Here’s something bold for your New Years Resolutions. What better fitness goal is there than to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest free-standing mountain in the world? Its status as the peak of the African continent may sound daunting, but climbing this beast is a little more doable with our hiking guide.
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Fail to plan, plan to fail
5,895 metres is what you’ll be facing. The five to 10 days that await you are long, cold and exhausting. But no feeling compares to the absolute triumph when you reach the summit. Here’s a few need to know’s first.
Every camp in Mount Kilimanjaro, not just the ones at the top, are cold. Even the rainforests which mark the early hours of your journey have a chill. To protect yourself from the extreme weather, particularly at night, you must wear multiple layers all-over.
Surely, all the energy burnt equals heavy sleeps. Perhaps unexpectedly, bouts of insomnia, interrupted sleep and vivid dreams are all quite common while hiking Mount Kilimanjaro. This can be attributed to both the extreme cold, as well as the thin air. It’s unfortunately something you’ll just have to power through — as sleeping pills are strongly advised against for health and safety reasons.
Since hiking Mount Kilimanjaro is an out-of-the-ordinary physical experience, it’s normal for you to feel a little ‘off’ — i.e. dealing with common cold symptoms. It can be hard to differentiate between regular side-effects versus altitude sickness by yourself — which is why it’s so helpful to have the reassurance of an experienced guide.
Hiking Mount Kilimanjaro with an experienced guide and with a permit has been the law in Tanzania since 1991. If you’d prefer to travel without a group, private tours are also possible.
Preparing for your trip
It’s been said before that the average active person could theoretically reach the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. As a result, too many people approach this long hike with a cocky attitude. This may be one of the technically easier hikes in the world compared to, say, Nepal’s mountain range — yet, one third of climbers turn around before reaching the top. The secret to success is in how much you prepare.
You can find a full guide on what to pack for Mount Kilimanjaro here, but in summary — it’s best to buy everything you’ll need well in advance, as opposed to ordering last minute and accidentally forgetting something crucial. You’ll have three bags for your hike, one of these being a main duffel bag strictly limited to 13kg for your porter to carry. Even if you practice packing and unpacking until you’re a pro — all of this is useless without your travel documents, including your vaccinations. Check out our Skratch app for more quick information.
Why you should do it
There’s a reason why so many hikers attempt Mount Kilimanjaro each year — and why it’s on the bucket list of those hoping to make it happen in the next. This continental landmark has been successfully climbed by people of all ages: all the way from six to 86. Not only that, it’s an extraordinary opportunity to celebrate outstanding achievements in your life like graduation or marriage.
Unless you’re a superhuman athlete, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro may be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. But if you take your journey at a steady pace and aim for a longer itinerary, you’ll realise that nothing’s impossible: not even summit night.