Preparing to climb to 5985m in Africa is half the fun. Packing for this trek of a lifetime should also be fun. To summit Mt Kilimanjaro takes some determination, a sense of humor and a few clever items in your backpack. Here is my Top-5 of things for girls to pack to tackle the highest mountain in Africa.
Chances are good that you will not shower for a week while hiking up Kilimanjaro. You will be supplied with hot water in the morning and each evening after you arrive at the camps. This will not be enough to bath, but is sufficient to rinse a bit and feel fresher. Bring wet wipes – for all areas – for extra cleanliness, especially after using the rustic toilets. Bring more wet wipes for tired feet and swollen hands and use wet wipes for sweaty bits. You can also bring a quick-dry washcloth or sponge.
You will need something that will prevent moisture loss from your face and protect from it the sun. At high altitudes, the temperature can drop to -20°C and the thin cold air will dry your skin very quickly. A nourishing moisturiser and sunscreen is essential. Forget a fancy lip balm or expensive eye cream; some of our sales agents swear by Vaseline. Your nose might be running and is often raw from wiping. Use Vaseline to keep lips and nose moist, even inside the nose to soothe and protect.
You are not dressing for style; you are dressing for survival. Think layers and start with good foundation wear. Not your man’s long johns but proper thermal underwear. Remember thermal clothes and socks as well as a fleece beanie or woolen cap. The right apparel can be rented in Moshi, but best to bring your own essential gear such as well worn-in hiking boots (not sneakers), fleece and a hat with brim. Bring light trainers or sneakers to wear around camp to give your heavy boots some air and rest your feet.
You will be fed well while on the mountain, but bring your own snacks from home. Energy bars, chocolate with nuts and maybe some crisps to replenish salts? Pack it in a Ziploc® bag for each day and toss it in your daypack every morning. Add some powdered energy drinks or cool drink powder in your water as you will have to drink at least 3 liters of fluid per day.
A book or deck of cards can while away some pre-supper hours and may make some friends. Bring a notebook and sketch pad for some alone time or to pen profound thoughts. You may be hiking for between 5 and 12 hours per day and might appreciate other sounds that just your breathing and someone else’s moaning. IPod perhaps? Remember extra batteries.
These five tips are a guide only. For more detailed advice and packing tips, speak to one of the girls at Tanzania-Experience – they have all been on Kilimanjaro.