By Traveler Dan L.
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is considered a difficult task. Being one of the most popular mountains in the world, roughly 50,000 trekkers every year try to reach the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro. According to research published by the Climb Kilimanjaro Guide, the average summit success rate across all climbers and routes is 65%. Climbing during an international pandemic brought forth a series of additional challenges.
Scheduling of Flights
We started planning our trek prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. As uncertainty revolving around the virus grew, so did the uncertainty regarding our flights. Our original flights were to route through Nairobi Kenya. These flights were rescheduled and later canceled. Our travel agent at Travelong of Summit was able to get new flights with a layover in Amsterdam. The new flights meant we would be spending an extra day in Tanzania which worked out well. It gave us an extra day for acclimatization on the mountain; an extra day that proved to be invaluable to our success.
Regulations regarding air travel
We were well informed regarding the new regulations and processes for air travel. Everyone is required to wear a mask at all times while in the airports and on board the plane. The exception being while eating and drinking. When boarding we were informed that masks would be required for the duration of the flight and asked if we would comply. There was one gentleman that was warned multiple time to keep his mask on but refused to comply. He was met by security in Amsterdam and was not permitted to take his connecting flight.
Another noticeable change was the order of boarding. After first class and passengers needing assistance, the rear of the aircraft was boarded first.
Rules relating to COVID in Tanzania
According to the Tanzania government, there has not been a reported case of COVID-19 since May 8th. Rules were put in place to keep it that way. We were informed by our Travelong travel agent that a COVID test would need to be taken 72 hours prior to our flight. Upon arriving in Tanzania we had to provide our test results. We also had our temperature taken and had to fill out a questionnaire.
Aside from the wait staff in a higher end restaurant, no one in Tanzania wore a mask or gloves.
Returning to America
The country Tanzania is not on the list of countries requiring a 14-day quarantine upon return to America. We were additionally screened, temperatures taken, and questions asked when we arrived in New York. CDC representatives were there and handed out flyers noting the risks associated with international travel and information regarding COVID-19 symptoms.
In the end, the trip was a success. While the international pandemic did provide additional unforeseen challenges, none were greater than the challenge of climbing the mountain. I would not let existing rules and regulation prevent me from air travel in the future.