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Climbing Kilimanjaro (for non-mountaineers)

I don’t climb, I don’t hike, I hardly like to go, but somehow I managed. I climbed Kilimanjaro.

So these tips for climbing Kilimanjaro are dedicated to those of you who think Kilimanjaro should just be a beer.

The Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is one of the largest mountains that can be climbed. At 5,896 m, it is the highest peak in Africa.

Tip: It is important to make sure that you have good travel insurance before you go on a mountain tour. There are certain travel insurances that are specifically made for Hiking and trekking trips.

Mountains to climb - KilimanjaroKilimanjaro in Tanzania

Training for climbing Kilimanjaro

I live in the flattest part of England but have ventured up Mount Snowdon a few times. About 6 months before departure I went up and down the stairs 30 times a week, which admittedly sounds ridiculous, but it really helps, after a couple of 30s you will notice a difference. I also started walking to work once a week, 10 miles there and back (then twice a week at 2 months).

Not only do try to walk a lot, try exercises like pilates that will strengthen your back as you will be carrying your backpack around all day. I think it helps.

I would recommend a Strength breathers just to give you that extra umph.

Pack for the ascent of Kilimanjaro

I am sure if you plan on taking this trip you would have seen the takeaway list. I’ll only highlight the really important things – wet wipes, hand sanitizer, sunglasses, and foot powder. Maybe think twice about taking books with you, they take up space (you can squeeze another toilet roll in instead), and by the time you get to camp you probably just want to pass out.

Diamox seems to swing people both ways. My advice is to take it with you, but only if you think you really need it. Some people in the group did and some didn’t take … ..we all made it. In either case, make sure you do your own research.

For more information, see this list of trekking essentials.

Climbing Kilimanjaro

The mountain

The first few days are ok, you get to know everyone, meet the guides, eat a mysterious soup every evening, wonder what that smell is … oh, it’s you and start peeing confidently outdoors. Even in the evening you will feel the cold quite drastically.

When riding a route over the saddle, be prepared! At first I was looking forward to this day of walking on level ground, but you quickly notice that it is very deceptive, not physically, but mentally. You are completely open to the elements, winds beat you for hours from all directions, you will be so covered that you will not be able to speak to the people around you and the spot of the Kibo huts does not seem to be getting any closer .

But if you know this and try to stay positive and find ways to motivate yourself, you will be fine. Do not underestimate the saddle day!

The summit

That is of course brutal. The climb is steep from midnight. You look up and see a mile-long trail of headlights right above you, hours later you look up and see the same thing and it’s very soul-destructive.

Fatigue sets in and you’ll wonder why you ever thought this was a good idea. Everyone will have the same battle on their mind. „Damn Cheryl Cole did it” kept going through my head. I also vomited all over the place.

Remember to drink when you can and eat plenty of sweets. But if you somehow get to Gilmans Point, you will forget all about it for a moment. I sagged and sobbed my little heart. I think I’ve never been such an emotional wreck. After a quick hot tea, you will have the option to try Uhuru.

I really felt the height on this route. My head was spinning and I couldn’t run 5 minutes without taking a minute off. It was the hardest thing I ever did in my life on my own. Just remember to put one foot in front of the other and you will make it!

When I got to Uhuru, I hardly knew what my own name was. I had my picture taken and tried to get down as quickly as possible.

Climbing KilimanjaroThe summit of Kilimanjaro

The end

The descent is not child’s play either. The rubble is deep and you must be careful not to plant it all the way down to Kibo.

On the Rongai route, the descent is via the Marangu route. You will find how calm your original route was … wait for it … it will be a lot easier! The thought of a hot shower and a Kili beer drove me on.

And then it was over. I could not believe it. My friends couldn’t believe it. I did it!

A few little tips before you pack your bags (or unpack after reading) – Don’t worry too much. I’ve spent sleepless nights thinking about climbing Kilimanjaro, but I don’t have to.

When you are there, enjoy the view, the people and try not to think too much about the summit night. You may not make it either, the fact that you tried in the first place is worth something and an experience you will never forget.

After climbing Kilimanjaro, head to Zanzibar for a few days and relax on the beach and enjoy the Zanzibar nightlife.

How to climb Kilimanjaro

There are several ways to climb Kilimanjaro. One of these is to go with a tour operator.

Undaunted travel offers a range of Kilimanjaro routes for every trekker experience and fitness level, and will take you to the summit with the best possible team.

The three routes offered include:

All trips include all meals, transfers, accommodation, limited equipment, English-speaking mountain guides, national park fees, emergency oxygen and full first aid kits and porters.