Tips to consider when planning to climb Kilimanjaro

If witnessing the Great Migration, exploring breathtaking landscapes and sceneries or standing on the edge of a dormant volcano in Tanzania doesn’t conjure enough adrenaline to course your veins; if a heart-pumping activity is what you’re looking for and you’re ready to test your limits; why not add a Kilimanjaro trek to your Tanzanian safari…

Seeing the Great Migration, or any big game on safari is already a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but climbing Mount Kilimanjaro will make your trip that much more unforgettable. This escapade requires you to be fit, mentally and physically and will push your boundaries like never before. But it will all be worth it as you reach the summit and look down on Africa. This add-on can be demanding, strenuous and challenging and requires weeks of physical training. 

Here are 4 tips to help you start preparing to reach the level of fitness required to enjoy your Kili climb:

Physical Endurance: Depending on which route you take, you can be hiking for up to 15km a day. Prepare yourself for physical endurance so that you can train your body to maintain energy reserves for when you’re feeling tired. 

Try running/jogging, brisk walking, cycling and swimming or start by just taking the stairs at work. 

Cardio Exercise: This form of activity requires the body to use oxygen supplies to adequately meet energy demands. Build up your cardiovascular system with running, rowing, cycling, aerobics, jumping rope and walking to train your body to process oxygen in an efficient way while determining your target heart rate. 

Hiking: A Mount Kili climb is basically one very long hike. Try doing long hikes – preferably 5-hour-long ones back-to-back and wear in your new hiking boots to avoid blisters and swollen feet on your trip. 

Improve Mental Capacity: We can push our physical boundaries, but it is often the mental stamina that holds us back. Prepare yourself mentally up to 8 weeks before your trip to Tanzania as it is often your mental strength that will get you to the end of your journey. Being prepared mentally is what keeps you going and will get you to the summit. Try long-distance running twice or thrice a week two months before your departure. 

When to go

Travelling to Tanzania is good year-round. Whenever you go, you will be guaranteed to see amazing wildlife and witness surreal landscapes. However, if you’re adding a Kili climb to your itinerary, taking the season and weather into consideration can greatly benefit you. For example, peak-season can get crowded on the mountain, whereas off-peak may be more wet and cold, but fewer people on the trails. The summer season from December to March has temperatures ranging from a high of 28°C and an average low of 15°C. There is little rain and you can catch the migration in the southern Serengeti. April to June is the wet season and has heavy rain. During this time, the parks are fairly empty and wildlife numbers are at their highest. 

When hiking up Mount Kilimanjaro you have different climb options and four routes to choose from. Your service provider can take you on a group, private or charity climb starting from the Machame, Lemosho, Northern Circuit or Rongai route.  All routes vary in the number of days you spend on the mountain and where you start and finish your climb.  

Top 10 essentials for trekking Kilimanjaro

A strong (broken-in) pair of supportive, waterproof hiking boots. 

Trekking poles. 

Gaiters (can be hired too).  

A backpack of daily essentials. 

A duffle to carry 15kg (there are porters that can be hired to carry this bag). 

A down sleeping bag. 

Breathable, waterproof clothing and a down jacket. 

Garment essentials – fleece top, hat, gloves, scarf, breathable/thermal trousers, long top, fleece socks.  

Sunglasses (all seasons). 

Thermal underwear 

 

Practice walking/hiking with a packed backpack before you leave to make sure you are comfortable and can handle the load. 

Make sure you pack these essentials in your backpack in an easy-to-reach compartment:

Support bandages 

Sunscreen 

Moisturizing lotion

Lip balm 

Insect repellent 

Tissues

Wet wipes

Energy bars 

Water thermos and a 1L water bottle with a sucking tube 

A camera, torch and headlamp 

Don’t forget your money, passport, visa and other documentation.

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