Everything you need to know to conquer Kilimanjaro
Many active travelers have a desire to climb at least one supertall peak before they kick the bucket – if they aren’t able to do Everest, Kilimanjaro is usually their target. As one of the most accessible big mountains in the world, it is a popular choice – however, there are still a number of preparations which need to be made before one can set foot on its slopes.
Below, we’ll go into detail about the preparations necessary to make this dream a reality.
Start saving your nickels – you’ll need a few of them
Despite being one of the easiest super tall mountains to scale, climbing Kilimanjaro is not a walk in the park, physically or financially. Not counting the cost of airfare, transport, and hotels/hostels, the fee for climbing the mountain itself costs climbers around $800. Throw in expenses for porters, guides, food, and other considerations and you can end up spending as much as $5,000 to check this item off your bucket list.
Of course, the climb can be done cheaper, but with a lower cost comes discomfort – go too low, and you can end up with an inexperienced/scammy outfit which may put your life at risk.
Don’t get soaked (like, literally)
Despite being located just a few degrees latitude south of the equator, Mount Kilimanjaro has seasons – just not the ones you’re used to at home. This peak has a pair of brief wet seasons, with dry periods between them. If you want to climb Kilimanjaro without being soaked to the bone, you’ll want to avoid climbing in April, May, and November, as precipitation is at its greatest during these months.
Instead, scale the peak between January and March if you want to avoid crowds (it can get chilly, though), or between June and October if you want to climb during the warmest time of year.
Hit the cardio hard
Climbing one of the world’s tallest mountains will put a strain on your body like no feat you’ve attempted before. If you don’t run regularly, now would be a good time to start. A trek of this calibre is demanding for even athletic individuals, so if you don’t want to look like a fool within the first thousand feet, we suggest getting into serious shape. Before jumping on a plane to Tanzania, we also suggest getting in some practice climbs. By scaling a few legitimately challenging peaks in the Rockies or Alaska, you’ll then be ready for much of what Kilimanjaro will throw at you.
Get all the gear you’ll need for a successful climb
As you get into shape, start pulling together the gear you’ll need for your ascent. Note that much of the actual climbing gear will (or should) be supplied by your tour operator, but you’ll want to bring along things like sunscreen (the equatorial sun is unforgiving, especially higher up the mountain), warm clothes, and a sleeping bag rated for freezing temperatures. Feel free to bring along a basic first aid kit if you want, but know that your operator should also have more complicated medical supplies like defibrillators.
Don’t be in a rush to get to the top
Once you get into the rhythm of climbing, it can be hard to stop yourself. The higher you get, the more you need to fight this impulse, as going too high too fast can put you at risk for developing altitude sickness.
If your operator is experienced, they will pace your trip so you’ll have time to adjust to the lack of oxygen at higher elevations. Don’t get frustrated at the frequent stops – stop, take a deep breath (really deep, as you’ll need all the air you can get) and admire all the amazing scenery around you.