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Frequently Asked Questions are grouped below by 1) Climbing Kilimanjaro, 2) Safari, 3) Tanzania Travel.


Q:  What route should I climb?

A:  80% of climbers use Marangu (known as “Tourist” or “Coca Cola”), while others use Umbwe, Rongai, Mweka, and Machame. Two routes, Shira and Lemosho, are far less frequented, therefore providing a more remote and natural experience. Note how many routes meet near the top, so there are fewer approaches to the summit. Our route descriptions describe what to expect on each.

Q:  What is the best month climb Kilimanjaro?

A:  Kilimanjaro is climbed throughout the year. January to March – very good, mild temperatures, few clouds, short daytime rain, and snow on the summit. April and May – rainy season, heavy rain at lower altitudes, snow at the summit, and reduced visibility. June to August – colder with good visibility. September and October – warmer, mist at middle altitudes. November and December – perfect visibility at night and morning, short daytime rains, afternoon thunderstorms. Consider timing your climb to experience a full moon which allows a summit climb without head lights. See our weather page to see the Zara Rating summary by month.

Q:  How fit must I be to climb Kilimanjaro?

A:  Kilimanjaro is often described as “easily accessible” because of nice trails, the assistance of porters and guides, and that technical mountaineering skills are not required, but do not underestimate this mountain. A climber’s biggest problem may be the effects of high altitude, which seem to be unrelated to fitness, age, or gender. General fitness is necessary. Prior to your visit, physical training should emphasize leg muscles. Include some aerobics and practice hiking with a light day pack. The fitter you are, the easier the climb will be for you. Determination is another important factor.

Q:  How many hours will I trek per day?

A:  Plenty of time is allotted each day, as you can see in our Route Comparison Table.

Q:  What if I am slower than the other trekkers?

There is no need to worry. This is a common concern. It is better for your body to proceed slowly to acclimatize, so the guides will remind everyone (“pole pole” which means “slowly, slowly”).

Q:  What if I cannot make it to the top?

A:  Some climbers may fall short of reaching the summit, but not at the expense of their overall experience. Certificates are given for reaching the crater rim and gold certificates are given to those who reach Uhuru Point. Guides do everything they can to ensure your success, but if someone decides they cannot continue or a guide deems it unsafe for them to continue, they are escorted to the most convenient campsite or hut. Our guides intimately know the network of shortcuts to escort climbers to safety, and are trained to act quickly and calmly under any circumstance.

Q:  How much equipment will I carry?

A:  Your day pack will sustain you until you reach camp at the end of the day such as water, snacks, first aid, camera, gloves, and clothing layers. Porters carry your backpack/duffel from campsite to campsite and will be there before you arrive. Each porter’s load is limited to 35 lbs (15kg) so weight is distributed among them.

Q:  What are accommodations like at the trek?

A:  On the Marangu Route there are simple huts which sleep four, with the last hut as dorm-style with bunk beds. On other routes, you sleep in dome-style mountain tents, two people in each. They are modern with flysheets and large vestibules. Porters set up, take down, and carry them. A toilet tent is set up at every campsite and hot water is provided for each person every morning if possible (no showers). Meals are served in dining tents with chairs and tables. Before meals, porters provide soap and hot water for washing your hands.

Q:  What is the food like at the trek?

A:  A variety of tasty and filling food is served in multiple courses, and is described in example menus.

Q:  Who will be my guide?

A:  Our knowledgeable and experienced guides have collectively mounted Kilimanjaro well over a thousand times. They are regularly trained in latest guiding techniques, first aid, English language, zoological and geological topics, customer relations, and environmental conservation. Zara’s guides are full-time employees and have a fixed salary. They are fully licensed by the National Park authorities, and most of them have been with ZARA for more than 10 years. They really love their job. See their photos.

Q:  What gear should I bring?

See our packing lists for Kilimanjaro and for Safari, and our list of rental gear, as well as our answer under FAQ Tanzania Travel.


Q:  What are the best months for Safari?

A:  Safaris are conducted throughout the year, with exact locations dependent on the yearly migration of wildlife. From December to March the animals are in the eastern Serengeti. In April and May they move to the western part. Other national parks do not have migrations. For safaris, there are two rainy seasons. The November rainy season has short but strong rains, maybe an hour of rain every three days. During the April-May rainy season it is possible to have 2 consecutive days of nonstop rain, and some roads become impassable.

During Peak Season from Christmas to January prices are high and hotel rooms are filled. Low Season is October-November, April-May, and early June, and Zara offers discounts and special itineraries.

Q:  What are Accommodations like?

A:  Your base of operation is Springlands Hotel. For safari you stay in lodges and wildcamps. For Kilimanjaro climbs you sleep in modern dome tents and eat in dining tents. Zara’s hotels are clean, safe, and comfortable. They represent the best value in Tanzania and provide 3-star reasonable class European services. Wildcamps have cots, en-suite toilets, hot showers, and dining halls. If you expect 5-star luxury, it is better for you to choose luxury lodges which Zara can recommend.

Q:  What are the vehicles like?

A:  Zara uses Toyota Land Cruisers or Land Rovers as they are most suitable to the terrain. For large groups we use 4WD buses as it is more convenient for our clients to be all together in one vehicle, and it is more economic and better for the environment. Most of our drivers are full-time employees and have been trained by us in customer relations, tourism topics, environment issues, and vehicle maintenance. They are very familiar with our routes. For the less frequented routes we may use part-time contract drivers who must be experienced, reliable, and very knowledgeable of the areas you visit.

Q:  Who will be my guide?

A:  English speaking Tanzanians will be your guide. Some also speak Spanish and German. They are trained and experienced in leading trips and are knowledgeable about the fauna and flora. Often they become friends with the travelers, and interactions with staff are often the highlight of people’s trips.

Q:  What gear should I bring?

See our packing lists for Kilimanjaro and for Safari, and our list of rental gear, as well as our answer under FAQ Tanzania Travel.


Q:  Where is Moshi and Kilimanjaro and how do I get there?

A:  Zara’s Springlands Hotel is located in Moshi, just east of Arusha, in northeast Tanzania. Zara’s safari hotel and wild camps are located in the national parks to the west.Q:  How do I get to Tanzania?

A:  Americans fly through Amsterdam (AMS) or Ethiopia, with an afternoon or late evening arrival at Kilimanjaro Airport (JRO). Zara will know your flights and will meet you at the airport to transport you by shuttle to the Springlands Hotel. Most return flights have a stopover in Daressalaam. See our page: “Getting to Moshi

Q:  What about medical emergencies and medicine?

A:  Prior to overseas travel, consult your doctor and bring specific personal medicine in your first aid kit. Zara’s adventures are equipped with a basic aid kit, but no prescription drugs. Medical supplies are limited in Tanzania to the capitol city of Dar es Salaam, however, there are western doctors who provide medical service to travelers. Your travel health care insurance should cover doctors, hospital, medicine and emergency transportation (minimum of $25,000). See Zara’s health information for Kilimanjaro trekkers.

Q:  What currency should I have?

A:  Tanzania’s official currency is the Shilling. Small amounts are paid in Shillings, whereas larger amounts are paid in US dollars. Change your money at The Bureaux de Change, found in larger towns and airports, where you get a better rate than in shops. There are several banks with ATMs. Visa is the most widely accepted credit card. Only higher end hotels, restaurants, and shops accept international credit cards. Small local shops only accept Shillings. Convert your currency to Tanzanian Shillings at

US travelers should bring US$ dated 2003 or later. You will get a better exchange rate for 50 and 100 dollar bills than for smaller bills. The exchange rate in August 2014 is 1 USD = 1,659 TZS.

European travelers should bring Euros, British Pounds, and Swiss Francs. You can use your EC debit card in Barclay’s bank in Moshi, Arusha, Zanzibar, and Daressalam. The exchange rate in August 2014 is 1 EU = 2,222 TZS.

Q:  Where can I get a Visa?

Visas are required for entering Tanzanian territory, and may be obtained at the airport upon arrival or in advance from the Tanzanian Embassy in your country of origin. The price is $100 for U.S. passport holders, US$75 for Canadians, and $50 for EU and most other passport holders. Please take a look at our section about visa.

Q:  Can I send emails, make phone calls, and send postcards?

A:  Internet Cafes in the center of cities are inexpensive, but connection speed is usually slow. Zara’s Springlands Hotel and Highview Hotel have internet rooms for guests to send emails, but no WiFi hotspots.

Stamps, envelopes, and postcards are available in Post Offices. Postal mail is reliable although slow. Courier services such as DHL are available. Telecommunications in Tanzania is generally good. Both Springlands Hotel and the Highview Hotel have international fax and telephone services.

You can use your standards GSM mobile phone in Tanzania. Consider purchasing a local SIM card or special service from your carrier.

Q:  Should I give a Tip?

A:  Tipping is not a local custom, common only among tourists and expatriates. For trekking and safari, you should tip your guides and porters, depending on the length, complexity, and number of staff involved. See our guide for tipping.

Q:  Do people speak English?

A:  Swahili and English are the official languages of Tanzania, and English is the second language of many as they were taught this at school. Those working in tourism communicate in English. It is more difficult to use English with children, women, and those in the countryside. Locals appreciate travelers who can speak some Swahili, of which a few words are surprisingly easy to master. A Swahili phrase book is good to have

Q:  I’m a travel agent or journalist. Can you help me?

A:  Of course we can! You can get a first idea of ZARA Tours on this corporate website, our blog, our hotel websites (Springlands Hotel, Highview Hotel, Tanzania Wildcamps), and on Adventure Travel Media Source.

Q:  What Souvenirs can I buy?

A:  Art and Gift shops are available in the Springlands Hotel and Highview Hotel. We encourage you to visit the many small curio shops and local markets to support the local economy. Feel free to bargain. Do not buy souvenirs made of endangered wood such as ebony, bamba kofi, or mangrove, and avoid coral, large sea shells, and turtle shells.

Q:  Are there good Restaurants?

A:  The number and variety of restaurants is improving. Towns with tourism (Daressalam, Moshi, Arusha, Karatu, Zanzibar) you can find good Swahili, African, Indian, Chinese, and Italian restaurants. Many older restaurants serve typical English food.

Q:  What luggage should I pack?

For your flight to Tanzania, bring crucial items such as medicine in your carry on bag because it’s not unheard of for checked bags to arrive a day or two after you do. Airlines limit checked bags and carry-ons to 20 kg per person. While trekking, keep weight to a bare minimum. Your bags should be the round, squashy type rather than hard suitcases. Use something that is both water proof and lockable as it might be transported on the vehicle’s roof to the trailhead and back to the hotel. A smaller bag for extra “city” clothes can be stored cleanly in the hotel while you trek. Use a small day pack for hiking and for transport. For overnight treks, Zara provides camping gear, except for sleeping bags. See our packing lists for Kilimanjaro and for Safari. See our list of rental gear.