Although you don’t need specialist mountaineering gear or climbing experience to reach the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, there are still a few things you should do before you jet off to start your trek. Here are some suggestions that will help with your organisation and make your time on the mountain more enjoyable.
You don’t have to be a highly trained athlete to complete the Kilimanjaro climb, but it does make it easier – and nicer for you – if you’re in reasonable shape. One of the best ways to prepare physically for the challenge is to go on lots of walks before you travel to Tanzania. Choose routes that include both up and downhill sections and try to do a few full days of trekking ahead of your trip.
Having a generally good level of fitness won’t just make the actual walking easier either – it can also mean you cope better with high altitudes. There is no sure-fire way to know how your body will react to the thinner air you encounter as you climb higher, but it’s worth doing as much as you can to prepare and increase your chances of success.
Top tip: small changes to your daily routine, like taking the lift instead of the stairs, can add up over time. When you go for a longer walk, take the day pack you’re planning to climb Kilimanjaro with and carry at least 3 litres of water to help you get used to the weight in your bag.
As the Kilimanjaro climb is walkable, you don’t need to rush out and buy lots of fancy equipment – but there are some items it’s worth spending a bit extra on. Your hiking boots, for example, should be good quality and comfortable. It’s essential to wear them in before you leave, otherwise you’ll probably experience a lot of discomfort on the trek.
You will be camping on the mountain – and it can get cold, particularly as you get closer to the summit – so a warm, four-season sleeping bag is another must, as is a good rollmat. Operators like Explore Worldwide can arrange for you to hire both these items, as well as things like down jackets, gloves and walking poles, provided you give them some advance notice.
Just because you’re travelling to Africa, don’t make the mistake of thinking it will be hot! Layers are the name of the game, because it can be cold on the mountain and the weather is changeable – so you might get rain. Waterproof jackets and trousers are essential, as well as thermals and plenty of light tops to wear in between. On the day you ascend the summit of Kilimanjaro, it’s recommended you have at least three layers of clothing on your legs and a minimum of six on your upper body!
Top tip: don’t forget about practicalities like head torches (useful around the campsites and on the summit climb), water purification tablets and non-disposable water bottles. It’s sensible to put your trekking gear in heavy-duty plastic bags within your pack, just in case it rains.
There are several vaccinations you’ll need to have before you board your flight, including yellow fever, polio, typhoid, hepatitis A and tetanus, while asking for protection against malaria is also advisable. You may need more than one trip to your doctor to arrange all your jabs, so leave plenty of time before you travel to get your vaccinations sorted out.
Top tip: you may be asked for a valid yellow fever inoculation certificate on arrival in Tanzania, so put this with your other travel documents so you don’t forget it.