It’s the challenge of a lifetime. Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is a task that the rare few will complete in their lives, and an incredible journey of challenge and perseverance. Other than a lot of physical and mental strength, we’re going to look at what it takes to scale Africa’s tallest mountain.
From the moment you decide to attempt it, right up to the incredible last step onto the summit, here’s how to conquer Kilimanjaro.
The first thing to do is get a tour operator. You can’t climb it on your own; organised treks are a great way to ensure you take the best routes, you’re safe, and you enjoy the amazing experience that climbing the roof of Africa will bring. You can book in advance to make sure you get the best conditions for the climb. From January to March and September to October is ‘high’ season, when the weather will be perfect for your ascent.
Plenty of homework is needed though, and if you take one thing from this section, it’s that you shouldn’t go with just anyone. There are a lot of ‘cowboy’ operators that look cheaper, but they cut corners and costs when it comes to your safety. There is nothing more important than your health. To make sure that you don’t suffer, get a well-established professional operator. This is a once in a lifetime experience, don’t make it your last!
Conquering Mount Kilimanjaro is a great test
Kilimanjaro isn’t to be taken lightly; nobody could just walk up the mountain without any preparation first. Unless you’re extremely physically active, you need to get plenty of hiking and walking done to prep your body for the long mountain climb. Another great tip in this ‘how to’ is to do all of the above, with weights.
You’re not going to head up the mountain without any gear, so start with a light backpack, and fill it with bottles of water over a few weeks until you can manage 10-15kg on your back. This will give you a decent enough run-up to the trek; the last thing you need is a first day collapse because you didn’t do any training!
As well as the right training, you need to remember that you’re embarking on a potentially hazardous journey. Should any accidents happen here is what you need to know:
Firstly you need to rest assured that your route guides and team have the proper provisions with them; they should be equipped with first aid equipment, water, food, and radio communication to get in touch with base camp. Any good tour company will be more than capable of looking after you.
Secondly, book in a medical examination before you leave. Give it enough time before so that if you do need to have another check-up, or any feedback requires some action, you have a few weeks to make sure you’re ship-shape.
Going with a good team is vital
Lastly, it is absolutely essential that you have medical insurance as well as travel insurance. Any hiker or climber with experience will tell you that it is vital for a journey, especially of a Kilimanjaro magnitude!
Finally, we move onto your kit list. Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is all about being ready for it, so what do you need in your luggage before the big climb? Packing light is an absolute must. Although this seems like common sense, you might be surprised at heavy optional items that still make it up the mountain. It might be possible, but it won’t make your life easier.
Since you’re ascending a great deal, make sure you’re prepped for different altitudes and temperatures. Sickness tablets and altitude pills are great to help you on the way, and choosing a route that spans for 6 days or more is a great way to make sure you acclimatise gently. You’ll need to drink around 4-5 litres of water each day, too. Lastly, bring a camera – it’s a memory you’ll want to keep and show off!
The last thing to do is book yourself in with the team for a celebratory drink. Climbing the African giant is no small feat, and you will be among a tiny percentage of the population when you set foot on the summit. Looking out from the peak over the country’s sprawling landscape, all the hard work and training will have been worth it. Now you know how to do it, all that’s left for you to do is book yourself in, and conquer Kilimanjaro!
Image credits: Koen Muurling and Gib’s page