So you are planning to climb Kilimanjaro. That’s Awesome!
You probably have loads of questions. Things like: How do I get to Kilimanjaro? How fit do I need to be? Is it dangerous to climb Kilimanjaro? What are the main risks and how high is the probability of summiting? Which Kilimanjaro route should I take.
In this article we set out the main things you need to prepare to get ready to climb Kilimanjaro.
1. Choosing a route
There are 7 official routes on Kilimanjaro. Each offers trekkers something unique but some are better profiled for acclimatisation and summit success than others. What do I mean by that? Key to climbing Kilimanjaro safely and successfully is acclimatisation. This is the process of becoming accustomed to high altitudes where the air pressure is significantly lower than at sea level. Without proper acclimatisation you will likely experience altitude sickness, which is a potentially fatal condition. Key to acclimatisation on Kilimanjaro is choosing a route that gradually moves up the mountain in incremental stages that are spread across at least 6, ideally longer days. Equally important is not to rush or over exert yourself, and to ensure you stay well hydrated by drinking loads of waters. I recommend drinking at least three litres a day.
The three route that provide good acclimatisation options are the Lemosho route, the Machame route and the Rongai Route – each of these routes provide good climb high, sleep low profiles, which is great for acclimatisation.
You don’t need to be a super star fitness athlete to summit Kilimanjaro, but you should be in good cardiovascular shape. This means you will need to do some training before climbing Kilimanjaro. I recommend a three month training regime that builds up your stamina through cardiovascular exercises in the gym, lots of long-distance (4-5 hour) hikes during the weekend, and some strength training for your legs and upper body.
It is important that before you depart for Kilimanjaro you get all your administrative tasks in order. This means getting your passport ready and Tanzanian visa issued, get all your vaccinations (there are many nasties in Tanzania), get anti-malarial tablets and sorting our your travel insurance. Booking your flights early is also a great way to save money. Click here to find information on cheap flights to Kilimanjaro.
4. Getting to the top
Getting to the top requires loads of determination and grit. It is important to make sure you eat and drink well on the mountain as you will need the energy. Going slowly is also key to successfully summiting. Finally having a positive mindset, particularly when things get tough is a sure way to increase you chances of summiting.
For a recommended tour operator I suggest checking out these guys: http://www.kandooadventures.com/
Look no further. On this page I have tried to capture as many Mount Kilimanjaro Facts as I can. However, if you want to see the most comprehensive list I highly recommend the Mount Kilimanjaro Facts on this page.
First up, Mount Kilimanjaro is super high, but how high is it?
According to recent measurements the top of the mountain or summit stands at 5,895 meters or 19,371 feet. The highest peak is called Uhuru and is situated on a dormant volcano. In fact Mount Kilimanjaro consists of three conical peaks called Kibo (on which Uhuru Peak stands), Shira and Mawenzi.
Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain in Africa and has the nickname – The Roof of Africa. To reach the summit means to stand on top of the Roof of Africa.
Mount Kilimanjaro is also the highest free standing mountain in the world.
The mountain is situated in Northern Tanzania. Two Tanzanian agricultural towns are located in the shadow of the mountain. they are called Arusha and Moshi. If you are going to climb Kilimanjaro you will start from one of these towns – in the foothills of the Kilimanjaro National Park.
Tanzania is an awesome country as it not only has the highest mountain in Africa but is also home to Lake Victoria, the largest freshwater lake in Africa, and Zanzibar.
Back to Mount Kilimanjaro Facts.
Approximately 35,000 people try summit Mount Kilimanjaro every year. Only 45% on average succeed. Many people have to turn around because of altitude sickness.
On the Mountain there are 6 routes to climb to the summit. Three from the south – Marangu (which is the only route with huts), Machame and Umbwe. From the West you can ascend via the Lemosho or Shira Route and in the North East you can ascend via the Rongai route.
Treks are either 5,6,7 or 8 days. The more days you take the higher your chance of success as you can acclimatize better.
Approximately 3-5 people die on Kilimanjaro every year.
To find out more Mount Kilimanjaro Fact check out this page.
I know firsthand how confusing and frustrating this is – what should I take and what shouldn’t I take?
Hand, Foot, and Headwear
Kilimanjaro Equipment and Accessories
So that’s it for the complete Kilimanjaro packing list. You can find detailed reviews and recommendations on specific items on this website: www.climbkilimanjaroguide.com/kilimanjaro-kit-list/
Kilimanjaro insurance – what do you need to know?
You have your flights booked, your tour scheduled and your equipment ready. But have you thought about travel insurance?
Many trekkers arrive in Kilimanjaro without having given a second thought to travel insurance. This is a major oversight. See this article to see why: www.climbkilimanjaroguide.com/kilimanjaro-travel-insurance/
Trekking Kilimanjaro comes with many risks, the most obvious is going to high altitude. At high altitude many things can go wrong and with no or poor cover you could find yourself having to fork out loads of cash to fund evacuation and medical bills.
Your main concern is altitude mountain sickness, also known as altitude sickness, which is a systemic issue on Kilimanjaro. Most people suffer mild headaches and nausea, but severe complications like pulmonary or cerebral edema can result in death.
Here are the important Kilimanjaro travel insurance things to consider:
1. Make sure that you insurance premium covers trekking up to 6,000 meters. Kili’s highest point is 5,895 meters. All standard travel policies don’t include cover up to 6,000 meters so you need to request it specifically for Kilimanjaro
2. Your cover should provide insurance for evacuation and medical / emergency costs if you become ill, injured or suffer AMS complications
3. Theft is a real concern in Africa so make sure your policy covers loss, damage or theft of your property
4. Finally make sure that your policy covers delays, interruptions and cancellations of your tour, as well as financial default of your tour operator. There is nothing worse than a tour getting cancelled for whatever and you can’t recover your costs.
So as you can see there are some very real risks when travelling in Africa and climbing high mountains like Mount Kilimanjaro. Rather be safe than sorry, make sure you get adequate insurance cover and then you can rest assured that if anything goes wrong your experience won’t be unnecessarily spoiled.
All the best with your journey and preparations.
Check out the helpful information below for more detail on Kilimanjaro insurance. And of course if you have any questions, feel free to drop me a line in the comments below. Always happy to respond.
Here is a really nifty Kilimanjaro Travel Insurance calculator from World Nomads… this website also provides loads of useful Kilimanjaro trekking information.
Trip Advisor have an interesting debate on Kilimanjaro insurance here.
Anyone interested to climb Kilimanjaro should head over to this site for all the preparation details you might need.
The Europeans initially observed Mount Kilimanjaro over 150 years ago, and noted that its cone was under a thick crust of snow and ice. However records show that by 1912 85% of this had vanished, a change that began before modern climate change warming issues.
Glacier and snow shrinking on Kilimanjaro is nothing new, yet now, it seems that it is happening undoubtedly faster than in the past: around 1% a year of shrinkage was recoded between 1912 to 1953, but more worryingly 2.5% shrinkage a year has been recorded from 1989 to 2007. This is the period that climate change has in full swing.
Here is another interesting article from the Huffington Post
The most recent study on Kilimanjaro Glacial shrinkage was published last year and clearly warned that climate change is the primary cause of Kilimanjaro’s snows disappearing over the last two decades.
The study which lasted 7 years and drew on 100 years of data employed six climate modelling tools that will installed on Kilimanjaro’s mountain’s plateau and also constituted ice core drilling. The study showed that ice in the layer of core sediment 6-17 feet deep began to vanish 2000. Almost one quarter of the snow on Kilimanjaro has been lost between 2000-2006.
The study unequivocally notes that no other factor than climate change could have caused this sudden transformation. Although deforestation affects only lower reaches of the mountain there is no evidence that it has affected the glaciers of Mount Kilimanjaro which are high above.
The research shows that Kilimanjaro’s glaciers are evaporating rather than melting, also known as sublimation. According to the study greater dryness is the principal driver of glacier shrinking on Mount Kilimanjaro. Evidence shows that East Africa has dramatically become drier over the past two decades – less moisture has led to drought and also famine in Ethiopia, Kenya and also Sudan. As an end result, Kilimanjaro’s snows aren’t being replaced.
Check out these pics from this awesome Kilimanjaro site
Some people claim that it’s a lack of precipitation rather than higher air temperatures which are responsible for the glacial shrinkage. What is for certain is that it will take many seasons of new snow to overcome the consequences of climate transformation on Mount Kilimanjaro and also replace the retreating glaciers.
A major geological feature of Kilimanjaro’s glaciers, the Furtwängler Glacier, has transformed into half its thickness over the past decade. Some researchers believe that one more poor season and the glacier could be lost forever!