Hikers travel from all corners of the globe to climb to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Although climbing to the top of the Roof of Africa is not an easy task, you stand a better chance of success if you are adequately prepared and equipped for it. Here is a look at 5 key tips to guide you on this preparation:
Have the Right Attitude
It is often said that success is dependent on 75% attitude and 25% effort. Attitude is fundamental when it comes to conquering Mt. Kilimanjaro, the world’s highest free standing mountain. You should set your mind to the task and convince yourself that you must make it. Getting to the highest point, the Uhuru Peak at 5895M, calls for you to know the kind of challenges to expect along the way, and to be ready to overcome them when you finally encounter them. It does not matter how tired you will feel along the way as long as you keep going up. If you start with the right mental disposition no challenge will be too big for you to overcome.
However, even with the right attitude, you may require a little expert help. Estimates show that about 65% of hikers fail to reach the peak. Your determination to increase your chances of success might require that you seek the services of a reputable operator to help you. Organized tours are preferred for this kind of arrangement, as they offer the best experience.
Prepare for Success
Proper mental preparation involves setting clear cut goals. It is very important to do so when you set yourself to conquer Africa’s highest mountain. Indeed, hiking experts strongly advise on mental preparation as the key to overcoming 50% of the challenges that you are likely to encounter along the way. The reason for having a strong mental preparation is simple. You are likely to encounter two kinds of people as you climb up: those who have success stories, and those who did not make it to the top. Of course, the anecdotes of those who succeed are likely to buoy you up. However, it is the ones who have given up that will dampen your resolve. If you are not properly prepared mentally, you could be influenced to give up along the way. Therefore, before you embark on the climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro set your goals; and ensure that you stick to your objective to the very end.
A level of physical fitness is also necessary if you are to successfully reach the summit. You can do some practice hikes to improve on your stamina in readiness for the climb. Also, make a point to see your doctor for a medical exam before departure. You would not want to get an ailment at close to 20,000 feet.
You must remember, however, that no amount of determination should supersede your health. Ensure that your AMS symptoms are closely monitored. Listen to the guides if they advise that you descend.
Be Prepared for Altitude Sickness
Altitude sickness is a common condition that is experienced by hikers who tackle very high altitude areas. At over 19,341 feet high, the biggest cause of failed summit attempts in Mt. Kilimanjaro is altitude sickness. It is a condition that might make you want to give up on the quest altogether. Altitude sickness is characterized by nausea, muscle cramps, extreme exhaustion, diarrhea and severe head ache. It can affect anyone, regardless of their level of physical fitness. Fortunately, there is medication (like Ibuprofen and Diamox) that you can take before the climb to mitigate the effects of altitude sickness.
Another good way to fight altitude sickness on the ascent of Mt. Kilimanjaro is to acclimatize. You can do so by choosing a route that has a gentle ascent – one that will take not less than 6 days.
Hikers are advised to strike a balance between what you need, and travelling light. Mt. Kilimanjaro’s climate is quite diverse, and a variety of clothing is needed. Among the must-have items are sun protection, warm clothes for the upper reaches, a first aid kit and a sleeping bag. It is possible to hire most of these equipment on-site. Be keen on quality as you do so.
The key to traveling light lies in packing only what you need. It is possible to hire porters on-site, and many of them are able to carry loads of up to 20kgs. If you decide to use them, remember to carry some cash for their tip.
Budget for the Trip
A Mt. Kilimanjaro hike costs anywhere in the region of $2,500 to $5,500 per person. This amount is inclusive of food, camping, transportation to and from the mountain, guides, porters and park fees. Most of the guides and porters speak Swahili, but they also have a good command of English, so communication skills should not be an issue. They are usually well trained and can handle basic emergencies. It is common practice to tip the porters: carry some cash for this.
You may want to use the shorter routes to save on some money, but remember this will compromise on your acclimatization attempts, and you could end up suffering from altitude sickness and failing to reach the summit.
Being the world’s highest walkable mountain, Mt. Kilimanjaro provides an allure that is irresistible. The above five tips should provide you with the guidelines you need to pass through the five climate zones that you will encounter as you summit the Roof of Africa.