Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is an achievement that not many can boast of having completed. This infamous African peak attracts nearly 40,000 trekkers each year, with many aiming to attack it and make it to the top. Depending on the route you take, conquering the mountain may take between five and nine days, making the climb an intense challenge, both in terms of stamina and endurance. In this article, we look at the climb, and discuss how many hours one needs to commit to it.
How Many Hours Do I Need
The answer to this question depends on the speed at which you ascend and the route you take. Climbing Kilimanjaro typically involves six to eight days, and experts recommend taking the latter approach to make sure you have enough time and energy to tackle the peak. With that in mind, you can expect to spend between seven and nine hours each day on the mountain.
Your exact total number of hours spent on Kilimanjaro can vary based on different scenarios. If you are an experienced climber and select an easier route, you could complete the route in as few as five days, but the average time is six to seven days. Assuming seven days, you can estimate around 63 hours spent climbing the peak.
Weather Conditions & Altitude Sickness
Another important factor when figuring out your hours on Kilimanjaro is the weather. Mount Kilimanjaro sits at an elevation of 5,895m, so weather conditions can familiar and dramatically affect the trekking experience.
The mountain can be summited year-round, with the popular timeline ranging from December to October when wet seasons usually occur. April and May, with their warmer temperatures and fewer chances of precipitation, will mostly offer the best climbing conditions. However, during winter months you can still climb Kilimanjaro without too much trouble; during this period the mountain is often quieter and the sun shines throughout most of the day.
Altitude sickness is also a major obstacle on the mountain. This can occur suddenly and can negatively impact your energy levels. Symptoms can include dizziness, headaches, nausea and loss of appetite. To prevent altitude sickness and fatigue, it’s suggested that you should take at least one day of rest. This will allow your body to acclimatise; your body needs to adjust to the lower oxygen levels and the higher altitude.
Hire An Experienced Guide
It’s possible to attempt the climb on your own. However, it may be a good idea to hire a guide and a porter. A guide can help you to reach the summit and provide you with valuable information about the peak. Hiring a porter might also be a good idea as trekkers can feel weighed down by huge backpacks; a porter can lighten your load by carrying your camping gear, food, water and other needful items.
A lot of guides provide tips and instructions on how to reduce the time spent on the mountain. With their help, you might be able to reduce the amount of time you need to climb, as they can better navigate the path and keep the team on track. Additionally, by cutting off one extra day, you would reduce the amount of time spent on the mountain by up to fourteen hours.
Tips & Considerations
Overall, the main things you can do to reduce your hours on the mountain are to choose an easier route and to plan your trek carefully depending on the season. It’s important to remember that Kilimanjaro is difficult and unpredictable, so you need to plan your trek around the weather, and be aware of the potential for altitude sickness.
Preparation, physical fitness, and efficiency are all key factors in reducing your hours on Kilimanjaro. Train, create a comprehensive plan and research the peak in question. You should aim to reduce the amount of hiking hours spent each day; although the hike is legally dependent (you must be off the mountain by 7 pm each day), aim to finish the hike earlier each day in order to rest, relax and prepare for the next day.
Essential Clothing & Equipment
Clearly, clothing is necessary and does not just include warm clothes and hiking equipment. Trekkers must be equipped with the right apparel for their mission. Typically, you’ll be carrying multiple layers of wicking, insulation and waterproof clothing depending on the season. For example, in the winter months’ trekkers should be prepared with climbing boots, crampons and ice axes, as there will likely be snow and ice in places.
In terms of equipment, trekkers need to consider the weight of their items. As mentioned, you can hire a porter to carry most of your equipment, but be sure to include items such as a sleeping bag, a first aid kit, a torch and head torch, sensible snacks and food, gloves and trekking poles.
Health & Hygiene
Finally, health and hygiene should not be underestimated. Although toilets are available at various stop-off points, be sure to pack dishes and bottles, as well as food and water. Additionally, other items such as toilet paper, hand sanitizer, wet wipes and band-aids are highly recommended.
When it comes to food, avoid foods high in sugar and stick to lightweight, nutritious options. The trek will require a lot of energy; prioritize high-energy snacks, such as energy bars and nuts, and make sure to drink plenty of water.
Mental Preparation & Physical Training
Making it to the top of Kilimanjaro is a challenge, and it’s important to ensure you’re mentally and physically ready for the task. Regular aerobic activities such as walking, running and cycling are essential to ensure you get the most out of your Kilimanjaro experience. The physical training you do should mimic the conditions of the terrain.
Mentally, be prepared for the harsh conditions you’ll face and try to stay positive. Prepare for physical fatigue, and understand that progress will likely be slow. Take regular breaks, focus on the positives, and remind yourself why you are climbing Kilimanjaro.
Oxygen & Acclimatization
At higher elevations, the air is thinner and the amount of oxygen decreases. Therefore, once you begin to ascend the peak, it becomes necessary to take regular breaks and maintain slow and steady progress.
Ascend and descend slowly and maintain an altitude gain of 500m before resting. As you ascend, plan on spending more than 7 hours on the mountain; rest periods and slow ascents/descents will provide you with the necessary acclimatisation. We recommend bringing oxygen tanks to ensure you can finish the trek safely.
Finally, it’s essential to bring along entertainment during the climb. Puzzles, books, e-books , playing cards, board and video games all provide hours of relief during long rest days. Music and headphones is also an option, and can come in handy when it becomes physically taxing. If a person gets tired or sick, it’s necessary to have entertainment on hand to lighten the mood.