Our Professional Advise for a Successful Kilimanjaro Climb
Kilimanjaro is a strenuous adventure, but you don't have to be an elite athlete. Anyone in good health, with a reasonable degree of physical conditioning and a determined attitude can make it to the top. No climbing skills are required. Even the most challenging portions are still a hike (a steep hike, but a hike nonetheless.) No ropes or technical gear are involved.
The Best Kilimanjaro Training:
- Pretty much everyone is able to walk slowly. But few people are used to walking for many hours, several days in a row, as required when trekking up Kilimanjaro.
Do you know what it’s like to start a new job where all of a sudden you have to stand all day? Say, behind a counter? It’s not something that you need to be fit for. But it is something your body has to get used to. And the first days will be awful and you will be dead tired when you get home, and your legs will swell up and hurt…
You don’t need to be exceptionally fit, but you do need to get your body used to the particular demands of this hike. Otherwise the first days will be so tiring that you will have no energy left when it counts…
So, the best Kilimanjaro training is to simply walk.
Walk as often as you can and as much as you can. Wear the boots you will be wearing on the climb. (If they are newish then this is very important!) Wear the day pack that you intend to take.
If you’ve never done much hiking, start a few months before your departure date and start slowly. Look for nature trails, uneven ground, head for hills and mountains if there are any within your reach.
Only if this is something that you would enjoy, of course. Go to places that you would like to see anyway. Make your Kilimanjaro training enjoyable and you will be doing more of it.
Use the weekends to do full day hikes and if possible overnight hikes. You don’t have to log mega kilometers and you don’t have to walk fast. But you should be able to walk in hilly country for 6-8 hours, and then get up and do it again the next day.
If you can do that, and then return to the office on Monday feeling fine, then you are also fit enough to climb Kilimanjaro.
Your days on Kilimanjaro will be shorter but you will be affected by the altitude, so building up a bit of extra stamina sure won’t hurt!
Climbing to Uhuru Peak:
- While being physically capable certainly helps, climbing is about mental toughness — not just how physically fit you are or how much you trained.
- Stay positive!
- Having the right equipment makes the difficult trek a lot more conquerable.
- Go at your own pace. It is not a race or competition. POLÉ! POLÉ! (Slowly! Slowly!)
- On the second day, you will reach an altitude above the clouds. Clouds are cold and not as fluffy nor as fun as they appear from the warmth of the inside an airplane.
- Do take in the scenery, but don’t only focus on the end-goal in the distance. It is a tease to see the campsite ahead yet know you still have 4 hours remaining to arrival. Be like an elephant and focus on what is directly in front of you. Before you know it, you’ll reach your destination.
- The more days in the trek, the more time you have to acclimatize.
- Be prepared for climbing in extreme cold on summit night as temperatures can reach 0 degrees F (minus 18 C). There are ice glaciers at the top!
All About Clothing:
Did you know you go through five temperate climates in just a few days? Be ready with lots of layers and pack lightly for all seasons. Before leaving, test that you can actually wear your clothes over each other.
- Prepare to wear the same thing day after day and night after night. The air is thin and cold so you *probably* won’t sweat or smell like you normally would after a week without a shower at home.
- Don’t wear cotton! It does not dry at high altitudes and can chafe. Wear fabric that is breathable, synthetic, and moisture-wicking.
- Pack at least one complete hiking outfit, including a long sleeve shirt, hiking pants, underwear, hiking socks, and especially hiking boots. You can rent almost anything, but don’t want to risk blisters.
- Rent what you don’t need to own or schlep.
The Rest/Miscellaneous - But Important:
- -Be prepared not to shower for a week. Get used to wet wipe baths.
- -Bring an iPod, but (in my personal opinion) save your battery for summit night. Music makes the long night climb much easier. Keep it close to your body to use body heat to prevent it from freezing and dying.
- -Do not carry any water on the outside of your pack on summit night, it will freeze. Protect it with insulation or under clothing.
- -Bring a camera that fits in your hip pockets of the daypack. You won’t want to stop and dig through the daypack; you want easy access on the go.
- -Bring a journal and pen. It goes by in a blur and you’ll be grateful you documented your journey.
- -Bring Diamox with you, it is very helpful.