EWP Director and Mountain Rescue Team Trainer Shares his
Top 5 Tips to successfully Climb Kilimanjaro
Kilimanjaro’s Uhuru Peak at 5895m is the highest point in Africa. Reaching the top, and seeing the legendary welcoming sign and the great plains of Africa is dream and goal for many. Andrew Wielochowski says he has been fortunate enough to help and witness thousands make that incredible journey. The mountain has become more accessible and their are plenty of routes to cater for the first time adventurers, the weekend warriors down right up to super-fit. Regardless of the category Andrew says that are 5 things that everyone would benefit from knowing and factoring into their trip.
Acclimatisation: The most important of all hints is to allocate enough time for the ascent to allow good acclimatisation. This involves the red blood cell numbers increasing and lung usage being developed to be more effective. This takes time. Although Kilimanjaro can be ascended in 4 days this can result often in headaches, nausea and failure. In the worst cases in oedemas and forced evacuation. Enjoy your trip by taking as much time over it as you can. 5 nights on the mountain prior to the final ascent day is generally optimal.
Speed: Sometimes the super fit fail. Being so fit they feel they can go up much faster than the recommended speed. They can. But the body often cannot cope with a rapid decrease in air pressure and although you reach the next camp quickly you feel bad. Go slowly and you will feel better. The guides know best.
Sleeping: At night, when you are sleeping your breathing rate drops and you may wake up breathless, you breath deeply, feel better and fall asleep again. This can become a cycle resulting in a sleepless night. If you feel the beginning of a headache in the evening consider taking a diamox tablet. These are mild diuretics that also assist your body to adjust to the effects of altitude. Mild headaches in the evening herald a potentially bad night ahead. Diamox can help.
Drink: The air is dry on Kilimanjaro and combined with the physical effort involved in the ascent results in a lot of water being lost from the body. Some people like to drink a lot, frequently throughout the ascent. Maybe a better alternative is to drink copiously when you first arrive at camps to replace fluids. At camps you will have access to a variety of drinks and boiled water. To avoid a disturbed night do not drink too much before going to bed. Also drink copiously first at breakfast and lunch.
Guide: Trust your guide. Almost all guides on Kilimanjaro are excellent. Our guides have been carefully selected from the many available. They are very experienced in all aspects of the mountain, with a good knowledge of the flora and fauna, weather and most important guiding people to the summit and avoiding accidents, injuries and medical emergencies. Listen to your guide and trust him or her.
If you’d like to climb Kilimanjaro or discover a little more about the routes and trekking on the mountain then head over to our Climb Kili Trip page where you’ll also find information on what to pack as well as tipping on the mountain.
Andrew is also the author of the Kilimanjaro Map and Guide available from outdoor retailers or directly from EWP Here
For further information on what it’s like on the mountain and general advice check out our Kilimanjaro General Information