When you climb Kilimanjaro, accommodation is unlike anything you may be used to.
There is something truly special about just being out there in a tropical landscape. Soaking in all of the sounds of the night on the mountain gives you one of the best feelings in the world.
There are times when getting a good night’s sleep is naturally more difficult on Kilimanjaro. This is particularly the case when you reach the high altitude zones.
The good news is that with a little bit of foresight and knowledge beforehand, you can make your accommodation more comfortable during your climb.
However, it is also worth noting that the type of accommodation available will depend upon the route you take. It will also depend on your budget and what type of tour you take.
So we wanted to make sure you have all the information you need to choose the best accommodation.
You can also find more general tips and information about how to plan your perfect trip to Kilimanjaro on our Climb Kilimanjaro Experience Page.
Where do I sleep on Kilimanjaro?
Where you sleep on Mount Kilimanjaro depends on your hiking route and climbing package. On all but the Marangu route, you will sleep in tents at designated campsites. Your tour operator will typically organize your sleeping tent and mattress, whereby the quality of tents ranges from cheap locally produced to high-quality imported winter mountaineering tents (mid-range offers) or luxurious walk-in size tents with proper frame beds (VIP offers).
The Marangu Route offers shared hut accommodation with dormitory-style bunk beds. This means you'll have a firm roof, but it also reduces your level of privacy. High-quality tents may feel more luxurious and comfortable than the Marangu Huts.
What are the facilities on the Marangu route like?
All hiking routes on Mount Kilimanjaro are roughly similar in terms of facilities, or lack thereof. You will sleep in designated campsites with basic public toilet facilities.
There are flush toilets and running water at lower altitudes, but only long drop toilets at higher altitude, and no toilets along the path.
Only the Marangu Route offers accommodation in huts and some more facilities, but they are not necessarily more comfortable than the other routes.
For a more comfortable experience, it's best to book with a high-quality tour operator and upgrade your climbing package. Mess dining tents with tables and chairs are fairly standard for all mid-range offers, and private toilet tents have become very popular.
For a true VIP experience, we can add luxuries such as a walk-in size tent with frame beds, a portable mountain shower, or even a comfortable lounge tent with a heater to your climbing package.
What is the accommodation on the Marangu route like?
The Marangu route is the only route with hut accommodation. This includes 60 bunk beds each at the Mandara and Kibo Huts and 120 bunk beds at Horombo Hut.
The Marangu Huts offer dormitory-style accommodation of between 4 – 20 bunk beds per room. It is not possible to rent a private room. Moreover, the allocation of beds is on a first-come-first-served basis. Therefore, expect to be sharing your hut with strangers.
However, it is worth noting that the huts do not come with mattresses and pillows – tour operators provide that. You’ll need to bring your own sleeping bags.
The first hut you will stay in will be the Mandara A-frame Huts, which include solar lighting, flush toilets and piped water.
What are the tents on Kilimanjaro like?
If you are not planning to take the Marangu route, then your next question may be ‘what are the tents on Kilimanjaro like?’
This really depends on the type of tent that you get for your trip.
For example, if you are on a standard tour, tents are generally smaller and more confined than you would get on a VIP tour. You will need a sleeping bag, as cots are not included in a standard tour.
Is it worth getting a cot?
This leads us on to a second point: is it worth getting a cot on Kilimanjaro?
Few can deny the comfort and luxury of a cot and walk-in tent. But should you invest in one? Much of this depends on what your preferences and accommodation requirements are.
How many people will I need to share my tent with on a standard tour?
Standard tents are usually shared, if you don’t have other arrangements.
Unless otherwise stated, 1 or 2 people will share a 3-4 person tent, with plenty of space for you and your gear. But please note, high-grade tents designed to cope with extreme conditions don’t allow much room to stand up and walk around in your Kilimanjaro tent.
Sleeping alone or getting a walk-in tent may incur at an additional cost, but this depends on the tour operator. If you consider this option, be sure to specify this in the "Customize Your Experience" section during our signup process.
What are the campsites like on Kilimanjaro?
All routes on Kilimanjaro use specifically designated campsites. Most campsites have a registration office and basic toilet facilities. They are safe, provide a good way to meet fellow climbers, and almost always have spectacular views. Your meals will be provided by your tour operator in a separate mess tent where you will be able to sit comfortably.
Apart from the Marangu Route, there are no shops on Kilimanjaro. Furthermore, there are no charging facilities, and there is no heating (except for luxurious offers that can be upgraded to include a mess tent heater).
Few Kilimanjaro campsites have running water, and there are no water sources near the base camps at high altitudes.
What is included in the tour?
To make it easier for you to compare what's included in different Kilimanjaro offers and to find the package that best meets your personal preferences, we've created our own system to classify Tours by a minimum standard of inclusions:
1-Budget | 2-Economy | 3-Premium | 4-Luxury | 5-VIP
|All standard Kilimanjaro climb inclusions|
|All additional Fair Voyage curated inclusions|
|Wilderness First Responder (WFR) certified guide|
|Emergency oxygen and/or pulse oximeter|
|Private toilet tent|
|Hyperbaric chamber, custom stretcher, emergency oxygen and pulse oximeter|
|Min. 2 WFR certified guides|
|Luxurious walk-in size tent with frame beds|
|Hot mountain shower|
The accommodation options available to you when you climb Kilimanjaro can be as basic or as luxurious as you prefer. Of course it will also depend on your budget.
If you opt for a standard tour, then you should be aware that luxuries such as a walk-in tent, shower, and frame bed will not be provided. So it is worth keeping in mind that if you do want these things, then they will have to be purchased separately.
If that is the case, then it would make more sense to choose a tour package that includes those extras.
It is also worth noting that if you plan to take the Marangu route, then huts will be provided. This may not be appealing to some climbers. However, bear in mind that you will be sharing the accommodation with strangers and bedding is not provided. However, if comfort is your main priority, you may prefer to opt for a tour with a more comfortable walk-in tent.
On the other hand, if you are staying in a tent and you prefer to have your own, then this may incur an additional cost, depending on the tour operator.
Knowing about all of these different options in advance means that you will be much better prepared for your Kilimanjaro climb. You’ll also know what to expect. Regardless of what type of tour you choose, there is no denying that your journey is likely to be one of the most memorable and exhilarating challenges you’re ever likely to take.
Read more about how you can prepare for your journey by visiting our Climb Kilimanjaro Experience Page which contains a number of different resources and information that you can use to plan ahead for your trip.
If you enjoyed this blog, check out these other blogs: ‘How difficult is it to climb Mount Kilimanjaro?‘ and ‘How to tell whether your Kilimanjaro tour operator is ethical‘.