risk for serious complications from dengue are those who have contracted it before. These diseases present the greatest risk during the rainy season (March-May), and near large bodies of water or in low-lying areas, such as the more southern city of Dar Es Salaam. Risk in the inland north where we operate is much lower. The risk on Zanzibar, where Safari & Splash students visit, is somewhat elevated in comparison, though Zanzibar has not had some of the outbreaks that have afflicted Dar Es Salaam. The fact that we travel during the drier and cooler winter months in Tanzania helps reduce that risk. Nevertheless, students should be vigilant on all programs and Zanzibar in particular to use bug spray with DEET and to wear long sleeves and pants, particularly at dusk and dawn. Our hotels on Zanzibar do provide bed nets.
ISOS considers there to be no risk for mosquito-borne illnesses at altitudes above 1800m.
Please consult with a travel doctor or your family physician for immunization and other medical recommendations, based on the area(s) where you will be traveling and on your own medical history. In addition to consulting with a medical professional, please visit the International SOS and Center for Disease Control websites for country specific information around immunizations and traveler’s health. Please let us know if you have specific questions.
For entry, we will note that yellow fever or other vaccinations are currently not required to enter Tanzania. The exception is if you have spent time in a yellow fever-endemic country (such as Kenya). You will want to review the countries to which you have previously traveled to determine if you will need to show proof of vaccination for entry.
International SOS is one of the world’s leading providers of medical evacuation and travel services. All participants traveling with Rustic Pathways will have access toInternational SOS benefits through Rustic Pathways’ membership.
As a member you will have access to International SOS’ extensive travel information database to help you make informed decisions prior to travel. Additionally, all travelers who travel outside their country of residence will have access to medical evacuation support during their program. For more information please visit our International SOS webpage.
On Kilimanjaro, the nearest definitive healthcare center is in the town of Moshi, which is about an hour drive from the starting point of the hike. In a time-sensitive emergency, air evacuation from the lower huts is available. In Arusha, there are good clinics with staff near to the lodge, and as the primary launching point for tourism in the region, there are a number of well-equipped hospitals in the city.
Our cooks on the mountain can easily accommodate vegetarians, but we do not recommend that vegans or gluten-free students undertake this program, as it is difficult of find enough foods in Tanzania that can provide the fuel your body needs on this trek.
Food allergies can be accommodated; however we encourage anaphylactic students to consider the risk carefully. While we control the diet and take very careful precautions with allergies, there are a number of other hikers on the mountain and so some risk of cross-contamination exists. If you are comfortable with that and with the distance from care, and if you bring epinephrine, we can accommodate you on the program.
There are some mosquitos in Arusha and at the lower levels of the climb. However, most of the mosquito risk occurs in the rainy season (March-May) or in lower areas of the country. Nevertheless, bug spray is a must until higher elevations on Kilimanjaro are reached.
Personal gifts, internet, phone calls, and extra snacks are not included (we provide snacks, but many students like to also bring their own granola/energy bars from home). All other costs (accommodation, meals, in-country transportation, and activities) are included in the program price.
$100 for visa (or $50 for non-USA citizens). Bills should be clean, unwrinkled, and dated 2006 or later.
$250-$350 for souvenirs on the last day and for tips for the local professional guides on the mountain. While our instructors provide the standard tips to our local Kili guides, many students develop an excellent relationship with their guides and want to give them additional tips after the climb.
The cold-weather gear on the packing list is absolutely required. Our guides will check your gear and will not allow you to climb without it. Please refer to the packing list for details.
You do not need to have any prior climbing experience to participate in this trip. We do recommend you come in reasonable physical shape.
As mentioned, this an extremely strenuous trip! Being in shape is important but can only prepare you so much for the stresses of 19,000 feet. The key thing on the mountain is to listen to what your guides tell you, drink as much water as you can handle and far more than you think you need, eat generously, and take a slow pace. And remember to keep your expectations in check. As one of our modern poets has written:
“There’s always gonna be another mountain
I’m always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose
Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waitin’ on the other side
It’s the climb”
Packing the right gear (and the right amounts) is the first step to an incredible travel experience. Follow these tips to pack like a pro:
Travel light. Pack only the essentials. You’ll need less than you think!
Bring the right clothes. Pack clothes that are culturally appropriate for your destination and acceptable for service projects. This means bringing long shorts (think Bermuda and basketball shorts), t-shirts with sleeves to cover shoulders, and appropriate footwear.
Leave your valuables behind. While traveling, it’s easier for things to get lost, stolen, or damaged. Keep any prized possessions safe at home.
Check with TSA. Make sure your luggage complies with TSA regulations, especially your carry-on. Useful tip: Pack an empty water bottle and fill it up after security.
Extra paperwork? If you need additional forms filled out to get credit for your service hours, no problem! Bring these forms with you so they can be completed in-country.
Rustic Gear. Want to get all the basic travel gear in one place? We’ve got you covered. Check out Rustic Gear and get the basics sent right to your door. Please remember, Climbing Kili requires essential, program-specific gear that is not included in the Rustic Gear kit.
A 25-30 Liter daypack or backpack with hip straps is ideal as this will also be the daypack you use during the climb. On the program, you will use it to carry 3L of water, camera, raincoat, lunch pack, snacks, and warm clothing.
A duffel bag or backpack is ideal, large enough to fit all your clothes and climbing gear. Suitcases/wheeled bags are not suitable on this program.
(Travel size bottles in Ziploc bags)
Welcome to Tanzania! You will arrive to Arusha to begin your journey.
Begin your journey at the well-traveled Marangu Gate near Moshi.
The final destination! Enjoy a sunrise from the “rooftop of Africa”.