It is estimated that around 35,000 people attempt to Climb Kilimanjaro each year, and while many of those expeditions are successful, many are not. If you plan to climb Africa’s highest mountain this year, there are certain things you can do to improve your chances of reaching Uhuru Peak.
Climbing Kilimanjaro is not technically challenging, and you do not need any ropes or specialised hiking gear to reach the summit, but if you think it’s going to be easy, you’re in for a surprise. Hiking to Uhuru Peak is tough, even for trained athletes, so plan wisely with a little help from these TOP TIPS …
Book Your Kilimanjaro Expedition With A KPAP Registered Company. KPAP stands for “Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project” which is a non-profit organisation that ensures your mountain crew are given a fair wage and plenty of food during each trek.
Book A Longer Trek Of At Least Seven Days. The longer you are on the mountain, the greater the chance of success. 5-day expeditions have an average success rate of 45%, while 8-day Kilimanjaro climbs have an average success rate of 85%. The figures speak for themselves.
Train for Your Expedition: Climbing Kilimanjaro takes time and money, so don’t waste it. Give yourself at least 3-months to train for your expedition, and include plenty of outdoor hiking, squats, and cardio to give yourself the best possible chance of reaching Uhuru Peak.
Speak to your Doctor about Diamox: You cannot train for altitude. It will either affect you or it won’t. One way to limit the effects altitude is to take Diamox, a prescription-only medication that relieves the symptoms of altitude sickness. It’s not suitable for everyone, so speak to your doctor before going down this route.
Pack a Mini First Aid Kit: If you book with a reputable company as in point one, your guide will have a comprehensive first aid kit, but it’s good to carry a few essentials such as plasters for blisters, antiseptic cream, something for an upset stomach, and Ibuprofen, which is highly effective at relieving pressure headaches caused by altitude.
Take Water Purification Tablets: Again, your guide will most likely have these, but just in case, take some with you and use them if your drinking water hasn’t been treated by your guide.
Pack Light. Easy to say, I know, but believe me, after day three on the mountain, you will no longer care if your socks match, or even if they are clean! Pack the bare minimum and opt for quality rather than quantity.
Invest in Quality Sleepwear: You could experience zero temperatures on the first night of your Kilimanjaro Expedition, and with little more than a tent and a sleeping bag between you and the elements, you need to wrap up warm. Think long johns, a thermal polo neck, wool socks, and a fleece hat.
Rent A Sleeping Bag From Your Climbing Company. It might not be your first choice, but good quality high-altitude sleeping bags cost in excess of £150, and if you’re only going to use it once, it doesn’t make sense to buy. You’ll be sleeping fully clothed, so all you need is a sleeping bag liner and you’re good to go.
Take Or Rent An Inflatable Mattress. Oh, how I wish someone had told me this the first time I climbed Kilimanjaro! The ground is cold, hard, and rocky. You will not sleep a minute without this extra layer of comfort – believe me!
Wear Gaiters. You might not have heard of them, but you do need them! Gaiters are nifty boot covers that keep dust and stones at bay. You’ll be so glad you have them on summit night, so take a pair with you or rent them onsite.
Pack Baby Wipes: If you’ve been researching your trip, you’ve probably heard this already, but baby wipes are a godsend on the mountain, so take a large pack and indulge in a baby-wipe bath morning and night.
Pack Some Biodegradable Disposable Bags: For the aforementioned baby wipes, and for any toilet paper you use off camp.
Get Used to Peeing Behind Rocks: You might not want to try this at home, but you should prepare yourself mentally for peeing behind bushes, rocks, and whatever else you can find to hide your modesty. You’ll have port-a-loos to use at camp, but for the rest of the day you’ll going alfresco, so carry toilet paper and a resealable bag to store it in until you can dispose of it responsibly.
Eat, Drink & Be Merry: Fuelling is essential when taking part in any outdoor activity, but more so when you are exerting yourself at high altitude. Aim to drink at least 3ltrs of water each day (this includes tea and coffee) and eat as much as you possibly can at mealtimes. Sounds easy, but by day four you may well lose your appetite (another factor of altitude), so eat, eat, eat, and if you are a fussy eater, take some of your favourite snacks from home.
Sunscreen, Lip Balm, Deo, Toothpaste, Toothbrush: That’s really all you need in your old kit bag, so leave the makeup and perfume behind.
Take Plenty of Spare Batteries & Power Banks: If you plan to use a GoPro, a Smartphone, or a Camera on Kilimanjaro, make sure you take plenty of spare batteries and at least one power bank. Batteries last just half the usual time at altitude, and there are no plug sockets for recharging.
Get a Tanzanian SIM Card: It is possible to get a telephone/internet signal on Mount Kilimanjaro, but it’s patchy at best. Tanzanian SIM cards work better than international cards, so pick up a pay-as-you-go SIM in Moshi or Arusha, before heading to the mountain, and follow your porters to find the best connection spots on Kili.
Only Carry What You Need: This is especially important on summit night. Your daypack should contain nothing more than your water supply, your snacks, your rain gear, and your sunscreen. You’ll probably take your hats, gloves, and sunglasses on and off throughout the day, so they’ll be in and out of your backpack too, but you really don’t need anything else. Don’t make the mistake of weighing yourself down with non-essentials. Wrap up extra warm for your midnight departure on summit night, this is the only time when more is more!
Take a Moment to Admire the View: Climbing Kilimanjaro is a once in a lifetime experience, so don’t forget to stop and look around every now and again. Chat to your porters and your fellow hikers, learn a few words of Swahili, and cherish every moment you have on the world’s most beautiful mountains. You are truly privileged to be there – so dig deep and set your sights on the iconic Kilimanjaro sign that is just waiting to greet you!