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Written by: AK on 3 January 2018

Kilimanjaro: the insider’s tips that will get you to the top

You know by now that you should carry essentials such as water bottles and long johns when climbing Kilimanjaro. Today we share with you tips and tricks and good-to-knows you will most likely not find on many other packing list – but which might make the difference on your way to the Roof of Africa.

Practicalities: not without my backpack

When preparing for Kili, allocate enough thoughts and funds to your daypack. Your daypack is arguably just as important as your hiking boots. It should be spacious enough to carry three litres of water, a big lunchbox, rain trousers, rain jacket and possibly even a large camera and lens. At the same time, you will want to travel as light as possible. A waist strap can make all the difference and take a heavy load off your shoulders.

Bring along a deck of cards. After the day’s hike, you will arrive at camp in the afternoon. After a quick wash and a cup of tea, the hours until dinner and eventually bed time can hang heavy. Passing time with a game of cards can do the trick.

Always carry a little bit of toilet paper in the pocket of your hiking pants. If you have to pay a visit during your hike, you don’t want to rummage about in your backpack. Even at camp, it is much more convenient to have toilet paper on you, instead of crawling around your small mountain tent wearing dirty hiking boots. After a long day’s hike, every small movement you can save on counts.

Carry a wristwatch or a power bank to charge your phone. Even if you don’t want to send a WhatsApp to your friends and family – you will want to know what time it is when you wake up at 5 in the morning, and whether you can stay cuddled up in your warm sleeping bag for ten more minutes. If you do want to contact your friends and family, follow the porters – they know in which corner of the camp the phone reception is strongest.

If you’re a heavy coffee drinker, try to cut down on your daily consumption ahead of your Kilimanjaro climb. On the mountain, you have to drink at least three litres of water a day. You will not want to carry an extra Thermos flask for your coffee needs. And withdrawal symptoms such as headaches and even a bad mood is what you need least on your climb.

Cut your fingernails as short as possible. There are no showers on Kilimanjaro, but all the more dust and dirt following you wherever you go. Short and thus clean nails will contribute to your overall feeling of comfort.

It’s all in your head: do you have altitude or attitude sickness

Hiking as part of a group can make all the difference: great group dynamics can boost your energy and good conversations will distract you and gift you a light-legged step. However, don’t be shy to take a break from the group if you need one. After a long day’s hike, hole up in your tent for twenty minutes and get your energy back. You will feel better after a little me-time and can re-join your group in positive spirits.

While our mountain crew will conjure up delicious meals under challenging circumstances, you should nevertheless bring some of your favourite chocolates or other treats. A Kilimanjaro climb is an extreme situation, you will find yourself in a state of exception lasting for several days and your body will have to perform on a level that goes beyond anything you most likely ask of it at home. A mouth-full of caramel or coconut can send signals to your brain that will make you set one foot in front of the other. Be kind to yourself.

Uhuru Peak is the ultimate goal, that’s no question. However, take your Kili climb one day at a time, one camp at a time. Your only task for the whole climb is to simply keep on walking. We will do everything else. If you set multiple and small goals for yourself, you will end each day on a high note and experience the climb as overall motivating. Embarking on the crucial summit attempt, you will have a series of achievements backing you and pushing you to the summit.

And when you see the stars twinkling high in the sky during summit night, and you realise that in fact these stars are the torches of other climbers and your courage dwindles, the only thing that’s left is: autopilot. Switch off your thoughts and go. To the Roof of Africa!

Now you know everything you need to know for your Kilimanjaro adventure – let’s go!

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