If you are going to be one of the 50,000 or so people to attempt the mighty Mount Kilimanjaro in 2015, you have probably got a million questions, and could well be asking yourself, “What am I letting myself in for!”
Climbing Kilimanjaro is a dream come true for many, but you need to be well prepared if your trip to the Roof of Africa is to be every bit as spectacular as you imagine.
Most of Kilimanjaro’s most popular routes involve camping mountainside for the duration of your time on the mountain. There are some exceptions, such as the Marangu Route where you sleep in very basic shared huts, but the longer, more successful routes are all about camping – so be prepared!
I had never been camping prior to our 7-day Machame Route Expedition in September 2012, and while we invested in top quality sleeping bags, thermal sleep suits, and plenty of hats, scarves, gloves and socks to keep the minus temperatures at bay – we were not quite prepared for the rock hard floor.
The camping sites on Kilimanjaro’s Machame Route, namely Machame Camp, Shira Camp, Barranco Camp, Karanga Camp and Barafu Camp are well-prepared and spotlessly clean, but at the end of the day (literally), your tents are set up on the mountain floor with little more than a ground sheet and mat for comfort.
Next time we climb Kilimanjaro (Lunar Eclipse September 2015!), we will be taking an inflatable mattress of some sort, and swapping our high-tech but somewhat restrictive sleeping bags for a regular down duvet! We will need to take an extra bag – but that’s one more job for one more porter, and that’s always a good thing in Tanzania!
If you book your Kilimanjaro Climb with a reputable company, they will provide a port-a-loo for your climb, which includes a tent, a flushable portable loo, and toilet paper. They also provide a mess tent with tables and chairs where you will enjoy three hot meals per day.
If you have booked with the cheapest operator you can find – well, you shouldn’t expect the same level of comfort. You will have to carry your own packed lunch each day, and perch on a rock to eat it, and you will need to take your own loo paper and make do with bushes during the day!
There is really nothing else to see/do on Kilimanjaro’s campsites, except admire the views and keep saying to yourself – I can do it!!