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How to Prepare to Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro

Trekking the Lemosho Route on Mount Kilimanjaro with a summit view

Every year, millions of people flock to Tanzania. The beautiful country is home to the famous Serengeti National Park and Lake Victoria.

Despite taking a heavy hit to the tourism industry in the early days of Covid, Tanzania tourism is on the rebound to potentially surpass the 2019 visitor numbers, when the country set a record for tourists. Aside from its exotic wildlife and natural parks, the country is also home to one of the most famous mountains in the world – Mt. Kilimanjaro.

The mountain has several routes to the summit. Some are known for being among the “easier” climbs, although some are more technical from the outset. The less technical routes have a lower route profile and ascend gradually until the final push to the summit, which is long and steep. Regardless of which route you choose, climbing Kilimanjaro is a true test of endurance. So, if you’re thinking of making the trek there are a few preparations required in advance.

Ready to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro? Here’s how to prepare yourself for your adventure.

Understand the Mountain

Before you begin your climbing preparations, you should understand the mountain. Mt. Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain in all of Africa. It’s also the highest free-standing mountain in the world, which means it’s not part of a larger mountain range.

Climbing the mountain isn’t the hard part. The challenges come with the rate of ascent and the altitude. The mountain is 5,895 meters or 19,341 feet above sea level.

That’s why acclimatization is important. It’s the process of adjusting your body to the lower oxygen levels found at higher elevations.

Without acclimatization, you suffer from altitude sickness. If left untreated, serious conditions such as HACE (high altitude cerebral edema) and HAPE (high altitude pulmonary edema) can occur. At Roam Wild Adventure, we take appropriate measures to assist our clients with acclimatization, such as additional time spent “climbing high and sleeping low”, a steady “pole pole” pace, and oxygen canisters are available should they be needed.

Despite the dangers, there’s a thrill in pushing yourself and having an adventure. Plus, it’s a gorgeous trek.

If you can reach the summit, then you will have accomplished climbing one of The Seven Summits. Mountain trekking doesn’t get any better than that!

Train in Advance

Regardless of how in shape you are, the climb is going to be tough. However, you can make things easier for yourself by starting some climbing workouts. Both strength and endurance training are essential to your climb.

You should spend several months ahead of your climb training for it. Hiking, especially with a weighted backpack, is essential. If you don’t have any trails nearby, regular use of a stair master and walking can be an adequate substitute.

Choose the Right Gear

Consider the hiking preparations you would do for a normal trip and start from there. That means sunscreen, headwear for sun protection and warmth, gloves, insulated clothes (that can be layered), and of course other accessories like a warm sleeping bag, tent, trekking poles, and a daypack.

A good pair of boots is essential. Look for ones with good ankle support and a sturdy sole.

Also, don’t make the mistake of showing up in Tanzania with brand new boots. Make sure your boots have been broken in first. Take them out on some of your training hikes to break them in.

If you can’t get out on as many hikes as you would like, wear them around the house. Give them time to break in and make sure they fit comfortably.

Get a Medical Checkup

Everyone should have a medical checkup before their climb. Your age, fitness level, and overall health will determine whether or not you are capable of making the climb. In addition, young climbers or those 60 or older may have additional health risks.

In addition to a medical checkup, you should follow the CDC guidelines for recommended vaccinations. If there are any other underlying medical conditions, make sure you tell your guide prior to your climb.

Understand the Entry Requirements for Tanzania

Before you book your trip to Tanzania, understand the entry requirements. Along with a valid passport that is at least 6 months or more away from expiration, you need one of the following:

  • Visa
  • Resident permit
  • Pass

If you’re a foreigner looking to just visit, you won’t need a pass or resident permit. For full Visa information, check out the government’s site for Visa guidelines and costs.

You also need a return or onward plane ticket, as well as proof that you have sufficient funds to support yourself while inside the country.

Determine Your Climbing Route

Finally, you need to determine your climbing route. At Roam Wild Adventure, we can help you choose the best route for you. We have 5 different climbs available.

Lemosho Route

This 8-day trek provides additional time for acclimatization, which leads to an overall success rate of 95%. It offers a summit sunrise, as well as a sweeping vista of Mt. Kilimanjaro from the western slope.

Northern Circuit Route

This 9-day route ascends the scenic western slope of the mountain, crossing almost the entire mountain before the summit. Due to the length of the trek, it provides for good acclimatization time.

Rongai Route

The 7-day route crosses several different climate zones. It’s one of the lesser-used routes to the summit, making the trek serene.

Machame Route

The Machame, or “Whiskey” route is a 7-day trek. It offers a bit more challenge than some of the easier routes, due to the Great Barranco Wall, a scramble climb. It can be intimidating to newcomers.

Marangu Route

The Marangu route takes only 6 days, so it can be a little more challenging to acclimatize yourself to it. The Marangu route is considered easier than other routes, although it has a lower summit success rate, due to the shortened time for acclimatization. The route is more direct and gradual than other routes.

Ready to Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro?

Ready to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro? We have a full list of available dates and routes for you to choose from.

If you still have questions or need more information before you book, we can help with that too. Contact us today and let us help plan your mountain climbing adventure!

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