Kilimanjaro on a budget. Is it possible for low-cost travellers?

NO! You will not reach the top of the Kilimanjaro if you are a low-cost traveller. It´s out of reach unless you pay at least 1.000 $ per person!

But if you are travelling on a budget and are around northern Tanzania, like us, you can explore the lower slopes of Kilimanjaro for a few shillings, just take a dala-dala from Moshi. We did it and here´s some useful information. Nice plan.

Moshi is a big town, close to Kilimanjaro, in a flat and hot plain.

   Tips to enjoy the lower Kilimanjaro slopes, on a budget    

  • Villages on the lower slopes of the Kilimanjaro: just take a dala-dala from Moshi bus station, heading to one of the villages (Machame, Umbwe, Mweka, Uru, further Marangu). There are around 30 minutes away from Moshi, transport is cheap and dala-dalas run all day long. We went to Uru, 15 km up from Moshi, last kms without asphalt. Price: 800 Sh (as reference, Kilimanjaro View Lodge is around 3 km up from the last dala-dala stop in Uru).Perfect choice as not gate/route around.
  • Experience the big change of landscape: from the dusty, hot and dry plain surrounding Moshi (800 m high) to the tropical green and cool lower slopes of the Kilimanjaro (1000-1.500 m high). The roads climb steeply, for around 15 km up.
  • See the Kilimanjaro, easier early in the morning. With good weather, views of the Kilimanjaro are clearer in the morning and sometimes in the evening. In  the middle of the day it gets usually cloudy and you can´t see the top.There are good views of the Kilimanjaro from Moshi and from Moshi-Arusha road. Our room in Moshi had fantastic views (details further). Weird to see snow from the hot plain!
    • Enjoy walking on lower Kilimanjaro for free. An area  full of banana trees, coffee plantations, avocados, tropical trees and forest, populated slopes with many villages. Many roads and paths around. It´s free to walk around! And no tourists! Cause it´s not on the guide-books.
    • Sleep with local people, if interested in "cultural tourism". Some villages now offer cultural tourism, arranging home-stay (around 10.000 Sh/pp), visiting waterfalls (small fee), etc. One guy followed us from the Moshi bus station, explaining us all this possibilities on the way up to Uru. In Marangu, the village closer to the most used Kilimnajaro route and gate, there are lodges and camps, focused in foreign climbers (so maybe not always too cheap).
    • Kilimanjaro National Park (above 1.500-2.000 m high): it´s a protected area, there are gates, and there start the climbing trails to the top. There´s an entrance fee, 70$/pp/12 h! Yes, every 12 hours! We didn´t go inside.
    • Avoid areas close to NP gates: these areas see climbers passing, so expect more "cowboys" around, guys trying to be your guide... Marangu ("Coca-cola” route), 40 km east of Moshi, is the most popular route. Other gates and routes in Umbwe, Machame (start point of “whisky route”) Mweka. That´s why we went to Uru. Great!
     Uru village, dala-dala stop

       Reference prices to climb Kilimanjaro´s top  (5.895m)     

    We didn´t climb it, it´s out of our price and logic of travel. We find the price completely crazy!

    Kilimanjaro National Park:
    Over 1.500-2.000 m high, it´s a protected area. Complete information in
    The official government prices are (also published online, june 2015):
    - Entrance fee: 70 $/12 hours. Return walk to top: min. 5 days needed, so that means 700$ in fees!
    - Rescue fee: 20$.
    - Camping/huts: 50/60 $/person/night. And you need at least 4 nights, so 200/ 240 $ for the mountain accommodation!

    Prices for foreigners. Half price if you are a Tanzania or East Africa resident and much less if Tanzanian.

    It´s already 920/960 $! And not finished. You have to pay a guide and porter (compulsory per group), transport to the gates and food. These prices will depend of the tour companyso expect to finally pay at least around 1.100-1.300 $/pp for the Kilimanjaro climb

    Just try to negotiate with the agencies in Moshi. 
    Ask well about all the conditions included in the price: transport, food/water, tent or bed, accommodation when returning from mountain, guides/porters, NP fees, etc.

    Trekking agencies in Moshi are usually near the main hotels, in the town center.
    You can rent hiking material: boots, tent, etc.
    Some people book online, but much more expensive.

    There´s a limit of visitors a day (it seems around 2.000) but only a few hundred climbers a day, so no problem to book just last minute once in Moshi. No waiting list! This is what the hotel owner in Moshi told us.

    There are different routes to climb Kilimanjaro. Marangu (Coca-Cola route) is the most used and easier (5 days at least needed); Machame (Whisky route), the second one, at least 6 days; Rongai, Umbwe, Lemosho, Shira.
    There´s public transport to villages, but maybe harder to the gates...

    Not sure if you can organise something directly at the gates and if this will be cheaper or not... Good luck!

       Cheap accommodation, food and services in Moshi   

    The main street, Mawenzi Rd, just goes from the bus station to the center-market, and walking distance there a few hotels in this central area. Check first, some streets can be quite noisy (try to avoid a main street room).
    Not so many tourists in Moshi. Just a few people ready to climb Kilimanjaro.
    Our room in Moshi, good!
    Aa Hill Street Inn: where we stayed.

    Price:  25.000 Sh for a double room, with private WC (hot shower, even if you don´t need it). 
    Staying 2 nights, we had a small discount, 20.000 Sh/night

    Super clean. Very nice muslim owners.
    Small balcony with Kilimanjaro views! 

    Couchsurfing in Moshi:
    There´s a limited community in Moshi, most of them foreigners, who live outside of the tonw´s center.

    Food and services
    A few local restaurants around the main street and center, also some Indian food for a change (big community here). Some small supermarkets and shops on the main street. At the bus station, only drinks and bread, no food stalls. Water is safe to drink in Moshi (direct from Kilimanjaro).

    Moshi is a big town. You find banks, ATMs, pharmacies, etc. There´s even a Nakumatt shopping center not far from the bus station (prices tend to be expensive). 

    The town center is just a few streets, near the bus station, but nothing to stay there longer. Moshi is clean, they sweep the streets!

       Public Transport in Moshi    

    Bus station is just in the city center, quite organised for Tanzania standarts. Really busy early morning (more departures). Prices of buses are written on the main building, check to get an idea.
    Connections with main Tanzania towns. Also Nairobi bus (via Arusha).
    Prices of buses:
    Moshi – Arusha: 3.000 Sh, 2 h. All day long, different buses and prices.
    Moshi- Dar: around 20.000 Sh (normal) and 30.000 Sh (luxury), 9 - 10 h. Departures all day long. 

    Many dala-dalas going around Kilimanjaro area, departure when full: 800 Sh for short distance (like Uru, Mweka, around 15-20  km up) and 1.500 Sh to Marangu, 40 km east, main Kilimanjaro route.

    Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA): 
    Between Moshi and Arusha. All Moshi-Arusha buses stop at the small bus station of Merenani at the junction, from there just 6 km left to the airport (many taxis).
    Flight fares are not always convenient, compared with Nairobi´s airport (300 km north of KIA). Check! 
    Keep in mind that Kenya and Tanzania visas cost 50$/each (single visa OK, cause East Africa Community) and local transport Arusha-Nairobi is around 10$/way.


    1. Thanks for the excellent blog girls, we just got back from Tanzania and found your remarks extremely useful, even stayed at the same hostel in Moshi with the amazing view to Kilimanjaro! Thanks and happy travels!


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