The best training by far to climb Kilimanjaro is to get your walking boots on and get lots of miles under your belt. Whether this is two to three hours walking locally or full days away on your nearest hills you just need to clock up lots of hours on your feet as more than anything else it is just walking every day for 7 days that people find tiring. And the best cure for this is to have spent lots of hours just walking.
Of course, if you can get away for a couple of weekends walking in the months immediately before your climb that is the perfect preparation to harden off the muscles and joints. If you can't do this, make sure that in this month you do build in a number of aerobic activities that are intense enough to make your heart really work. At SHRIKE we are all fans of HIT, relatively short blasts of high-intensity exercise like rowing or spinning which are proven to boost cardio fitness very effectively.
And finally, you must remember stretching: more injuries are caused by stiff and tight muscles than anything and establishing a routine of stretching before you climb that you try to keep up while you are on the mountain is an excellent way to prevent injuries. So get that date with destiny booked, put on your boots and get out there walking!
Each day as you climb Kilimanjaro you will burn about 4000 calories. This is almost double your normal intake. On summit night you will burn well over 6000 calories. And as mountaineers say, you need to fuel the climb! So even if you have lost your appetite because of the effects of altitude you have to keep eating. Our menus are designed to be varied and really tasty but even if you don't feel hungry you must eat. Before you travel to Tanzania find a number of snacks that you really enjoy. Bring a good and varied supply. Even if you love Mars Bars you can find that when you are faced with your third in a night they are not quite so appetizing.
And drinking plenty is even more important than eating. In the cold, dry air it is very easy to become dehydrated. Symptoms of dehydration are very similar to altitude sickness. It is not uncommon for someone to descend and then find that all they needed was lots of water. You will be given 2 liters of water daily. There will also be unlimited amounts of hot drinks at breakfast and dinner. You must ensure that you keep drinking. As a good guide, if your pee is yellow you are under-hydrated and need to drink more. Try to look after yourself on Kilimanjaro in such away.
Good equipment starts with your feet. Do not turn up for your climb in a shiny new pair of boots. Make sure your boots are well worn in and are comfortable. After your feet make sure you are looking after your head. On the lower slopes you will need something that provides good sun protection. For summit night you need a really warm beanie or even balaclava. These can double up as a nightcap on really cold nights.
Finally, think about clothing layers. The daily temperature variation can be as much as 35c. The best way of coping with this is with layering rather than relying on one single jacket. Also, we strongly recommend gaiters and mittens. Kilimanjaro is very dusty and a boot full of dust is very uncomfortable. And we have not found a pair of gloves that are really warm enough for summit night so make sure to pack mittens or over-mittens.
Other critical items are a 4 season sleeping bag, trekking poles for the descent, a head torch for the night climb, a comfortable day pack and lots and lots of high factor sunscreen. We recommend the next packing list for climbing Kilimanjaro that you can review right now!
The single biggest reason why people fail to the summit is because they have not acclimatized well. We have lots of information on acclimatization on how to avoid altitude sickness but there are three key points to remember. First is to go slowly. No matter how fit you are, if you go too quickly the risk of getting altitude sickness goes up. You will always hear our guides advising "Pole Pole", Swahili for slowly, slowly. As a good measure of your speed, if you cannot manage a conversation comfortably you are going fast.
Second is hydration, the really serious problems caused by altitude are due to changes in pressure. This happens badly in the lungs where fluid from your blood leaks into your lungs giving pneumonia-like symptoms. It also happens in your skull where fluid moves from your brain into the gap between the brain and the skull causing pressure headaches. If you are poorly hydrated you will increase the risk that this becomes a problem.
And third is consider taking Diamox. This is a drug that is proven to help the body acclimatize to altitude faster. It is not a cure though and you can still get ill taking it. For most people though it is a safe way to reduce the risk of getting ill. You will need to see your doctor to obtain a prescription for Diamox. He can assess you personally for suitability.
Machame is one of the older and more popular routes on Kilimanjaro. It is for physically fit people with some hiking experience. Because of the popularity, Machame gets incredibly crowded especially during the high seasons. On this route, we start our summit climb at midnight. Accommodation: Camping Best Season: May to February Party Size: Min 1 to Max 12 Guests Skill Level: Moderate (Summit Day Difficult) Duration: 9-Day itinerary | 7 Days Trekking
The Lemosho route is preferred by most Shrike trekkers. It is a longer route, allowing trekkers to acclimatize more readily to the altitude. This extra time increases enjoyment, and your chances of summiting. Lemosho is also one of the more scenic routes up Kilimanjaro and does NOT require a midnight summit ascent. A daytime summit is much preferred, as climbers avoid the crowds at the summit. The overnight in the crater more rewarding. Accommodation: Camping Best Season: May to February Skill Level: Moderate (Summit Day Difficult) Duration: 11-Day itinerary | 9 Days Trekking
The Northern Circuit is Shrike's newest route on Kilimanjaro. We take 11 days to traverse the entire mountain, trekking over the untouched northern slopes. On this track, the views are nothing short of spectacular and unpopulated; it is true wilderness, and rarely trekked. Because of the longer duration, you will acclimatize well, making your summit easier, and truly rewarding. Accommodation: Camping Best Season: May to February Party Size: Min 1 to Max 12 Guests Skill Level: Moderate (Summit Day Difficult) Duration: 13-Day itinerary and 11 Days Trekking
There are eight routes to climb Mount Kilimanjaro that are authorized by the National Park- these are Marangu, Machame, Western Breach and Umbwe approaching the mountain from the North, the Lemosho, Shira and Northern Circuit approaching from the West and Rongai approaching from the north.
Of these, we recommend the three routes with a good success rate, being the Machame, Lemosho and Northern Circuit on a regular schedule. Other routes are available on request. This is our quick guide to choosing the best route for you to climb Kilimanjaro. For the best chance of success, good scenery and a reasonable budget check out the Machame route. For great scenery, a quieter start and a more relaxed daily schedule, the 9-day Lemosho route is a great choice. If money is no problem and you have 11 days the Northern circuit is a sensational, beautiful route and very quiet