Are you planning to climb Mount Kilimanjaro? Then, there are essential things to know before climbing Africa’s highest peak.
Mount Kilimanjaro is located in Tanzania, having volcanic cones—Kibo, Mawenzi, and Shira. It’s the highest free-standing mountain in the world, with an elevation of 5,895 meters above sea level.
So, what are the essential things to know before climbing Kilimanjaro? Here are the answers:
1. It's best to climb during the dry season
Although Mount Kilimanjaro is climbable all year round, it’s still best to ascend the Mountain during the dry season. This way, you’ll have the best view of Kilimanjaro and have a much smoother trek upwards.
Ideally, it’s best to climb between January to February or between June and October. During these months, you’ll experience good weather conditions and a much more comfortable hike to the summit.
As much as possible, avoid the months of March (end of the month) through May, and November are the wettest months of Kilimanjaro.
But, if you’re a seasoned climber, you can take risks in climbing the muddy trails of Kilimanjaro. However, make sure to be extra careful when gambling with the weather.
2. Book with a local KPAPS certified tour operator: It is your best option
When you book for your Kilimanjaro tour, it’s best to book with a local tour operator. This way, you’ll be supporting the local guides and the country’s economy, as well as protecting the ecology of the place.
When you go through a KPAP certified tour operator, you ensure that all porters are treated fairly and respectfully. Kilimanjaro porters are vital for a successful climb, and they will be your physical support to the summit, so it only makes sense to support them in any way that you can.
Many operators offer an all-inclusive tour having the following inclusions:
- porter services
Moreover, if you want to experience a safari, you can go through Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater with peace of mind. Easy Travel is KPAP certified and has been operating within the community of Tanzania and its landscapes for over 35 years.
3. Choose the route you’re most comfortable with
Another thing you must know is the best route to trek for your level of expertise and fitness. Find the trail that you’re comfortable with and want to climb the most.
On Kilimanjaro, there are seven established routes for the climb—the Marangu Route, Machame Route, Lemosho Route, Shira, Rongai, Northern Circuit, and Umbwe.
If you’re a novice climber, you may opt for the Marangu Route, the quickest, cheapest, and most comfortable route. This route takes up five to six days.
Meanwhile, the Machame Route charges up the southern side of the peak and the climb can take up to six to seven days. This route is tough-going, so it’s much better for those who have climbing experience or anyone who’s up for some challenges along the way.
Furthermore, the Lemosho Route offers scenic views up to the west ridge that can last six to nine days of climb. However, if you’re not confident with your altitude performance, it’s best to book longer tours.
This provides better acclimatization than the shorter ones and has a higher success rate.
4. It's not a technical climb, It’s a hike
One misconception about climbing Kilimanjaro is that it’s a technical climb, but it’s a hike.
Thus, climbing Kilimanjaro doesn’t require any technical skills. It’s known as a ‘walk up’ Mountain because you only need to walk up to reach the peak.
You won’t be needing any harnesses, ice axes, or ropes since there’s no danger of falling off a cliff. In addition, there are no rocks on the trails requiring you to be talented in climbing.
However, one must be physically fit to trek the highest free-standing mountain in the world.
5. The country is warm, but the mountain is cold
Although Africa is located near the equator, it doesn’t mean that Kilimanjaro will be hot. As soon as you gain elevation, the temperature drops, and you’ll need layers of clothing meant for cold weather to keep yourself warm.
During the day, the climb could be warm due to the sun’s brightness, so a layer of clothes might be comfortable. However, as you climb higher, the temperature gets low, requiring you to wear layers of clothes and a knitted hat.
Temperatures at night can fall below freezing point, so it’s best to bring the right gear and clothing for your Kilimanjaro climb.
6. You’ll have a support team
Climbing the Mountain won’t be too tedious for you as you’ll have a support team. You’ll have a guide, cook, and a porter to accompany you on the trek and do all the heavy work, such as:
- setting up the tent
- taking down the tent
- cook food
- fetch water
- clean the campsite
Thus, you won’t have to use your energy in doing these labours and focus more on acclimatizing to the altitude and relishing the hike.
7. Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is serious
The higher the elevation, the thinner the air gets. This is the reason why most climbers experience acute mountain sickness (AMS). It’s the main reason why most people fail to reach the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro.
AMS occurs when the human body adjusts to the lower oxygen levels at high elevations. This process is known as acclimatization, creating biological responses to resist oxygen deficiency.
Symptoms of AMS typically starts with
- light headache
However, these symptoms will start to disappear as soon as your body acclimatizes to the current elevation. As long as you notice your body is recovering in such a manner, it’s a good sign of adapting well to the scarcity of oxygen. Thus, there’s no need for concern. However, if the symptoms start to progress, you need to get immediate medical attention.
There are two types of severe AMS—High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) and High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE), which can cause untimely death through lungs and brain bleeding.
However, if you tour with a reliable and award-winning tour operator like Easy Travel, you won’t be put at risk as they’ve prepared everything ahead of time. Your health will be monitored to ensure that your well-being isn’t declining and that you are fit enough to continue climbing the peak of Kilimanjaro.
8. No worries! There’s a toilet where you can handle your business
One of the many worries of climbers is going to the toilet during their stay at the mountain. To give you ease of mind over this concern, there are so-called ‘long drop’ toilets on the hill.
These ‘long drop’ toilets are simply dug holes into the ground with a wooden covering. You’ll be squatting over the opening, which could be disgusting or filthy for you.
Thus, it’s best to spend a little extra on a private toilet tent to ensure privacy and cleanliness.
9. No Wi-Fi and electricity on mount Kilimanjaro
Another thing you need to know before climbing Kilimanjaro is that there’s no WIFI and electricity on the mountain. So, if you’re not up for these things, it’s best not to push through with the climb.
However, if you’re up for the adventure, you’ll never regret this, as it can be a life-changing experience for you. You may use this time to take a break from your noisy and hectic schedule and use this as an opportunity to do some reflection.
10. The final ascent is tough but worth it
The final ascent is relatively challenging for everyone compared to the usual routine. This is because you’ll have to ascend in the middle of the night, which means you’ll be sleep-deprived while trekking the dark, rocky, and cold path.
In addition, you can’t see where you’re headed as it’s the middle of the night. All you can see is the illumination of headlamps that light up a few steps in front.
You may also see the headlamps of people who have gone ahead far above, which could make you feel disheartened by how far you still need to go. However, once you’ve reached the top, all your struggles will be compensated with the beautiful view from the top and the pride of successfully climbing Africa’s highest peak.
So there you have it: 10 must-knows before your climb up the highest mountain in Africa and the tallest freestanding mountain on the planet. There is so much beauty to be seen along the journey, and it is a life-changing climb for sure. If you are planning to ascend the great Kilimanjaro, we recommend that you check out our other blogs on the subject. If you need advice or help planning your dream climb, Easy Travel is here to help you plan every step of the way.