Reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro has been an enticing challenge since its introduction to the world of mountaineering in the late 1800’s. After its first successful climb in 1889 by a team of German and Austrian climbers, the once daunting task of conquering Kilimanjaro was opened up to other daring adventurists. Even though modern trekking routes have made the task of reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro more attainable by the untrained hiker, the mountain still provides an experience unparalleled to anything on the rest of the continent of Africa.
Most trekking routes take between 6 and 7 days to ascend and descend the mountain. Important considerations are taken to acclimatize travelers to the altitude which can cause many health issues if not handled properly. Travelers from abroad fly into Kilimanjaro International airport. A second option is to fly into Nairobi, Kenya which will require 5-6 hours of additional ground transportation. Kilimanjaro is located in the eastern part of Africa in Tanzania close to the border of Kenya.
With a height of 5895 meters, Kilimanjaro is the highest point in Africa and the tallest free-standing mountain in the world. It consists of three different volcanic mountains, Kibo, Mawenzi, and Shira, with Kibo being the highest.
What to pack
The trek to the summit of Kilimanjaro will take travelers through various different climates and weather conditions. Parts of the trek may also include traversing water covered portions of the trail. It is essential to pack proper hiking gear including boots, thermal socks, hiking poles, rain jackets, polar fleece, and thermal underwear to keep warm while hiking in higher altitudes. A camera is always useful as well as plenty of batteries.
Preparation for the trek is one of the most important factors in having a successful climb. It is recommended to train for the 6-7 day trek by having a regular exercise regimen that includes lots of distance workouts such as biking, running or swimming. Above everything else, going for hikes for up to 6 hours is the best way to get used to the rigors that will be experienced on the mountain. Try to include a multi-day hike into the training plan for this mountain adventure. Even though access to the trails of Kilimanjaro has opened up to travelers all around the world, this does not mean that it has become an easy task. Altitude sickness, extreme climate changes, and long arduous hikes make this challenge more worthwhile when it is finally completed. Do not expect cushy hotels or luxury restaurants either. This trek is not for the faint of heart.