Climbing to the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the biggest challenges in the world. At 5,895 meters (or 19,340 feet) above sea level, it is the highest peak in Africa, the highest freestanding mountain in the world, and one of the seven summits. Mount Kilimanjaro is located in Tanzania, on the African continent.
Most of the current climbers attempt to reach the peak in seven to eight days, and the expedition is certainly not for the faint of heart. Climbers must climb up through five climate zones, from tropical rainforest to snow-capped summit. The wind can be strong, and the cold temperatures can be extreme. The most popular routes up the mountain are the Machame, Rongai and Marangu routes.
Preparing for a Hike Up Kilimanjaro
The key to success on a hike up Kilimanjaro is to be well prepared. Climbers must make sure that their bodies are sufficiently conditioned for the task at hand, and must make sure to bring the right gear. Necessary items include good quality walking boots, warm clothing and waterproofs, as well as enough food and water. The best time to climb is between December and March, during the dry season.
Before attempting to climb the mountain, climbers should become familiar with Kilimanjaro’s specific terrain, geography and recommended routes. In addition, they should consider traveling with experienced guides and having their fitness assessed by a doctor.
What To Expect At The Peak Of Kilimanjaro
Once climbers reach the peak of Kilimanjaro, there is a summit crater — the caldera of the volcano — and stunning views of Africa’s great plains. They can also expect to be surrounded in snow and sometimes even experience a storm. It is possible to see glaciers and snow-covered peaks from the summit, as well as spectacular views of the flat Serengeti savanna.
Climbing to the top of Kilimanjaro can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but it also requires a certain level of physical and psychological commitment. Those climbers who wish to maximize their chance of reaching the summit should take advantage of advanced strategies — such as acclimatizing in a higher altitude, managing their nutrition and fluids intake and minimizing the risks associated with high altitude climbing — to facilitate the process and prevent altitude-related illnesses.
The Impact Of Climate Change
The glaciers on Mount Kilimanjaro are rapidly retreating as a result of climate change, implying that its summit could be snow-free in just a few decades. This is concerning for locals, who rely on the water which comes from the melting snow, and for the tourism industry, which is a major source of income for many.
Carbon Footprint Trade-Off
The climb to the peak of Kilimanjaro can have a large environmental impact. Those who wish to reduce their carbon footprint should limit their flights and opt for public transport wherever possible.
Survival Skills & Altitude Training
Climbers should take the time to learn valuable survival skills prior to climbing to the peak of Kilimanjaro. These include mapping and navigation, improvisation and campcraft, as well as knowing how to assess the weather and operate in high altitudes.
Staying Safe On The Mountain
Safety is essential when climbing any mountain — especially Kilimanjaro. Therefore, climbers must take into account the risks associated with each segment and make sure that their group is adequately prepared to handle these. They should also know how to identify signs of altitude sickness and take the proper precautions to prevent it.
Investing In Local Communities
Climbing is only a part of the experience. Visitors should be sure to invest in the local economy and give back to the people who live in the area. There are numerous organizations providing education, health and economic opportunities in the region, and climbers can help make a difference in the lives of the people around them.
Climbing the peak of Kilimanjaro is an incredibly inspiring and unique experience. Climbers of all ages and backgrounds have found success on the mountain, and many have gone on to accomplish greater feats in life. For anyone looking to challenge themselves, strive for greater heights, or simply break out of their comfort zone, Kilimanjaro is the perfect place to start.