Things to know before climbing Kilimanjaro
Kilimanjaro is 6 days of trekking. 4 days walking up and 2 days down. Here is some advice for you to take on board before heading out to Tanzania.
- You will need to become at one with nature.
Whilst there are “toilets” on Kilimanjaro. They are in the style of a long drop. If you don’t know what this is, it’s basically an outhouse (which is very smelly) with a hole. Whilst at camp you will be able to use long drops, but during the day whilst trekking it is a case of dash behind the biggest rock and do your business. Do not try and hold your wee, you are drinking up to 4 liters of water a day in order to stay hydrated at altitude. Holding all that in will prove no small task, and could make you unwell.
- The guides are amazing
Whilst on Kilimanjaro you will have a group of guides and porters who will look after you. They are your mountain family and often the only reason you make it to Uhuru Peak. You will have a group of guides, one of whom is the head guide and in charge, and one guide who is the leader at the front of the group setting the pace. Your porters carry all your gear, tents, cooking supplies and water up the mountain. They carry approx. 20kg of kit on their back, often racing ahead of you to have camp ready. They are amazing and from day 1 they will have your respect.
- Learn some of the local lingo
Whilst all your guides will speak English, the local language in Tanzania is Swahili. Here are some top words you may want to learn before heading out to Kilimanjaro.
Karibu – Welcome
Jambo – Hello
Asante Sana – Thank you
Pole Pole – Slowly Slowly (this phrase will be repeated almost hourly whilst on your trek!)
Ni umbali gani? – How far is it?
- Summit Night is Hard – Be Determined
The final push on summit night is hard. Nothing can prepare your body for it. After very little sleep the night before you will be awoken, have pulled on so many layers that you are a walking penguin and you will be trudging in pitch black simply following the head torches in front of you. Six hours later you will still be walking and it will take everything in you to keep going. You will question why you signed up to take on Kilimanjaro. But you will dig deep and find the strength (a snack bar may help here). You will think about all the people who donated to your amazing cause. You will picture yourself at Uhuru Peak with your arms in the air celebrating. Before you know it Uhuru Peak will be in the distance and you will have a huge wave of relief and achievement.
- You have to climb down
After being so focused on reaching the top you may forget that you will need to climb down too. A lot quicker than going up, you will take a day and a half to return to the bottom of Kilimanjaro. But you will be on a high from summiting the world’s tallest freestanding mountain.