For many a trip to Tanzania is not complete without an attempt at climbing Kilimanjaro. The warm weather and fairly easy climbing make summiting attainable for anyone in reasonable shape. Some people are now combining their charitable giving with their interest in adventure travel. With this type of expedition, one signs on to do fundraising for a particular charity. The money raised subsidizes the cost of the trip and the balance of funds goes to the charity.
Climbing Kilimanjaro still requires preparation. It is the highest point in Africa and one needs to be prepared for five days of work to make the summit. Here are some expert tips for preparation.
Kilimanjaro does not require any specialty climbing equipment, but it is important to have proper clothing and footwear.
The summit temperatures are generally around -10C, but the lower base temps are warm, so you need appropriate outerwear. A good pair of hiking shoes is important as well as a warm sleeping bag. Most expedition companies will provide you with a checklist beforehand, so make sure you’ve reviewed everything before departing.
Fitness is important and to increase the success rate one should undertake a physical fitness program well in advance of arriving. Although one does not have to be in Olympic-calibre shape, five days of constant hiking takes its toll. It is also imperative that you break in hiking shoes before starting the journey.
It is important to be confident when tackling Kilimanjaro.
There are some difficult sections that can tax one mentally. In your preparation for the climb try and anticipate these situations during your training. Don’t shy away from training in bad weather or when you’re not motivated. Another way to be mentally prepared is to be sure you have followed all the recommended training provided. This will give you the confidence that you are fully prepared and ready to tackle the challenge.
On the climb you’ll be with others who can keep you motivated and the expedition leader will set a maintainable and sustainable pace. Summiting is a marathon, not a sprint, so trust your guide to provide good advice. You’ll be told to drink lots of water and liquids and this is one of the areas that cause people problems. Dehydration is a serious issue so plan to drink about 4 liters a day.
One thing your guide will explain is the concept of “walk high and sleep low.” This is a way to acclimate oneself to the altitude. In practice this means taking short hikes to higher altitudes then descending for the night. This is an important practice to avoid altitude sickness.
Another tip is to bring along hiking poles. Poles help transfer the load from one’s legs to the upper body. They also help with balance and are good for establishing a hiking rhythm. Train with poles so you’ll know how to best use them.
The last and most important tip is to enjoy the climb. Be sure to look around and take in the view. Summiting Kilimanjaro is a great accomplishment, but be sure you take away some great memories and enjoy the trip.