The ultimate neat guide to climbing Mount Kilimanjaro (or any mountain as a matter of fact).

Friday, March 25, 2016 Hiking and Walking by Elina Pedersen

When my husband told me he would love to climb Mount Kilimanjaro I was skeptical at first.

Don’t get me wrong:

I am an ultimate activity fan and I don’t shy away from tents, camping or absence of shower.

I simply wasn’t sure of how my body would react to altitude.

Moreover, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in 6 days and walking 12-14h a day is not one of my usual holiday choices.

Especially knowing that I won’t even speak with my friends during the climb.

Here is the kicker:

Hiking in high altitude is hard and breathing slowly and steadily is the key, so its impossible to chat, as catching your breath might be a challenge.

However, I said – “Hell, Yes!”

Mount Kilimanjaro doesn’t require you to be extremely fit, so if you are comfortable with running 6k in under an hour you will most likely be fine in regards to your fitness.

Vegetation Mount Kilimanjaro

You might be wondering:

So what’s the real challenge?

The real challenge at Mount Kilimanjaro is Altitude Sickness, which you can’t do much about, just make sure you drink plenty of water and to be on the safe side just bring some altitude pills with you.

One of my friends started feeling the symptoms at 3000m.

So guess what she did?

She took Diamox straight away. The rest of the climb was a piece of cake for her and she was laughing and making jokes all the way to the top.

She also said, I quote:

“I was looking for a way to feel drunk without drinking, there we go, I found it, Woohoo!”.

As for me, I felt very sick in the last camp at 4600m and I wish I took some pills before, as it was absolutely pointless to take the pills right before we summit.

All in all, you will find a lot of tips on the Internet about what you should and shouldn’t do before you go hiking up Kili, nonetheless, you won’t find any neat tips to feel comfortable during the 6 days climb.

Most of them you will spend in dust, dirt and cold.

So here we are:

7 Neat Tips to Climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Comfort

#1 Black nail polish

If you are like me and a girl, you most likely can’t tolerate your nails being dirty. I’ve spent a lot of time cleaning them and it only takes about 5 to 10 minutes for them to get dirty again.

With black nail polish your nails will look clean and tidy and at least looking at your nails won’t frustrate you during the Kilimanjaro hike.

#2 Braid your hair

If your hair is a bit longer than your shoulders you will most likely want to braid your hair.

I suggest getting African braids that you won’t have to worry about for the entire week (You are in Africa after all and locals will love it too).

If you have short hair you should be fine with dry shampoo. Mount Kilimanjaro is very dusty and windy; no matter how hard you try you won’t be able to keep up with the mountain winds.

African Braids

Our hair beautifully braided on the evening the day before we started hiking.

#3 Wet wipes to the rescue

I took a “wet wipe shower” twice a day and felt clean most of the day.

Don’t forget!

You will only get a small bowl of hot water from porters twice a day after hiking the mountain, which is ultimately enough for washing your face and brushing your teeth.

#4 Don’t be shy, bring a pee bag

I laughed at my friends who told me to take one.

It’s gross isn’t it?

Well next time I will bring two.

It’s cold at night (below 0 C) and trust me, you really don’t want to leave the tent to go to the toilet.

Personally, I can’t fall asleep if I feel that I need to go, so every now and then I procrastinated before going and I really shouldn’t have done that. I’ve only shortened my sleep time trying to fall asleep before getting up and finally going to the toilet.

#5 Hand sanitiser is a must

It’s Africa. Without much said your body isn’t used to local bacteria and having diarrhea during the Kili hike is probably as bad as having a sever case of altitude sickness.

Okay, maybe not as bad…

…but I really wouldn’t want to find out.

#6 Use a waterproof backpack

My backpack wasn’t and on the first day all of my cloths were wet. The porters will most likely put your backpack in a waterproof bag, but it may not help.

It took a few days for everything to dry up and since the first level of the mountain is in a jungle;

– When it rains, it pours, literally!

#7 Find your internal peace

This might be the strangest item on the list, but frankly, I think it applies to any mountain you may decide to climb and hiking Kilimanjaro is not an exception.

If you are feeling hectic and rushing (even simply in your thoughts) you will find it much harder to summit.

The climb is challenging and unless you find a way to “meditate on the go” you might struggle.

Karangu Camp Machame Route

Evening at the Karanga camp (Machame route)

So here we are…

This is it for my shortlist and although it doesn’t include all the usual “pole, pole, drink water, walk slowly” tips this is what I thought I should share.

And by the way…

If you can’t climb it –

Kilimanjaro beer

Drink it!

Lastly, because I’ve made a promise and of course because Activity Fan is all about promoting local providers: we climbed with Seleman (Sele) Hozza.

Sele also organized a Safari for us before the Kilimanjaro climb (btw, if you are thinking of doing one, do it before the climb since it will give you some time to rest after the flight and acclimatize at 2000m).

There are many options you can do, but most of Tanzanian Safaris are tailor made. We did a 3 day trip that covered Ngorongoro crater, Tarangire National Park and Lake Manyara National Park and guess what?

I wrote a blog post about our Tanzanian Safari.

But back to Seleman!

He was amazing, so was all of his team.

What really fascinated me about him is that he felt responsible for the mountain and for Tanzanians that worked with him (he kept thanking us for coming to Africa, as he was able to give jobs to his fellow Tanzanians).

But that’s not all:

Sele was also inspiring and funny and he did his outmost for us to make it to the top.

You won’t believe this but…

…Sele doesn’t have a website and works through referrals and agencies (so basically if you book with an agency, you might end up paying more, but climbing with the same guide).

So my advice is:

If you are thinking of climbing Kili drop him a line: selehozza@yahoo.com and I am sure he will make your climb an unforgettable success.

So what do you think?

I would love to hear what your tips are so simply comment below.

Smile and do something amazing today!

Elina

Uhuru Peak - Mount Kilimanjaro

This is me at Uhuru Peak 5895m at 6:50 AM on Monday morning 29/02/2016.