Climbing Kilimanjaro. It’s a bucket list dream for many, but just 35,000 of us attempt this mighty mountain each year, and if the unsubstantiated reports are to be believed, less than 50 per cent of us ever make it.
As someone who has made it to Uhuru Peak twice, and has plans to do it all again on 22nd January 2020, I can tell you with confidence that anyone who is physically fit can indeed climb Kilimanjaro, and you don’t need an intensive training course to do it. But you do need to prepare yourself physically and mentally for the challenge ahead, particularly if you are not used to camping!
Like most intrepid travellers, I fantasised about sleeping under the stars on the world’s highest freestanding mountain, and the African skies didn’t let me down, but the reality is, it’s cold, I’m talking minus 15 degrees cold, the ground is rock hard (well, it is a mountain!), and the air is thin… so thin that you find yourself waking up with a gasp. And so sleeping on Kilimanjaro is no easy task.
Unless you are taking the Marangu Route, which involves sleeping in basic huts, your Kilimanjaro Expedition will involve camping in tents. This may appeal to the Bear Grills amongst us, but if camping is not your thing (it’s not mine!), here are a few tried and tested tips to help you sleep sweetly during your expedition.
- Take or Rent an Inflatable Mattress
If you climb Kilimanjaro with a reputable KPAP registered tour operator than you will be provided with foam mattresses for your expedition, but they do not deliver the same level of comfort as inflatable mattresses such as Thermarest, so make sure you take one with you.
- Invest in a Good Sleeping Bag
If there is one item of Kilimanjaro gear that you shouldn’t skimp on, it would have to be your sleeping bag. It is freezing on the mountain at night, no matter what time of the year you climb, and so invest in a sleeping bag suitable for -20 degrees, or rent one from your tour organiser.
- Wear Thermal Long Johns
There is nothing like a thermal sleeping suit to keep you cosy at night, and when you combine that with your top-quality sleeping bag, you’ll be warm and toasty all night long.
- Avoid Bathroom Breaks
You are encouraged to drink as much water as possible on the mountain to avoid dehydration, but try to limit your consumption after dinner to avoid those dreaded midnight bathroom breaks. The cold will hit you the moment you step outside your tent, and you’ll find it almost impossible to get back to sleep.
- Wear Hats, Gloves and Socks
The warmer you are, the more likely you are to sleep, so wrap up from head-to-toe with hats, gloves, socks, and anything else that makes you feel cosy. It’s pretty quiet on the mountain at night, but use earplugs if they help, along with an eye-mask to reduce puffiness when you reach the 4,000m elevation mark.
Have you got any tips for sleeping on Kilimanjaro? If so, let us know in the comments below.
There are still a few places left on our 7-Day Machame Route Expedition on 22nd January 2020, so why not join us on a once in a lifetime adventure to the Roof of Africa!