Top 8 things I wish I knew before climbing mount Kilimanjaro?

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    Climbing mount Kilimanjaro is an achievement for many trekkers and nature lovers. It’s a pride for many because it can be pretty challenging to reach the peak due to various elements such as harsh weather and altitude sickness.

    The mountain has a towering height of 19,341 feet, so it’ll take a substantial amount of work to overcome significant odds in the way. In fact, there’s a 50% fail rate in climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.

    Before you climb and experience mount Kilimanjaro: Know these things

    Mount kilimanjaro

    If you’re planning to climb the highest mountain in Africa, you need to be in good health and have strong stamina. Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro isn’t for the faint-hearted and weak, so you need to prepare yourself for this endeavor.

    It would be best if you also equip yourself with the right equipment and wear the appropriate clothing. This way, the climb will be less complex and memorable.

    However, never let these odds stop you from reaching the top and experiencing the beauty you’ll only witness from the summit! If there are things I wish I knew before hiking Mount Kilimanjaro, these are the following:

    1. Climbing mount Kilimanjaro is not as complex as you think

    Tanzania - is not as complex as you think - top 8 things i wish i knew before climbing mount kilimanjaro?

    Many people are now venturing to climb the highest mountain in Africa: Mount Kilimanjaro. Although the term “highest mountain” can be daunting to hear, it’s not as technical or complex as the other summits, requiring a lot of training and preparation.

    With a few months of thorough Training for Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, hikers ages 12 to 70 years old can be prepared to hike Africa’s highest summit. However, one must have the stamina and strength to reach the top.

    2. Prepare to be cold and wet in mount Kilimanjaro

    Tanzania - prepare to be cold and wet - top 8 things i wish i knew before climbing mount kilimanjaro?

    Mount Kilimanjaro is settled near the Equator. Thus, it experiences both wet and dry seasons rather than summer and winter. There could be rain along the way and could be extra cold when you’re close to 20,000 feet.

    Thus, it would be best to wear extra layers of clothes (preferably a fleece top for extra warmth), socks, and thermals. A warm hat would also be an additional help to keep you warm somehow.

    Given the weather conditions, the best time to climb Kilimanjaro is January to March and June to October. Remember to pack the right gear, so you can stay warm and dry when rain and cold arrives.

    3. Pack the right gear & other essentials before heading to mount Kilimanjaro

    Gear for climbing

    Packing the right gear before heading out to your Kilimanjaro adventure is a must. The camp doesn’t have any electricity, so it’s best to come prepared for low-light situations.

    Bring a headlamp with you to help light up the path in front as well as the following things:

    • Insulated Trekking Pants
    • Long Sleeve Hiking Shirts
    • Pairs of Hiking Trousers
    • Top Base Layer
    • Bottom Base Layer
    • Pairs of Underwear
    • Short Sleeve
    • Insulated Winter Jacket
    • Polartec Fleece Jacket

    For equipment and other essentials, it would be helpful to have the following:

    • Gloves
    • Daypack bag
    • Waterproof duffle bag
    • Sleeping bag
    • Trekking poles
    • Water bladder
    • Neck-gaiter or scarf
    • Warm hat
    • Sun hat
    • Headlamp
    • Sunglasses
    • Lightweight gloves
    • Warm gloves or mittens
    • Trekking boats
    • Trekking shoes
    • Socks
    • Gaiters
    • Extra batteries

    Put your water, binoculars, sunglasses, camera, rain pants, and jackets in your daypack bag. Make sure to wear lightweight and quick-dry clothing and avoid wearing cotton as it absorbs wet and doesn’t allow moisture to escape.

    4. Expect sponge baths, squat toilets, and huts on mount Kilimanjaro

    Tanzania - sponge bath - top 8 things i wish i knew before climbing mount kilimanjaro?

    When you decide to take the challenge of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, expect sponge baths, squat toilets, and staying in tents or huts.

    5. Go slow and make sure you stay hydrated on mount Kilimanjaro

    Tanzania - go slow - top 8 things i wish i knew before climbing mount kilimanjaro?

    When you climb, go slow as it is essential to pace yourself in a 10,000 to 20,000 feet climb. This will give more oxygen to your body and help you adjust better.

    It is also vital to drink enough water to thrive on the summit. So, don’t forget to bring a full bottle of water in your daypack bag with some healthy snacks to prevent altitude sickness.

    6. Prevent Altitude Sickness (AMS) on mount Kilimanjaro

    Tanzania - prevent altitude sickness - top 8 things i wish i knew before climbing mount kilimanjaro?

    Climbing Kilimanjaro is not an easy feat. The struggle is real when you climb up the mountain. When you reach above 10,000 feet, you may experience headaches, tiredness, as well as a shortage of breath.

    Thus, it would be best to consult your doctor before heading out to Kilimanjaro. Your doctor may recommend taking medicine that prevents altitude sickness like Diamox before you climb up.

    The said medicine helps manage altitude sickness, but make sure to talk to your doctor before taking it. 

    7. Take the Marangu 'Coca-Cola' route of mount Kilimanjaro

    Tanzania - marangu route - top 8 things i wish i knew before climbing mount kilimanjaro?

    There are seven routes to choose from when you go up Kilimanjaro. However, the Marangu Route is the only route with huts and has the shortest number of days to arrive on the mountain.

    It’s also the oldest, best-established route on Kilimanjaro, offering dormitory-style huts accommodations in place of camping. There are 120 bunk beds at Horombo Hut and 60 bunk beds at Mandara and Kibo Huts.

    The Marangu route also has the highest Success Rate of Kilimanjaro Routes. However, you may also opt for the picturesque Machame Camping Route if you’re up for a bit of adventure. 

    8. The climb to the top is harsh, but worth it!

    Tanzania - climb to top is harsh - top 8 things i wish i knew before climbing mount kilimanjaro?

    The climb to the top is long and potentially harsh but not too difficult. As you climb Mount Kilimanjaro, you may go through five varied climatic zones, such as the following:

    • Alpine Forest
    • Highland Desert
    • Arctic Tundra
    • Heather & Moorland
    • Savannah & Jungle

    The Savannah & Jungle, Heather & Moorland, and the Alpine Forest are more picturesque and lovely than the Arctic Tundra and Highland Desert—they’re also not as hard as the last two. When you’re at the Highland Desert (15,000 feet), the air gets thinner, colder and the terrain gets steeper.

    But, on the last day of the climb, it could be the most memorable day of your life as you cross the side of the volcano. You’ll be climbing Gilman’s peak, which is about a 4 to 6-hour climb, then to Uhuru Peak, which is the actual summit with an altitude of 19,341 feet.

    While climbing the peak, you’ll also see various amazing sights such as the following:

    • Zebra rock
    • Dendrosenecio Kilimanjaro Plants
    • Colobus monkeys
    • Bus crash site
    • The plane crash site
    • White-necked ravens
    • The lava tower
    • Mawenzi

    However, these aren’t the only sights you can see on your way up Mount Kilimanjaro.

    To wrap it up

    While the climb may seem challenging, it really isn’t a technical climb. With the right amount of fitness training, you should have nothing to worry about when attempting to climb Kilimanjaro. However, the climb won’t be your biggest challenge, so make sure that you remain hydrated, warm, and comfortable up the mountain. Nobody likes to sponge bath, but it’ll make the experience more surreal, that’s for sure! If you are looking for any more advice from the Kilimanjaro professionals, contact Easy Travel today and we can make sure your needs are taken care of.

    Musaddiq Gulamhussein - Owner - Easy Travel Tanzania

    About the author: Musaddiq

    Meet Musaddiq Gulamhussein, owner of Easy Travel Tanzania, a tour company creating life-changing safari experiences for over 35 years. Musaddiq has explored Tanzania, developing a deep understanding of the local cultures and traditions. Follow his journey and gain insights into the African Safari experience through Easy Travel's social media and blog.

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