Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa, standing proudly at 5,895 meters (19,341 feet). Despite its immense height, it is an approachable climb, suitable for fit people with a good knowledge of the mountain and its environment. The Kilimanjaro National Park also provides a passport for anyone looking to undertake this incredible feat.
The cost of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is not insignificant, but generally includes a comprehensive package of support and guidance.
The standard price for an organized trip is usually between $1,700 and $3,200, though since this involves hiring a tour guide, guarantying accommodation, camping and food supplies, other ancillaries can occasionally raise this cost. It is possible to find cheaper ‘budget’ tours, though climbers should be aware that these can be dangerous and are not always covered by the tour operator in the event of an emergency.
This cost may appear to be on the high side for some, especially for those looking for a more budget-friendly experience or for those who may feel more assured tackling Kilimanjaro alone but it is important to remember that the cost includes the invaluable services of a mountain guide. The African Walking Company, for example, provides a team of professional guides, porters and cooks to transport climbing equipment and provide assistance with any technical knowledge during the climb.
Those considering tackling the mountain alone may still have to pay the National Park fee (currently around $40 to $75 per person), as access to the mountain is forbidden without a valid passport. The cost of obtaining the passport will be an additional cost.
The overall price of climbing Kilimanjaro varies depending on whether you go alone or with a guided tour and on the time of year. Many operators, such as Kilimanjaro Private Safaris and Tanzania Wonders, offer special discounts when climbing conditions are deemed to be optimal – usually at the beginning and end of the dry season.
While there is no denying that climbing Kilimanjaro is an expensive undertaking, it is also a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and one that will repay the cost many times over.
Safety on Kilimanjaro
Safety is an essential consideration for anyone looking to climb Kilimanjaro. Given the harsh conditions, altitude and cold temperatures at higher elevations, it is essential for climbers to take certain steps to ensure that their journey is as safe and successful as possible.
The most important factor is to be suitably prepared, both mentally and physically, for the climb before attempting the ascent. It is recommended that those who do not have a lot of experience climbing should join a tour group and hire the services of a fully trained guide. Doing this will ensure that the climb is properly planned and that climbers have the correct equipment and support to ensure their safety.
Another factor to consider is the type of accommodation, food and medical provisions available. It is advisable to carry a fully stocked first aid kit, as well as food and water in order to maintain energy levels during the climb. Especially for those who are doing the trek alone, it is essential to be prepared for any eventuality and to know the location of the nearest medical facilities should an emergency arise.
Finally, it is important to stay aware of the altitude and the associated risks, such as Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). AMS is caused by the lack of oxygen at higher elevations, and can be fatal if not treated quickly. It is essential therefore, to be aware of the signs of AMS and to be familiar with the symptoms. Those who are feeling unwell should be encouraged to stop and rest and to seek medical attention if required.
Equipment for climbing Kilimanjaro
Having the right equipment can make the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful climb of Kilimanjaro. Many tour companies will provide the equipment required, while those planning on going independent will have to buy their own. It is important to purchase good quality gear that is well suited to the climate of the mountain.
Essential equipment will include a sturdy and lightweight backpack, good quality hiking boots, sleeping bag and pad, rain gear, such as a waterproof jacket, and appropriate clothing for warm days, cold nights and rain. It is also advisable to bring some larger items, such as tents and stoves, if the tour does not provide them.
It is important to remember that the most essential gear is the clothing one takes with oneself. It is recommended that climbers wear several layers of clothing, as well as some warm temperature items such as thermal underwear, as temperatures on the mountain can plummet as the altitude increases. The most important items to remember are an extra pair of wool socks, waterproof gloves and a hat.
Conditioning for Climbing Kilimanjaro
Though the challenge of climbing Kilimanjaro may appear daunting, with preparation and practice, it can be achieved by anyone with a good level of fitness. The secret to completing this adventure is having effective conditioning and training regime prior to departure. The best preparation for a successful ascent is to get in the best shape possible before the climb.
This should include a combination of cardiovascular fitness and strength training, as well as some practice hikes to get used to the environment, the terrain and the weather. Cardiovascular fitness is essential for a successful climb, as it will improve the climbers tolerance to high altitudes. It is also advised that climbers increase their core and leg strength with some form of resistance exercises.
It is important that climbers are realistic about their own fitness levels before attempting this climb and do not overestimate their abilities based on what they read online. The mountain is not to be underestimated and requires a significant physical effort. It is therefore essential that the climber has set realistic goals and objectives, and is well prepared in order to complete the trek without any complications.
Nutrition on the Trek
In order to make it up the mountain, it is essential to have a solid nutrition plan. Eating a diet rich in whole grains, healthy fats, fruits, vegetables and lean proteins will provide the essential nutrients required for a successful climb. It is also important to stay hydrated and to bring a sufficient amount of water supplies.
Eating during the trek can sometimes be difficult, as it is not possible to carry a large amount of food and supplies. In order to keep energy levels up and to reduce the risk of altitude sickness, it is important to eat smaller portions, more often. When food is available, light and nutritious snacks such as energy bars and nuts can be a good and convenient way of increasing energy levels.
Though other forms of nutrition can be used whilst on the trek, such as powdered protein mixes and protein shakes, these should be supplementing a balanced and healthy diet, rather than replacing it. Eating correctly before, during and after the trek is essential to sustain oneself throughout the entire journey.
Altitude and Acclimatisation
Kilimanjaro is a high altitude mountain and, as a result, climbers can be exposed to extreme conditions. The risk of altitude sickness is real and, if left unchecked, can become fatal. As such, it is essential that climbers are aware of the principles of acclimatization and employ them in order to reduce the risk.
One of the most important aspects of the climb is the gradual acclimatization of the body to the changes in altitude. Making sure that climbers have plenty of rest and hydration, as well as eating calories when available, will help the body to adjust. It is also important to take regular breaks and drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids to stay hydrated.
Consulting a physician before departure is also essential in order to assess any health issues and to find out what medications might be necessary. This is a particularly important consideration for those with existing medical conditions and those who are taking part in the climb for the first time.
The Kilimanjaro Experience
Climbing Kilimanjaro is an experience unlike any other. It is a unique journey that takes climbers through some of the most stunning scenery in the world, as well as providing a physical challenge that tests and strengthens one’s body, mind and spirit.
Reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro is a rewarding experience that gives climbers a chance to appreciate the raw beauty of the mountain and the environment, while also appreciating the hard work and effort that has gone into reaching it. This climb is one of life’s greatest accomplishments, and though the cost and effort may be considerable, the experience is one that will stay with you forever.
Cultural Experiences on Kilimanjaro
Climbing Kilimanjaro provides more than just a physical challenge- it is also an opportunity to explore the local cultures of the region and gain an insight into the people who inhabit its slopes.
The mountain is home to a variety of tribes, each with their own unique culture and traditions. Those wishing to explore the local cultures are advised to stay with a local family or a mountain lodge, as this provides an excellent opportunity to learn about the people, their customs, beliefs and way of life. Exploring the culture of the people of Kilimanjaro is an unforgettable experience and can leave climbers with memories that last a lifetime.
Timing and Weather on Kilimanjaro
The most important factor when planning to climb Kilimanjaro is to consider when to go. The best time to attempt the climb is usually during the dry season, which spans from January to February, June to October and December. The weather during the dry season is typically cloudless and mild, creating the ideal conditions for climbing. However, it is important to remember that the mountains can be unpredictable, and conditions can deteriorate rapidly at any time.
It is also important to remember that the higher one climbs, the colder it will become. As such, it is essential to bring appropriate clothing and equipment in order to remain warm. This is especially important during the night, when temperatures can plummet. Layering up clothing will help to retain the body’s heat, while also allowing for quick changes should the temperature become too hot.
Finally, it is important to remember that the mountain requires respect, and that bad weather can sometimes cause dangerous conditions. Those who do not respect the mountain can find themselves in situations where they may have to turn back without reaching the summit.