MOUNT KILIMANJARO PREPARATION

Mount Kilimanjaro Preparation
Although no technical equipment or previous climbing experience is needed to conquer Mount Kilimanjaro, it’s still important to prepare yourself to make your journey to the Roof of Africa as enjoyable as possible. Below we have some tips and information that should help you prepare for your upcoming climb.

 

What is the best way to increase my chance of making it to the top, during the trip?
Avoiding altitude sickness is key. Do this by walking slowly. Drink lots of water and eat enough food. Go on all optional acclimatization hikes. Consider taking Diamox. Also prevent other illnesses by disinfecting your hands after every time you use the bathroom and before any meals.

 

When is the best time to climb?
Mt. Kilimanjaro can be climbed all year around, with each month providing different spectacular views of the surrounding region. Generally, the low season tends to be from March to June due to poor weather conditions, with things picking up again from July  to  September for the peak season. Below is an overview of what to expect throughout the year:

  • December -February
    • Regarded by some as the best time to climb
    • Favourable  weather conditions
    • Good visibility from the summit

  • March – June (low season)
    • Weather can be rainy
    • Despite being wetter, it is not cooler
    • Visibility is good
       
  • July – August (high season)
    • These months see a drop in temperature
    • Usually no rain
    • Busier season, seeing more groups on the mountain
       
  • September – November
    • Weather is fair
    • Generally little rain
    • Fewer groups on the mountain
       


Which route should I take?
There are several routes to choose from, taking anything from 5 to 10 days depending on your abilities, budget and time. These are:

  • Machame (6 or 7 days)
  • Marangu (5 or 6 days)
  • Rongai (6 or 7 days)
  • Umbwe (6 days)
  • Lemosho (7 to 8 days)
  • Shira (6 to 7 days)
  • Northern Circuit (9 to 10 days)

We usually recommend both the 7 Day Machame and 8 Day Lemosho routes as good options for climbers of all abilities. Not only are these routes known for being incredibly scenic, they also both have very high success rates as they allow your body to adjust to the altitude over several days.

 

How fit do I need to be?
People of all fitness abilities can climb Mount Kilimanjaro. However, we would always suggest that the more you train and exercise before the climb, the more you are likely to enjoy it. A good level of fitness is definitely recommended due to the high altitude, basic facilities and rough terrain.

Don’t forget that you will be trekking for a number of days in succession and will

experience  various climate zones along the way that will greatly impact the body. The healthier  and physically fit you are, the easier it will be to deal with these extremes.  The best training you can do for a Mt. Kilimanjaro climb is walking as often as you can  and as much as you can. This is also a good opportunity to wear in the boots you plan touse for the climb and to also practice walking with a daypack weighing approximately 5 to 8 kilos. If you have not done much hiking, start a few months before your climb and build up the kilometres slowly.

 

What gear do I need for my climb?
There is a variety of technical clothing and equipment you will need for your climb as shown blow;

Technical Clothing
1 – Waterproof Jacket, breathable with hood
1 – Insulated Jacket, synthetic or down
1 – Soft Jacket, fleece or soft-shell
2 – Long Sleeve Shirt, light-weight, moisture-wicking fabric
1 – Short Sleeve Shirt, light-weight, moisture-wicking fabric
1 – Waterproof Pants, breathable (side-zipper recommended)
2 – Hiking Pants (convertible to shorts recommended)
1 – Fleece Pants
1 – Shorts (optional)
1 – Long Underwear (moisture-wicking fabric recommended)
3 – Underwear, briefs (moisture-wicking fabric recommended)
2 – Sport Bra (women)

  

Headwear
1 – Brimmed Hat, for sun protection
1 – Knit Hat, for warmth
1 – Balaclava, for face coverage (optional)
1 – Bandana (optional)

 

Handwear
1 – Gloves, warm (waterproof recommended)
1 – Glove Liners, thin, synthetic, worn under gloves for added warmth (optional)

 

Footwear
1 – Hiking Boots, warm, waterproof, broken-in, with spare laces
1 – Gym Shoes, to wear at camp (optional)
3 – Socks, thick, wool or synthetic
3 – Sock Liners, tight, thin, synthetic, worn under socks to prevent blisters (optional)
1 – Gaiters, waterproof (optional)

Accessories
1 – Sunglasses or Goggles
1 – Backpack Cover, waterproof (optional)
1 – Poncho, during rainy season (optional)
1 – Water Bottle (Nalgene, 32 oz. recommended

1 – Water Bladder, Camelbak type (recommended)
1 – Towel, lightweight, quick-dry (optional)
Stuff Sacks or Plastic Bags, various sizes, to keep gear dry and separate

 

Equipment
1 – Sleeping Bag, warm, four seasons
1 – Sleeping Bag Liner, for added warmth (optional)
1 – Trekking Poles (recommended)
1 – Head lamp, with extra batteries
1 – Duffel bag, (waterproof recommended) for porters to carry your equipment.
1 – Daypack, for you to carry your personal gear


Other

Toiletries
Prescriptions
Sunscreen
Lip Balm
Insect Repellent, containing DEET

 

How much of my gear can my porter carry for me?

The weight limit is 20kgs .The sleeping bag is included in the limit. Porters will carry your duffel bag in a waterproof bag.


How much should my day pack weigh?
Try to keep it under 20 lbs. In fact, try to keep all of your belongings to under 40lbs.


How do I use the bathroom on the mountain?
Each campsite has public “long drop” toilets. If you need to use the bathroom on the trail, find a spot behind a tree or rock. We recommend bringing pee bottles so that you do not have to leave your tent multiple times during the night to urinate. Also we do arrange private toilet tent, which contains a plastic toilet for extra charges $ 70 if requested

 

How do I shower on the mountain?
You don’t. You can use wet wipes if you like to towel off. We also provide wash bins with soap for you to wash your hands and face.

 

What safety measures are taken by the staff?
Our guides are highly experienced to manage altitude sickness, which is the biggest obstacle on the mountain. They are certified Wilderness First Responders. They conduct twice daily health checks to measure your oxygen saturation and pulse. A rescue plan is in place in the event of an emergency. Bottled oxygen, Ox-meter and a first aid kit are carried on every climb.

 

Is it possible to prevent altitude sickness?
If you are thinking about climbing Kilimanjaro you would have probably already heard of the term altitude sickness, which is caused by the body not adapting fast enough to the reduced level of oxygen in the air, at an increased height.

There is no guessing whether or not you will suffer from altitude sickness. Even the fittest and healthiest of trekkers can still experience it. However, there are some of things you can do which may reduce your chances of getting it:

  • Walk “pole, pole” (slowly, slowly) as this allows your body more time to acclimatise
  • Drink 3 to 4 litres of water per day
  • Choose a longer route. We usually advise at least 6 days; however 7 or 8 days is even better for acclimatization

Taking Diamox can also assist in altitude acclimatization. This drug will vastly decrease your problems with the altitude by speeding the acclimatization process.

We recommend taking a dose of 125 mg twice a day, however please check this with your doctor before leaving home. You should start two days before your climb to see if you have any adverse effects to the drug. Alternatively, you can try taking some before you leave home to test them out. If you have any adverse effects (diarrhea is one of them), you should discontinue using it.

We have seen a significant decrease in altitude problems and a greater summit success rate amongst those taking  Diamox. This is a prescription drug in USA, Canada, Europe and most western countries. We do not carry this in our medical kits therefore you need to bring your own.

 

What happens if I get altitude sickness?
During your Kilimanjaro climb, safety is our number one priority. Our guides are fantastic at watching your symptoms and can help you assess whether it is altitude sickness, or just tiredness or a headache that you are suffering from. They have  Wilderness First Responders Medical Training, which is the highest available training, specialising in emergency situations within remote settings. Should you have any pre-existing medical conditions it is extremely important that you discuss this with Kili Bike  Adventures at time of booking and again with your head guide upon arrival.

When on the mountain your head guide will keep track of all medication you are taking and how you are feeling hour by hour. Should your guide decide that it is necessary for you to descend due to altitude related illness, it is essential that you listen to and follow their advice, as it will only ever be in the interests of your health and safety.

 

What visas and vaccinations do I need?
Foreign nationals require a tourist visa to enter Tanzania.

For this you must have at least six months validity remaining on your passport.

This can be purchased easily at the airport on entry at a cost of $100 USD cash for Americancitizens and $50 USD for all  others. You can apply for this in your home country; however, this is sometimes more expensive.

Please seek advice from your medical centre or doctor’s surgery regarding vaccinations and malaria prophylaxis. You may be required to show a Yellow Fever Certificate at the airport when entering Tanzania. Please ensure that you have had this vaccination and remember to bring the certificate with you.

 

Do I need travel insurance?
As with any overseas travel it is recommended that you take out travel insurance.

Please check the fine print of your policy to make sure it covers your Kilimanjaro climb. Your climb price includes an evacuation service via  Helicopter  and vehicle from the mountain

  

All about tipping for Kilimanjaro guides, porters and chefs
Aside from the package, one of the major expenses would be tipping for the entire crew. In case of group treks, the tips would be divided amongst the entire group. Below is the tipping guideline -

Chief  guide : $20 – 25 / day

Assistant guide : $15 – 20 / day

Cook : $12 – 15 / day

Waiter : $10 – 12 /day

Porter : $8 – 10 / day

Summit Porter : $12 – 15 / day

Toilet  crew: $10 – 12 / day

Approximately, The tipping amount per person would be around 300 USD. Another thing we must remember is that tipping on Kilimanjaro is not an optional payment, but rather a compulsive one.