Top 10 Most Asked African Trekking Questions
Most of our clients have a lot of questions before deciding on booking a trip with Ice Rock Trekking. Feel free to contact us with any questions you many have, but perhaps we can answer a few ahead of time in our list of frequently asked questions.
When was Ice Rock Trekking founded?
We began our trekking service in 1998. We are a locally owned and operated company out of Nairobi, Kenya and your tourist dollars will support and sustain our local people. Our founder was trained internationally and he keeps his team updated in the best practices of safety, sustainability, and customer satisfaction.
When is the best time to climb Mt Kenya?
The dry season is the best time to climb Mount Kenya, although it can be climbed year round. Mount Kenya has two dry seasons – one from December through early March, and another from July through early October. We can find the time that works best for you!
When is the best time to climb Mt Kilimanjaro?
Do you like hiking in drier weather with a better chance for blue skies and a view? Or do you prefer “atmosphere” and mud and fewer people on the mountain with you. Most prefer the dry season to time to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, although it can be climbed any time of year if prepared. Mount Kilimanjaro has two dry seasons like Mount Kenya – one from December through early March, and another from July through early October. April and May are the wettest months, with November slightly less wet for those who try their luck with fewer fellow hikers on the trails.
Do I need a Visa for Kenya, Tanzania, or Uganda?
Visa requirements are based upon your country of nationality. Most likely if you are not an East African national you will require a visa. Depending on your nationality you will need to arrange for a visa in person or do so via the internet. If you are able to arrange a visa at the airport on entry make sure to have enough cash to pay for your visa on the off chance electronic payment systems aren’t working.
Do I need vaccinations to travel to Kenya, Tanzania, or Uganda?
Most available vaccines are only recommended for traveling to these countries, however Yellow Fever is a problem across equatorial Africa and these countries have specific rules. For Uganda a Yellow Fever vaccination is required. In Tanzania or Kenya a Yellow Fever vaccination is required if you have traveled from a country where Yellow Fever is endemic. The rules for vaccinations can be found when checking on your visa requirements, your country of residence, and your trip itinerary.
Why don’t I see prices for your trips?
Ice Rock Trekking does not list our prices for one simple reason: every trekking group is different. Depending on a group’s budget we can arrange a fancy hotel or more modest accommodations. Likewise transportation can be procured by private coach or public transport. Even on the mountain tents or huts can impact price even though that choice is more of a preference. Itineraries can also be modified with extra time for acclimatization or side trips. However since we are an African company we have low overhead and very competitive prices making a trip with us an excellent value.
Do I need to tip the guides, porters, and cooks?
Tipping is not required, however it is always well received. We don’t publish our tipping guidelines here, however when you book a tour with us we will discuss tipping protocols and provide a written overview on what is appropriate so you and others in your party can be prepared to tip if the trip meets your expectations.
How fit do I need to be to go on a trek?
You do not need to be an Olympian to go on a trek! If you are comfortable walking for several days in a row with a small pack on your back you should be fine. Can you climb three flights of stairs, rest, and then do that again (and again and again), then go down all those stairs? If so you are on your way. People who have hiked in the mountains and on uneven terrain may be most comfortable on a trek, however anyone who has decent cardiovascular stamina and general endurance should be fine. Feel free to contact us if you are unsure.
How should I train for a trek to summit Mt Kilimanjaro or Mt Kenya?
Early and often. Although you don’t need to be an Olympian a trek is no walk in the park! You trip will be more pleasurable the more effort you can put in to preparing if you are not a regular athlete (or out of practice). Exercise physiologists suggest five aerobic workouts of 30-60 minutes a week, coupled with strength training with a focus on legs and core for these treks. In the gym a stair-master, treadmill on an incline, or elliptical machine can be a great workout. Of course a day on the trail is not an hour at the gym, so ideally on weekends or whenever you have a large block of time you should go on an extended hike with a 15-20 lb pack on your back. Start with a 2-3 hour hike and work up to 5-6 hours or more. If your quest is the Uhuru summit you may be hiking for 14 hours so endurance is something you should train for as well!
Do I need additional insurance for going on a trek?
Extra insurance is not required but it may be advantageous if you are injured in a foreign country or need to be rescued from the mountain due to the limits of your own health insurer. You can buy supplemental plans for overseas health insurance, and even speciality insurance that can airlift you back home. The first thing you should do is contact your health insurer to understand what is and is not covered when overseas. There are many providers out there, but several clients have been satisfied with the personal protection Global Rescue offers. In addition to supplemental health insurance you might want to investigate trip/travel insurance to protect your tour deposit, airplane fare, and other travel related expenses from unforeseen events. One avenue to compare several plans is SquareMouth Travel Insurance. Be sure to read ALL the fine-print with any policy you purchase. Ice Rock Trekking does not earn a commission from either of the above suggested resources.
Below are guidelines for what you need to bring on one of our treks. Of course this list varies with your itinerary and preferences. If you are doing technical mountain climbing further equipment is required. Your guide will help you understand any weight limits around the gear you can bring and expect porters to carry on different treks.
• Sleeping Bag: one rated to between -10℃ and 0℃ should be fine. Bag should be a snug fit since if it is too large there will be more cool air for the body to warm.
• Sleeping Mat: preferably insulated.
• Hiking Boots: it is vital to have a comfortable, waterproof pair of boots. Make sure they have been broken in before you get on the mountain.
• Pair of sports shoes: for wearing around camp
• Woolen hat
• Sun hat or baseball cap
• 1 Waterproof jacket and trousers
• 1 Windproof jacket
• 2 Fleece
• 5 t-shirts (cotton or poly-blend)
• 5 pairs of warm socks
• 1 warm long trousers
• 1 Shorts
• 1 pair of Thermal underwear
• Head Torch with spare batteries
• Large rucksack: for all the clothes and equipment (for the porter to carry)
• Small rucksack: for carrying water, snacks, camera, waterproofs on the day hikes.
• Drinking bottle: a metal thermos is ideal since this can double up as a hot water bottle at night.
• Water Purification Tablets
Optional Comfort Accessories
• Walking Poles: useful, especially going uphill for those with weak thighs and going downhill for those with weak knees or poor balance.
• Wet Wipes: ideal for those who want to stay fresh but are unable to bear dips in freezing water
• Travel pillow
• High Energy Bars or Sweets
• Gaiters: to keep mud and stones from getting into your boots
Anybody planning a trek up Mount Kenya or Kilimanjaro should be prepared for a physically and mentally challenging, as well as exciting, experience.
Ice Rock’s first priority is your safety. Our guides and porters maintain a close eye on our clients in case anyone develops some of the health problems connected with high altitude climbs and treks. While most of our clients have a trouble-free climb, an awareness of the potential hazards is useful.
Although not as high as Mount Kilimanjaro, the pace of the ascent up Mount Kenya is faster, leading to rapidly decreasing levels of oxygen in the air. Either journey carries the risk of Altitude Sickness, the most common problem resulting from a reduction in oxygen levels. Symptoms include headache, nausea, vomiting, anorexia, exhaustion, lassitude, muscle weakness a rapid pulse rate while resting, swelling of the hands and feet and reduced urine output. The most extreme forms of altitude sickness are Pulmonary and Cerebral Edemas. Certain people have a predilection for developing edema – it is not known why – but it tends to affect young, fit males who overexert themselves.
Ice Rock’s guides and porters will move anyone suspected of having altitude sickness to a lower altitude. Sometimes, a drop of as little as 500 metres can relieve the symptoms of altitude sickness.
The best way of avoiding it altogether is to gradually acclimatize to the higher altitudes on the mountain by spending a day or two in the foothills of the mountain before making the ascent.
Use of the drug Diamox may prevent or relieve altitude sickness, but one of its side effects is dehydration so anyone taking this drug must consume more water.
Dehydration is another common problem on the mountain. The temperature during the day can be very warm so walkers will sweat considerably.
Cold weather at night increases urinary output, further increasing fluid loss. The symptoms of dehydration are thirst (which signals that the body is already short of 2 litres of water), headaches, muscle cramps and nausea.
Climbers and walkers should drink a minimum of 5 to 7 litres of fluid per day.
Mountain water should be purified. Ice Rock’s guides will collect and boil water for you, but you should still purify the water using purification tablets.
Exposure is the lowering of the body’s core temperature. Kit and clothing appropriate to temperatures that may fall to well below freezing is a must. Wind and wet clothing can contribute to problems with exposure. Make sure to have a set of clothes that wick moisture away from the skin, and good windproof jackets and pants. Cotton clothing retains moisture and is not recommended during extreme conditions.
About 40% of the Earth’s protective atmosphere is below an altitude of 4,000 metres, so climbers are exposed to higher levels of ultra-violet rays. High factor sunscreen and sunglasses (to reduce the effects of sun glare) are a must. Lip balm with sunscreen is also suggested.
With a few simple preparations, and being in tune with how your body is feeling, you should experience a successful and healthy trek.
Trekking, Climbing and Safari Tour Terms and Conditions
Deposit of 40% of the tour price required at the time of booking. The balance of the total quoted trek/tour price is due 50 days before departure date. If your reservation is made within 50 days of departure, the entire cost of the trip is to be paid on confirmation.
Accepted methods of payment include Cash, Mpesa or Wire Transfer.
Reservations that are cancelled/reduced in length of stay or numbers (rooms and/or persons) hereinafter collectively called a CANCELLATION are subject to Cancellation and No-Show Fees as follows:
CANCELLATION AND NO-SHOW FEES
- Between 0 – 35 days of the arrival date, the cancellation fee is 100% of the applicable rate
- Between 35- 45 days of the arrival date, the cancellation fee is 50% of the applicable rate
- Between 45-60 days of the arrival date, the cancellation fee is 25% of the applicable rate
If there is a reduction in length of stay or numbers the applicable rate is the difference between the cost of the original reservation and the cost of the revised reservation. For a full cancellation the applicable rate is the complete tour price.
We suggest travel insurance for you and your party which may help to defray any unforeseen cancellation fee or trip disruption. Please be sure to understand the details of any insurance product you purchase.