Dear friends, among many tips for a successful summit on Mt. Kilimanjaro, Chief’s Tours is happy to give you 7 most important tips for your memorable adventure to the top of Africa aka the world’s highest free-standing mountain.

1. Choose the right route for your Kilimanjaro climb

The most important piece of advice we can give you is to choose your suitable route on the mountain. There are officially seven routes up the mountain which you can choose based on your physical conditions, personal interest, time and budget, etc. One of the biggest issues on Kilimanjaro is people trying to ascend too quickly which will not give them the necessary time to acclimatize to the low levels of oxygen.  We, as a team, would never step foot on Kilimanjaro with less than a 5 days at a trek even though most of our climbers take it minimum from 6-8 days. At 5,895m (19,341feet), Kilimanjaro’s summit is at a very high level of altitude and it shouldn’t be underestimated. The reason many people choose a shorter trek on Kilimanjaro is because of the lower costs associated with it.  For every extra day you spend on the mountain, the cost goes up quite a bit, however, when you are signing up to an adventure like this, we would want to do everything possible to be successful and fully enjoy our time on the mountain.  If you do not reach your goal because you wanted to save a couple hundred dollars, it may cost you a lot more to come back to Tanzania to try to conquer the holy mountain again.
Chiefs’ Tours is always willing to listen to you and give you the best advice so you can choose the most suitable route for your memorable achievement.

2. Train, Train, Train!

We know that Kilimanjaro is considered a trekking peak, and you do not need any technical training to complete this climb, but that does not mean that you do not need any training. Kilimanjaro is a peak that is accessible for most reasonably fit individuals, but you do have to physically prepare your body if you want to fully enjoy your adventure.  We recommend that you spend at least four days a week doing some sort of intense physical exercise for approximately three to four months prior to the starting date of your climb.

3. Be mentally prepared

Physical preparation is important, but the mental one is even more! One of the reasons why people give up in the middle of their attempt to reach Uhuru Peak is lack of mental self-support. It is not just the mountain we conquer, it’s ourselves. And there’s always something more beautiful and impressive to see after the long journey we passed. Always tell yourselves: I can do it! We can do it! No matter hard it is, keep moving forward and don’t forget to enjoy the stunning landscape along the way, many of fauna and flora species can only be seen once in your lifetime!

Depending on your level of comfort with mountain life, you may also need to prepare yourself for what will come. Luckily, we are all lovers of the outdoor activities and feel comfortable with the hiking trips including camping, bugs, dirt, baby wipe showers, and going to the toilet outdoors!  Please note that all accommodation on our Kilimanjaro trips is camping, and sleep is essential when you are on the mountain, so you need to be prepared for 6-8 nights of camping.  Obviously, showers are non-existent on the mountain, so the only way to keep you clean is to use baby wipes and a bowl of warm water each day. Although we do provide private toilets on our climbs for those who wish to have. Please prepare yourself for the discomforts the holy mountain may bring, as you do not want to arrive on Kilimanjaro and have higher expectations and be disappointed. Chiefs’ Tours have been trying to give you the best things we can do including best equipment, best food, best guidance, and best mental support!

4. Make sure you have the right clothing

There are many kinds of gear and clothing that are essential for our trip on Kilimanjaro, and we don’t mention every piece of gear you need for the trip, we only highlight some of the specific gears that prove to be essential. Please kindly refer to our climbing checklist and well note that Chief’s Tours can provide you with everything you don’t have. Surely you don’t need to leave home with a heavy luggage!

Firstly, your feet are one of the most important parts of the body to take care of when trekking.  Never skip on footwear when you are going on a trip like Kilimanjaro. Buy a good, sturdy, waterproof pair of trekking boots and make sure that you break them in before you leave for Africa.

Secondly, treat yourself with a good down jacket with at least 650 fill down with more down, but if you can afford it, we would stick with a 700 or 750 fill down. Remember that every brand and style is different and if you are questioning your down coat, make sure to ask the advice of a professional before the trip as this piece of gear can be essential during the cold nights and mornings on the mountain.

Thirdly, having both a platypus (eg. Camelback brand) water carrier and a Nalgene-styled plastic bottle is highly recommended. Drinking water is essential on the mountain and lower down on the mountain. With that said, a Camelback is likely to freeze on summit night and higher up on the mountain, and if you do not have an alternative water bottle like a Nalgene, you will not have any access to water.  Now those three tips are obviously not the only gear you will need on the trip, but these are three essentials that we would make sure to have in your kit bag. Again, please note that we can provide you with all what you don’t have :

5. Keep yourself hydrated

If there is one tip that we can give you while on the mountain, it is to make sure that keeping hydrated is one of your top priorities.  At higher levels of altitude, your body will dehydrate much quicker than it will at sea level, and you will have to make sure you are drinking plenty of water.  We would recommend that you are drinking at least 2.5 – 3 liters of water throughout the day while on the mountain.  This is where the different types of water bottles come in handy. During your trek, we will give you purified and boiled water. Every evening, before they go to bed, they would ask the kitchen staff to fill up your bottles with that safe and hot water and those bottles should go into your sleeping bag to keep your feet and body toasty in your tent while you sleep. And every morning when you wake up, our mountain crew members will bring hot water for your personal hygiene using.

6. Pole pole, slowly and steadily win the race

When taking on a challenge like Kilimanjaro or any long trek/climb, you have to remember that it is a marathon, not a sprint.  Acclimatization to the low levels of oxygen in the mountains requires you to take your time, to slowly get your body used to lack of oxygen. This is absolutely key to your success on the mountain. There is never a time on Kilimanjaro where you should need to walk at a fast pace.  During the majority of the trek (excluding summit night), you should only be walking at a pace that you can carry on a conversation with others, without feeling too much exertion physically. Obviously, there are tougher sections throughout the trek where you may need to stop talking and catch your breath, however you always want to try and keep your pace to a snail’s pace, not a rabbit’s!  On the summit night, this will be different.  You will still be walking at a very slow pace, taking a rest step in-between each step, however, it is highly unlikely that you will have the energy or the extra breath to carry on a conversation.  During my summit of Kilimanjaro, we just keep reminding myself to take deep breaths with each step in through the nose and out through the mouth.  This keeps your pace at a regulated speed and keeps your mind focused on getting in that much-needed oxygen to succeed. So POLE POLE (slow down, slow down) our friends!

7. Remember you are on holidays, enjoy yourself!

The most important thing to remember is that you are on vacation, relax and enjoy yourself!  There is always a lot of spare time when on a trekking trip like Kilimanjaro.  You generally walk anywhere from 4-6 hours a day, with the exception of summit day which is much longer, and therefore have plenty of time when you arrive in camp to relax, rest, and fill your memorable time having fun with your fellow trekkers.  It is important to have this time throughout your journey as they help to keep you positive and relaxed, instead of nervous and stressed.  You also have to keep in mind that you are entering a very different environment than you may be used to when going to Tanzania.  Things may not be done in the same manner as you may be used to at home, by no means does this imply that things are done wrong there, however culture and way of living are just different. So our friends, keep an open mind and remember the fact that there will be cultural differences along the way, so please respect those who are there to help us reach our goals!

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