Your mobile phone is possibly one of your most important possessions. With the ability to stay connected, take photographs, and even navigate a journey, you want to take it everywhere with you. Especially when hiking a mountain. This may lead you to ask: is there phone service on Mount Kilimanjaro?
Mobile Phone Reception on Kilimanjaro
Is there access to mobile reception on Kilimanjaro?
As to be expected from the highest freestanding mountain in the world, there is no promise of a consistent or even reliable form of Cellular service. This, however, does not mean you will not have the chance to contact your loved ones. There should be at least one opportunity a day to phone home when climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.
So that you don’t miss this opportunity, you can ask one of our wonderful guides where the best spot for service is, and they will be happy to notify you along the way. The other thing to keep an eye out for is the local porters – if you see them running up a hill whilst you are at camp, the chances are they are heading for a signal spot!
We would advise keeping your phone on aeroplane mode so it is not constantly searching for signal. This will certainly run your battery flat and we wouldn’t want you to miss that perfect picture opportunity because your phone has died.
Another option may be that you buy a SIM card in the local town of Moshi. This can save on unwanted data charges and ensure that you have the best access to service throughout your journey.
Interference with phone service on Mount Kilimanjaro
When climbing a mountain, interference with mobile signals is to be expected. This is because of the extreme climate. Water vapour causes the most interference with regards to mobile service. This signal impedance happens because water conducts electricity, which allows water vapour in the atmosphere to reflect or refract radio waves on the frequencies used by cellular networks. So, rain, snow, fog, clouds, and even high humidity can cause reception to drop off.
Is there WiFi on Kilimanjaro?
Updated 08/09/2023 – I have recently returned from Kilimanjaro and the answer to this question has now changed.
Yes there is WiFi on Kilimanjaro.
WiFi will cost you $30 and this currently only exists on the Marangu route and they have WiFi at Mandara Hut, Horombo Hut and Kibo Hut. This is powered by solar, and it was turned off several times during the climb to retain power for lighting etc, but the WiFi strength was good. You were able to make WiFi calls and sometimes even video calls.
The plan now is extend the WiFi service to the summit of the Kilimanjaro. Once they have reached the summit they are then going to start lying the cable back down the Lemosho route.
The plan of the national park is to eventually have WiFi service across all of the routes on Kilimanjaro.
Should you leave your phone at home when trekking?
No. Bringing your phone along not only means that you are able to contact the outside world, but it also means that you can easily access it when that breath-taking view captures your eye.
Smartphones have the capability to act as a fitness tracker and watch. Taking your phone also means that you can track your daily progress, such as how many steps you’ve taken, what you’ve eaten, how you’ve slept and even how long it’s taken you to get from point A to point B.
The Bottom Line
Just assume there will be no service and then any service you do get is a bonus. This is because you can’t fully rely on being able to communicate outside of your team on this trip.
Telling people to expect a phone call of contact from you throughout this trip only causes distress and chaos if you happen to not have service. Let your loved ones know that you care by telling them that you will contact them when you have left the mountain.
Overall, you will likely have service at some point but don’t be expectant of it. This does not mean you shouldn’t bring your phone. Who knows what you might capture, listen to or watch? Expect the unexpected with the climb to Mount Kilimanjaro.