Are you ready for the ultimate challenge? 1.53 million tourists visited Tanzania in 2019. Many of them went to Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa.
Climbing Kilimanjaro is quite the feat, and it will let you see natural wonders you can’t find elsewhere. Yet you can’t just put on a nice pair of shoes and go for a hike. Hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro requires a few different steps.
What do you need to do to prepare for a trip to Kilimanjaro? What is hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro training like? How can you stay safe on the mountain?
Answer these questions and you can reach the roof of Africa in no time. Here are seven tips you should follow.
1. Hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro Is Dangerous
Mount Kilimanjaro is a safer mountain to climb than Everest or K2. But people have died on the mountain due to altitude sickness, edemas, and heart attacks.
You may not die on the mountain, but you can get injured while climbing. Some people break bones or sustain concussions after falling.
If you think that Mt. Kilimanjaro hiking will threaten your health, you should not hike the mountain. You should not hike if you have heart disease, mobility problems, or congestion issues.
2. You Need to Make Travel Plans for Tanzania
Mount Kilimanjaro is located in Tanzania. You must apply for a visa in order to enter the country, and you must have a valid passport for six months before you apply.
You may apply for a passport online or when you arrive at the airport. However, it is easier to apply in advance through the Tanzanian embassy in the United States. It can take weeks for embassy officials to process your papers, so you should plan for your vacation a few months in advance.
Check the Department of State’s travel advisories for Tanzania. The government currently allows American tourists to travel to Tanzania, though it advises tourists to take security precautions.
Americans have gotten robbed, carjacked, and scammed while in the country. You may want to travel with security personnel or talk to a security company before you hike Kilimanjaro.
3. You Should Get Help
Besides talking to security personnel, you should talk to tour companies. They can help you train for Kilimanjaro and they can help with climbing up the mountain.
Spend your time doing research on different tour companies. Some of them promise you that they will take you to the summit in a few days. This is dangerous, as you do not have time to acclimate.
You may also want to go with a friend, partner, or climbing buddy. Going with someone else can reduce your chances of getting scammed and give you the incentive to reach the summit.
4. You Must Pick a Route to Hike
There are a few different Kilimanjaro routes. The most popular route is the Marangu route, which is one of the easiest routes to get up the mountain. However, thousands of people use the route to hike Mt. Kilimanjaro, so you will encounter long lines and won’t see beautiful scenery.
The Lemosho route has smaller crowds, though the terrain is more difficult. You can see panoramic vistas, plateaus, and ridges you cannot find along other routes. You should spend around a week hiking the route, but you can take longer to acclimate.
The Northern Circuit route is one of the newest routes on the mountain. As the name suggests, it goes through the northern slopes of Kilimanjaro, which are not known to many climbers. The crowds are very thin and you will see varied panoramas.
5. You Should Get in Shape
Once you’ve decided what route you want to climb, you should start training. Go on long walks so you build your heart and muscle strength. If you live near a mountain, you should go hiking up it so you know what hiking uphill is like.
Rock climbing can also help you build muscle and coordinate your hands and feet. Visit a rock climbing gym and try scaling a few different walls.
Don’t push yourself too hard. Try exercising a few times a week, and make sure to rest after each workout. You should also drink plenty of water so you don’t get dehydrated.
6. You Must Climb Gradually
The higher you hike up the mountain, the thinner the air is. You must spend time acclimating so the lack of oxygen does not affect you. You must also spend time resting after a strenuous day of hiking.
This means you should give yourself at least one extra day in case the lack of oxygen or stress gets to you. Talk to your tour guide if you are encountering problems and need help.
7. You Must Pay Attention to Your Health
The signs of altitude sickness may appear suddenly. You may become dizzy and feel fatigued, sometimes for no apparent reason.
As time goes on, you may suffer from coordination problems. You may develop tightness in your chest, which can make it hard to breathe or lie down.
Fluid can build up inside your lungs, which prevents oxygen from traveling to your tissues. This can cause your skin and nails to turn blue, and you may develop confusion and extreme fatigue.
At the end of each day, talk to your tour guide about what you are feeling. If you encounter sudden symptoms, you should go to a camp doctor to get help. Get off the mountain if you feel like you can’t breathe or if you have symptoms of a fluid buildup.
Get Ready for Hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro
Hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro requires time and persistence. You must be in good physical shape and you must have your paperwork in order. Talk to a tour guide so you hike with a team.
Pick a route you want to use and then train for your hiking trip. Prepare for the mountain by hiking, rock climbing, and going on long walks. When you get to the mountain, prioritize your safety by going slowly and monitoring yourself for altitude sickness.
The more you know about mountain climbing, the better you’ll do. Read more mountain climbing guides by following our coverage.