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Food on Kilimanjaro Climb

Food on Kilimanjaro Climb | Meals on Kilimanjaro | What is the Food  |  What do you Eat |   Kilimanjaro Food MenuMeal Plan and Water

What you eat on a Kilimanjaro climb is vitally important. That’s why we prepare nutritious, hearty and varied meals on our Kili climbs. We also provide snacks, hot drinks and drinking water. Read on for full details, as well as advice on snacks and more.

food on kilimanjaro

Daily Kilimanjaro Sample Menus

We have a dining tent with chairs and for just dinning. Whilst each day you will be served different meals whilst on the Kilimanjaro climb, below is a guideline to what type of food you can expect :


  • Breakfast is usually porridge followed by sausage and eggs, toast and marmalade or jams and hot drinks such as tea, coffee or chocolate. Climbers are asked to communicate with the guide as regards their appetites or we will tend to err on the side of caution in providing much more food than necessary.
  • Lunch is usually a packed lunch that you will carry in your daypack. It normally consists of a boiled egg, some sandwiches, a chicken portion, fresh fruit and a cold drink.  At the end of the day’s walking, afternoon tea is served with biscuits, peanuts and, best of all, salted popcorn and plenty of hot drinks.
  • Dinner begins with soup, followed by a main course including chicken or meat, a vegetable sauce, some cabbage, and rice, pasta or potatoes, with fresh fruit for dessert .

Every Kilimanjaro tour operator has a cook and cook’s assistant as part of the mountain crew climbing the mountain with you. These guys are highly trained cooks who know how to prepare tasty as well as nutritious meals.

Naturally every tour operator develops their own unique meal plan. That said, every reputable operator does, however, provide three solid meals, as well as snacks and hot drinks. Here is a run down of the meals on Kilimanjaro provided by Follow Alice …

Every morning on a Follow Alice Kilimanjaro climb starts with a hot breakfast in the mess tent. This consists of:

  • porridge (oats or millet)
  • a cooked meal (like eggs, sausages and pancakes)
  • toast
  • cereal
  • yoghurt and milk
  • fresh fruit

You can also, of course, expect hot drinks like tea, coffee and hot chocolate to be in plentiful supply. (But as discussed in Advice for women climbing Kilimanjaro, you might want to drink these early to try fit in a visit to the toilet tent before starting the day’s hiking.)

Meals on Kilimanjaro

Don’t be shy at breakfast – you need plenty of fuel to scale the highest mountain in Africa!

fruit meals on Kilimanjaro

Fresh, chopped fruit

On the days when there’s a hot lunch (which is most days), the mountain crew needs time to set things up. To allow for this, you’re served hot drinks and a snack (like biscuits) to keep you happy till the food is ready.

Like most other operators, we provide two kinds of lunches on our Kilimanjaro climbs, depending on the day. Specifically, lunch on the first day is a packed lunch. This is done so that you can sit and enjoy your food when you arrive at the gate to Kilimanjaro National Park. Meanwhile, your mountain crew deals with the necessary paperwork and prepares everything for porterage.

 Lunch at Lava Tower on Kilimanjaro

On the Lemosho route you stop at Lava Tower for lunch

On most days, however, you can expect a hot lunch. This is managed by having the porters and cooks hike on ahead of you (yes, they’re crazy fit!) to set things up at the designated lunch stop. That way you arrive, drop into place, and are served a revitalising meal!

So what can you expect from your packed and hot lunches?

Packed lunches

An example of a Follow Alice packed lunch is a recyclable box containing:

  • a boiled egg
  • cooked chicken
  • a couple of samosas
  • a slice of cheese
  • a wedge of banana loaf
  • an apple
  • a banana
  • a small yoghurt
  • a juicebox
Meals on Kilimanjaro

An example of a packed lunch

Hot lunches

On most days of your Kilimanjaro climb you can expect a cooked lunch. As the photos below show, at Follow Alice this sometimes entails soup, toast, salad, pancake, toppings. On another day it might equal toasted cheese sarmies, flapjacks, cucumber slices and fresh fruit. And on yet another it might mean sausages, toast, savoury pancakes, fritters and papaya.


Lunch on the mountain, which here includes soup, toast, salad and pancakes

soup meals on kilimanjaro

Anyone for soup?


Eat up, as there’s still plenty of climbing to do!

When you arrive at camp for the night, it’s still going to be a little while till dinner. The porters still need to set up camp and the cook needs time to prepare and cook the food. For this reason, a pre-dinner snack is in order. This often consists of hot drinks, popcorn and biscuits. Just something to tide you over till the main repast!


Pre-dinner huddle around popcorn and hot drinks!

Dinner is a really great meal. We crowd together in the warmth of the dining room tent for talk about the adventures of the day, who is more hungry than everyone else, and who is looking forward to their sleeping bag the most! It’s a wonderful time, full of the laughter and camaraderie that comes after a really hard day’s climb.

As shown in the photos below, dinner is always a hearty, cooked affair. Every dinner is different, but there’s always plenty of it, and it’s always nutritious and aims to fill up the tank. One night there might be spaghetti with a tasty topping of chicken and vegetables. Another night might see juicy beef, potatoes, boiled eggs, and spinach-stuffed avocados. And yet another might see you presented with stew, chips, veggies and a fresh avocado slice.

Meals on Kilimanjaro

A yummy full dinner plate of fat potato chips, fresh avocado, cooked spinach and beef stew

meals on kilimanjaro

Hard-boiled eggs, fresh tomatoes slices and boiled, herbed baby potatoes make up part of this hearty dinner spread

Nobody wants to be eating a meal of canned food on their Kilimanjaro climb. It’s important that you have the taste and nutrition of fresh meat, fruit and vegetables throughout your climb. But some of you clever souls might be wondering how we can promise quality, fresh produce for your meals on a climb that lasts around a week, often longer? The answer isn’t food parcels airdropped onto the summit and stored in the ice. The answer is, instead, resupply runners.

Usually once per climb a few über fit porters do a resupply run to bring us fresh produce. On the Lemosho route, for instance, runners bring fresh produce to Karanga Camp. Depending if you opted for the seven- or eight-day itinerary, this is where we overnight on Day 5 or 6 of the climb.

Yes, we do!  we collect trekkers’ dietary info before the climb and pass it on to the team on the ground. They’re then equipped with all the necessary details for their pre-climb grocery shop.


As mentioned above, you’re provided with plenty of food, including snacks, by your tour operator on the trek. So you should never be hungry during your climb. That said, bringing along some of your own, favourite snacks is still definitely a good idea. These can be a fantastic resource should your energy level or mental resolve start flagging – a taste of home could give you just the boost you need!


The benefits of snacks are twofold: they provide extra energy as well as a mental boost.


You don’t need more than one or two snacks per day. One average-sized snack bar and a couple of sucking sweets, for instance, should be sufficient for one day. The higher the altitude, the greater the chance of you experiencing some mild symptoms of altitude sickness, which include nausea and loss of appetite. If you’re eating your fair share at mealtimes, you really won’t want more than one or possibly two snacks during the climb.

It’s very important that your mountain crew – which consists of your guides, cooks and porters – is eating enough nutritious food during the climb.

Some budget tour companies try to keep costs low by cutting down on the food provided to the mountain crew. In fact, sometimes these teams only get one or two meals a day. Unacceptable!! Mountain crews work extremely hard and should never have to go hungry.

If you’re considering a Kilimanjaro tour operator who is able to offer an extremely low rate, investigate how they’re able to offer such a low price. Often the answer is that the mountain crew is being short-changed, from inadequate pay and training to insufficient food during the climb.

On a Kilimanjaro climb, the mountain crew regularly collects water from streams that they purify for everyone to be able to drink. They use water purifying tablets, which can give the water a slightly different taste. This is why we suggested above that you might like to bring along water infusions should you decide you don’t like the taste of the purified water. Some trekkers prefer to re-purify their own water, which is fine, but it isn’t really necessary.

Water containers

Drinking enough water is an essential part of your Kilimanjaro climb. You should drink at least three litres of water per day during the climb. Again, if the flavour infusions make drinking that quantity of water easier for you, go for it!

Note that you must carry your own drinking water for each day’s trek. For this reason, we advise that you come prepared with two water containers:

  • a water bladder or hydration pack (ideally built into your daypack and with a nifty drinking hose)
  • a water bottle (choose one that can carry a litre and definitely does not leak!)
Lady surrounded by mountains stopping to drink some water on her trek

Staying hydrated is key while hiking, especially at high altitude

By carrying two water bottles, you can place them on either side of your daypack to prevent a lopsided bag. You also want a water bottle and not just a water bladder as the bladder can freeze over on summit day, leaving you parched in a world of ice. A bottle can be placed in a sock, near to your body, to keep the water from freezing.

What we consider

Even though you are far from home we recognise that it’s nice to have some creature comforts, so don’t be surprised when you see some of your favorite food brands, such as Heinz, Nescafe and Nestle!

We can accommodate all dietary restrictions, just let us know in advance. In the case of very strict diets, we recommend you bring along some of your favorite “energy” foods, as some specialty ingredients can be hard to source in Tanzania.

One very common effect of the altitude is a reduced appetite. We offer enticing meals, rich in “good” carbohydrates. According to the US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, “carbohydrate is the most efficient fuel for optimizing performance at altitude”, speeding up recovery and replenishing muscle glycogen stores for the next day’s activity.

The same study goes on to say, “a high carbohydrate diet at altitude is recommended as an intervention to alleviate symptoms of AMS (acute mountain sickness)” as it increases ventilation and blood oxygenation.

With the decreased appetite, carbohydrate-based foods are often more palatable than high protein or fats, and altitude changes your metabolic processes. The combination of hours on the trail and your body’s adaptation to altitude means you’ll have a much higher energy requirement than you would have at home.

Experienced hikers who are used to eating horrible dehydrated foods on the trail are often surprised at the quality and variety of food that comes out of our mountain kitchens. We use only fresh produce, no dehydrated “ready meals” and all food is carried up Mount Kilimanjaro by our porters.

Kilimanjaro FAQs and Map

We have put together a short documentary to show you what it’s really like climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Find out what it’s really like to summit the roof of Africa at 5,895 m (19,341 ft) above sea level. No matter where you are in the planning stages, it’s an extremely useful watch as you:

  • Meet the mountain crew who make this magnificent once-in-a-lifetime experience possible.
  • Watch the team trek through five unique ecosystems.
  • And find out what it really takes to conquer one of the world’s greatest natural wonders. 

Tanzania has three major international airports:

  1. Dar es Salaam (DAR)
  2. Zanzibar (ZNZ)
  3. Kilimanjaro Airport (JRO)

The latter is the most convenient for Kilimanjaro, sitting only 42 km away from the mountain town of Moshi and 50 km from Arusha.

In addition to flights to Tanzania, you may consider flights to Nairobi in Kenya, which is only a five-hour shuttle bus ride to Arusha or a one-hour plane ride to JRO. Note, however, that by choosing to fly to Kenya you may need a multiple-entry Kenya visa (if you’re flying out of Kenya, too, for example, and spend longer than a fortnight in Tanzania), which can cost as much as $122. This would reduce or even eliminate any saving you may have made in airfares.

In deciding which flights to book, you should take the full trip into consideration. For example, if you’d like to spend a couple of days in Zanzibar after the climb, it might be best to book one-way tickets from your home to Kilimanjaro Airport for the climb, from there to Zanzibar after the climb, and then from Zanzibar back home.

We recommend arriving one day early (what we refer to as “arrival day”). This will give you time to relax, meet your fellow trekkers, and get a proper briefing before the climb starts. More importantly, if there’s any delay to your flight or your luggage goes AWOL, there’s enough wiggle room so that this delay doesn’t derail your climb. Seriously – this extra day really is a good idea, especially with post-pandemic airlines being in a little bit of a pickle right now.

All that said, we understand that travelling to Kilimanjaro can be a challenge. So we’ll accommodate your arrival time as best we can (for example, if you only arrive late at night the day before the climb starts, we’ll still be there to collect you!).

Yes, most foreigners need a Tanzanian visa to visit the country. US, Canadian, British and most European citizens can simply obtain a visa upon arrival at the airport. The cost is $100 for US passport holders and $50 for others. US citizens do get a longer visa, however.

If you’re a citizen of a different country, please check with your embassy if you can obtain a visa upon arrival – of if you even need one. Certain African nationals, for instance, can enter Tanzania without a visa.

Please also note that you need a passport that’s valid for at least six months after your departure date.

There are no specific vaccine requirements for entry into Tanzania. However, be aware that the Government of Tanzania requires proof of yellow fever vaccination upon arrival if you are travelling from a country with risk of yellow fever.

While it’s not mandatory by any means, we suggest you talk to your doctor about getting the following vaccinations (which are standard in developed countries): Hepatitis A & B, typhoid, yellow fever, tetanus, polio, MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) and meningococcal meningitis (Africa and Asia).

There are seven different Kilimanjaro routes up the mountain. We recommend the eight-day Lemosho, seven-day Machame and nine-day Northern Circuit routes. These routes offer the best balance of a high success rate and beautiful scenery.

Kilimanjaro requires no technical climbing experience nor climbing equipment. This makes it the most accessible of the Seven Summits in many ways.

Any decently fit person can summit the mountain. That said, for most people, it will be one of the most difficult things they ever do in their lives! 

You’ll be provided with locally sourced, healthy and nutritious meals cooked fresh every day by your cook and his assistant.

Our menus have been carefully designed to ensure the food is delicious, easy to digest, and provides plenty of energy. Expect fresh veg, fruits, meat, nuts and snacks along the way, as well as clean water throughout.

The primary carbohydrates of the meals are rice, potatoes and pasta, as well as some meat. Fresh fruit and vegetables accompany every meal. Most meals will also have a selection of hot drinks like instant coffee, tea and hot chocolate.

You may want to bring some supplementary comfort foods, such as candy, gum, chocolate, health bars and powdered energy drinks.

Can you cater for special diets?

Any special requests regarding your menu? No worries. We can accommodate vegetarian and vegan diets as well as gluten-free diets. For those with special diets, please contact us to discuss what we can or cannot do.

This is an outdoor adventure trip in the African wild. There are no showers on the mountain. Warm water will be supplied in a bowl and you will be able to wash your face and hands. For the rest you can bring wet wipes.

At each campsite, we set up a private toilet tent which contains a plastic toilet. There are also simple, hole-in-the-ground public toilets (usually very dirty and not recommended). 

If you need to use the bathroom on the trail, you’ll find a spot behind a tree or rock. But you’ll need to have a little baggie for putting used toilet paper in that you then carry to camp and dispose of in a bin.

On the day before the trek (arrival day) and the day after the trek (departure day), we stay in a comfortable lodge in Moshi. It has lovely views as well as lovely rooms and facilities to match.

During the climb, you sleep in three-person, four-season dome-style mountain tents, two people per tent. If you’d like a tent of your own, you’ll need to pay a single-person supplement.

Our tents are modern and have an outer flysheet and large vestibules where you can store your equipment during the night.

On our Kilimanjaro climbs, we aim to build groups of 6 to 10 fellow travellers, with 12 people usually being the limit. Follow Alice groups are typically made up of sociable people from around the world looking to share an unforgettable adventure with you.

Yes, we love it when solo travellers to sign up for a trip with us! We’ll put you in a group and your fellow travellers will soon become your new friends. There’s little that’s more bonding than being ‘stuck’ with each other for a week on a mountain in Africa!

If you’d like your own tent, you’ll need to pay a single supplement of US$200. Or we’ll try to put you with another person in a tent if you wish and there’s someone available to share with you in your climb group.

Don’t underestimate how tough Kilimanjaro is. Too many people do, and don’t make it to the top!

Depending on your current fitness, we suggest that you start your physical training at least two or three months prior to the climb. Please read How should I train for Kilimanjaro? to learn more.

Remember, the fitter you are, the more enjoyable the whole experience will be for you.

In our detailed Kilimanjaro packing list we identify a variety of mountaineering clothing and gear you need for your climb.

The two most critical pieces of equipment that you might need to buy are:

  • hiking boots
  • a winter jacket

You might like to learn about bringing the right sort of boots in The best hiking boots for Kilimanjaro.

Most of the other clothing that you need is part of many people’s winter or skiing wardrobe already (like long underwear and a fleece jacket).

When climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, you will need to bring at least two bags:

  • One is the backpack that you carry yourself each.
  • The second bag is your duffel bag which a porter carries for you.

The backpack, which you can think of as your carry-on luggage, will contain your water and lunch for each day, as well as other items like snacks, rain gear and camera. This backpack should have a capacity of around 30 to 50 litres. You can learn all you need to know on this topic in How to choose a backpack for high-altitude trekking.

Your duffel bag will contain all your other clothing, equipment and toiletries.

It might be a good idea to bring a third, small bag that you can use to store anything you don’t want to take on the mountain. This can be left securely at your hotel.

You should limit your duffel bag to 14 kg (31 lb) when full, as this will ease the burden on the porters.

Baggage should be of the round, squashy type rather than a hard suitcase.

Note that luggage restrictions on domestic flights are often 15 to 20 kg (33 to 44 lb) per person, so be mindful when packing your bags.

For your own backpack that you carry each day, try to keep it under 9 kg (20 lb) for your own benefit.

If you’d like advice on choosing the backpack itself, please read How to choose a backpack for high-altitude trekking.

Your Kilimanjaro guides and porters are your greatest asset on the mountain. Quality guides and porters make for a wonderful time on the mountain, while a mediocre staff can put your life in danger.

Each of our experienced guides is licensed by the Kilimanjaro National Park, trained as a wilderness first responder (WFR), and speaks fluent English.

Typically, each of our groups has one guide per two climbers, and each climber has three porters. Porters carry all gear, tents, cooking supplies and water. You will come to respect these guys greatly by the end of Day 1 of your climb – each porter carries about 20 kg (44 lb) of kit on their back up the mountain!

Our guides are highly experienced to manage altitude sickness, which is the biggest obstacle on the mountain. They also have an intimate knowledge of the network of shortcuts to escort climbers to safety, and they’re trained to react quickly and calmly under any circumstances. 

We cover each of the things to consider about Kilimanjaro safety in-depth in How we keep you safe on Kilimanjaro.

Please remember that the purpose of this article is not to scare you, but to keep you well informed. At Follow Alice, our top priority is your safety. We want you to know how to climb Kilimanjaro and how to do it in the safest way possible.

It is safe to climb Kilimanjaro, but only when you are educated on the risks. It’s a challenge, but that’s what it’s all about, right!?

Some climbers may fall short of reaching the summit. But even for those who never reach the top, the climb is almost always still an incredible and rewarding experience.

When one or more people in the group decide (in conjunction with their guide’s advice) they cannot continue on the ascent, they’re escorted to the most convenient campsite and wait for the others to return.

Note that nobody fit and healthy enough to make a go for the summit will be denied the chance because of the condition of another climber! We always have enough guides on every climb to ensure all climbers are accompanied, even if the group must temporarily split up.

There are always deaths on these big mountains. And Kilimanjaro is no different.

The most common cause of death on Kilimanjaro is altitude sickness. This comes about when you to ascend the mountain too quickly, not giving your body enough time to acclimatise. (But more on that just in a just moment …)

That said, Kilimanjaro is a safe climb if you travel with a good tour operator and you follow one of the routes we recommend.

Our local guides and staff are trained to keep you safe and have the ability to treat climbers who become ill or injured. Your health and well-being really are our top priority on every Kilimanjaro climb. If you’d like to know more on this score, please read How we keep you safe on Kilimanjaro.

Altitude sickness arises when your body struggles to adapt quickly enough to the lower intake of oxygen per breath caused by the reduced air pressure of a higher altitude. Often climbers make the mistake of ascending Kilimanjaro too high too quickly.

But don’t worry, it’s perfectly normal to get mild altitude sickness on Kilimanjaro. It’s therefore more than likely that you’ll experience some form of altitude sickness when climbing Kilimanjaro. It’s only when someone develops moderate to severe altitude sickness that you have a real issue on your hands.

Note that age, sex or physical fitness have no effect on your likelihood of getting altitude sickness. And just because you haven’t had it before, doesn’t mean you won’t develop it on another trip.

This is why we always advise clients to take as many precautions against developing altitude sickness as possible.

Tanzania has a moderate risk for malaria. Malaria occurs in all areas below 1,800 m (5,900 ft) and we recommend that you take precautions against malaria prior to the commencement of your trip.

Avoiding altitude sickness is also key. Here are our top tips for avoiding the dreaded altitude sickness on Kilimanjaro:

  • Go on all optional acclimatisation hikes before your Kili climb.
  • Choose a longer route that gives you more time to acclimatise.
  • Walk slowly. Pole, pole, as Tanzanians always say. Slowly, slowly.
  • Drink lots of water, as this mitigates the effects of altitude sickness.
  • Consider taking a preventative altitude sickness medicine like Diamox. Your doctor will prescribe this.
  • Read our blog post The best acclimatisation for climbing Kilimanjaro.

Prevent other possible illnesses by disinfecting your hands every time after you use the bathroom as well as before any meals.

All climbers pay a rescue fee to the Kilimanjaro National Park (included in our package price). If you cannot continue the climb because you get injured or sick, the guides and porters will gladly assist you on the way down.

There is no extra charge for coming down and being taken back to the lodge early, but we will not be able to refund you for the days you missed on the mountain. Moreover, we ask all of our travellers to purchase a special adventure travel insurance that covers any possible medical expenses and evacuation costs – just to be safe!

You can learn more on this topic in How we keep you safe on Kilimanjaro.

As of June 2023, you can connect to the internet up until almost 4,000 m above sea level! And the Government of Tanzania says there will be connectivity all the way to Uhuru Peak (5,895 m) by the end of the year.

Whether or not you wish to WhatsApp, Instagram your trip and so on is up to you. For many, the chance to disconnect from the world while on a Kilimanjaro climb is part of the adventure’s appeal.

That said, the new high-speed internet available on the mountain offers certain safety benefits, and we like that those who wish – mountain crew included – can stay in touch with their families when on their climbs if they wish.


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