How do I prepare for a Kilimanjaro climb?
Reaching the highest point in Africa will be an achievement to be proud of, and complete preparation is key to your success. Below are some guidelines before you go on your climb.
You can only climb Kilimanjaro as part of an organized trek with a licensed mountain operator. Vacation 2 Africa is a licensed mountain and safari operator whose operators have great knowledge and experience of the area and about how to climb safely and successfully.
We are able to take anyhere from a single climber to groups of up to 100 climbers. Climbers are accompanied with a number of local staff, as there is a lot of equipment to be carried by porters. We recommend groups to remain around 12 to 16 climbers, but we can also arrange trips with a larger group. We arrange to have a climber-to-staff ratio of 1 climber to 3 staff.
Although there are many mysteries behind why certain individuals are more prone to altitude sickness than others, one thing the experts agree on is that picking a longer route with maximum rest and acclimatization time will increase your chances of reaching the summit.
For most companies, the success rate on Kilimanjaro is 50% because they offer a 5-day trek which allows very little time for acclimatization. Your climb guide must be fully knowledgeable in dealing with the onset of altitude sickness. Vacation 2 Africa guides are professional and licensed Kilimanjaro guides who know and prepare for dealing with people with altitude sickness, and more importantly, preventing it in the first place. We plan our climbs with built-in altitude acclimitization time. We also make sure you drink plenty of fluids, which helps the body adjust to the altitude.
You can really help your ability to deal with the tough climbing in high altitudes by being in good physical condition, planning a longer climb, staying well hydrated, taking it very slowly as you hike, and using diamox if you start getting altitude sickness.
While it is important to train far in advance and to be in great physical shape before embarking on a journey to the Roof of Africa, your chance of reaching the summit depends primarily on how your body reacts at altitude. High altitude medical specialists agree that there is no correlation between your fitness level, age, or gender and your susceptibility to altitude sickness. It is your rate of ascent that is the single most important factor in proper acclimatization
When to Climb
The best time to climb Kilimanjaro is during dry seasons – from the middle of June through October or from mid-December through March. But the mountain can be climbed all year round. In fact, some people find that during the months of April, May and November are the best time because there are fewer people on the mountain.
Age and Health
The National park authorities have set a minimum age for trekking to Uhuru Peak, 19,340 ft., at 10 years old. There is no upper limit to the age of climbers. People in their seventies and eighties regularly make it to the summit. Some of the advantageous qualities in successful climbers are that they are equipped to deal with the adversity, are able to focus mentally and are intent on achieving their goal. These factors often outweigh any physical disadvantages.
Climbers considered to be in a higher health risk category should have a full medical check-up before deciding to climb or not to climb.
Chances of Success
Kilimanjaro is a strenuous undertaking but it is not only the province of super athletes. Virtually all our clients are normal people with a reasonable level of fitness and a lot of determination. Neither age nor physical disability need be a deterrent. We have taken people from 15 to 78 years old, as well as people with severe disabilities to the top of Africa.
How fit do you need to be?
The most difficult part of the climb – the six to eight hour section up to the summit, is mainly due to the extreme attitude.
For the most part, the days that preceed this ascent are not too physically demanding for anyone with a reasonable degree of fitness. That is not to say that even this is easy. A combination of adverse factors such as bad weather, altitude sickness and general tiredness arising from being out on the mountain can make even the easiest walking days very tough, indeed.
The exercise you do beforehand is important to getting you in shape for a multi-day, challenging climb such as this. You should be able to walk for several hours on consecutive days without a problem. Walk at a brisk pace and up and down hills. Any aerobic activities such as cycling or running, will get you toward the kind of fitness level that you’ll need for a serious attempt on the mountain.