Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is an achievement for anyone, no matter how fit or old they are. It’s an achievement unlike many others, and it’s a reward unparalleled by anything else too.
The Roof of Africa is a special mountain in the very special country of Tanzania – where you can experience a truly classic African safari and culture. But before you do all of that relaxing stuff, you’ve got to summit Kilimanjaro first.
Seeing as this is one truly demanding task, we thought we’d come up with some key things to remember and plan for when climbing the tallest mountain in Africa to help you know how to do a Kilimanjaro climb right.
Kilimanjaro Hiking Tips
#1 Pick the Best Time of Year
While planning to climb Kilimanjaro, a lot of travelers never think about the time of year they’d like to do this. After all, you’re climbing the mountain, so why would April or December matter?
Well, that attitude won’t help anyone in the long run. So it’s best to pick the time of year that is suited to your skills and capabilities. From mid-March to May, it’s a wise idea to avoid climbing the mountain unless you’re an experienced mountaineer. Winds from the Indian Ocean hit the southern side of Kilimanjaro, bringing rain and snow.
In light of the rain and snow writing off March to May, we’d recommend heading up Kilimanjaro in June to October. It is incredibly unlikely that you’ll encounter any rain or snow during this time (it is the dry season in Tanzania) and prices, regardless of it being peak season, are usually lower at this time.
#2 Pick a Good Route
There are many different Kilimanjaro routes to choose from which can seem pretty complicated at first. It’s important for you to pick the one that suits your physical capabilities and personal desires too.
The Machame route is one of the most popular routes to the Kilimanjaro summit, offering some of the most stunning views from the mountain. With the chance to see Tanzanian rainforest, this route also offers something slightly different too.
If you want to see wildlife when you climb Kilimanjaro, the Rongai route is for you. Buffalo, elephant and antelope can all be seen. Plus, you begin the summit on the Kenyan side of the mountain, which is quieter and relatively rare!
#3 Get Yourself in Shape
Whatever you do, do not go into climbing Kilimanjaro without doing any prior training. You absolutely need to be in good shape to reach the summit from any route as all are a challenge.
Work on your endurance and general fitness so that you do not get any nasty surprises of how unfit you actually are when you’re half of the way up to the mountain. Follow some of the online Kilimanjaro fitness guides online if you’re worried about getting fit and where to start.
Do not neglect the gym before this trip.
#4 Make Sure You’re Properly Equipped
Some tour operators will have a list of items they recommend you take with you on your climb. Read those, but also scour the web for other items they may have missed.
We’d say you need a good, strong pair of walking boots, plenty of socks (they may get wet depending on rainfall, which also means you’ll struggle to get them dry), a waterproof jacket, dry bags to pack your clothes in and two one litre water bottles.
It’s also important to remember that it gets quite cold on Kilimanjaro, so thermal tops and socks are the best to choose from, as well as a warm jacket and other warm items of clothing for evenings and sleeping.
#5 Ensure You Can Deal With Altitude Sickness
70% of climbers to Kilimanjaro suffer from altitude sickness. It’s perfectly natural due to the fact that you’re suddenly climbing the tallest mountain in Africa, but also somewhat preventable.
If you want to climb Kilimanjaro right, you will need to take it slow when you begin your ascent. This allows your body to slowly adjust to the decreasing oxygen levels and also means you’re not pushing it to do too many strenuous things at once.
We also strongly advise you take an acclimatisation day at the beginning of your trip in order to help your body get used to the altitude from day one.
You can also drink plenty of water (around three to four litres a day) to help combat altitude sickness, so there is plenty you can do to help yourself along the way.
Have you hiked Kilimanjaro? Do you have any tips for those looking to take on a serious hike?
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