Mount Kilimanjaro is completely within the borders of Tanzania in eastern Africa. Kenya is just to the north of the mountain, and cheaper flights to the region can usually available into Nairobi, Kenya, although that will add another day onto your trip and another entry visa as well.
Language – English is the official language, and is quite commonly spoken, especially in Moshi and with everyone whose job depends on dealing with tourists. If you are reading this page then language will not be a problem for you in Moshi and on the mountain. As with most anywhere else on earth, if you try to speak in the local language you’ll usually get smiles and more respect. There are many local languages, although Swahili is the accepted lingua franca of East Africa. See the bottom of the page for common words and phrases in Swahili and don’t be afraid to give them a try.
Time Zone – Tanzania is UTC+3 with no daylight savings time. So it’s 3 hours ahead of London in December and 2 hours ahead of London in June.
Currency – The Tanzanian shilling is the local currency, but dollars, euros, pounds sterling are also widely accepted for climbs and at many businesses in Moshi.
Banks and ATMS – As of now there are 2 ATMs in Moshi, and each day you can pull a maximum of $300 worth of Tanzanian shillings out. The main challenges to this are that the ATMs don’t work when the city’s power is out, and that seems to be about 20% of the time. In other words, get your cash out when you can.
There are many bureaus de exchange in Moshi, so you’ll have no problem changing money if you need to, but of course the commissions tend to be high. You can also exchange traveler’s checks at the exchange places, but the fees and commissions are so high this is a sucker’s game in Moshi. Bring cash and keep it safe.
Credit cards – Credit cards are not accepted anywhere in Moshi or for Kilimanjaro climbs. You can get a cash advance on a credit card at the exchange places, but again, the fees for doing so can make this a really bad deal.
Entry requirements – Most people will need a visa to be admitted to Tanzania. They currently cost US$50 for a 6-month single-entry permit, and they can normally be obtained upon arrival at the airport, but it’s advisable to get them in advance so you are sure nothing will go wrong. It’s been stable for a while now, but these things can and sometimes do change with no notice. You can contact Tanzania’s Embassy in Washington DC for more information on tourist visas.
Shots/jabs – Yellow fever used to be a problem in the area, but that seems to have been contained in the last few years. You won’t need any compulsory shots in order to enter the country, but this is Sub-Saharan Africa so you should do some research and then consult a doctor or clinic long before getting on the plane.
In order to be safe consider all the following:
- Yellow Fever
- Diphtherias & Tetanus
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Meningococcal Meningitis
- Malaria Medication
But the vast majority of climbers will be okay with far less.
Telephones – There are virtually no landlines in Moshi but cell phones are universal.
Mobile phones – An unlocked GSM 1900 MHz phone can be activated with a SIM card available for around US$5 at many mobile phone stores in Moshi. Before you arrive in Tanzania make sure you know the international dialing instructions for your phone and provider. Believe it or not, mobile phone signals are strong at every point of your Kilimanjaro climb, including at the summit. Mobile phones are also extremely common at businesses and with people working with tourists.
Common words and phrases in Swahili
Although Swahili might sounds difficult, it’s phonetic and easy to learn. Try these!
- No = Hapana?
- Yes = Ndiyo
- Okay = Sawa?
- Maybe = Labda?
- How are you? = Habari Yako??
- Good = Nzuri?
- Thank you = Asante?
- Hello = Jambo?
- I am fine = Sijambo?
- Please = Tafadhali (the dh is pronounced like a th)?
- Goodbye = Kwaheri?
- What is your name? = Jina lako ni nani??
- My name is …= Jina langu ni …?
- I don’t speak Swahili = Sisemi Kiswahili
By Peter Baxter
November 16th, 2007