You are finally climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Whether you have already booked your Kilimanjaro climb, or you are still looking: There will come a time that you have to think about what to bring to the world’s tallest freestanding mountain and other things. Think of Flights to Kilimanjaro, training for Kilimanjaro, Kilimanjaro travel insurance and a kit list for example. Because, if you have ever been exposed to the elements, you know that gear and equipment are essential. We want to make it easier for you and therefore we present you this convenient Kilimanjaro preparation blog post with everything you need at this stage.
Updated in March 2020
Kilimanjaro preparation is not an easy one. Which Kilimanjaro routes are there? Which flights go to Kilimanjaro? Which Kilimanjaro kit list is the best? What about Kilimanjaro training? Do you have any tips for Kilimanjaro to ease my nerves? There are many things that come your way when you are preparing for Kilimanjaro. Fortunately, our trekking experts have gone before you and wrote you this helpful blog post to make some facets of your Kilimanjaro preparation easier.
Cheap Flights to Kilimanjaro
If you have decided on your dates and are ready to book your Kilimanjaro climb or have already booked that, it is time to find flights. If you don't want to miss out on good deals, this really is one of the first steps. You can still get that kit list sorted closer to date but the airlines won't be waiting for you. Flights to Kilimanjaro land on Kilimanjaro International Airport, IATA airport code JRO. Use that code when you want to be 100% sure that you are flying to Kilimanjaro and not Arusha.
Having said that, Arusha (RAK) can get you some cheap flights to Kilimanjaro. You may have an extra layover somewhere on the way, but it can work out positively on your fare. It's also not that far from Mount Kilimanjaro and Moshi, which is usually the start point for your Kilimanjaro climb. The following airlines offer flights to Kilimanjaro International Airport:
- Qatar Airways
- Kenya Airways
- Ethiopian Airlines
- Turkish Airlines
It is also possible to fly to Nairobi or Dar es Salaam, but note that you will have to add an extra day of overland traveling to get to Moshi or Arusha.
Kilimanjaro Training - How To Train for Kilimanjaro
How do you get fit for climbing Kilimanjaro? It is a question we and our operators often get. You have done your research, watched some videos and seen tons of photos, but that still doesn’t give you an idea of the intensity of a normal day out on the trails towards Uhuru Peakow fit do I need to be for trekking? Will the altitude affect your physical fitness? How do I do Kilimanjaro training?
Hike and Hike Even More
One sure way to get good at what you do is to practice. The best practice for hiking is hiking. Seeing that you are interested in a multi-day trekking adventure, we assume that you already like hiking. Do more of it. If you are lucky enough to be surrounded by hills or even mountains, it is time to see them more often. When? If you are new to this, we suggest starting six months before your planned departure by simply going for an hour (or two) hike a week. When you get the hang of it, after about three weeks, it’s time to beef up your intensity. Bring a pack of 10 to 15kg and add a longer hike of three hours to your week. If this lifestyle is new to you, you will soon reap the benefits of this moderate exercise.
Some of the health benefits of hiking include a lower risk of heart disease, improved blood pressure and sugar levels and of course it helps to control your weight. Once you are ready for the hills, it only gets better. According to Gregory Miller, president of the American Hiking Society, ”a 5% to 10% incline equals a 30% to 40% increase in calorie burn.” Our personal health benefits are a clearer mind and an elevated mood. Trekking keeps us sane. After a good few months of solid hiking, it is time to put your endurance to the test. Do back to back long hikes. You can simulate a few days of constant trekking by going hiking for a few days. Easy at that. Plan a smaller trekking holiday or keep it simple by hiking your favorite route on repeat. If you are comfortable hiking for 4 hours a day, 2 days in a row while carrying a 10kg to 15kg backpack, you will be fine.
One misconception about trekking is that the ascent is the hardest on your body. Wrong. Descending is actually very demanding. When you hike downhill, your quadriceps is being put to work. If you notice any overly sore muscles and weak spots in your quads while going out on hikes, it can be wise to add some strengthening exercises to the mix. If your quads and glutes are suffering, your knees and ankles might also take too much strain. One way to get stronger is to do some basic exercises.
You don’t need a gym membership, as merely using your bodyweight can already give you the results you are looking for. Once or twice a week, depending on how you are feeling, you can do two sets of 10 lunges, 10 squats, and 10 step ups. If you want to push yourself a bit more, you can try to add some pull ups and push up to your routine. Going the extra mile in your strengthening is, however, really not necessary. You can already enjoy trekking when you just stick to the basics. This is not a fitness competition.
Kilimanjaro Training Plan in Steps
The following steps will help you on your way to Uhuru Peak.
- Aerobic fitness: You best get moving as soon as you have your mind set on your Kilimanjaro climb. With the right aerobic fitness, you will have an improved heart rate, healthy muscles, and great lung capacity. Do power walking, running, hiking, trekking, cycling and/or swimming. Don’t worry. you don’t need to train for a marathon. One hour, 3 to 4 times a week is plenty of exercise.
- Endurance: When you are comfortable doing exercise a few times a week, you can fire it up by doing some longer sessions. The best thing you can do is walking long distances, at least once a week. If you can hike comfortably for a prolonged time, you are good to go.
- Gear: Don’t use your backpack and shoes that you purchased for your Kilimanjaro climb for the first time after your land. Break them in and use this equipment when you are working on point 1 and 2.
- Altitude: If you can, you can mimic the altitude by hiking and trekking in the hills and mountains. If you do not live in the right area for that, then don’t panic. The first two points are most important.
- Know your body: This is perhaps the most important part. If you are questioning your physical capabilities, you should perhaps go see a professional for monitoring. It is important to know your body, so you can notice any warning signs when you are on your way to the Roof of Africa.
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Kilimanjaro Kit List - Kilimanjaro Packing List
If you are out in the mountains, you want to make sure you have the right gear on you. Gear is so to say your best friend. A jacket can be too thick or too thin, your shoes can give you blisters and you have forgotten to bring fresh underwear. What is just a tiny nuisance in daily life, can turn into a life-threatening situation on a mountain like Kilimanjaro. Okay, you can make a plan for your dirty underwear, but don’t compromise on comfort when it comes to staying warm.
The upper climate zones of Kilimanjaro are definitely no beach holiday. Mount Kilimanjaro is a mountain that is easily underestimated. In this blog post, we present you a list of stuff that you definitely need. Our partners usually see two kinds of trekkers. They are either equipped for a climbing expedition to the peak of Mount Everest or they bring too little gear. There is no sacred middle way, nor is there a standard. Everyone is different. This packing list may not be ultimate to you, but it will cover the necessities.
Carry the Right Bags
If you have to carry something for a prolonged time and you choose what you carry, then don’t compromise. The bags that you bring on your trekking should be of decent quality and you want to be used to them. Don’t swap a winner backpack for a new untested one a week before you get on the plane. Assuming you will have porters to assist you on your trek, you need the following:
- Duffel Bag: Waterproof and about 80L. Must be heavy duty as it could be carried by your porter or it can be strapped on the back of a donkey. We repeat: Waterproof.
- Rucksack with Rain Cover: The last thing you want is to have wet clothes. They can be quick drying, but it’s better to prevent them from getting wet: Raincover! The size of your bag will depend upon trekking duration. Less is more, but don’t compromise.
- Daypack: A 30-liter daypack in which you can carry your personal items is an absolute must. These days you can even get packs with pockets in the front for easy access and soft flasks. Get something comfortable, because your daypack is your best friend.
Wear the Right Clothes
It doesn’t matter whether you hike the Marangu or the Umbwe Route, the trail can be a bit of a catwalk as some people like to sport the latest and most expensive outdoor fashion trends. You don’t have to go overboard. Find a healthy balance between comfortable and durable.
- Thermal Baselayer: Your base layer is your second skin. Merino is the way to go. Make it a lightweight one.
- T-Shirts: Bring comfortable synthetic t-shirts. Cotton is an absolute no go on a multi-day trekking adventure. It just doesn’t dry.
- Fleece Pullover or Jacket: Fleece can just add that extra bit of comfort when the weather turns brisk.
- Light Weight Thermal Tops: Synthetic t-shirts when the season allows it, but always some lightweight thermal tops. They can also be comfortable when they are not serving you as a base layer.
- Waterproof Jacket: Your hardshell should protect you from wind, rain, and snow. A good waterproof jacket can turn hell into heaven when the weather goes bad.
- Sports Bra for Her: A good sports bra is highly recommended when on the move in the mountains. It should wick moisture away from your skin.
- Hiking Shorts: At lower altitude and under the sun, it can be comfortable to wear a pair of hiking shorts. They can also be highly fashionable zip-off pants ;-)
- Hiking Pants: Lightweight, nylon, quick drying, UV-protecting. Anything that protects you from the elements. Although you look great in your 501s, you should leave your jeans at home.
- Waterproof Pants: We heard you wondering about pants when we mentioned a waterproof jacket. Of course, you also need waterproof pants.
Tie the Right Shoes
Give your shoes the attention they deserve. They can definitely do with a little bit of love when you are putting so much weight and strain on them. Your feet make it possible for you to reach Uhuru Peak. Don’t let blisters or other inconveniences ruin your Kili trekking.
- Hiking Boots: You thought you could get away with trail running shoes? It’s up to you, but your ankle can get really tired and that can lead to injury. Opt for a quality pair of boots instead.
- Sandals or Shoes: In the mornings and in the evenings, around the camp, you don’t want to wear your boots. This is when you can wear a comfortable pair of trail running shoes or even sandals. Give your feet a break.
- Hiking Socks: Good quality hiking socks should keep your feet dry and comfortable. Bring enough socks. Preferably a fresh pair for every day that you are trekking.
- Trekking Poles: If you know how to use them, they can help you take the strain from your joints. Try them, practice with them and bring them along if you like them.
- Inner Socks: To support your hiking socks, you can consider bringing thin inner socks. This will help you wick moisture away from your feet.
Get the Right Gloves
Your hands are just as important as your feet. They are likely to go cold first, so make sure you look after them. Bring something warm and durable. Your fingertips will thank you later.
- Fleece Gloves: You can’t wrong with something light and comfortable. Fleece is a good all round option.
- Heavyweight Gloves: When you know you are going to have to deal with low temperatures, then bring a pair of heavyweight gloves. Waterproof!
Wear the Right Headwear
There are multiple reasons for covering your head. Whether it’s sun, snow or rain: It is likely it strikes your head first. Protect yourself against the African sun and bring something that keeps you dry when it gets rough.
- Wool: That woolen hat can come in handy when it gets cold. This might not happen during the day, but in the evenings it can be really comfortable.
- Sunhat: Whether you want to bring a trucker, a visor or a cowboy style hat. Just make sure it protect you from the sun. The higher the altitude, the closer you are to the sun.
- Buff: A microfleece buff can serve as a warm hat, a sunhat and as a scarf at the same time. In mild seasons it may be the only thing you need. Bring two!
- Sunglasses: The world sometimes looks better through the lenses of a sunglasses. And it protect you from the sun! Prevent headaches and snow blindness. Beat the UV.
- Headlamp: To find your way in and around the campsite, you want to have a headlamp. It can make it easier for you to find your way to the long drop toilet in the middle night.
A good night of sleep is the best recovery. Your wellness during a trekking relies partly your nightrest. Our partners in Tanzania will sort you out with basics like mountain tents for all seasons and comfortables mattresses. You can also always rent some gear.
- Sleeping bag: Sleeping on Kilimanjaro can be a struggle when you are cold. Make sure you are bringing a proper expedition style sleeping bag. Check the label to see if it covers the minimum temperatures that you can experience.
- Pillow: Don’t bring the pillow you use at home. Just consider bringing an inflatable pillow. It can make a huge difference, especially if you are used to sleeping with a pillow.
- Ear plugs: It won’t be a rockshow, but where there are people it can get loud. If you are a light sleeper and easily wake up when there is noise, then consider bringing a pair of ear plugs.
Extras for Trekking
No one is the same and everyone has his own level of comfort. There will be things missing on this list, simply because you attach more value to them than others. Bring what you want to bring. The next things are definitely worth bringing:
- Sunscreen: It is a no-brainer really. You will be at high altitude and therefore closer to the sun. The sun in Africa can be merciless.
- Water Bottles: If you want to prevent altitude sickness, you will have to drink plenty of water. Don’t rely on bottled water along the trail. They are less environmentally friendly and costly. Bring a bottle that you can refill. They can be soft flasks as well.
- Wet Wipes: Water is not always readily available. Bring wet wipes to suit some of your sanitary needs. Opt for biodegradable ones.
- Sanitizer: For the same reason you bring along hand sanitizer. Anything that helps you keep your hygiene game up while out there on the trails.
- Creams: If you have a dry skin, you want to bring something to keep your skin moisturized. Lip balm, body lotion, anything small and handy. The air can be dry at higher altitudes.
- Pain Medication: At higher altitude you may suffer from headaches. This is also one the symptoms of altitude sickness that almost everyone trekking experiences at one point. Bring something to relieve the pain.
- First Aid Kit: Your guide will be prepared for a first aid situation, but for the small stuff you also want to be able to take responsibility yourself. Bring a basic first aid kit for cuts and bruises.
- Towel: Small, quick-drying and suitable for trekking. Your accomodation along the trails are not hotels. Bring something.
- Toiletries: Probably the first thing you will forget to bring: Toothbrush. Look, when you do really forget anything - You must realize that you can still buy this in Moshi. But yes, do bring toiletries.
What You Don’t Bring
There always things that you can just leave at home. Light and Fast: The lighter your backpack, the easier your life on the trails will be. Ease is joy. Here is what you should not bring along.
- Unnecessary Electronics: Leave your iPads and tablets at home. Less is more. A phone, sure, but don’t bring too much electronic gear on your trek. Electronics also don’t do that well on altitude.
- Jewelry: Because you will be living out of your bag, you are likely to lose things on the way. Don’t bring any jewelry. Unleash the inner hippie and just come as you are.
- Classic Towel: Heavy, too large and they don’t dry. Bring a small quick-drying towel, as mentioned above.
Rather back too little than pack too much. Eventually, your porters are the ones who have to carry most of the burden. You also don’t want to have any expensive surprises when checking in your duffel bag at the airport. In case you have forgotten something or left something behind on purpose, know that you can also sort out your gear in Moshi. Either your tour operator can be of help, or you can rent equipment at one of the shops you can find in Moshi or Arusha. That's it. This packing list also works for climbing Mount Kenya.
You are not the first and you won't be the last to climb Kilimanjaro. Others have inspired you to climb Kilimanjaro and you will be inspiring others to do the same. It's not easy to find tips from people who are not trekking experts, trekking company managers or mountaineers who feature in documentaries. We have gathered some people who did the same thing you are about to do. People from all walks of life who decided to climb Kilimanjaro.
Alia Datoo - "It's not about the summit"
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Based in Nairobi, Alia is the founder ofWomen Who Hike Africa, an organization that strives for getting more people onto the hiking trails and into the mountains. Recently she and some friends from her hiking community made it up to Uhuru Peak. An awesome feat but summiting wasn't the most important thing for Alia: "It's never about the summit. People tend to focus a lot on reaching the end of the hike rather than enjoying the journey in between the gate and the summit."
"For me, Kili represents a spiritual journey," Alia continues, "and along the way, I experience so many dramatic changes. It's a great time to shut off from the world and just reflect on life. They say, if you are the same person who comes down the mountain as the one who climbed it, you never really did climb that mountain. Stay focused on the present and don't think about how far you have come and how much further you need to go."
Christopher and Christina - *Don't give up!"
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World travelers Christina and Cristopher of Don't Forget The Aloe climbed Kilimanjaro in late September 2019. For the memorable Uhuru Peak shot they brought their Georgia Southern University flag along. Go Eagles! Chris and Christina live at sea level and they really take the risks of altitude sickness serious. "We took Diamox (Acetazolamide) from the first day until the last and we are so thankful that we did", says Christina. "The tingling fingers and heavier breathing as side effects were well worth not getting altitude sickness!
Also, there is dirt everywhere. Our bandanas, Hoo-Rags, were our lifesavers as they covered our face and blocked the dust. The biggest part of the climb aside from gear was the mentality. Your body can do so much more than your brain thinks it can, so do not give up! Keep focusing on putting one foot in front of the other, listen to your guides, and you will make it to the top."
Looking for more Kilimanjaro tips? You can also read this helpful blog post of Remco who went before you on the Lemosho Route.
Kilimanjaro and Safari or Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar
Or how about both? You can combine Kilimanjaro and Safari or Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar but you can also combine Kilimanjaro with Safari and Zanzibar. Kilimanjaro is situated in the Northern Circuit of Tanzania and is relatively close to Manyara National Park, the famous Ngorongoro Crater, and Serengeti National Park. It will be an opportunity wasted if you are not doing a laid back budget or lodge safari after having summitted Kilimanjaro. Stretch your legs and watched the Big Five doing its thing in the most beautiful settings you have ever seen. Your trekking company is in most cases also an outfitter for safari, so you can simply get in touch with our trekking experts to get a good match. From Kilimanjaro International Airport or Arusha, you can also easily fly to Zanzibar, where you can have a relaxing holiday on one of the most beautiful islands in Eastern Africa.
If you are looking to get more answers to your Kilimanjaro climbing questions, you can read everything about mount Kilimanjaro here. If you are looking to find an affordable Kilimanjaro climbing package, you can check out our offers here.
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