The Culture of Kilimanjaro

What makes Kilimanjaro memorable is not just the trek itself, but the distinctive culture of Kilimanjaro. It is a world famous peak and the experience is made memorable by porter songs, the quiet and reassuring whisper of ‘pole pole’ and the porters who demonstrate good-humour and support throughout the whole trek.

I completed a Kilimanjaro trek recently and it is a once in a lifetime experience.  Uhuru Peak, standing at 5,895M and translates into Freedom in Swahili. The lure of trekking to the highest point in Africa is a dream for many and a very attainable goal with a bit of hard graft and practise. The culture of Kilimanjaro is truly memorable and below are some unforgettable examples of what you will encounter on this classic trek.



‘TITO’ stands for ‘Trash in, Trash Out’. 20,000 trekkers flock to Kilimanjaro every year, yet it still remains one of the cleanest mountains in the world.

Litter is weighed by rangers at every campsite and trekking licenses can be revoked if there is any evidence of dumping litter. The trails are clean and litter free and the local staff do all they can to preserve the beauty of the mountain through practices such as “TITO”.


Porter Songs

There is a chorus of singing, clapping and humming as we walk. The exuberant and joyful attitude of the porters is infectious and the closing ceremony is both uplifting and emotional. It’s the Jambo song – a song embedded in the experience of climbing Kilimanjaro!


‘Pole Pole’

A world famous phrase! It is a slow and steady pace on Kilimanjaro, the sure way to reach the top of the mountain. The local leader will set the pace with the reassuring call of “pole pole”, a phrase that will become ingrained with you during the trek.

66Liquid, liquid and more liquids

Soups, water top ups, large trays of fruits and morning tea. The guides will do all they can to ensure that you are sufficiently hydrated during the trek. This is done by encouraging constant water breaks (sippy sippy!), providing additional liquid intake during meals and daily reminders of drinking 4L – 5L of water per day.


The Kilimanjaro Support Crew

The unconditional support from the porters is truly remarkable and a memorable part of any Kili trek. At a ratio of 1 assistant guide to 2 trekkers, the local staff do all they can to ensure your safe journey to Uhuru Peak.


Trip Tips 

  • I booked my trip with Exodus Travels and I can’t recommend them enough!
  • Please see here for my Kilimanjaro diary and tips for summit day.

2 responses to “The Culture of Kilimanjaro

  1. Mount Kilimanjaro climbing tours A once in a lifetime quest! Kilimanjaro climb tours usually takes six or seven walking days and you can select between four amazing tracks to the summit.


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