Reaching Kilimanjaro’s Summit
Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak, a iconic symbol of the continent, is an adventure of a lifetime. While the stunning aesthetic beauty of this majestic volcano beguiles the observer, the feat of reaching the Uhuru peak requires physical and mental fortitude. As glaciers start melting due to changing climate, climber’s rush to summit Kilimanjaro in record time. But, its not just about the fervour or thrill of conquering the summit, if done properly, it can be a rewarding journey. The easiest way to get to summit is by taking the 6 days Marangu Route referred to as the “Walk Up Route”. Though there are fewer stunning views of the savannah plains, Marangu Route is known to be the “easiest” way to the top.
Physical Condition Required
The primary factor in climbing Kilimanjaro is physical fitness. To ensure safety and an enjoyable experience, fitness and preparation should be the first priority of a climber. Although the Marangu route may be considered easier, in comparison to others, altitude sickness is still a major concern. To prepare for the journey, everyday exercise such as running, swimming, hiking and weight training is highly recommended. As the altitude increases, acclimatization becomes crucial and it helps to be well hydrated, eat well and take rest days. The Marangu Route climbs 5,895 meters (19,341ft) in six days.
Planning the Trip
When it comes to actually climbing the mountain, there are some important considerations. Firstly, pick an experienced guide who can help along the way by offering advice, expertise, and logistical support. Additionally, it is important to have the right gear. Proper clothing can make a big difference on the mountain. It’s recommended to use layers for insulation and good waterproof boots. Planning ahead and pre-purchasing gear and supplies is essential. Most importantly, there is too much to be gained by having company along the way. Its much more fun and supportive to have companions with similar ambitions.
Tackling Altitude Sickness
The biggest risk while climbing Kilimanjaro is altitude sickness. Being aware and prepared is key. Altitude Sickness usually occurs when climbers ascend too quickly as the body is not able to adapt to the lack of oxygen. Subsequently, many people decide to take medication such as Diamox as a preventive measure. It is also important to constantly monitor vital signs and consult the doctor if any of the symptoms appear.
Climbing the Kilimanjaro
The experience of climbing the Kilimanjaro is unique and incomparable. As the summit is reached, the views of the clouds, the sweeping savannah plains and the glaciers below is beyond mesmerising. Even though the summit is the last objective, the route to it is equally rewarding. The lush forests, the alpine moorlands and the striking landscape of lush green mountains present amazing visuals. On some nights the Milky Way will appear, beckoning the climbers like a beacon pointing to the summit.
The beauty of Kilimanjaro has unfortunately been a victim of climate change and individual traveler’s poor waste management. As glaciers have started receding, scrub and wastelands have emerged in their previous place. Despite the Tanzanian government has stringent restrictions on the number of climbers each day and a waste disposal policy in place, many local guides and travelers still cause damage to the environment.
Staying Safe and Enjoying the Journey
Above all, safety should be the priority of every climber alike. Reaching the summit is the pinnacle of the journey, but the route to it should be pleasant and safe. An average of 10 people die every year while climbing due to lack of experience and proper preparation. Therefore, it is essential to stay alert, keep an eye on the equipment, stay in contact with the guides and follow the directives. The journey is a journey of a lifetime, and although achieving the summit is the ultimate goal, the journey can be equally rewarding.
Weather Conditions on Kilimanjaro
The weather on Kilimanjaro is unpredictable and can vary greatly from chilly evenings to warm days. Throughout the year, temperatures can drop to -10 degrees Fahrenheit on the summit. During the day, temperatures can range from 14-68 degrees Fahrenheit. For this reason, it’s important for climbers to bring the proper clothing and equipment. Special attention should be paid to outerwear such as jackets, gloves, and hats. Additionally, climbers should bring sunscreen and sunglasses as a protection from the elements.
Wildlife in Kilimanjaro
Kilimanjaro is home to a variety of wildlife throughout its terrain, from the guereza to the Kilimanjaro Colobus. As climbers ascend, they are likely to see various wild animals roaming the terrain. Elephants, baboons, and hyenas inhabiting the area often roam the base of the mountain during the night or early morning. Furthermore, different species of birds, including the phenomenal lammergeyer, eagles, and vultures inhabit the airspace of the mountain.
Acclimating to the Altitude on Kilimanjaro
The key to a successful climb is acclimatization. This is especially true at the higher altitudes. As the body becomes accustomed to the lower levels of oxygen, the stronger and more capable climbers become. It is essential to take rest days throughout the climb in order to give the body time to recover and acclimate to the higher altitudes. These days should be used to recharge, rest, and hydrate. It is also important to stay hydrated throughout the climb.
Voluntary Conservation Projects
Kilimanjaro’s beauty is not only breathtaking, it’s unique: it’s home to multiple threatened species – from the endangered North African black rhino, to the marvelous parrot-like turaco bird. This ecological treasure trove is at risk of dwindling as a result of numerous threats, most of them coming from the effects of human activity. For this reason climber’s have created voluntary conservation projects to help protect Kilimanjaro’s ecology and help preserve its biodiversity.
Different Climbing Routes
This stunning mountain can be climbed by following five different routes. Each of the routes provides different experiences and challenges depending on the climber’s projections. The Machame Route is known as the “whiskey route” and is probably the most scenic as it offers closely views of the glacier. The Marangu Route is the most popular and quickest route with bits of rainforest and stunning views. The Lemosho Route is considered to be the most beautiful with a wide range of varied vegetation. The Umbwe Route is considered difficult with some technical climbing and difficult terrain. Last but not least, is the Rongai Route, which offers breathtaking views of the summit and is the most challenging.
Climbing Kilimanjaro requires a permit, and any person wishing to climb the mountain must acquire one. These permits are issued by the Kilimanjaro National Park Authority (KINAPA) and are obligatory. The permits are issued on a first come, first serve basis and usually sell out quickly. It is advised that climbers purchase the permits well in advance to secure their spot. Any person wanting to attempt a climb must also purchase a rescue fee, environmental fee and camping fees.