6 Tips for Climbing Kilimanjaro
Kilimanjaro is located in Tanzania and it stands at 5895m. As you approach this single standing mountain from Moshi, you’ll understand why they call Uhuru Peak the “roof of Africa”.
There are 6 possible routes to the summit, but the route you select depends on your experience and budget. I did the Machame route, which is one of the more popular routes, but still very beautiful and challenging!
Here are 6 tips for Climbing Kilimanjaro
– #1 Eat & Drink –
According to the Columbia University Health Centre, your metabolism may rise as much as 6 – 28 % when at higher altitudes. When you combine this with exercise, there is a very good chance that your body will be burning a lot more calories than usual.
This is different from person to person, but I was hungry 2 hours after eating a large breakfast (2 bowls of porridge, 2 omelettes, toast, a lot of tea and Milo).
My motto is: If you can eat it, then eat it. If you can drink it, then drink it. Don’t be afraid that you’re eating too much, because the chances are that you will be hungry before your next meal.
To combat hunger in between meals, ensure that you have snacks with you. I baked a huge batch of homemade flapjack that I carried with me. Can you see it in the photo above at the Lava Tower (4600m)? This was the only thing I could eat when I felt sick due to altitude sickness, but it was quite heavy and they made me thirsty.
These days, I take raw brownie energy bars on tougher treks (recipe here); they are perfect for keeping you energised between meals.
Healthline recommend drinking 2 litres of water per day and circumstances can call for an increased water intake. This differs from person to person. At higher altitudes, I can drink between 4-6 litres of water per day. I trust my thirst; it is there for a reason.
– #2 Listen to your body –
Are you hungry? Eat.
Are you thirsty? Drink (water)
Generally speaking, it is best to drink when you’re thirsty, or during higher heat or exercise, ensure you drink enough to compensate for the lost fluids. This differs from person to person.
Additionally, Val Health recommend if your urine is yellow at altitude, then this could be the signal to drink more. So, you should be checking your pee…
My guide would always ask “clear and copious?” If it is clear and a lot of pee, then I am hydrated… it is that simple!
Do you have light headedness or a headache? Ask yourself if you can slow the pace down or have you drank enough? Slowing down and drinking more may help. If this doesn’t help and the headaches are unbearable then speak to your guide. It may be possible that you have to descend a bit.
I suffered unbearable headaches and slurred speech around 4300m, but this was because I was hungry and dehydrated. After some water and nibbles, I was good to go!
Remember: if you need to, there is no shame in turning back.
– #3 Cards –
When you arrive at camp each evening, you will have time spare between arrival – food – sleep. This will be your time to do what you want.
Luckily for me, one of the group members brought a pack of cards; this was a fun way to pass the hours and be in the moment, enjoy time with your group and have a laugh.
– #4 Go Slow –
If you think you can walk your normal pace, think again.
Kilimanjaro is a slow walk for a few days. Mentally this is tough because all you want to do is walk at your own pace, but this can hinder acclimatization, cause headaches and dizziness.
So, take it steady, enjoy the views, talk with the guides and your tour buddies. Even learn some Swahili.
– #5 Stretch –
Live Strong mention that stretching can help to reduce the severity of post-workout pain and delayed onset muscle soreness (usually 24-48 hours after a workout).
Kilimanjaro is a hike over several days; therefore stretching daily can help to reduce onset muscle soreness as you progress up the mountain.
I took 10 minutes when I reached camp each evening to stretch out, which helped me to relax and prepare for the next day. You never know, your guides might join in too…
– #6 Have Fun –
For many of you, this will be a once in a lifetime trip, so enjoy it. Be in the moment; absorb the sounds, the smells, the sensations and the stars. Practice some yoga or enjoy being above the clouds, drink tea and smile.
For many, the journey to the summit is the best part. I felt so ill that I didn’t want to spend much time at the summit… so enjoy the journey 🙂
Love and peace