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1). Choose the Right Route for your Kilimanjaro Climb

The most important piece of advice I can give you is to have a minimum of 8 days on the mountain.  We find that the best route up the mountain is using the Lemosho Route over 8 days. After 40 Kilimanjaro climbs, I have deigned my own unique itinerary for the best safety and success.  One of the biggest problems on Kilimanjaro is people trying to go up the mountain way to quickly, not allowing themselves the necessary time to acclimatize to the low levels of oxygen.  I would never step foot on Kilimanjaro with less than a seven day trek and 8 days is best.

At 5,895m/19,341 feet, Kilimanjaro’s summit is at a high level of altitude and one not to be underestimated. The reason many people choose a shorter trek on Kilimanjaro is because of the costs associated with it.  For every extra day you spend on the mountain, the cost go up quite a bit. However, when you are signing up to an adventure like this, I would want to do everything possible to be successful and fully enjoy my time on the mountain.  If you do not reach your goal because you wanted to save a couple hundred dollars and only do a five day trip, it will cost you a lot more to come back to Tanzania to try again.  So, in my opinion, take the 8 day trip up the Lemosho Route. The Lemosho route will give you a safer and more enjoyable experience to high altitude.

Mt. Kilimanjaro
Shira Route
Rongai Route

2). Be Comfortable with Wilderness Travel

Mentally prepare for the journey ahead! Depending on your level of comfort with the outdoors, you may need to prepare yourself for life on the mountain. Hopefully if you are signing up to a trip like this, you are a lover of the outdoors and very comfortable with the mountain living!  The trip will include camping, bugs, dirt, baby wipe showers, and going to the toilet outdoors! If you are not used to rugged conditions, you will want to prepare yourself for what is to come.

All accommodation on our Kilimanjaro trips is camping.  Sleep is essential when you are on the mountain, so you need to be prepared for 6-8 nights of camping.  Showers are not available on the mountain, so the only way to keep you clean is to use baby wipes and a the bowl of warm water provided to you each day. You do need to prepare yourself for these things, as you do not want to arrive on the mountain and have higher expectations and be disappointed. We do provide chemical toilets on our climbs, and they will be set up in each camp.  However, when you are on the trail and have to go to the toilet, you will be using the great outdoors!

3). Do the Specific Training

Train, Train, Train. Kilimanjaro is considered a trekking peak, and you do not need any technical training to complete this climb, however that does not mean that you do not need ANY training. Kilimanjaro is a peak that is accessible for most reasonably fit individuals, but you do have to physically prepare your body if you want to fully enjoy your adventure.  Depending on your experience to date, your training will vary greatly.  If you are used to trekking and have a high level of fitness already, then your training will be very different if you are joining a trip without any experience or high levels of fitness. So please, GET IN TOUCH today to get the correct training for you!

We recommend that you spend at least four or five days a week, doing some sort of intense physical exercise.  This should be done for approximately six to eight months prior to your start date of your trek.  We recommend spending at least four days a week either walking up hill on a treadmill or on a stair-master (stair master is best) for one to two hours a day.  You will also want to build up to carrying 10-12 kilos (22 – 25 lbs) in a backpack on your back.  Doing this type of daily training sessions, along with one longer day a week out in the hills, is ideal. In your longer session in the hills, you will want to walk from 4 – 7 hours, going up and down hills with the weighted pack on. I cannot stress enough how important this is to your training.

If you do this type of training, building strength and endurance, you will be ready for the trip. If you do not have access to mountains or hills to train on, you can always add extra weight to your backpack and just do longer walks on the stair master in the gym. CONTACT US and we will help you prepare and train for this amazing adventure.

4). Have the Right Clothing and Gear

Having the right gear is essential for your Kilimanjaro climb.  We are not going to go through every piece of gear you need for the trip here. However, if you sign up to one of our trips, we will send you a complete kit list with examples of each item.  You can also view our packing video.  Here are some items that we feel need to be highlighted. First of all, your feet are one of the most important parts of the body to take care of when trekking.  Never skimp on footwear when you are going to be walking multiple hours a day, for eight days in a row.  Buy a sturdy and waterproof pair of trekking boots and make sure that you break them in before you leave for Tanzania.

Number two, invest in a good down jacket.  Remember, a good down jacket needs more down in it to make it warm.  Every brand and style is different and if you are questioning your down coat, make sure to ask the advice of a professional. Having a warm down jacket is going to be essential to your comfort levels on the trip. You will wear this jacket in the mornings and evenings throughout the trip.  The jacket is also essential for your summit night as it is always below freezing during this long summit night.

Number three, having both a water bladder (like a Camelbak) and two Nalgene style plastic bottles is very important.  Drinking water is essential in the mountains (See Tip #5) and having a bladder will help you to drink the amount of water you need.  If you have to constantly stop to get a bottle out of your bag, you will not be drinking enough. Having a Nalgene style bottle on the trip as well is very important.  You can use this during cold nights to have it filled with boiling water to help heat your sleeping bag.  The Nalgene bottle will also be used going up to the summit, where your bladder will freeze.

5). Hydration Is Critical for your Kilimanjaro Climb

Drink, Drink, Drink! Water is your best friend at altitude! Keeping yourself hydrated at altitude is extremely important.  Your body dehydrates much quicker at altitude. Therefore, you need to replenish your fluids and drink a lot more water than you may do back home. We recommend drinking anywhere from 4 to 5 liters a day when at altitude. If your follow this rule, you will combat altitude sickness and keep yourself feeling good throughout the trip!

Try and drink one liter of water before each day before you start trekking.  This will help to get the process started early in the day.  Then if you carry two liters of water in your pack with you and drink that before lunch.  You will be able to refill your bladder at lunch with two more liters and if you can drink that through the rest of the day, you have achieved your 5 liters!  This process of drinking five liters of water a day can be daunting to many, but it is essential to people’s success on Kilimanjaro.

6). Be Aware of the Signs of Altitude Sickness

There are a few signs to be aware of when going to high altitude.  This can be different for different people, however there are a few main signs of altitude sickness that we see.  Headaches, nausea, vomiting, upset stomach, lack of appetite and shortness of breath.  Some of these are more serious than others and some should be expected.  Traditionally, if you have three or more symptoms of altitude sickness, you should be descending to lower levels of altitude immediately.

The best way to avoid altitude sickness is to make sure you have chosen the right itinerary. Giving yourself adequate time to go to high altitude is imperative.  We recommend the 8 Day Lemosho Route up the mountain, as it gives you the best acclimatization process.  There are also a few other things you can do to assist in the acclimatization process.  You can take the drug Diamox, 125mg in the morning and 125mg in the afternoon, throughout your time on the mountain.  You should seek medical advice before taking any medication and make sure your doctor is comfortable with you taking this. There are some alternatives to taking diamox.  You can also take Ibuprofen at altitude.  Ibuprofen is the proven medication to use at altitude as it is an anti-inflammatory.  It releases swelling and pressure which is main reason for headaches.

It is almost inevitable that you will get some sort of headache at some stage on the trip.  Learning how to manage these headaches, without letting them get worse, or ruining your trip, is very important. One of the best ways to combat these headaches is by listening to the advice of Tip #5, stay hydrated.  Always drink plenty of water while in the mountains.  One of the greatest causes of headaches in the mountains is due to dehydration, so drinking water can greatly help to eliminate or lessen your headaches.

7). Keeping a Slow and Steady Pace is Essential

Keeping the correct pace and heart rates at altitude is essential.  Slow and steady wins the race. When taking on a challenge like Kilimanjaro, you have to remember that it is a marathon, not a sprint.  Acclimatization to the low levels of oxygen in the mountains requires you to take your time, to slowly get your body used to lack of oxygen.  This is absolutely key to your success on the mountain. Your goal each day should be to get from point A to point B, using as little amount of energy as possible.  The summit night on Kilimanjaro is extremely difficult, any you will need every bit of energy you can muster up to complete it!  So, lower on the trail, you don’t want to waste this valuable energy.

We have five guides and assistant guides in a group of ten trekkers on Kilimanjaro.  On the summit night, we have one to one support going up.  Our team is there to make sure you are safe and successful and will also set the pace.  One guide will always be at the front of the line, managing the pace.  Nobody is allowed to go faster than the pace set out by our team.  After years of experience, we have set a pace on our trips that gives everyone the chance to be safe and successful in reaching the summit.  Especially on the summit night, the only thing you will want to focus on is putting one foot in front of the other and breathing!  Every breath you take should be deep, in from the nose and out from the mouth, to supply your body the most efficient levels of oxygen.

8). Bring Some Snacks for the Summit Night

The food we provide on our Kilimanjaro trips is second to none!  We have our own chef and sous chef on each trip and an entire kitchen crew to make sure that you are being served fresh and delicious meals.  You will have three, three course meals a day on the mountain and you will definitely be spoiled for choice!  You can see a sample of what you will eat on the mountain HERE. Even though you will be provided more than enough food each day, you will also want to have a few special treats with you for the summit night.

Anything you bring for the summit night needs to be in bite-sized pieces and not in a wrapper.  If you want to bring an energy bar, make sure that you have cut it up in small pieces and put it in a small plastic baggie. Energy chews, chocolate bars, protein bars and trail mix are some of the most popular items to bring with you.  You will keep this small baggie in a pocket in your down jacket during the summit night, close to your body.  This is so that the items do not totally freeze during the cold night. We will stop every hour on the hour for a short break during the summit night, and you will want to have easy access to the snacks to have a quick energy bite at that time.

9). Keep Covered Up From The Powerful Sun

The higher you go up in altitude, the lower the levels of UV Protection you are getting. Some days on Kilimanjaro, the sun can be brutal, giving you solar radiation from its powerful rays. Staying out of the sun is not only good for minimizing those pesky wrinkles and avoiding skin cancer, but it can also improve your chance of safely and successfully reaching the summit.  When you get sunburned you become dehydrated. Keeping yourself hydrated is essential as being dehydrated can cause all sorts of problems on the mountain.

When you are on the trail, there might not be cover from the sun. However, you need to take as much care as possible to minimize your sun exposure.  The first way to protect yourself if by applying a factor 50 sunblock first thing in the mourning, and reapplying throughout the day.  The mountain is not the place to top up that holiday tan you are hoping to bring back home. Another way to protect yourself from the sun is to always wear a sun hat, long sleeves, sunglasses and pants. Covering up from the sun will save you from the sun and hopefully help to avoid those pesky altitude headaches.

10). Come Prepared For The Adventure Of a Lifetime

Remember you are on holidays, enjoy yourself! The most important thing to remember is that you are on vacation, so make sure you relax, have an open mind, and enjoy yourself!  There is always a lot of spare time when on a trekking trip like Kilimanjaro.  You generally walk anywhere from 4-6 hours a day, with the exception of summit day which is 14 approximately hours. When you arrive in to camp each day, you will have plenty of time to relax, rest, and have a laugh with your fellow trekkers.  It is important to have this time throughout your journey. Staying positive and relaxed, instead of nervous and tense is very important.

Also, keep in mind that you are entering a very different environment than you may be used to when going to Tanzania. Things may not be done in the same manner as you may be used to at home.  This does not mean that things are done wrong there, however they may be different. You must always keep an open mind and remember the fact that there will be cultural differences along the way.  It is these unique experiences that make the journey so special!


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