What To Know Before Climbing Kilimanjaro

What to know Before Climbing Kilimanjaro
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the most rewarding and challenging outdoor adventures available, but it is important to know what to expect before embarking on such a venture. From the necessary training and physical endurance required to the unique geographical and weather conditions at high altitudes, the conditions on Mount Kilimanjaro need to be respected and weathered carefully. Here are the key factors to consider before attempting to summit the highest peak in Africa.

Physical Preparation

The most difficult aspect of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is the altitude, which reaches up to 5,895m. Many climbers underestimate the physical challenge and find themselves in difficulty near the peak. To prepare for the climb, it is recommended that physical preparation begins at least three months before the climb. Regular cardiovascular exercise and strength training is essential for the journey. While time spent in an altitude chamber can give some additional acclimatization and familiarization with the conditions, it is by no means a replacement for real-life altitude training spent in mountain ranges with similar altitudes.

Medical Advice

It is essential to consult with a medical professional before booking a trip to Kilimanjaro. The style of climb should be discussed, in order to decide which vaccines will be necessary. In addition, those who suffer from asthma, anemia, or any medical condition will need to receive the necessary medical advice prior to their departure. In many cases, it may be recommended that an altitude medicine such as Acetazolamide (Diamox) be taken – this will reduce the risk of acute mountain sickness.

Gear and Clothing

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro requires a special kind of apparel and gear. Hikers should pack much more than just the usual rain gear, sunblock and water-purifying pill. They should also pack plenty of warm clothes (such as down jackets or synthetic fleece in case of rain or snow), a sleeping bag rated for temperatures below zero, waterproof gloves and shoes, a first-aid kit, a headlamp, a sun hat and sunglasses. It is also recommended to pack some energy bars or electrolyte drinks for sustenance.

Weather Conditions

Kilimanjaro can be very unpredictable in terms of weather, so an understanding of the changing temperatures and conditions is essential. While the dry season (May–October) is the best time to climb, the temperatures can still range from thirty-degree heat to freezing cold at the summit. Research must be done to ensure that adequate clothing and gear is taken.

Choosing a Guide

The altitude of Kilimanjaro can affect people in different ways, and a knowledgeable guide is essential to increase the chances of success. Many climbers opt for a porter to carry their belongings – while this is a great idea in certain cases (for instance if a lot of camping is involved), it is not necessary for the majority of the routes. The primary choice should be a knowledgeable guide, who can recognize the signs of altitude sickness and provide the necessary support. Experienced climbers may be able to guide themselves, but this is not recommended for first-time climbers.

Getting Acclimatized

Altitude sickness is a common problem for those travelling to Kilimanjaro, but it is preventable. Acclimatization (gradual ascent) is essential for a successful summit attempt and most of the scheduled climbs take up to six days to reach the peak. This allows for the body to gradually adjust to the changing altitude and avoid AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) – it is not recommended to ascend too rapidly and summit attempts should not be attempted within two days of arriving in the region.

Being Responsible and Cautious

Kilimanjaro is a challenging and rewarding experience, but it is not without its risks. It is essential to consider personal safety and the safety of others on the mountain, and to follow all the necessary procedures. Rescue helicopters and mountain guides will be expensive and may only be available in extreme cases. Responsible behavior such as thoughtfully disposing of waste, being aware of wildlife, and adhering to the park regulations are all part of respecting the mountain and helping to maintain its preservation for generations to come.

Respecting the Culture

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro requires respect for the local culture and is an opportunity to learn about the lives of the Tanzanian people. Understanding the local culture is part of truly enjoying the experience. Visiting local villages and speaking to local people is an integral part of the experience and the cultural exchange that happens often leaves the visitor with a much richer experience and appreciation for the land and its people.


The amount of energy consumed on a climb of Kilimanjaro can reach 5000-6000 calories per day. The diet should be supplemented with additional energy, either in the form of energy bars or electrolyte drinks. In order to stay in peak condition, a well-balanced diet low in fat and high in carbohydrates should be consumed before, during and after the climb. Eating meals regularly is also essential for a successful and enjoyable climb.

Altitude and Hygiene

Water is an absolute necessity on Mt. Kilimanjaro, and is recommended to be consumed at least 3 liters per day. Tap water and unboiled water should not be consumed, so it is essential to bring a water bottle and water filters to ensure a clean supply. Proper hygiene is also important, with one shared toilet between many climbers – bringing biodegradable wet wipes and hand sanitizer can help to minimize the risk of contamination and disease.

Herman Shaw is a passionate traveler and avid photographer who has seen many of the world's most awe-inspiring monuments. He has developed expertise in various aspects of world architecture and culture which he enjoys sharing with his readers. With deep historical knowledge and insight, Herman's writing brings life to these remarkable artifacts and highlights their importance in the grand scheme of human history.

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