Kilimanjaro, the highest free standing mountain on earth at 5895 meters is most likely a challenge that most people wonder about.
However this doesn’t have to stop you from exploring the adventure as it is worth the effort especially at the summit. The climb is more of an emotional state which fills you with enthusiasm and thrilling experience. Kilimanjaro National Park reports that only about 41% of trekkers reach Uhuru summit annually. It is not the hike that’s impeding—it’s the drastically reduced levels of oxygen due to the extremely high altitude.
The following tips will greatly help you in preparing for the trek. This will greatly help those who do it for the first time or those who didn’t have much experience during the last climb.
1. Prepare Yourself Physically and Mentally
Having a positive mind is very crucial for the climb. Prepare yourself mentally that you will be going to somewhere very different with temperatures even below 0 degrees. Arrogance is strictly not advised as it’s important to listen to what the guides tell you as to climb successfully. The most important thing to remember is that you are on holiday, relax, have an open mind, and enjoy yourself.
Physical preparedness is not to be set aside. What hard for most climbers is lack of breathing properly in the mountain. You can train some time prior to your trek for long walks with a normal backpack on your back. Also it’s recommended to train your lungs to breathe properly in cases of lower levels of oxygen.
2. Be Aware of AMS
High altitude climbinghas several risks including (AMS) Acute Mountain Sickness. It’s a pathological effect on humans caused by going to high altitudes too fast, where lower levels in oxygen inhibit normal physiological processes. Physical fitness is not a guarantee for not getting AMS since anyone can suffer from it. It has several symptoms like headache, dizziness, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea and rapid heart rate.
To deal with AMS, consider the following
- Choose a longer route that is 6-8 days, Machame and Lemosho routes are mostly advised. The longer days of climb provides you with enough rest.
- It is recommended be prescribed with acetazolamide (Diamox) to help acclimatize high altitudes more easily and comfortably.
- While climbing, it’s necessary to walk slowly and not over exhaust yourself.
- Drink lots of water more than 2 liters a day.
- While on the mountain, avoid drinking alcohol, taking stimulants and consuming caffeine.
3. Taking It Slow
While trekking, you need to remember that it’s not a race but rather a holiday experience. Walk slowly while enjoying the view which will help your body get used to low levels of oxygen. There is never a time where you will be required to walk fast, as the normal walk is usually 500-700 meters per day.
4. Get The Right Clothing
You will require the appropriate clothes for different temperature zones before reaching the summit. Pack light for all occasions, however only the important clothes are to be packed
The following should be considered before packing
- Packing hiking outfit including a long sleeve shirt, hiking pants, underwear, hiking socks, waterproof and sturdy boots
- Thermal socks (more than 3 pairs), gloves (preferably mittens), warm head protection, rain coat, sunglasses, sun protection cream.
- Clothes for higher temperatures including shorts, sweaters and T-shirts.
- Carrying appropriate water bottle that is Camel bak brand water carrier and Nalgene style plastic bottle.
- For all your belongings, items are to be packed inside a plastic bag separately before shoveling them in the bag. This will keep your things dry even if your bag gets wet (in case of rain) as it’s impossible for things to dry in the mountain.
5. Keeping Yourself Hydrated
Drinking lots of water is very crucial for the climb. Keeping yourself hydrated provides your body with strength to move on. The recommended amount of water is 5 liters a day. You should be able to drink 1 bottle in the morning before hiking, another 2 bottles during the walk and the last 2 bottles when you get to the camp in the evening. Kitchen staff can provide boiled water for you.
6. Maintain Hygiene On The Mountain
It’s important to prepare yourself that you will not shower during the whole time on the mountain.
You need to consider
- Using baby wet wipes for bathing
- Carrying a roll of toilet paper(recommended is two)
- Get a toilet tent in the campsites
7. Prepare For The Summit
The last day aiming for the summit is very challenging. It’s recommended to sleep early as to prepare your body for the event. The event starts at midnight after heavy clothing and packing lots of water. The walk is usually around 6 or 7 hours whereby at sunrise, you will be at the summit to enjoy the roof of Africa.
You will have some time to rest then preparing to descend for 2 days. However one should be careful as it’s in this stage that many accidents occur. Though the descend is not hard, it’s recommended to walk slowly and carefully as not to be pulled by gravity force.
- Having maximum rest in the night, allowing your body to recuperate
- Carrying extra batteries for phone/tablet/camera as to capture pictures for the summit day
- Wear hats to protect yourself from the sun rays as they are ultra violet in nature due to high altitude.
After a successful climb, you can treat yourself because you have done something extremely magnificent. You can do so by relaxing in the luxury hotels/lodges located in Moshi town or Arusha city. To make it more entertaining, you can arrange a safari in the national parks or go for beach vacation in Zanzibar Island.
Climbing Kilimanjaro is one of the greatest adventures which anyone who wishes to do so shouldn’t miss.
If you are interested in climbing Kilimanjaro, I kindly ask you to visit our Trekking Page as to book your trekking itinerary.