climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro:Training for a Kilimanjaro climb
Do you need training for a Kilimajaro climb?And if yes, when should that Kilimanjaro training start? What should you do? And how much of it?If you dislike gyms, jogging, huffing and puffing, if you dread the idea of following a strict Kilimanjaro training program to get yourself into shape, then I have good news for you:You don’t need any of that! Mind you, if you like it it’s not going to hurt.
How To Climb Mount Kilimanjaro How To Climb Mount Kilimanjaro, tips for a successful ascent to Africa’s highest mountain
Preparing for a Kilimanjaro climb
Most people prepare for Kilimanjaro with fitness training. While getting reasonably fit makes sense, the gym work outs or sprinting up flights of stair etc. will not prepare your body for the demands of a Kilimanjaro climb.
You do need to get your body used to walking for several hours in uneven country, for several days. But any fitness training beyond that will not increase your chances to reach the summit.
It’s the altitude that will get you, not your lack of fitness.
Any unwanted baggage and suitcases can be safely stored at the office or base Hotel
So if you can, expose your body to some altitude before you tackle Kilimanjaro:
If you are living somewhere near mountains, climb them! If there is a chance to overnight at higher altitude, do it. (Note that for this to make a difference it needs to happen right before your Kili climb.)
Some people do acclimatization treks on Mt. Kenya or Mt. Meru before they climb Kilimanjaro. We ecommend it, but only for people with some previous trekking experience.
The Ngorongoro crater rim is over 2200 metres high and even the crater floor is at 1700 metres. If you think of doing a safari while in Tanzania, why not plan it so you can spend a night or two on the crater rim before transferring to Kili?
Look at where you will be spending the night(s) before your climb. We will offer you accomdoation Moshi or Marangu hotels. Moshi lies at 890 m, Marangu at 1800 m…
No matter where you will be staying, definitely fly in a couple of days early!
Give your body time to adjust to the different climate, the food, to recover from the strains of a long haul flight and to get over the jet lag if you came from a different time zone.
Arriving early can improve your chances of reaching the summit by five percent or more.
What to do during a Kilimanjaro climb
That is Kiswahili for “slow and steady” and you will hear it day in, day out.
It’s the single most important thing to keep in mind during the climb. I can tell you now, no matter what you expect, you will be surprised when you see just HOW slow your guides make you walk. Everything on Kilimanjaro happens in slow motion.
You walk so slowly, the first days it seems ridiculous. You may even feel you just CAN’T possibly walk THAT slowly. (If you have that problem, breathe through your nose only. That’ll slow you down.)
Soon you will notice some changes. You stop for a photo and catching up with your group leaves you breathless. Drinking from your camel back while walking becomes an effort. The slow, slow speed does not seem so slow any more…
Whatever happens, do avoid exertion at all cost. Falling behind the group? So what? That’s why bigger groups have several guides.
Do not be tempted into speeding up because others are walking faster. (Serious altitude sickness is more common in groups than it is during private climbs!)
Another group overtaking? Let them! You will pass their crumpled bodies soon enough…
There is NOTHING to gain on Kilimanjaro by being the first.
Do you know which group has the lowest success rate? Young males between 20 and 30, exactly the people you think would do the best.
But they overestimate the role of fitness and underestimate the mountain. Often they feel they have to lead, they don’t like being overtaken, and being the strongest and fittest makes it just sooo easy to walk too fast.
Do you know that older people have a good success rate? They are wiser than that. And many of them just aren’t fit enough to make the mistake of walking too fast.
Extreme fitness can be a trap. You don’t feel the strain, but your body uses lots of oxygen all the same.
Ok, I think you got the message. Pole pole!
A few more tips on climbing Kilimanjaro
and avoiding altitude sickness
The first point is very important for avoiding altitude sickness and your guides will likely keep reminding you:
Keep drinking! It’s VERY easy to dehydrate at altitude without noticing. The air is very dry so you breathe off more moisture. Also, your body adjusts to the high altitude by eliminating more water. Keep replacing it.
Also make sure you eat plenty! Most people lose their appetite at altitude, but the cold weather and the long days mean your body burns through a lot of calories. Keep replacing them. You will need them. High carbohydrate foods are better than fatty foods. (Any good tour operator will have considered that in their shopping and meal planning.)
And keep warm! The correct gear is a must, not just because shivering isn’t nice and hypothermia dangerous, but also because staying nice and toasty will lessen your risk of succumbing to altitude sickness.
Keep your day pack light. Only take what you really need. Every extra kilo needs extra oxygen to carry.
And last but not least, avoid alcohol, tobacco, and most definitely do not touch sleeping tablets! Or you may not wake up again…
And that’s about it. Even if you are not in a position to afford extra preparation for the altitude (e.g. a Mt. Meru climb), if you are healthy, pick a good route and operator, arrive a couple of days early and take on board all of the above tips, you have a very good chance of making it to the summit.