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What is the Food like on Mount Kilimanjaro?

When one thinks of Mount Kilimanjaro, the first thoughts that come to mind may be breathtaking landscapes and thrilling adventures. However, beyond the towering peaks and rugged terrains, lies a lesser-known aspect of this majestic mountain—its culinary offerings. The journey to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro is not only a test of physical endurance but also an opportunity to savor unique and diverse flavors that reflect the cultural heritage of the region. In this article, we delve into the intriguing world of food in Mount Kilimanjaro, exploring the ingredients, dishes, and the dining experiences that await intrepid hikers.

The Vital Importance of Food and Water at High Altitude

When venturing into high-altitude environments, proper nutrition and hydration become crucial pillars for ensuring optimal performance, well-being, and safety. The challenges posed by reduced oxygen levels, altitude sickness, and dehydration can be effectively managed through a balanced diet, adequate hydration, and strategic meal planning. By nourishing the body with nutrient-dense foods and staying well-hydrated, adventurers can maximize their enjoyment, minimize risks, and embark on their high-altitude adventures with confidence and vitality.

Understanding the Effects of High Altitude

Ascending to higher altitudes brings about several physiological changes in the body. These changes include decreased atmospheric pressure, reduced oxygen levels, and increased breathing rate. These factors can lead to challenges such as altitude sickness, decreased appetite, and dehydration.

Energy Requirements and Adequate Nutrition

At high altitudes, the body requires additional energy to compensate for the increased metabolic demands caused by reduced oxygen levels. It is crucial to consume a well-balanced diet that includes sufficient carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats. Carbohydrates provide the primary source of fuel, while proteins aid in muscle repair and recovery.


The Fuel for High Altitude: Carbohydrates play a crucial role in maintaining energy levels during high-altitude activities. Complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, provide a steady release of energy. They should form the foundation of the diet, ensuring a sustainable source of fuel for prolonged physical exertion.

Meal Planning and Preparation

Proper meal planning and preparation are essential for high-altitude adventures. Carrying lightweight, nutrient-dense foods, and planning for regular meals can help ensure adequate nutrition intake. Preparing meals with local ingredients can also add a cultural element to the experience while ensuring freshness and quality.

What to Expect from ZAFS Meals on a Kilimanjaro Climb

Meals provided by ZAFS chefs during a Kilimanjaro climb are typically designed to meet the nutritional needs of climbers, provide sustenance for the physically demanding trek, and cater to various dietary requirements. While specific menus may vary depending on the tour operator and the chosen package, here is an overview of what you can expect regarding meals on a Kilimanjaro climb:

  1. Breakfast: Breakfast is usually a substantial meal to fuel climbers for the day’s trek. It often includes items such as porridge, eggs (boiled, scrambled, or omelettes), bread, pancakes, sausages, fresh fruits, yogurt, and hot beverages like coffee, tea, or hot chocolate.
  2. Hot Lunch: After the day’s trek, once the trekkers reach the next campsite they will be welcomed with hot lunch prepared by the chef. This can consist of spaghetti bolognese, vegetable stew, chicken and chips or rice and stew alongside fresh soup everyday and a selection of fruits.
  3. Afternoon Snacks: During rest breaks in the afternoon, we often provide snacks to keep climbers energised. These snacks can include biscuits, popcorn, nuts, energy bars, chocolate, and hot or cold drinks.
  4. Dinner: Dinner is a substantial meal, allowing climbers to replenish their energy and recover from the day’s trek. It usually includes a variety of dishes such as soups, bread, salads, pasta, rice, potatoes, vegetables, beans, meat (chicken, beef, or fish), vegetarian options, and desserts. You will also have the opportunity to taste an array of local Tanzanian dishes such as ugali, maharage, mishkaki and ulezi. We strive to provide a diverse and nutritious menu to cater to different tastes and dietary requirements. Special dietary requests, such as vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, or allergies, are often accommodated if communicated in advance.
  5. Hot Drinks: Throughout the climb, hot beverages like coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and herbal teas are typically available to keep climbers warm and hydrated. Drinking plenty of fluids, including water, is crucial for staying properly hydrated at high altitude.

Know this as far as food is concerned

  • Mostly you need carbohydrates and proteins.
  • You need to eat as much as possible
  • Do not be picky when it comes to food 
  • At every meal you have to eat something even if you don’t feel like.
  • Never supplement food or meals for snacks like biscuits and chocolates
  • Eat fruits as much as provided.
  • Make sure you have enough snacks to eat on the road to the next camp.

Our focus is on nutritious meals to give you more energy and fuel your journey to the summit

Catering to All Palates and Preferences – Accommodating Different Dietary Requirements with Ease

ZAFS TOURS is committed to catering to different dietary requirements for meals during a Mount Kilimanjaro climb. We understand the importance of providing suitable meals to climbers with specific dietary needs to ensure their comfort and well-being throughout the journey. Here are some of the dietary requirements we can accommodate:

  1. Vegetarian/Vegan: We can provide vegetarian and vegan meal options that are free from any animal products. These meals typically include a variety of plant-based proteins, such as wide range of vegetables, fruits, grains, and nuts.
  2. Gluten-Free: If you require a gluten-free diet, we can provide meals that are free from gluten-containing ingredients. They can offer alternatives to wheat-based products, such as gluten-free grains (e.g., rice) and gluten-free flours (e.g., almond flour, chickpea flour).
  3. Lactose-Free/Dairy-Free: For those with lactose intolerance or dairy allergies, we can offer meals without any dairy products. They can provide alternatives to dairy milk (e.g., almond milk, soy milk) and use plant-based oils instead of butter or ghee.
  4. Nut-Free: If you have a nut allergy, we can ensure that your meals are prepared without any nuts or nut-based ingredients. We will take precautions to avoid cross-contamination during food preparation.
  5. Halal Diet: Those who require halal meat, we can provide them with this and ensure no pork is used throughout the trip.
  6. Other Dietary Requirements: We are open to accommodating other specific dietary requirements as long as we are informed in advance. This includes preferences or restrictions related to religious or cultural beliefs, food intolerances, or specific health conditions.

It’s important to communicate your dietary requirements to us when booking your Mount Kilimanjaro climb. Providing us with detailed information in advance will help us plan and prepare suitable meals for you during the expedition. We have experienced guides and cooks who are trained to handle various dietary needs and ensure that climbers are well-nourished throughout the journey.

Snacks to bring during hiking Mount Kilimanjaro

When hiking Mount Kilimanjaro, it’s important to bring nutritious and energy-boosting snacks to keep you fuelled throughout the climb. Here are some recommended snacks to consider:

  1. Trail Mix: A combination of nuts, dried fruits, and seeds provides a great balance of healthy fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. It’s a lightweight and calorie-dense snack that provides sustained energy.
  2. Energy Bars: Look for energy bars that are specifically designed for endurance activities. Choose ones that are high in carbohydrates, contain some protein, and are low in added sugars. They are convenient and provide a quick energy boost.
  3. Crackers or Rice Cakes: Opt for whole-grain crackers or rice cakes that are lightweight and provide carbohydrates for energy. You can pair them with nut butter, cheese, or other spreads for added flavour and sustenance.
  4. Dark Chocolate: A small amount of dark chocolate (70% cocoa or higher) can provide a tasty treat and a boost of antioxidants. Choose individually wrapped pieces for convenience and to prevent melting.
  5. Electrolyte Drinks: Pack powdered electrolyte drink mixes to replenish essential minerals lost through sweat. Look for brands that offer a balance of electrolytes and can be easily mixed with water.
  6. Dates: These are high in energy and nutritious. It’s one of our top tips and best kept secrets to energising on the mountain that many others won’t know to recommend.

Remember to pack snacks that are easy to eat, won’t spoil quickly, and can withstand different weather conditions. It’s essential to have a variety of snacks (but not too many) that you enjoy to maintain your appetite and energy levels during the Mount Kilimanjaro climb.

A journey to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro is not only a physical and spiritual undertaking but also a culinary adventure. Exploring the food of the region offers a deeper understanding of the cultural tapestry and the people who call this magnificent mountain their home. From traditional Chagga dishes to vibrant tropical fruits, the flavours of Mount Kilimanjaro are an integral part of the journey, adding a unique and unforgettable dimension to the overall experience. So, lace up your boots, prepare your taste buds, and embark on an extraordinary gastronomic expedition on the slopes of Africa’s tallest peak.

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July 31, 2023

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