When you get a chance to experience magnificent adventures like trekking an iconic mountain, it is normal to want to make sure you’re ready for it. So what if you’re climbing Mount Kilimanjaro soon? How do you prepare for that upcoming adventure? We understand it can be daunting, and possibly overwhelming but fret not – here’s your step by step guide in preparing to climb Kilimanjaro.
1: Train for the trek
Climbing Kilimanjaro doesn’t necessarily require you to be exceptionally fit, but you do need to get your body used to the particular demands of this hike. This also helps maximize your chances of success in reaching Uhuru, the highest point in Kilimanjaro.
Yes, some people manage to get there without training. Either they already have a good base of fitness level, or they’re just really very lucky to suffer no altitude concerns.
So how do you train? No need for stringent gym exercises! Just do cardio workouts to strengthen your cardiovascular system, then also add some core workouts because you would need abdominal strength. Sit-ups, planks, yoga poses can help with this. This enhances your posture which is an essential factor to encourage good breathing, muscle control and also to avoid back and shoulder strain.
Another good practice is to carry some weight on your back when walking or hiking. You see, going up the mountain for days means you get to carry a load on your back. While porters are available for a cost, you will still carry a few things (or more). This could greatly affect your trek so it’s better if you’re ready to carry some load when you hike up that mountain.
2: Understand the importance of acclimatization
Mountaineers and even beginner climbers are surely familiar with this. But, in case you are still unfamiliar with acclimatization and altitude problems, it’s always apt to know these things before your trek.
Altitude sickness typically occurs when a person reaches an altitude of 2,400 meters or 8,000 feet above sea level, where the air is thinner and it’s harder for your body to get the oxygen it needs. With an altitude of 5,895 meters, some symptoms of altitude sickness may be experienced at around 3,000 meters when trekking Kili.
Hence, it is really advisable not to climb too fast, and maintain a “pole pole” (pole in Swahili means slow) pace. this list allows proper acclimatization (letting your body gets adjusted to the pressure at the higher altitude) and thus, a higher chance of getting to the top.
While some people are genetically blessed to be able to acclimatize well, most people are not. Generally, the human body can only tolerate around 1000 feet in a day. Anything more than that can cause altitude sickness.
Do you need to practice acclimatizing? Not necessarily but that’s always a great idea. If you have time, you can trek mountains near your area. It doesn’t have to be a super high peak. Just anything that can take you to higher places and allow your body to experience greater heights.
3: Know what to bring and what not to bring
Trekking mountains involve some gears and proper attire, of course. The good thing about Mount Kilimanjaro is, even though it’s one of the Seven Summits of the World, it requires no special climbing paraphernalia. But, it’s also important to know what to bring and what NOT to bring. You don’t want to bring too much, and you certainly don’t want to bring less than what you will need in the mountain.
Here are the important things you need:
- A reliable hiking boots
- Base layers
- Upper layers
- Short- and long-sleeved trekking shirts
- Hiking trousers
- Fleece jacket
- Trekking pants
- Socks and underwear
- Lightweight rain gear
- Warm gloves/mitts
- Trekking pole (opt)
- Waterproof duffle bag
- Insulated Sleeping Mat
- Large-volume water bottle
- Baby wipes/tissue
- Blister plasters
- General medications
- Energy bars
4: Know how to get there
Of course, you should know how to get to Kilimanjaro National Park where Mount Kilimanjaro sits. We all know it’s in Tanzania, but how do we really get there?
Thanks to Tanzania’s advancing infrastructure, Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) in Arusha welcomes several flights a day from different parts of the world. So, you can either catch a flight to JRO in Arusha, or you can fly to Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR) in Dar es Salaam or even in Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) in Nairobi, Kenya and then get on a charter flight to JRO or even straight to Kilimanjaro National Park.
From Arusha, Kilimanjaro National Park is about 2-3 hours drive away or 30 minutes via a charter plane.
5: Familiarize the different routes
There are 7 established routes up the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. To learn more about each route, you can read Mount Kilimanjaro Routes.
6: Ready your entry requirements
What do you need to enter Tanzania?
- A passport valid for at least six months, with at least 2 blank pages upon arrival in Tanzania
- A valid visa
Refer to their official website for more information on this.
With all these ticked off your list, you’re now ready to conquer Africa’s highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro. Check out these treks to up your African adventure!