Flights to Kilimanjaro and Tanzania
Tanzania has three major international airports: Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar and Kilimanjaro. The latter, as you may expect, is the most convenient for Kilimanjaro, standing only 42km away from the mountain town of Moshi and 50km from Arusha.
Recently, the number of airlines flying into KIA (the acronym for Kilimanjaro International Airport, though the three-letter international airport code is JRO) has improved considerably. Joining the three carriers who’ve ‘traditionally’ served Kilimanjaro – KLM, Ethiopian Airlines and Kenya Airways – are two new major airlines: Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines. As a result airfares are beginning to tumble – from their previously extortionate levels.
The most popular carrier is the Dutch airline KLM, largely because a) they fly frequently (pretty much every day in the high season) and b) they have an extensive network of regional flights in the US and UK (and Europe), which makes them more convenient than other airlines.
Kenya Airways have also been serving the airport for many years and I have to say, having flown with them last time, that I was impressed with their service and the quality of the plane. Given that their hub, Nairobi, is less than an hour’s flight from Kilimanjaro Airport, this probably means that they will be the natural choice if you want the most direct flight (depending on where you’re flying from, of course). They’re pretty cheap too.
Ethiopian Airlines have also been flying to Kili for many years. They have two big selling points: 1) They’re cheap; and 2) they fly via Addis Ababa, which means you may be able to stop over and see a bit of the country – which is something everybody should do at least once in their life (it’s lovely and fascinating).
Two airlines that started flying at approximately the same time to JRO are Turkish Airlines and Qatar Airlines. The former are often the cheapest though there is a hidden price to pay: they tend to arrive at 1 or 2am, which means that you’ll have to pay for an extra night’s accommodation. For example, say you fly into Kilimanjaro Airport on the 2nd, you’ll actually need to book accommodation for the 1st as you are arriving so early in the morning on the 2nd (and you aren’t allowed to sleep in the airport). As for Qatar Airlines, they have a good reputation for service and are popular with those flying in five the rest of Asia.
In addition to the above there are the local airlines including Precision Air, a subsidiary of Kenya Airways and one that most people use to get around the rest of Tanzania and Kenya; Rwandair, which serves that country; the local budget airline fastjet which connects Kili with Dar es Salaam and Entebbe in Uganda; and a host of smaller airlines, many connecting Kili and northern Tanzania with Zanzibar.
If you can’t find anything suitable, do try Nairobi Airport, which is just an hour’s flight from Kilimanjaro Airport or six hours by shuttle bus to Arusha, where many of the trekking companies are based. Flights to Nairobi can be slightly cheaper – there is more competition and more choice – and it’s a good way of seeing a bit of the region before heading up it’s highest mountain.
You can of course travel overland and on this website we have a whole section devoted to travelling in Tanzania. But for most people the only option is to fly.
From the UK
A cheap flight to Kilimanjaro from London with KLM via Amsterdam will set you back a minimum of £450 (though can rise to £1000), while for Dar the determined may be able to find one from around £420.