The following pre-departure information for KSR runners is designed to help prepare you for your running adventure in Tanzania. Please read it carefully as there is much information here, including items you should bring (clothing and gear, first aid kit, and snacks).
Although we have tried to be as comprehensive as possible, we may have missed answering a question or two that you might have. If so, please don’t hesitate to contact us by phone or email.
To Bring: Clothing and Gear
The following is not a comprehensive packing list, but includes particular items we suggest for running in Tanzania. Bring enough for the 8-day run plus days before and after at the Mbahe Village cottages.
- Sleeping bag rated to 40° Fahrenheit / 5° Celsius (rental bag available for $30)
- Water bottles and light pack/fanny pack or hydration pack to carry your daily needs
- Running clothing according to your preference
- Rain jacket
- Running tights or rain pants
- 2 pairs running shoes (so 1 pair can dry, if necessary)
- A pair of socks for each day
- Comfortable shoes for camp
- Casual clothing for camp
- Hat with brim
- Sunglasses that block UV rays
- Headlamp and spare batteries
- Soap and small quick-drying towel and washcloth
- Small container of liquid soap for hand laundry and rope for hang drying (there is no access to laundry services during the run)
To Bring: Personal First Aid Kit
Every runner should bring a small kit for personal use. Your own experience and preferences will influence your choices. Some items require a prescription. Bring enough for the entire trip.
- Bodyglide lubricant, blister pads, moleskin or other lubricants and protection to help prevent chafing and blisters
- Sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher)
- Lip balm with sunscreen
- Insect repellent
- Aspirin, Ibuprofen or Tylenol for mild pain or headache
- Oral antibiotic (e.g. Cipro)
- Pepto Bismol tablets or similar, for stomach problems
- Topical antibiotic for cuts, bites or sores
- Hydrocortisone cream for itching (check for sun sensitivity)
- Band aids, assorted
- Hand wipes or baby wipes
- Contact lens wearers should also bring a pair of glasses
- Feminine protection
To Bring: Snacks/Drinks/Supplements
- Energy snacks, bars, and gels (enough for 2,000 calories/day)
- Powdered sports drinks (electrolyte replacement)
- Sodium tablets and other supplements according to your needs
- Iodine tablets or personal portable water filtration system
On your adventure registration you should have noted any dietary restrictions or preferences. We try to accommodate all dietary requests (vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, etc.), but may need your assistance with special food items. Please discuss any dietary limitations with our planning team before your arrival in Tanzania.
We include diet information on all our trip detail forms used by the trip leader, but we suggest you also discuss them with the host or chef at each destination, to make sure they have received the information as well.
Passport and visa
A passport and visa are required for most visitors entering Tanzania (please check your individual country requirements). Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond your intended stay.
Visas can be obtained in advance through the Tanzanian embassy or mission in your country or may be purchased upon arrival at international airports and border crossings in Tanzania (USD cash only). Cost of a visa is US$50 for most visitors, though for US citizens it is US$100. Tickets and documents for return or onward travel may also be required.
We strongly recommend all travelers purchase insurance within two weeks of booking a trip to protect against cancellation, illness, injury, or theft. Also check with your health insurance provider about your coverage for medical services incurred abroad.
Remember to carry all insurance documents and emergency numbers with you during your trip. If you do purchase international medical insurance or international evacuation insurance please inform us with the details (carrier, plan type, and policy number) so we will have that in our records in case of need.
The Tanzania shilling exchanges at the approximate rates of US$1=2200 TSh and €1=2600 TSh (2018). It is convenient to have some Tanzania shillings for souvenirs, drinks, tips, and other miscellaneous expenses.
ATMs are available in all cities and large towns, to draw shillings directly from your account. Currency exchange may also be done upon arrival at the Kilimanjaro International Airport, large hotels, local banks, and bureaux de change. Bring newer, crisp bills to avoid exchange problems.
Malaria risk exists in Tanzania at elevations below 1800 meters due to the prevalence of anopheles
mosquitoes that can carry the malaria parasite.
Common malaria prophylaxes include atovaquone/proguanil (Malarone), doxycycline, and primaquine. In addition to medicine we suggest you use insect repellent and wear long sleeves and trousers in the evening, when mosquitoes are most active.
For complete malaria prevention advice, please consult your physician or a travel health specialist.
On the Trail…
A typical day on the Kilimanjaro Stage Run begins at sunrise with tea or coffee delivered to your tent. A full breakfast, consisting of fresh fruit, toast and breads, porridge, eggs, bacon, tea, coffee, and cocoa, is served in the dining tent at 7am. You will have time to pack up your sleeping bag and gear for transfer to the next camp and to prepare your running daypack with a minimum of 2,000 calories of snacks
from your own supply and from the snack and water table, set up each morning. We gather for a brief review of the day and final check of the map before departure around 8am.
During the run day you carry your own water and snacks. We have a support vehicle that meets runners at irregular aid stops (distance between stops varies depending on road access, and meetings are never guaranteed). At the support vehicle you may refill water bottles and hydration packs and replenish your snacks. All water is bottled or filtered.
Trails can be narrow and rugged, with rocks and roots, and slippery when wet. Expect and be prepared for all kinds of conditions. The route includes many extremely steep sections, requiring a significant amount of walking even by the strongest runners.
Weather and what to wear
Nights and mornings are cool, particularly in mountainous areas where mornings can be quite misty. Days are warm to hot and the sun may be harsh at times. At elevation, cloud cover may moderate the heat to make for a comfortable running temperature in t-shirt and shorts. Bring clothing for all conditions, as we run in any weather unless trails are impassible.
Out of respect for communities through which we run, we require that shirts be worn at all times (singlets are okay; jog-bra is not).
Hydration and Electrolytes
Each person’s hydration needs are different and some days of the run are hotter than others, requiring more fluid replacement. On average, count on needing between one quarter to three quarters of a liter of fluids (water or sports drink) per hour. This varies by conditions and your own body’s demands.
Vitally important is maintaining the proper electrolyte balance to avoid cramps, excessive weight gain or loss, and maintaining the ability to absorb and process fluids. Your body loses up to 1000mg of sodium per hour while running. Although your body has stored reserves, you will need to use some sort of sodium supplement during the run to maintain proper electrolyte levels.
It is important that you experiment in training with electrolyte and fluid replacement strategies to determine in advance what works for you.
Energy (for your body)
During the running day you will encounter periods where you have little energy (feeling “flat” or “wiped out”). This is normally due to low blood sugar and can be resolved through eating and drinking. For this reason, you should carry with you gels, bars, and other nutrients that you find good-tasting and effective for you. You will need 2,000 calories of snacks every day during the run.
Each morning you will have the opportunity to add sandwiches, fresh fruits and vegetables, and other nutrient-rich long-lasting food sources to put in your running pack. This supplements the snacks that you bring for yourself. Think in terms of balancing quick energy (simple sugars) that offer a needed jolt, but are quickly consumed by your body, with the longer-lasting food sources. This combination of short and long-term energy, in concert with the hearty breakfasts and dinners at camp, will help sustain you during the day and over the multiple days of running.
Even for the most experienced trail runners, blisters are a constant problem that can be exacerbated with each new day’s run. You should expect that the trail grit and dust will enter your shoes and socks – even if you wear trail gaiters. When the dirt is combined with sweat from your body and water from stream crossings you may experience blisters. To help prevent blisters, make sure your running shoes fit your feet properly and are well broken in. During training, in addition to testing your shoes (and socks), experiment with blister prevention techniques, such as protecting areas of friction with tape or lathering them with ointments.
If you think that you may want to change socks or shoes during the day, make sure to have extra pairs in the bag that goes with the support vehicle.
We run in small groups by pace, each with a Tanzanian group leader. Nobody runs alone. You are required to maintain contact with your group, as the trail can be confusing and injury and exposure are distinct possibilities in this remote setting.
The support vehicle meets runners at periodic road crossings. Time and distances vary between meetings points, depending on the remoteness of the trail on any given day and the pace of the group. Guides can advise you on likely meeting spots.
If you are in a faster group you may not meet the vehicle on some days, so you may need to be self-supporting (including water purifying needs). Everyone should carry what they need for the running day (in addition to water and snacks, you should have sunscreen, rain jacket, etc.). All your other clothing and gear is transported to camp.
Days are planned to avoid running in the dark, but bring a head lamp on long days as slow groups may finish after dusk.
Swahili is the national language spoken by all Tanzanians (in addition to their tribal language). Most people also know a few words of English and some are more conversant. All SENE guides and drivers are fluent in English. It will be helpful for you to learn a few words of Swahili, and will be much appreciated by the people you meet. These will get you started and may be useful during the run:
Jambo! Hello! (Response: Jambo)
Asante. Thank you.
Nimechoka. I am tired.
Sijachoka. I am not yet tired.
Nina nguvu kama tembo. I’m as strong as an elephant.
Mbali gani? How much farther?
Sio mbali. Not far. (KSR guides say this a lot!)
Enjoy yourself! Remember that the KSR is not a race, but a fun run for exploration, adventure, camaraderie, and challenging your limits, while running and walking with others in a small group. The better physically and mentally prepared you are before coming to Tanzania, the more fun you will have on the trails around Kilimanjaro!
The running day ends with arrival at camp (usually between 2pm and 6pm), set up in advance by the camp crew, along with waiting drinks and snacks in the dining tent. At camps without shower facilities a basin of warm water will be prepared for each runner for a sponge bath. A nutritious and substantial dinner is prepared by our experienced mountain chefs and served around 7pm. At dinner there is an evening briefing about the following day’s route and schedule.
- Two nights before and one night after the run are at SENE’s private guest cottages on Simon’s Mbahe Village Farm. Full board with drinks.
- During the run, prepared camps with sumptuous healthy meals cooked by experienced safari chefs. One night is at a campground with hot water showers and flush toilets. Other nights are on school grounds or wilderness camps with hot water for sponge baths and private toilet tents with bio-degradable waste system.
- One run night is at the Simba Farm guest rooms with private bathrooms and farm meals.
We use large step-in car-camping tents shared by two runners, with plenty of room for all your gear. Tents are set up in advance by our camp crew, with extra thick camping pads for a comfortable night’s sleep. Rest, relax, recover, and refresh with a shower, where available, or a sponge bath with a warm basin of water.
Energy (for your devices)
We have solar-powered charging stations at camp to re-charge GPS watches, phones, cameras, battery packs, and other small electronic devices. Please note that supply is limited and may vary from day to day depending on the amount of sunlight. Please limit your use and charge only when necessary so that others may do the same.
Where electricity from the power grid is available, Tanzania uses 230 voltage AC with outlets that accommodate three-prong UK style plugs. Bring a converter and adapter plug as needed.
There is no access to laundry services during the run, so we recommend you bring a small container of liquid soap for hand laundry and rope for hanging clothes inside or outside your tent.