Hiking Kilimanjaro is an exciting and unforgettable experience. It’s one of the most iconic landmarks in Africa, an incredible accomplishment that takes time and dedication. But, how long does it take to hike Kilimanjaro? Depending on the route and amount of climbs, the time to complete the trek can range from 5-10 days. Each route requires a different level of difficulty and skill, and the length of the plan should be decided based on your level of experience. Additionally, it’s important to factor in the altitude and weather when planning your hike. Although Kilimanjaro is a relatively easy mountain to hike compared to some around the world, it still requires physical preparation and safety precautions.
Before your hike, it’s important to do some research and plan your route. There are seven different routes to choose from. The Machame route, the Marangu Route and the Lemosho Route are amongst the most popular, while the Umbwe and Rongai Routes are less traveled. All routes have their pros and cons, so it’s important to evaluate the distance and terrain, as well as the level of experience you’ll need in order to complete each route. The average hike time for each route also varies, though the Machame and Marangu routes can be completed in about 5-10 days.
Time To Acclimatize
Time is also needed for acclimatization. This process is important for reducing the risk of altitude sickness, which can be quite severe if not managed properly. Acclimatization requires you to camp in designated areas and rest while your body adjusts to the higher elevation. It’s recommended to stay at least two nights at each camp and not to ascend more than 500 metres (1,640 feet) a day. Depending on the length of the distances to the next camp, acclimatization time can be anywhere from three to six days in total.
When travelling in such high altitudes, it’s essential to take your time and be mindful of the risks. Paying attention to warning signs and taking frequent rest breaks can mean the difference between a successful and safe hike or a dangerous one. Additionally, it’s important to bring the proper supplies and nutrition for your trip. Depending on the route you choose, some areas don’t have access to restaurants or grocery stores, so be sure to plan ahead and pack enough food and water. You may also need additional supplies such as a sleeping bag, trekking poles, and appropriate outerwear.
Reaching The Summit
When you reach the summit, don’t forget to snap a few photos! On clear days, you can witness stunning sunrise views and admire the glaciers and wildlife atop Africa’s highest peak. It’s hard to imagine that you’ve made it this far and that your goal is finally within reach. After all the sweat and hard work, you can now rest and enjoy the view.
After reaching the summit, prepare yourself for the descent. Depending on the route and length of time you took to reach the summit, the descent can take anywhere from three to four days. The descent is just as hard as the ascent, and usually includes steep terrain, loose rocks and slippery muddy paths. Be sure to wear proper shoes and hiking poles for better stability. Although the trek is long and difficult, the reward is seeing the entire mountain from the top!
Impact On The Environment
It’s important to be mindful of our impact on the environment while trekking Kilimanjaro. The mountain is home to many endangered species and local wildlife, so be sure to respect the environment and help preserve it for future generations. Take only photos and leave only footprints, and stay on the designated trails to avoid disturbing the flora and fauna.
Choosing A Guide
Depending on your experience and level of comfort, you may want to consider hiring an experienced guide or outfitter for extra safety. A local guide will be familiar with the terrain and will give you tips and advice on how to tackle the mountain safely and efficiently. Make sure to research the guide or outfitter’s experience and certifications before hiring.
Before embarking on the journey, it’s important to make sure that you meet the physical and health requirements for your hike. Visit your doctor to assess your fitness level and discuss any previous illnesses and medications that could affect your hike. Additionally, it’s important to be up to date on any vaccinations and immunizations since you will be in a rugged wilderness environment.
Additionally, depending on the route you choose, you may need additional preparations. Research any additional supplies or documents you may need, such as maps or park passes. After taking your time to research, plan and prepare, you’ll be ready to tackle Kilimanjaro.
Preparing for the physical aspect of your hike is just as important as the mental and practical preparations. Walking for long periods of time and carrying a backpack in high altitudes can be quite strenuous. As such, it’s important to start training for your hike a few months in advance. Try to start by doing some cardio and gradually increase the intensity of your hikes. Working with a personal trainer or joining a local hiking group may be a good way to stay motivated and keep track of your progress.
Navigating while on Kilimanjaro can be challenging, especially if you plan to hike in remote areas. Be sure to bring a compass and a GPS device to help you in case you get lost. Additionally, reading a good book or guide on Kilimanjaro can be beneficial, as it can help you learn about the elevation, routes and what to expect as you ascend.
Once you’ve chosen your route and packed all your hiking gear, it’s time to think about nutrition. Proper nutrition is essential for performance and the success of your mountain hiking endeavour. It’s important to bring enough snacks and fluids to sustain you for the entire day, such as trail mix, protein bars, nuts and energy drinks. Sticking to a healthy diet can help you stay energized throughout the hike and reduce the risk of fatigue.
Finally, if you plan to ascend higher than 6,000m (19,650 feet) you may want to consider bringing some supplemental oxygen. This is especially important if you suffer from high-altitude sickness, as the lack of oxygen can cause serious health issues. Bringing supplemental oxygen can help you avoid altitude sickness and ensure the success of your hike.