Climbing Kilimanjaro is one of the most exciting things you can do. The memories you gain from taking the adventure of a lifetime is simply indescribable. However, while many get lost in the dream of travel, the practicalities of protecting yourself before and during the trip by purchasing travel insurance must not be overlooked.
Although nobody likes to believe that anything may go wrong, unforeseen events do happen and having travel insurance gives you the peace of mind to know that you will be able to recover your investment or get the treatment you need should you fall ill or succumb to injury.
So below, we have included our top travel insurance tips for Kilimanjaro climbers. Make sure you are covered for travel cancellation, overseas medical expenses and emergency evacuation, including for higher risk activities such as high altitude trekking up to 6,000 meters.
What are the benefits of travel insurance?
The most important benefits of travel insurance when you climb Kilimanjaro are to cover your financial investment if you need to cancel your trip, as well as to cover any overseas medical expenses and emergency evacuation. Travel insurance typically also covers loss or delayed baggage, flight delays and other events that impact your trip.
In case you are wondering whether you can really afford the additional expense of travel insurance, here are 3 compelling reasons why it should not be overlooked:
Financial protection: Even a short trip can leave you out of pocket if you are unable to travel, so it is important to take out a policy that covers you in the event of a cancellation. If you do have to cancel your trip for any reason or you get sick or injured while you are abroad, the last thing you want to worry about is being left with a huge bill or worse – not being able to pay for your treatment. Most tour operators will not refund you if you cancel after a certain period of time, so it is advisable to purchase travel insurance as soon as you have booked your trip. There will also be other non-refundable costs associated with your trip, such as airline tickets and other items.
Safety: It goes without saying that you will definitely need travel insurance if you are doing anything that has a slightly higher risk profile – such as climbing Kilimanjaro. Climbing Kilimanjaro increases your risk of accidents and illness. You will need a good insurance that covers your overseas medical expenses and emergency evacuation, including for higher risk activities. Make sure your insurance covers helicopter evacuations and high altitude trekking up to 6,000 meters.
Mandatory: Even if you prefer not to take out insurance, the most responsible Kilimanjaro operators make insurance mandatory for you to participate on their climbs. This is in your own best interest, so that they can provide you with their best possible assistance to receive emergency evacuation and hospital treatment, should you need it. Amongst others, travel insurance is mandatory for all Kilimanjaro climbs booked via Fair Voyage.
Which travel insurance provider should you book with?
There are so many things to consider when you are booking your insurance. For example, each provider will have their own terms and conditions and some providers offer specialist coverage for specific activities, such as mountain climbing.
You may also have a number of questions about what type of cover you should get and whether you should use separate insurers for different types of claims. Other common questions revolve around how to save costs and whether credit cards will insure against any risks.
Well, we’ve done all the hard work for you and concluded that World Nomads provides the most comprehensive and affordable coverage for travellers to Africa.
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Why do we recommend World Nomads?
There are many reasons to take out insurance with World Nomads, and we’ve listed the top eight.
- Trusted reliable underwriters
WorldNomads.com is backed by a suite of strong, secure, specialist travel insurers who provide you with great cover, 24 hour emergency assistance and the highest levels of support and claims management when you need it most.
- Value for money with the cover you need
WorldNomads.com provides cover for what’s important for travellers from 140 countries. By focusing on what you need and leaving out what you don’t, World Nomads prices are some of the most competitive online.
- Flexibility when you need it most
Had a change of plans? You can buy more cover or claim online while you are still away. You can even buy a World Nomads policy if you’re already travelling.
- Cover for a range of adventure activities
From skiing & snowboarding in New Zealand to whitewater rafting in Colorado, WorldNomads.com covers a range of adventure activities, giving you peace of mind to get the most from your travels.
- World Nomads keeps you travelling safely
All WorldNomads.com members have access to up-to-date travel safety alerts, as well as travel safety advice and tips online through the World Nomads Travel Safety Hub.
- More than just great value travel insurance
All WorldNomads.com members can learn the local lingo through a series of iPod & iPhone Language Guides and can stay in touch with family and friends with an online travel journal.
- Commitment to exceptional customer service
We want to make sure you get the most from WorldNomads.com. You can find out more about why travel insurance is important for your trip. If you have any questions about your travel insurance or travel safety in general, please contact WorldNomads.com directly.
- Excellent reviews
World Nomads has had good reviews compared to other insurance providers. One of the most famous travel bloggers in the world – Nomadic Matt has consistently recommended them, because of their comprehensive coverage.
Special recommendations for travellers climbing Kilimanjaro
Once you've booked your Kilimanjaro climb, if not sooner, it is important that you take these steps:
1. Take out travel insurance
Travel insurance is mandatory to participate in climbs booked via Fair Voyage (read why). To protect your financial investment if you need to cancel your trip due to illness or other unforeseen changes, take out your travel cancellation insurance as soon as you've booked your Tour. Make sure your medical insurance covers emergency evacuations and high altitude trekking up to 6,000 meters. We normally recommend the travel insurance by World Nomads which has good coverage at affordable prices. You can easily apply for it online within few minutes (get it now).
2. Book your flight
To maximize your chances of finding a convenient & affordable flight, it's best to book your flight as soon as you've booked your climb. Kilimanjaro International Airport is conveniently located within 20-60 minutes drive of most hotels in Moshi and Arusha, which are both commonly used as a base to climb Kilimanjaro. It is best to arrive 2 nights before the start of your climb and to depart a day after you finish your climb. If constrained by time, it is also possible – but not recommendable – to arrive on the evening prior to the start of your climb, and to depart on the evening of your last climbing day.
3. Make sure your passport will be valid for 6 months
To enter Tanzania, you will need a visa. To obtain a visa, your passport must be valid for at least 6 months from the date of your entry to Tanzania. Check your passport's expiry date. If required, make sure to apply for a new passport well ahead of your trip.
4. Obtain an electronic visa
You must have a valid visa to enter Tanzania. In 2019, the Tanzanian government introduced e-visas which you can apply for online and are normally issued within 2 or 3 weeks after application.
In the past and for a transition period, visas could also be obtained upon arrival at Kilimanjaro International Airport and other major entry points, including the Tarakea border when crossing by road from Kenya. Visas on arrival must be paid for in cash (US$100 for US citizens and US$50 for most other nationals).
As we do not know when visas on arrival will no longer be available, we recommend all travellers to apply for your visa online well ahead of your trip via the official e-visa portal.
5. Get a health check as well as required vaccinations & medications
It is important that you are in good physical health. If you are at increased risk due to age, level of fitness, or health condition, you must get a medical check and confirm with your doctor that strenuous exercise in high altitude is permissible for your condition.
Please also check all required & recommended vaccinations and medications for travelling to Tanzania. In particular, note that the type of malaria in Tanzania may be lethal, so we recommend taking preventative anti-malarials. As some vaccinations may need to be administered over longer periods of time to become effective, it is best to consult your medical expert well in advance of travelling to Tanzania.
6. Provide all your Traveller details
Please login to your booking dashboard to share your personal and trip-related details for each person in your booking as soon as possible prior to the start of your Tour. This allows your local Operator to prepare your Tour (including your arrival and departure arrangements; as well as any dietary, medical or other requirements they should be a aware of), and to ensure that we have all your details for emergencies.
7. Start to train
It is never too soon to start your training.
The best training you can do to prepare for your mount Kilimanjaro climb is hiking. Running, swimming and cycling are all very good exercises but what you will be doing on Kilimanjaro is hiking.
You will need to condition your body to walk in ascension, over uneven terrain for long periods. Ideally, go hiking in the highest mountains in your area to experience the effect of increased altitudes.
If you live in a city or somewhere flat, taking stairs instead of elevators and targeted muscle exercises are excellent practice that can also help you prepare.
8. Organize all required gear, documents, medications, etc.
Organizing your gear can be a very time-consuming process. It is best to review our recommended packing list and start thinking about how to organize any missing items as soon as you've booked your climb. Most gear can be rented locally in Tanzania (except for cross-over climbs starting in Nairobi), which is a cost-effective and environmentally friendlier alternative to buying new gear. Please check with us for a full list of items available locally.
9. Understand how to minimize the risks of altitude sickness
The biggest risk for Kilimanjaro climbers is altitude sickness. Read our detailed article about the dangers of altitude sickness and how to minimize your risks. Ideally, you experience the effects of increased altitudes above 3,500 meters before climbing Kilimanjaro. However, for most climbers this is not feasible, nor is it required. Even if you have the opportunity to pre-acclimatize, benefits usually only last a few days and disappear by the time you climb Kilimanjaro. So make sure you understand the risks, but don't worry about pre-acclimatizing.
10. Carefully read all your Tour documentation
Please carefully read all information provided under the Preparing Your Trip section where we have put together all essential information for you. To know more, check our comprehensive Travel Tips with answers to over 300 frequently asked questions of Kilimanjaro climbers. If in doubt about any information, please don't hesitate to contact us.