Almost all nights in the East African mountains (excluding the Rwenzori) are clear and for many mountains such as Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya, Lengai and Mount Meru a pre-dawn start is crucial. To make the night ascents more pleasant and in some cases beautiful, getting up and walking up by moonlight is the optimal situation. As a rough guide a full moon rises at sunset and sets at sunrise which is just about sunrise. This combined with the strength of the moonlight this provides excellent conditions for walking at night. However as the moon sets about 1 hour later every day. the best conditions are probably about 2 to 3 days after the full moon as then at about 5am the moon is still big and quite high in the sky throughout the critical hours of the ascent. If you plan your ascent before the full moon you might get up by moonlight but it will set before twilight. An ascent a week after a full moon means you will have a half moon rising about midnight and this will be overhead in the sky around sunrise. If you have some flexibility in your plans make use of the moon!
Why get up in the middle of the night anyway? An early edition of the MCK guidebook summed up the situation quite well (referring to the final ascent day on Kilimanjaro) - you feel sick and you cannot sleep so you may as well get up anyway. Then when you start it is cooler. The scree is frozen so it is more stable and you cannot see where you are and how far you have to go so you do not get so depressed. This maybe a bit exaggerated but it is not far off the truth. Good acclimatization will help reduce discomfort but another very important factor is the sun during the day, can have a very debilitating effect on the body. On Kilimanjaro the air temperature may not be very high but the high levels of radiation can completely drain you of energy. On mountains such as Lengai it is almost dangerous to start the ascent too late as the day time temperatures soar and heat exhaustion could at least force you to retreat and in extreme circumstances heat stroke can be fatal.
A final advantage of a night start is that you have a longer day available to you - being caught out by nightfall at the end of a hard day, particularly if the weather has deteriorated during the day can be very unpleasant. Early starts add to your safety margins.
Equatorial to arctic conditions are present on Kilimanjaro and Meru. The range begins with the warm, dry plains with average temperatures of 30 c, ascending through a wide belt of wet tropical forest, through zones with generally decreasing temperatures and rainfall, to the summit where there is permanent ice and below freezing temperatures. The temperature at the top of the mountain gets as low as minus 25 degrees Celsius.
Our typical food on the mountain includes:
Breakfast: coffee, tea, porridge, fruits, fruit juice, scrambled eggs/omelet, sausage, toast, margarine, honey and jam.
Lunch: hot tea, coffee, chips, sandwiches, biscuits, pancakes with honey or jam, and fruits
Dinner: soup, cooked meat or vegetarian meal (these include chicken/beef with rice, sliced fresh carrots and green beans, mashed potatoes, and salads), fruits, and fruit juice, and variety of hot drinks.
If you have special dietary requirements just let us know as we are more than willing to accommodate.
Guides and porters on Kilimanjaro traditionally work in the expectation that there will be a tip directly from climbers in addition to the contract payments for their labour. The contract payment rates at No Roads Expeditions follow the National Park and Kilimanjaro Porters’ Assistance Project (KPAP) guidelines, with increments.
We believe that tipping should be regarded as a discretionary matter and a thank you for good service. Nearly all climbers do return with grateful sentiments towards their crews.
So that climbers can budget appropriately within their means, we suggest the following guidelines, which are based on wide ranging discussions over time and observations of what the average climber can afford.
As a general guideline, if each climber contributes US$100-150, or even US$200 in very small groups on longer climbs, the amount raised is then divided among the crew. Usually, the chief guide receives the largest tip, the assistant guides something less, the cook and his assistant(s) on a par with, or slightly below, the assistants and the remainder divided equally between the porters.
If individuals want to contribute higher amounts they may of course do so. It is understood by everyone that single travelers and members of small groups may not be able to give as much as larger groups, although they will likely each contribute more than climbers in bigger groups in order to give a reasonably generous tip to each of their crew members. The bigger the group the less each participant needs to contribute while still providing a satisfactory tip.
It must be stressed that these are guidelines, not rules, and that climbers should also be guided by their own discretion and means.
Details about the method and timing of distribution are discussed further at the pre-climb briefing. The (KPAP) guidelines are available on their website. See the address below. No Roads porter pay is at the 15,000/- shillings and above per day category. By the KPAP guidelines this would indicate a tip for a porter of around $30US (from the group as a whole, not from each climber) for a 6 day climb. KPAP does not provide guidance for guide and cook tipping.
Click here to look at the KPAP Tipping page or copy this link to see their recommendation.
In case one person gets sick and has to stay behind or even return, he or she will be accompanied by one of the assistant guides while other climbers go on with the leading guide and other assistant guide(s).
Unlike most other companies who charge about US$100, we provide a free transfer from the mountain to the hotel should a climber return earlier than planned. However, if the climb is extended for any reason, NRE will charge $170 per day per person.