50 Things You Need to Know About Climbing Kilimanjaro

50 Things You Need to Know About Climbing Kilimanjaro

If 2013 is going to be your year to do something amazing, then I can highly recommend climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.

Life changing, awe-inspiring, and a wonderful achievement, climbing Kilimanjaro far exceed my expectations, but there are certain things no one told me to expect or prepare for, so I thought I would take a moment to share my list of 50 tips, ideas and things you should know before you make your way to the Roof of Africa:

  1. You are going to sweat from the moment you start climbing – take plenty of fresh t-shirts and deo!
  2. Walk slowly, even if it feels strange to start with – it’s the key to success
  3. Take regular breaks, it’s not a race and Uhuru Peak isn’t going anywhere
  4. Take time to admire the flora and fauna, it changes every day
  5. Take plenty of photographs from day one, you might never do this again
  6. Chat to other Kilimanjaro climbers along the way, some have amazing stories
  7. Ask your mountain guide how many times he has climbed Kili (I guarantee he will say over 200!)
  8. Don’t ask you mountain guide how much further to base camp… just keep going
  9. Don’t forget to admire the view
  10. You are going to get dusty and dirty from day one
  11. This dust and dirt gets under your fingernails – take a nail file!
  12. Dry Shampoo – believe me, you will be glad you took it (especially if you have long hair)
  13. You are going to eat – a lot!
  14. You need to drink around 3 litres of water per day
  15. Points 13 & 14 mean regular visits to the loo…
  16. There are no loo’s on Kilimanjaro (bushes, port-a-loos at base camp, big rocks… you get the idea)
  17. Toilet paper – at camp its provided, during the day you need to carry your own
  18. Plastic bags for foresaid toilet paper – keep Kilimanjaro tidy!
  19. Take chewing gum and boiled sweets – the porters love them
  20. Give unwanted lunch packs and drinks to your porters
  21. If you are on a private Kilimanjaro climb, you will have to get used to eating in front of your mountain crew as they will share you mess tent every evening and only eat themselves when you go to bed
  22. Don’t take valuables with you, other than cash, credit cards and cameras
  23. Keep said cash, credit cards and cameras with you at all times
  24. It will be very cold from night one – expect minus temperatures and wrap up
  25. Invest in or rent a warm sleeping bag and take thermal underwear for sleeping in
  26. Wear a hat and socks in your sleeping bag – once you get cold there is no way of heating up until the sun rises
  27. If you are not used to camping, be prepared for a restless night
  28. Altitude does funny things to your body, expect your eyes and lips to swell
  29. If you feel a headache coming on, don’t wait, drink a litre of water and take headache tablets
  30. Don’t panic if you get a headache, it’s completely normal and a simple Ibuprofen tablet took mine away in minutes.
  31. Be honest with your mountain guide, if you don’t feel good, let them know your symptoms
  32. Take advice from your guide on health issues, they know what they are taking about when it comes to altitude related problems
  33. Retire to your tent early, you may not sleep well but your body will appreciate the rest
  34. Don’t be surprised if you lose your appetite
  35. That said, you need to eat for energy, so try to consume as much as possible
  36. Drink, drink, and drink some more…
  37. Take plenty of baby-wipes, they are so much more refreshing than the small bowl of water you get to wash with each morning
  38. Take moisturiser and lip balm (men too!), the mountain air is very drying
  39. A no-brainer, but wear sunscreen every day – the sun is intense at altitude!
  40. A hat and quality sunglasses are vital
  41. Put all your clothes in sealable plastic bags inside your rucksack
  42. Cover your rucksack with a waterproof cover – the porters will be carrying it during the day and they do not have time to worry about your things getting wet
  43. Invest in good rain-gear, or at least rent some in Arusha.  Getting wet on Kilimanjaro is no fun at all
  44. Although it is freezing at night, don’t forget to take time to do some stargazing! On a clear night you can see the Milky Way
  45. On summit night, make sure you cover your face with a bandana or scarf, the wind is brutally cold in the early hours of the morning and frostbite is not attractive (believe me!)
  46. Don’t think too much on summit night, keep your head down, your pace steady, breathe and when the going gets tough, just remember how far you have come and how close you are to victory
  47. If other members of your climbing group turn back, don’t feel guilty – keep going this is your journey!
  48. Cry when you reach Stella Point – it’s a normal emotion! But just remember, you haven’t finished yet
  49. Take a moment to watch the sunrise over mother Africa before continuing on to Uhuru Peak
  50. Scream, dance, jump up and down, cry, laugh, and pinch yourself when you reach Uhuru Peak – You did it! (oh yes, and don’t forget the all-important photo!)
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