The 7 Best Cameras for Hiking Kilimanjaro: A Comprehensive Guide

Tristan Balme The best camera for climbing kilimanjaro

As an avid hiker and photographer, I know the importance of capturing those breathtaking moments on the trail. And what better place to do that than on the top of Mount Kilimanjaro? But with so many camera options out there, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one for your Kilimanjaro expedition.

When choosing a camera for hiking Kilimanjaro, it’s important to consider factors such as durability, weight, image quality, and rechargeability. My top recommendations include the GoPro Hero 8, Sony DSC-RX100 III, and the Olympus OMD EM1. These cameras offer high-quality images, durability, and long battery life, making them ideal for capturing those breathtaking moments on the top of Kilimanjaro.

In this guide, I’ll discuss the best cameras for hiking Kilimanjaro and what you need to consider before making your decision.

Best Camera for Trekking Kilimanjaro Mountain

When it comes to choosing the best camera for hiking Kilimanjaro, there are a few factors to consider. First, you’ll want a camera that can withstand the rugged terrain and harsh weather conditions. Second, you’ll want a camera that can capture high-quality images and videos. And lastly, you’ll want a camera that is lightweight and easy to carry.

What Type of Camera to Bring to Kilimanjaro (Pros and Cons)

There are several types of cameras to choose from when hiking Kilimanjaro, each with their own pros and cons. Let’s take a closer look at each type:

Option 1. DSLR or Mirrorless

DSLR cameras are a popular choice among photographers for their high-quality images and versatility. They offer interchangeable lenses and manual controls, allowing you to adjust settings to your liking. However, DSLRs are bulky and heavy, making them less ideal for hiking.

Option 2. Point and Shoot Camera

Point-and-shoot cameras are compact and lightweight, making them a great option for hiking Kilimanjaro. They are easy to use and often come with built-in features like image stabilization and zoom. However, the image quality may not be as high as a DSLR.

Option 3. GoPro or Similar Action Cam

GoPro cameras are designed for action and adventure, making them a great option for Kilimanjaro. They are small, lightweight, and can capture high-quality video footage. However, they may not be as good at capturing still images.

Option 4. Phone Cameras

Many smartphones today come with high-quality cameras, making them a convenient and easy option for capturing images on Kilimanjaro. However, they may not perform as well in low light conditions and may not have as many manual controls as a DSLR.

What You Need to Consider

Before choosing a camera for hiking Kilimanjaro, there are a few things you’ll want to consider:

Charging Camera Batteries on Kilimanjaro

One of the biggest challenges of hiking Kilimanjaro is staying powered up. Make sure you bring extra batteries and a solar charger to keep your camera charged throughout your expedition.

Dealing With The Cold Temperature

The temperature on Kilimanjaro can range from hot to freezing, so it’s important to choose a camera that can handle extreme temperatures.

Tip: Batteries stop working in the cold. Therefore i always take two, and keep one in my breast pocket (to keep it warm) while the other is in the camera. When the camera one cools down to the point where it stops working, i can swap it out with the warm one and repeat!

Solar Charging Options

Solar charging is a great option for keeping your camera batteries charged on Kilimanjaro. Make sure to bring a solar charger with you, and test it out before your hike to ensure it’s working properly.

Wide Angle

Kilimanjaro offers some of the most breathtaking views in the world, so you’ll want a camera that can capture it all. Look for a camera with a wide-angle lens to capture those panoramic shots.

Lightweight

When hiking Kilimanjaro, every ounce counts. Choose a camera that is lightweight and easy to carry.

Low Light

The lighting conditions on Kilimanjaro can vary, so it’s important to choose a camera that can handle low light conditions. Look for a camera with a low aperture and high ISO capabilities.

Top Tips and Tricks to Saving Battery Life

When hiking Kilimanjaro, it’s important to conserve battery life as much as possible. Here are some tips and tricks to help you save battery life:

  • Turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
  • Use airplane mode
  • Turn off the LCD screen
  • Lower the screen brightness
  • Turn off GPS

The Best Cameras for Kili (Our Recommendations)

Based on our research and personal experience, here are our top camera recommendations for hiking Kilimanjaro:

  • GoPro Hero 8
  • Sony DSC-RX100 III
  • Fuji X30
  • Olympus OMD EM1
  • Canon EOS 5DS R
  • Nikon D810
  • Sony Alpha a7R II
Camera ModelPriceWeight (g)Weight (oz)MegapixelsWeatherproofBattery Life (shots)Overall Rating
GoPro Hero 8$299.99126g4.44oz12 MPYes12204.5/5
Sony DSC-RX100 III$748.00290g10.23oz20.1 MPNo3204/5
Fuji X30$499.99423g14.92oz12 MPNo4703.5/5
Olympus OMD EM1$1,699.00497g17.53oz16.3 MPYes3504.5/5
Canon EOS 5DS R$3,699.00930g32.80oz50.6 MPYes7005/5
Nikon D810$2,496.95980g34.57oz36.3 MPYes12004.5/5
Sony Alpha a7R II$1,798.00625g22.05oz42.4 MPYes2904/5

Note: The battery life is an approximation and depends on usage, temperature, and other factors.

GoPro Hero 8

The GoPro Hero 8 is a great option for hiking Kilimanjaro for its durability, lightweight design, and ability to capture high-quality video footage. It is also waterproof, making it ideal for capturing images in wet conditions.

Camera ModelPriceWeight (g)Weight (oz)MegapixelsWeatherproofBattery Life (shots)Overall Rating
GoPro Hero 8$299.99126g4.44oz12 MPYes12204.5/5
31TEODDJZbL. SL500

GoPro Hero 8

(Best Camera for Kilimanjaro)


Pros

  • Waterproof
  • Durable and lightweight
  • High-quality video footage

Cons

  • Limited image quality compared to DSLRs

Sony DSC-RX100 III

The Sony DSC-RX100 III is a compact camera that can capture high-quality images, making it a great option for hiking Kilimanjaro. It also has a wide-angle lens, making it ideal for capturing panoramic shots.

Camera ModelPriceWeight (g)Weight (oz)MegapixelsWeatherproofBattery Life (shots)Overall Rating
Sony DSC-RX100 III$748.00290g10.23oz20.1 MPNo3204/5
31RnhERabL. SL500

Sony DSC-RX100 III

(Best Compact Camera for Kilimanjaro)


Pros

  • Compact and lightweight
  • High-quality images
  • Wide-angle lens

Cons

  • Limited zoom capabilities

Fuji X30

The Fuji X30 is a compact camera that is easy to use and can capture high-quality images. It also has a built-in viewfinder, making it easier to capture shots in bright sunlight.

Camera ModelPriceWeight (g)Weight (oz)MegapixelsWeatherproofBattery Life (shots)Overall Rating
Sony DSC-RX100 III$748.00290g10.23oz20.1 MPNo3204/5
51rZvhQPjWL. SL500

Fuji X30

(Best Camera with Built-in Viewfinder for Kilimanjaro)


Pros

  • Compact and lightweight
  • High-quality images
  • Built-in viewfinder

Cons

  • Limited zoom capabilities

Olympus OMD EM1

The Olympus OMD EM1 is a durable and weather-sealed camera that can capture high-quality images. It also has a long battery life, making it ideal for extended hikes on Kilimanjaro.

Camera ModelPriceWeight (g)Weight (oz)MegapixelsWeatherproofBattery Life (shots)Overall Rating
Olympus OMD EM1$1,699.00497g17.53oz16.3 MPYes3504.5/5
41Li6U0ieRL. SL500

Olympus OMD EM1

(Best Weather-Sealed Camera for Kilimanjaro)


Pros

  • Durable and weather-sealed
  • High-quality images
  • Long battery life

Cons

  • Limited zoom capabilities

Canon EOS 5DS R

The Canon EOS 5DS R is a high-end DSLR camera that can capture high-quality images with its 50.6-megapixel sensor. It also has a weather-sealed body, making it ideal for hiking Kilimanjaro.

Camera ModelPriceWeight (g)Weight (oz)MegapixelsWeatherproofBattery Life (shots)Overall Rating
Canon EOS 5DS R$3,699.00930g32.80oz50.6 MPYes7005/5
41SCyLUS IL. SL500

Canon EOS 5DS R

(Best High-End DSLR Camera for Kilimanjaro)


Pros

  • High-quality images with 50.6-megapixel sensor
  • Weather-sealed body

Cons

  • Heavy and bulky

Nikon D810

The Nikon D810 is another high-end DSLR camera that can capture high-quality images. It also has a durable and weather-sealed body, making it ideal for hiking Kilimanjaro.

Camera ModelPriceWeight (g)Weight (oz)MegapixelsWeatherproofBattery Life (shots)Overall Rating
Nikon D810$2,496.95980g34.57oz36.3 MPYes12004.5/5
51KgpfoTMAL. SL500

Nikon D810

(Best High-End DSLR Camera for Kilimanjaro)


Pros

  • High-quality images
  • Durable and weather-sealed body

Cons

  • Heavy and bulky

Sony Alpha a7R II

The Sony Alpha a7R II is a mirrorless camera that can capture high-quality images with its 42.4-megapixel sensor. It also has a durable and weather-sealed body, making it ideal for hiking Kilimanjaro.

Camera ModelPriceWeight (g)Weight (oz)MegapixelsWeatherproofBattery Life (shots)Overall Rating
Sony Alpha a7R II$1,798.00625g22.05oz42.4 MPYes2904/5
416No8IQwJL. SL500

Sony Alpha a7R II

(Best Mirrorless Camera for Kilimanjaro)


Pros

  • High-quality images with 42.4-megapixel sensor
  • Durable and weather-sealed body

Cons

  • Limited battery life

What Accessories You’ll Need

In addition to a camera, there are a few accessories you’ll want to bring with you on your Kilimanjaro expedition:

Here’s a summary table for the accessories you’ll need for climbing Kilimanjaro:

AccessoryWhy You Need It
Long-lasting BatteriesKeep your camera powered up throughout your hike
Waterproof BagProtect your camera from the elements
MicrophoneCapture high-quality audio for your videos
Extra BatteriesAlways have a backup in case your batteries die
TripodsStabilize your camera and capture steady shots

Long-lasting Batteries

Make sure to bring extra batteries and a solar charger to keep your camera powered up throughout your hike.

Waterproof Bag

Protect your camera from the elements with a waterproof bag.

If you’re looking for a great waterproof camera bag, I highly recommend the Peak Design Everyday Sling 10L. It’s durable and weatherproof, making it ideal for hiking Kilimanjaro. It’s also compact and lightweight, making it easy to carry. Plus, it has customizable dividers and pockets, so you can keep your camera and other accessories organized.

21jHfguQuqS. SL500

Peak Design Everyday Sling 10L

(Best Waterproof Camera Bag for Kilimanjaro)


Pros

  • Wearable as a cross-body sling or a waist bag
  • Weatherproof zip

Cons

  • Material is a bit too abrasive
  • Strap is undersized

A Microphone is the Most Important Thing When Recording Video

If you plan on recording video, a good microphone is essential for capturing high-quality audio.

Kilimanjaro is super windy, and without a good lapel mic you’ll be impossible to hear over the crackle of the wind

For recording your personal voice, we recommend the Rode VideoMicro Compact On-Camera Microphone. It is highly rated for its sound quality, lightweight design, and compatibility with a variety of cameras.

41wPOMWylML. SL500

Rode VideoMicro Compact On-Camera Microphone

(Best Microphone for Kilimanjaro)


Pros

  • Powered by camera plug-in power – min 3V
  • Includes Rycote lyre shock mount and deluxe furry windshield

Cons

  • Expect to spend some time messing with EQ afterwards in order to improve the sound quality

Always Carry Extra Batteries

You never know when you’ll need an extra battery, so make sure to bring a few backups with you.

Consider how your camera charges. Can you use a USB powerbank? Or will you need to carry enough spares for the whole trip? (That’s a long time and potentially a lot of batteries)

Does your camera sell long-life batteries as well as regular ones?

Tripods

A tripod can be helpful for stabilizing your camera and capturing steady shots.

I recommend the Manfrotto Compact Tripod. It’s lightweight and compact, making it ideal for hiking Kilimanjaro. It’s also highly rated for its stability and ease of use.

If you’re planning any time lapse or astro-photography a tripod is a must. Otherwise, you probably can save the weight and leave the tripod at home

I tried to make do with one of those gorilla pods which was absolutely useless and I wouldn’t recommend it.

31sPcvHDjL. SL500

Manfrotto Compact Tripod

(Best Tripod for Kilimanjaro)


Pros

  • Lightweight, with a padded carrying bag included for portability
  • High-quality aluminium and furnished in a stylish black finish

Cons

  • Not recommended for heavy cameras

Kilimanjaro Camera FAQ

Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about cameras on Kilimanjaro:

Do Phones Work on Kilimanjaro?

Yes, smartphones can work on Kilimanjaro, but you may not have a signal in all areas. You’ll need a Tanzanian SIM card to connect, or be roaming with a provider compatible with the Tanzanian networks.

Is There WiFi on Mount Kilimanjaro?

No, there is no WiFi on Mount Kilimanjaro. If you want internet you’ll need to get a Tanzanian SIM card and a data pack.

What Cameras Do Mountaineers Use?

Mountaineers use a variety of cameras, but the most popular are GoPros, DSLRs, and point-and-shoot cameras.

How Many Camera Batteries Should You Pack for Kilimanjaro?

This all depends on what sort of camera, how many photos you plan to take, and Irecommend packing at least two extra camera batteries for your Kilimanjaro expedition.

Tip: As mentioned above, batteries stop working in the cold. Therefore i always take two, and keep one in my breast pocket (to keep it warm) while the other is in the camera. When the camera one cools down to the point where it stops working, i can swap it out with the warm one and repeat!

Which Mobile Network is Best for Kilimanjaro?

Tanzania has several mobile networks, but the most popular are Vodacom and Airtel.

I used Airtel and had reasonably good reception on the mountain (although i found the data speeds kind of slow.. but maybe thats the same for both networks?)

Conclusion

When it comes to choosing a camera for hiking Kilimanjaro, there are many factors to consider. Choose a camera that can withstand the rugged terrain and harsh weather conditions, captures high-quality images and videos, and is lightweight and easy to carry. Don’t forget to bring extra batteries, a solar charger, and other accessories to keep your camera powered up and protected. With the right camera and accessories, you’ll be able to capture those breathtaking moments on the top of Kilimanjaro for years to come.

Kilimanjaro Travel Planning Cheatsheet

 

🚑 Should I buy travel insurance for Tanzania?

100% YES! — Tanzania has now introduceed “free” healthcare but it’s only for citizens! Tourists need travel insurance in case anything happens on your visit. Also be aware many policies won't cover high altitude hiking as it's a high risk activity!

(that's right, check the t&c's on your complimentary credit card insurance

I highly recommend World Nomads as you can get specific add-ons for high altitude hiking UP TO 6000m (Which most travel insurance companies don't offer!)

🎫 Do I need a visa for Tanzania?

Probably not — Tanzania now provide a visa on arrival (VoA) for most western countires which allows you stay for up to 90 days. However, some other countries do need a pre-approved eVisa (check here!). VoAs cost $50 USD for a single entry - Note, US Citizens are required to get a Multi-Entry visa which costs $100 USD. (View visa prices here)

If transiting through Kenya (a lot of people fly via Nairobi), you'll need a Kenyan visa too. Visa's cost $20 for a 3 day transit visa and $50 for a toursit visa

(By the way, on both my interactions with the imigration officers in kenya they tried to scam me, so know what your obliged to pay and BRING THE EXACT CASH for the visa!)

💉Do I need any vaccinations for Tanzania?

YES! Make sure you are up-to-date with all your vaccines. Common travel vaccines include Hep A/B + Typhoid, and Diphtheria + Tetanus.

A yellow fever vaccination isn't a requirment to visit Kilimanjaro but is for neighbouring areas in East Africa. In reality, you will might not be allowed back into your home country on your return (I was asked for proof of vaccination upon returning to Australia) so getting this jab prior made for good peace of mind. 

Rabies is an issue in Tanzania but the vaccine is expensive and ineffective as a preventative measure (it only lasts a few years and you'll need to get them again if you require treatment). If bitten by a stray dog seek immediate medical attention!

As always, talk to your GP or specialised travel doctor a few weeks BEFORE you leave.

🏩 What’s the best Kilimanjaro Tour operators?

Your only realy two options here are Kumano Travel and Booking.com. Its a complicated process so I wrote this guide here on the best kumano kodo accomodation options

If you don't want to figure it all out (it's meant to be a holiday after all) you can book a package tour. Here are my recommendations for both guided and self-guided.

💸How do you pay for things in Tanzania?

Cash is king in Tanzania, so you'll want to get some folding tender out from an ATM when you land. Larger businesses and hotels will take Debit / Credit Card but most resturants, and street vendors want cash. I even had to pay for my Kili trip in cash!

I personally use a Wise debit card for all my international money needs as they only convert the funds when you make payment, plus they offer a much better spread (margin on the true exhange rate) than the banks do. They work in all the Tanzanian ATMs I tried. 

🚌 What's the public transport like in Tanzania?

There is a good basic network of local and inter-city busses in Tanzania and travel this way is very cheap. Domestic flight are also very affordable and a far more comfortable option. Checkout Busbora for booking bus tickets online.

📲 How do I get internet/data/wifi in Tanzania and on the mountain?

This one needs a whole nother article, but the short version is prepaid SIM cards are cheap and availible to tourists and locals alike (You don't need a pricey tourst SIM!)

Your cheapest option is buying a physical sim card on the street corner once landed and getting the shop assistant to help you set it up. I went with Vodacom and had generally good coverage, even up on Kili!

Another option if you're visiting other African countries is the Nomad eSIM. This is a little more expensive but gives you connectivity across 14 neighbouring African Countries!

✈️ What’s the best site to buy flights to Tanzania?

For finding cheap flights, I recommend Skyscanner. Once you find the flight you're looking for, I'd then suggest booking directly with the carrier (even if it costs a few $$ more than with one of the agreggators/agencies).

💧Can you drink the water in Tanzania?

Safest not to — tap water in Tanzania may be OK (the locals drink it) but is generally untreated and not reccommended for tourists. Purchase bottled water for drinking and teeth brushing.

🏔️💧Can you drink the water on Mount Kilimanjaro?

Yes — Your tour company with ensure the water provided to you is safe to drink by either carrying in bottled water, or by treating stream water with purification tablets or by boiling it. If you want to drink water from the rivers and streams you generally can but should do so at your own risk. ALWAYS follow best practice and drink from fast flowing water as far up stream as possible. I'd also recommend a Brita Water Bottle for rehydrating on the trail safely. 

 

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