Where do I do my business on Kilimanjaro and how do I keep myself clean?
The topic nobody wants to talk about, but everybody wants to know about.
Are there showers on Kilimanjaro?
This might sound a little scary, but there are no showers on Kilimanjaro.
All water on the mountain is carried from the closest stream to the camp and is mostly used for consumption.
To freshen up our cook provides a small bowl of boiled water to wash your hands and face at every campsite in the morning, at lunch and in the evening.
It is advisable to bring wet wipes to clean up. Other products which might be useful are biodegradable soap, a quick dry towel, disinfectent gel, classic antiperspirant and possibly a dry hair shampoo.
Kilimanjaro Public Toilets
Every camp site on Kilimanjaro has public toilets, but it is recommended you lower your expectations (a lot).
The facilities on Kilimanjaro do not feature western style toilets, nor do they have sinks with hot water or soap dispensers.
Many of them do not even have a door, but a walk around wall for privacy instead.
If the toilet happens to have a door, it is often askew due to the cold and therefore difficult to close. The doors usually have locks, however the lock may not work for the aforementioned reason.
What do public campsite toilets look like?
Public toilets on Kilimanjaro resemble a large outhouse.
Inside is a deep hole dug to allow for a long drop, which is also why they are called "long drop" toilets.
The hole is surrounded by a concrete "launch pad" on which one squats (or stands).
Kilimanjaro National Park crews do their best to keep the facilities clean, but it is an uphill battle since almost everyone on the mountain uses them.
Thus, the more climbers arrive at the campsites and the later it gets in the day, the worst the toilet conditions become.
It can be helpful to focus on Kilimanjaro being a life changing experience, and, that most climbers are in the same boat, and, that this is only to be endured for a very short time...
But do not despair. For those of you not finding the above mantra helpful, there is good news below.
Private Toilet Tents on Kilimanjaro
Except for backpacker and budget climbs, Local Moshi Adventures includes one private toilet tent per four climbers on our climbs.
This portable toilet will be set up at every campsite and is available for the exclusive use of our private climb groups.
It can be used just like a regular toilet at home.
A few hand pumps will release water to rinse out the bowl.
The toilet crew is responsible for cleaning, maintaining and transporting the toilet between camps.
What if nature calls between campsites?
Don't be shy or embarrased, and especially don't ignore it or try to hold it in. That can potentially be dangerous.
Let your guide know and he will wait for you while you disappear behind a tree or bush nearby. An easy solution for a simple pee situation.
Things might get a little more involved when it comes to the other business as leave no trace is the motto on the mountain.
How to do the other business while keeping the mountain clean!
First: For either business, never leave your disposable wipes behind. Take a small bag with you to store your wipes.
Second: Dispose of your bag when you get to your next campsite.
Third: Select a spot that is at least 30 meters from any water source or path.
Fourth: Dig a small hole and bury the poop. (There, we said the word.) To do so, many climbers carry a small foldable hand trowel. If you do not have a hand trowel, at the very least cover everything with rocks.
Also, hiking above the treeline can complicate the situation slightly, although eventually there is always a sizeable shrub or boulder to be found.
If you are really concerned, there are all kinds of toilet gadgets, including a "personal toilet kit" suitable to be used on a Kilimanjaro trek, available online.
Whatever your decision concerning your personal needs on Kilimanjaro, do not let the toilet situation deter you from climbing Kilimanjaro.
Climbing Kilimanjaro is an exciting, life-changing and memorable experience, and in the years to come none of your memories will be wasted on long-drop toilets or bathroom needs.